Archive for the ‘War memorials’ Category

Remembering John Nicholls Winn Kew Gardens staff died of wounds 7 June 1918 WW1

June 6, 2018

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some of our Ribbon of Poppies blooms at Newquay Zoo, today’s blooms dedicated to John Nicholls Winn of  Kew Gardens staff died WW1.

Some of today’s blooms in our Ribbon of Poppies patch at Newquay Zoo are dedicated to John Nicholls Winn, a member of Kew Gardens staff who died of wounds 100 years ago today on 7 June 1918 serving during WW1. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/our-first-red-poppies-towards-the-nationwide-ribbon-of-poppies-project/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

John Nicholls Winn, one of over thirty  Kew Botanic Gardens staff remembered on the WW1 section Kew Gardens staff memorial (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Kew WW1 War Memorial Staff Member No. 35. John Nicholls Winn
Signaller / Private John Nicholls Winn, 365004, C company, 7th Battalion, London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles), died on 7th June 1918, aged 20.

He is buried at Grave Reference X. 5629, Richmond Cemetery, Surrey.

‘Jack’ Winn is listed as the son of William Nicholls Winn (1868-1945, who worked as Assistant in the Curator’s Office at Kew Gardens for many years) and Bertha Winn, of 87, Mortlake Rd., Kew.

According to his CWGC record, there is no family inscription on this grave. This appears to be a private headstone, rather than a standard CWGC headstone, as featured in the picture on the TWGPP website.

74D44E1C-F6C5-4D94-B748-81878EC5D246

Thumbnail picture of Jack Winn’s civilian grave in Richmond Cemetery thanks to the TWGPP website.

According to the Kew Guild Journal obituary 1919, John Nicholls Winn was born at Kew in 1898, enlisted in Richmond aged 18 in May 1916 and went to France in Spring 1917.

Although he served in the 7th Battalion London Regiment (Civil  Service Rifles), he was formerly No.  533417 or  6682, 15th London Regiment, with whom he served in France from 16 April 1917 to 14 May 1917.

He then served from 15 May 1917 to 30 April 1918 in the 7th Battalion London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles).

D7FEE9B5-785A-4AD6-A009-F5CC7FDD86CC

WW1 Medal Rolls entry for J.N. Winn

Signaller Jack Winn was wounded in the leg and died later of septic poisoning in hospital in Exeter.

This death of wounds back home in Britain is why he is buried near home and family in Richmond, Surrey.  He is remembered on the Richmond War Memorial, as well as the Kew Gardens Staff War Memorial.

You can read more about the 36+ casualties from Kew staff and Kew trained gardeners in WW1 at our previous blogpost:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

John Nicholls ‘Jack’ Winn, Remembered with poppies 100 years on.  Floreat Kew!

Advertisements

Our first red poppies towards the nationwide Ribbon of Poppies project

May 22, 2018

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Ladybird Poppy – the first of our poppies to flower, ahead of the Flanders Poppy seedlings. 

 

Our first red poppies of 2018 have flowered!

Last month we wrote about joining in with the Ribbon of Poppies project across Britain and worldwide to mark 2018 as the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 1918:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

Today we have our first Red Poppy of the year in flower – a beautiful deep red and black Ladybird Poppy.

It attracted lots of admiring glances and comments from visitors to Newquay Zoo, overheard as I was tidying up and watering our tiny garden plot here near the Lion House at Newquay Zoo.

It’s not too late to plant some poppies yourself and join in the Ribbon of Poppies event:

https://www.facebook.com/RibbonofPoppies/.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

First of our Ladybird Poppies to flower for the Ribbon of Poppies event 1918 / 2018 in our World War Zoo Gardens keepers’ allotment and WW1 / WW2 memorial project at Newquay Zoo. The  big clump of garlic behind the poppy is throwing up flower spikes which create a great wildlife attraction and edible oniony flowers for monkeys to eat. 

 

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A yellow (Welsh?) poppy turned up in flower last week. Curious  – I didn’t plant this one ! 

 

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Borage – edible flower head treats for our flower eating animals such as the monkeys. These have self seeded and returned each year from our first planting in 2009. 

 

Even the veg has joined in the deep red colour scheme this year with bright red Rainbow Bright Lights or Rhubarb Chard fooling lots of our visitors into thinking it is sweet rhubarb. ‘Rhubarb’ Chard is a cousin of spinach and beet. 

Real Rhubarb leaves are of course poisonous or toxic to humans and many other animals. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Borage flowers intertwined with deep red Rhubarb Chard leaves. Some Big Cat Thyme grows alongside – good for scent enrichment of animal enclosures including Lions. 

 

I cut a whole bucketful of this colourful red  Rhubarb Chard (a cousin of spinach and beet) for keepers to use as fresh animal food and enrichment today!

I also cut back the thuggish Rosemary herb / bush planted ten years ago. It gets  regularly pruned by keepers using the clippings to scruff around animal enclosures to safely introduce interesting new smells. This should give more light and space to other enrichment herbs such as Lemon Balm and Mint (also useful for the odd cup of Keepers’ herbal tea). Delicious!  Cold herbal mint tea can also be sprayed around enclosures for animal scent enrichment.

I found a small batch of  chitted late potatoes at home which came to work with me and have now filled  in any planting gaps between Broad Beans, Cabbages and Leeks.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Education Department , Newquay Zoo, May 21 / 22 2018.

Remembering Lost Gardener John Leonard Veitch Kew Gardens WW1 21 May 1918

May 21, 2018

One of the Veitch Nursery Family, famous sponsors of plant collectors and plant hunters, was killed in the First World War.

Major John Leonard Veitch, Military Cross, 7th Battalion attached 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, died on 21st May 1918, aged 31. Mentioned in Despatches.

His death must have seriously affected the future of the Veitch Nursery, as happened to so many lesser-known plant nursery firms in Britain and across Europe.

cwgc thiennes

Vietch is buried in the tiny Thiennes Cemetery. (Image: CWGC website)

He is buried at Grave Reference Row A. Grave 1, Thiennes British Cemetery, France.

A photograph of his headstone can be seen on the TWGPP website. According to CWGC records, the inscription on his headstone chosen by his family is “Unto God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit thee”.

The German offensive of April 1918 pushed the front line back almost as far as St. Venant in this sector and this was one of the cemeteries made for Commonwealth burials arising from the fighting in the area. Thiennes British Cemetery was started by the 5th Division in May 1918 (when Veitch was amongst the first to be buried) and used by the 59th and 61st Divisions before being closed in August 1918. It is a small cemetery of only 114 First World War burials in the cemetery, Veitch’s grave being the first A1.

He is listed as the son of Peter Christian Massyn Veitch, J.P. Esq, and Harriett Veitch (nee Drew) 11 Elm Grove Road, Exeter of the famous Veitch nursery family.

His Kew Guild Journal 1919 obituary lists him originally enlisting in August 1914 in the 7th Cyclists Battalion of the Devon Regiment, his local regiment.

He was in France from 1915, noted as being on front line duties since December 1915 and fought through the battle of the Somme in 1916. He was wounded in the shoulder at Vimy Ridge. After service in Italy, Veitch was killed by a stray machine gun bullet in the Nieppe Forest area of France on May 21, 1918. Another Devonshire Regiment man, Private Harold Harrison, lies buried beside him, killed on the same day.

A month earlier Veitch had received his recommendation for a Military Cross “for his excellent defence of the Lock, just east of the Forest of Nieppe, in the middle of April, when he stopped five attacks. He had the honour of dying in temporary command of our famous battalion.” (letter to Veitch’s father from his Colonel).

He was at Kew from 1908 to 1910, before joining the family nursery business in 1910. Educated at Exeter School, he spent time studying horticulture in Germany and Holland before entering Kew.

Veitch  Nursery history and links

John Leonard Veitch’s  father was Peter Veitch, and his sister Mildred was the last of the Veitch family to continue the Nursery business until 1969 when she sold the last Veitch Nursery site in Exeter to St. Bridget’s Nursery, who still run this today.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Veitch

“The firm of Veitch had by the 1914/18 war been responsible for introducing an astonishing 1281 plants which were either previously unknown or newly bred varieties. These included 498 greenhouse plants, 232 orchids, 153 deciduous trees, shrubs and climbing plants, 122 herbaceous plants, 118 exotic ferns, 72 evergreen and climbing plants, 49 conifers and 37 bulbous plants. In the years to come, more plants followed.”

Quote taken from St. Bridget’s Nursery website https://www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk/about-us/veitch-family-history/, the Nursery being on a former Veitch Nursery site.

Had John Leonard Veitch survived and had a family, the history of Veitch’s Nursery may have continued longer, even up to the present day. A story no doubt similar to many nurseries, estates and small businesses across Britain and Europe.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veitch_Nurseries

Other Kew Gardens staff casualties had worked for Veitch nurseries such as Gordon Farries (died WW1 20 April 1918). The Veitch Medal of Honour (VMH) is still a prestigious award for gardeners.

You  can read more about Kew Gardens staff in WW1 at

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

https://www.theexeterdaily.co.uk/news/local-news/chiefs-launch-search-ww1-players

Blogposted on the Centenary of John Leonard Veitch’s death by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project at Newquay Zoo, 21 May 2018

Remembering Cuthbert St. John Nevill FLS Linnean Society died WW1 18 April 2018

April 18, 2018

 

45589B8A-285F-4E66-8BD1-B7CBC1D3E0F9

Cuthbert St John Nevill photograph (from Rosemary’s  Relatives website)

Cuthbert St. John Nevill was a Fellow of the Linnean Society FLS  who was killed during the Spring Offensive of 1918.

https://www.linnean.org
Born in 1889, Nevill was killed on 18 April 1918. The eldest son of a stockbroker Sir Walter Nevill, Highbury New Park, London, he was educated at Eastbourne and Uppingham.

He worked as a member of the Stock Exchange and joined the City based HAC Honourable Artillery Company with whom he served in Egypt and Aden in 1915, thus being eligible at his wife’s post-war request for a 1914-15 star alongside his British War and Victory medals.

Transferred as a Second Lieutenant to the C Battery, 251st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and commissioned in 13 April 1916, he served with the RFA in France until his death in service on 18 April 1918.

He is buried at III A 1, Chocques Military Cemetery, where many of the burials are related to the No. 1 CCS Casualty Clearing Station.

B2C756CA-E662-442C-860D-DB8C7898D01E

Cuthbert is buried in Chocques Militray Cemetery (Image CWGC) 

In 1918, Cuthbert married Miss Eunice May Le Bas (1890 – 1979) of Guernsey.

Widowed within the early months of her first marriage, she remarried another officer (possibly wounded as awarded a Silver War Badge), J.C. Oakley-Beuttler Lieutenant in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (1888 – 1940) in November 1919.

 

Several other Linnean Society fellows were killed in WW1, recorded on their Roll of Honour – see my 2013 blog post:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

https://rosemarysrelatives.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/in-memory-of-my-nevill-relatives-who-died-in-the-great-war/

Remembering the March 1918 German Spring Offensive

March 21, 2018

Dawn on the 21st March 1918 saw a surprise German attack on a massive scale using specially trained Stormtroopers and almost early Blitzkrieg tactics. This caught the British and Allied troops unprepared and the German Army made huge gains in captured land, prisoners and equipment.

The Kaiser’s Battle, as it became known, saw Field Marshall Haig issue his “Backs to the Wall” order on April 11th 1918 which ends dramatically:

“ … Many amongst us now are tired. To those I would say that Victory will belong to the side which holds out the longest. The French Army is moving rapidly and in great force to our support.”

“There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.”

http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/backstothewall.htm

Into this chaos were flung scratch regiments of any men available to fight, including troops who normally served behind the lines. Artillery lines were overrun, base camps and supply lines.

During this fighting two  Kew Gardens staff  James William Clark  and Charles Hubert Brown were killed both on 26 March 1918.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

A719BA41-98B3-4ACC-809F-1AD141F29E0A

Charles Brown and James Clark’s names on the Kew Gardens Staff WW1 Memorial 

Gunner / Private Charles Hubert Brown, March 26 1918
Private Charles Hubert Brown, Royal Garrison Artillery (and Royal Sussex Regiment) died on the same day as a fellow Kew Gardener and gunner, James William Clark (see below).

Brown entered Kew from the gardens of Court Close, Eckington in September 1914, possibly as result of vacancies created by enlistment of Kew men. He had been rejected as medically unfit for the army owing to heart trouble. He tried to enlist twice more whilst at Kew, finally succeeding at the end of 1916. He died in hospital in France on the 26 March, 1918 as a result of shrapnel wounds to the head, according to his Kew Guild Journal 1919 obituary.

In the Kew Guild Journal it mentions “we had no further news of his movements” – so maybe this is why his regiment varies in listings. Charles Hubert Brown, 290133, 11th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment died on 26 March 1918 and is buried in plot VII.AA. Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

6D2D5DAD-2360-4B56-90A7-8359C1FC588D

Gunner  James William Clark, 26 March 1918
Gunner James William Clark, RMA/1656(S), Royal Marine Artillery, Howitzer Brigade, died 26 March 1918, aged 26. He is buried at Grave Reference VI. D. 8, Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras. He joined the Royal Marine Artillery in January 1916.

Clark is listed as the son of James William and Elizabeth Clark, of The Gardens, Torre Abbey, Torquay where James also worked before Kew amongst a number of Torquay posts at Braddon’s Hill Nursery and Normount Gardens.

He was born on August 24, 1891. Clark entered Kew in January 1913, working as a seed collector in the Kew Arboretum before working as Sub-Foreman Decorative Indoors at the end of 1914.

Clark is also remembered on his local primary school memorial, which Margaret Forbes-Hamilton and other ‘churchyard friends’ in Torquay are having restored. This memorial stone of Carrera marble in the churchyard in Torre to the fallen from the local primary school includes James William Clark, who was a young gardener at Kew and whose father was the gardener at Torre Abbey.

Clark was an only child, though had many cousins, and his parents must have been devastated at his death; the inscription on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone chosen by his family reads: “Thy will be Done. Dear Boy.”

Looking at the Graves Registration documents and Faubourg cemetery records for Plot VI or 6, Row D amongst the several thousand headstones and many thousands more names on the Arras Memorial (over 37,000 names), it is possible to see that James Clark lies in a row with comrades in a small cluster of burials from No. 6 Gun, Howitzer Brigade, Royal Marine Artillery who all died on 26 March 1918.

Clark lies alongside Gunner A.E. Skuse (or Skuce), Pte E.Jones, A. Lambert (Armourer’s Crew Royal Navy “HMS Excellent”) showing the strange mixture of units, ranks and nationalities (West Country English, Welsh, Scottish) that made up the crew of this one gun in a strange Royal Marine or Navy unit. Other Officers and Gunners from the Royal Garrison Artillery Siege Battery brigade are buried in the same row from the same fighting.

Remembering all the men lost on both sides in the March 1918 offensive.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 21 and 26 March 1928 / 2018.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Arnold Duley of Kew Gardens died WW1 POW 14 March 1918

March 20, 2018

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

WW1 Header section, Kew Gardens staff war memorial Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Image source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Remembering the sad story of Arnold Duley, Kew trained gardener and formerly of Cardiff Parks Department, who died in WW1 as a result of being a German POW  on 14 March 1918.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Lance Corporal Arnold Edmund Duley, M.M., 17583, 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (died as a Prisoner of War).

Arnold Edmund Duley (Edward or Edmund Arnold in some records) died as a Prisoner of War on 14 March 1918 aged 33 in hospital at Tournai in Belgium, probably from being “badly fed and probably had to work in a weak state” by the Germans.

Food parcels from the Kew Guild through the POW fund probably never reached him in time, his Kew Guild Journal obituary in 1919 laments. He is buried in Tournai Communal Cemetery Allied Extension, plot IG1, his headstone pictured on the TWGPP website.

Other kew trained gardeners became POWs, their accounts featuring in the same 1919 issue oif the Kew Guild Journal as Arnold Duley’s obituary.

A.W. Maynard was a prisoner from 24 March 1918, presumably captured in the famous March 1918 German counterattack. His story is told here:

EDE7C450-CABA-4513-A68D-E7528426A781

Equally interesting is the account of his internment in Ruheleben internment Camp by Guy Neville, who was a friend of fellow Kewite Arnold Duley.

 

 

150E7D32-0DCA-480A-AA39-10F053FF969C

Guy Neville mentions Arnold Duley in the first part of his account of internment life at Ruheleben Camp in Germany, famous for its Horticultural Society.

Arnold Duley, Gardener, Soldier, POW, not forgotten.

N.B. A scheduling error means that this blogpost has gone out a few days late, rather than on the Centenary on March 14 1918 / 2018

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

 

 

Remembering A.J. Meads of Kew Gardens Palm House died WW1 1 December 1917

December 3, 2017

Remembering A.J. Meads of  Kew Gardens Palm House died WW1,  1 December 1917

Rifleman Arthur John Meads, 551182, D Company, 2nd /16th London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles), died 1st December 1917, aged 27.

He is buried at Grave Reference H. 24, Ramleh War Cemetery, Palestine/ Israel  (now Ramla) was occupied by the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade on 1 November 1917.

The cemetery was begun by medical units linked to the Field Ambulances and Casualty Clearing Stations posted at Ramleh and Lydda from December 1917 onwards.

Meads died there of abdominal wounds in a Field Ambulance station around the time this cemetery and hospitals were established. His headstone (with no family inscription) could be seen at the TWGPP website.

His Kew Guild Journal 1918 obituary lists him as Sub-Foreman of the Palm House. Meads enlisted in January 1915 and went to France on June 1916. He was wounded on Salonika in 1916/17, before moving to Palestine in 1917. He served with three other Kew colleagues in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Arthur John Meads of  Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Remembered on the WW1 section Kew Gardens staff memorial (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

His death date is recorded as 1st December 1917 during the Second Battle of Gaza, of wounds received on November 26th 1917.

Born on 22 February 1890, he is listed as the son of John and Kate Meads, of Swallow St., Iver, Bucks and husband of Margaret Annie Meads, of Strood Villa, Broad Oak, Newnham-on-Severn, Glos.

You can read more about Kew in WW1 at

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Rifleman Arthur John Meads, 551182, D Company, 2nd /16th London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles), died 1st December 1917, aged 27,

Remembered on the Kew Gardens staff War Memorial 100 years on.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 1st / 3rd December 2017.

 

Remembering Tank Sergeant George Douglas of Kew Gardens Died Cambrai WW1 20 November 1917

November 20, 2017

cwgc-cambrai-louverval

Cambrai Louverval Memorial (image CWGC)

A Kew Gardens “Tankie” was killed at Cambrai on 20 November 2017.

Sergeant George Douglas, Scottish Horse / Royal Tank Corps  is remembered at Kew Gardens and also on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval in France. This is a memorial to the missing or those with no known graves from the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

He served as Serjeant, 93045 with E Battalion, Royal Tank Corps having originally been with the 2/3 or 23rd Scottish Horse. Douglas  died on 20 November 1917, aged 40.

Other websites such as the Tankmen of Cambrai website had him listed as a Corporal, alongside  fascinating information about the early Tank Corps crew and this battle. He lost several brothers in WW1.`

Of the 35 Mark IV British tanks which went into action crushing wire and supporting Scottish troops of the Highland Brigade in the attack on the German occupied village of Flesquieres, 28 tanks were put out of action by enemy fire or had broken down by the end of the first day, the 20th of November 1917.

29 were killed and 31 tank crew missing including Sergeant Douglas, 64 others were wounded.

In the 1914 Kew Guild Journal he is listed as an Old Kewite, having entered Kew in November 1899 from Lowther Castle Penrith.

He went with fellow young Kewite James G. Duncan (who entered Kew 1900 from Glenart Castle, Co. Wicklow) as Assistants in the Municipal Garden, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Kew Guild Journal (1901) notes that Duncan and Douglas have both joined the Town Guard in South Africa during the Boer War on the British side.
He enlisted again in WW1 in Edinburgh into the Scottish Horse before joining the Tank Corps. He was born in Selkirk around 1877, the son of Mr & Mrs James and Agnes Douglas of 15 Green Terrace, Selkirk and husband of Lydia E. Douglas (nee Chaplin) of 13 West Mayfield, Edinburgh.

According to a post on the Scottish War Memorials Trust website, George Douglas was one of four brothers from the same family to die in the First World War.

The others were

Gunner T. Douglas, 776624, 310 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery killed on 15 April 1917, HAC Cemetery, Ecoust St. Main, France;

Private John Sanderson Jardin Douglas, 10225 2nd Battalion, KOSB, died aged 25 on 13 October 1914, Le Touret Memorial;

Sergeant J H Douglas, S/1774, 3rd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, died 17 October 1918 and buried in Selkirk (Shawfield) Cemetery.

George Douglas is remembered on the Kew Gardens Staff War memorial

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial. Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Read more about Kew Gardens staff in World War 1 at
https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Reading these names and a little about these men, their families and where they worked means they are not forgotten 100 years on from their deaths during the Battle of Passchendaele and Cambrai  period of 1917 .

Remembering the first Tankies involved in the Battle of Cambrai.

Douglas and brothers are remembered on the Hawick in the Great War website  http://www.spanglefish.com/hawickgreatwar/index.asp?pageid=321391

Posted on the centenary by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, 20 November 1917 / 2017

Remembering Sergeant John Oliver of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester died WW1 24 October 1917

October 24, 2017

warmem3

The damaged Belle Vue memorial names section, thankfully carved in stone as the statue has been stolen. Image: manchester history.net photo

Remembering Sergeant John Elijah Oliver of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens Manchester, who died aged 35 on active service during the Battle of Passchendaele, 24 October 1917.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/remembering-the-lost-ww1-staff-of-belle-vue-zoo-manchester/

Sergeant John Oliver 18673 served with 19th Platoon, E Company of the 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment and died  towards the end of the ‘Battle of Passchendaele’ (The Third Battle of Ypres) which ran from July 31st to November 6th 1917.

By October during the last phases of the battle, the battlefield had become a sea of mud. It was in this fighting, finally achieving the objective of capturing the village of Passchendaele itself, that Sergeant John E. Oliver was killed.

IMG_2727

John Oliver has no known grave and is commemorated on The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Sergeant John Oliver was the husband of Rose Oliver of 36 Darley Street, Gorton, Manchester. He appears to have been a journeyman joiner by trade and was born in Rotherham.

He was one of several zoo staff who died during the Passchendaele fighting in 1917.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

John Oliver and his men of the 21st Manchester Regiment, Remembered 100 years on .

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 24 October 2017.

Remembering William Perkins ZSL London Zoo keeper died WW1 3rd October 1917

October 3, 2017

 

IMG_2353

03.10.1917 William Perkins Royal Garrison Artillery ZSL Keeper is his inscription on the WW1 bronze plaque on London Zoo’s staff War Memorial.

William Perkins served as 115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery from 28 August 1916 until his death on 3rd October 1917. He arrived in France and Flanders along with the rest of his 233rd Siege Battery,  Royal Garrison Artillery, BEF / British Army on 22 December 1916.

William Perkins was born in 1878 in Lifton in Devon on the Cornwall / Devon border  to a gardener and labourer father Thomas and Cornish mother Emma Jane.

IMG_2354

Listed as a keeper on his wedding certificate, he married Lucy Elizabeth MacGregor in London in 23 August 1914 after the war broke out and they lived in Eton Street, NW London (near other London Zoo keepers).

IMG_2352

William Perkins is buried here in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium (Image: CWGC)

Perkins is buried in an individual plot in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium.

His headstone inscription (chosen by his wife or family)  reads “Lord teach me from my heart to say thy will be done”.

His CWGC cemetery record mentions that he was killed aged 39 in an enemy air raid on 3rd October 1917.

.

IMG_2355

Part of William Perkins’ WW1 Service records recording his attesting (enlistment) on 11 December 1915, call up in August 1916 and death on 3 October 1917.

William  Perkins was promoted from Gunner (artillery equivalent of a private) to Bombardier, the equivalent of an army corporal, on 16 September 1917 shortly before his death.

What was a Siege Battery?

William Perkins served with the 233rd Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire.The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers.

As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines (source: Long Long Trail)

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/the-siege-batteries-of-the-royal-garrison-artillery/

Several zoo staff served with artillery units, possibly because of their familiarity with large animals like the many heavy horses required to move and supply the guns, as shown here:

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/definitions-of-units/what-was-a-siege-battery-of-the-royal-garrison-artillery/

Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery where William Perkins is buried is an appropriately named cemetery for an artillery soldier. It  occupies a site at a road junction where three batteries of Belgian artillery were positioned in 1915.

The cemetery was begun by the 8th Division in June 1917 after the Battle of Messines and it was used until October 1918, largely for burials from a dressing station in a cottage near by. Almost half of the graves are of casualties who like William Perkins belonged, or were attached, to artillery units. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

William’s Army Service Records WW1

We are lucky that William’s service papers have survived to give us some details of his Army Service. Many such records were destroyed during the Blitz in WW2.

IMG_2356.

Amongst the more touching records in his service records is a list of his possessions after he was killed in an enemy air raid on 3rd October 1917. These would usually be returned to his wife Lucy or his family.

IMG_2359

.IMG_2360

This letter from his wife Lucy requests the return of his possessions, a further army form in his papers directs that this is done.

.IMG_2358.

His wife Lucy is eventually granted an army pension of 15 shillings a week. The couple had no children.

I have seen in the ZSL Library and Archive many of the ZSL staff record index cards for many of the staff listed in the war memorial listing when they joined, rates of pay and which animal section they worked on. I will add any details for William Perkins when I next find these notes!

To find out more about how zoo and botanic gardens staff fared in The Battle of Passchendaele 1917:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

To find out more about ZSL London Zoo staff in WW1:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/remembering-lost-wartime-staff-of-zsl-london-zoo-in-ww1/

London Zoo keeper William Perkins, died 3rd October 1917, remembered 100 years on.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 3 October 2017.


%d bloggers like this: