Archive for the ‘World War 1’ Category

The Silvertown Explosion London 19 January 1917

January 19, 2017

WW1 diarist Edith Spencer recorded in her diary for 19 /20 January 1917:

Terrific explosion at Silverton.

She had recently arrived back from visiting family in Newcastle upon Tyne (‘luggage came’) to her new clerical job at 24 Bishopsgate in London, filing and learning shorthand for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. No doubt she had filled  a post made free by the call up or conscription of young men for war work or the armed services.

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The Silvertown explosion occurred in Silvertown in West Ham, Essex, (now Greater London) on Friday, 19 January 1917 at 6.52 pm.

The blast occurred at a munitions factory that was manufacturing explosives for Britain’s war effort.

Approximately 50 long tons (50 tonnes) of trinitrotoluene (TNT) exploded.

73 people were killed and 400 injured, as well as causing substantial damage to hundreds of houses across the local area.

Remembering the many men and women war worker casualties of the Silvertown TNT factory explosion. 

The blast could be heard and felt up to a hundred miles away.

The animals at London Zoo a few miles away would clearly have heard it.

The panes of glass in the greenhouses at Kew Gardens would have rattled.

So even if Edith Spencer had travelled back from her new clerical job in London and reached the family home at Wesley Manse, Derby Road  in Watford about 17 miles away, she could clearly have heard the Silvertown explosion.

You  can read more about and by Edith Spencer, one of the diarists in my personal collection of wartime diaries on loan to the World War Zoo Gardens project, at this previous Zeppelin WWI air raid blogpost https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-first-blitz-on-london-from-an-unpublished-ww1-diary/

More about the explosion at:

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

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Ministry of Food Formed

December 22, 2016

The Ministry of Food was formed on December 22 1916. It was formed to deal with the increasing supply problems of bad harvests, an ongoing war requiring food for civilians, war workers and troops, call up of agricultural workers and horses affecting farming and merchant shipping threatened by German U-boats.

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WW1 child and adult ration books from the Ministry of Food (October 1918)

The Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Pensions were formed on the same day, the same time that a new War cabinet wad formed under the new Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C786

National Archives file summary:

The first Ministry of Food was established on 22 December 1916 under a Food Controller who, under the New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916, was empowered to regulate the supply and consumption of food and take steps for encouraging food production.

The Ministry was dissolved on 31 March 1921.

“Never Mind the Food Controller, We’ll Live on Love …” was a popular gramophone and music hall song by Florrie Forde at this time.

 The Ministry of Food survived until 1921, was reformed in 1939 for WW2 and later in the 1955 became MAFF and since 2002 DEFRA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Food_(United_Kingdom)#Minister_of_Food_Control_.281916.E2.80.931921.29

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a WW1  ration book

The national food situation would become a growing concern for gardeners and garden editors like Herbert Cowley:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

The Verdun Oak at Kew Gardens

December 20, 2016

19th December 2016 saw the unveiling ceremony of a commemorative bench  commissioned by Kew Gardens to mark the centenary of the end of the “Battle of Verdun”.

The bench has been crafted by Gaze Burvill with timber from a specimen of Quercus petraea which was struck and felled during “St Jude’s storm” in 2013.

http://www.kew.org/about/press-media/press-releases/kew-gardens-unveil-verdun-bench-mark-100th-anniversary-battle

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The new Kew Gardens Verdun Oak bench, 19 December 2016 (Image: RBG Kew) 

 

This tree was planted at Kew in 1919, from an acorn picked up after the Battle of Verdun,  in remembrance of Kew staff who died during the Great War,  and all soldiers from the different nationalities who fought in this dreadful battle and “the Great War”.

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/

The Ceremony took  place on the 19th December 2016  by the Palm House pond near the Cumberland Mound.

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Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century … RIP 2013 (photo; Mark Norris)

Just before I saw the absence of the Verdun Oak at Kew Gardens I had read this article by blogger Lucy at http://www.familyaffairsandothermatters.com/verdun-oak-kew-gardens-an-armistice-day-story/

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Verdun Oak 2013 photo from Lucy’s Blog at http://www.familyaffairs and othermatters.com

Sadly, although invited, I could not attend the Ceremony but I will look out for this bench on my next visit to Kew Gardens.

 

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens Project, December 2016.

 

 

Stanley Saul Mottershead killed 4 December 1916

December 4, 2016

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Stanley Saul Mottershead,  brother of the founder of Chester Zoo George Mottershead, was killed in action in France on 4 December 1916.

http://www.chesterzoo.org/global/about-us/our-zoo-bbc-drama/george-mottershead

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George Mottershead in uniform with wife Elizabeth, World War One, one of many family photos in the new June’s Pavilion, Chester Zoo, 2011.

George Saul Mottershead himself had been very seriously wounded by a bullet near the spine during the Battle of The Somme a few weeks earlier on the 15th October 1916. Doctors feared that George would be paralysed, however this former physical fitness instructor took several years to walk again, always with a limp.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/george-mottersheads-trip-from-our-zoo-at-chester-zoo-to-newquay-zoo/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/our-zoo-chester-zoo-and-the-drama-of-zoo-history/

George lost two brothers, half-brother Albert (Bert) Mottershead,  remembered with his brother Stanley Saul Mottershead on the Sale war memorial.

33 year old  Lance Corporal Albert Mottershead, Service No. 25258,  Lewis Gunner in the 23rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment was killed on 22 October 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

http://www.traffordwardead.co.uk/index.php?sold_id=s%3A8%3A%22413%2Csale%22%3B&letter=M&place=&war=&soldier=Mottershead

http://www.mlfhs.org.uk/data/war_memorials_images.php?memorial=75

Private Stanley Saul Mottershead, Service No. 12594, 19th Battalion Manchester Regiment, (the 4th Manchester Pals) was killed by a shell on 4 December 1916. He had only arrived at the front in November 1916. He is buried at Grave Reference: I. E. 3, in  Douchy-Les-Ayette British Cemetery in France, a concentration burial  area for 491 soldiers including many from scattered graveyards across Arras and The Ancre.

http://www.traffordwardead.co.uk/index.php?sold_id=s%3A8%3A%22412%2Csale%22%3B&letter=M&place=&war=&soldier=Mottershead

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George’s brother Stanley Saul Mottershead is buried here near the tree on the right at Douchy Les Ayette Cemetery, France (Image source: CWGC)  

 

The Mottershead family, remembered.

Many thanks to George Cogswell for his website and research on the Mottershead family, Trafford and Sale war dead.

Posted By Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Remembering Charles Anderson of Kew Gardens Albert Medal winner

November 28, 2016

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Anderson and Fussell are buried alongside each other  in the third row right, just out of the edge of this photo of St Venanlt Communal Cemetery, France (Image source: CWGC)

Remembering Charles Henry Anderson, Kew Gardener, and Bertram Fussell, 14 London Regiment, who both died on 28/ 29 November 1916  due to an accident with a hand grenade.
2326 Lance (Sergeant or) Corporal Charles Henry Anderson died on 29 November 1916 aged 26, serving in France with the  1st/14th Bn. London Regiment (London Scottish). He was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions on 29 November 1916, saving the lives of several of his comrades.

His medal record card states that in addition to the standard Victory and British war medals, he was also awarded the Albert Medal (citation below, also available on CWGC website ).

Citation
An extract from “The London Gazette,” No. 30156, dated 29th June, 1917, records the following:-“The King has been graciously pleased to award the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class in recognition of the gallantry of Lce. Cpl. Charles Henry Anderson, late of the 1st/14th Bn. of the London Regt., who lost his life in France in November last in saving the lives of others.

On the 28th Nov., 1916, Lce. Cpl. Anderson was in a hut in France with eleven other men when, accidentally, the safety pin was withdrawn from a bomb. In the semi-darkness he shouted a warning to the men, rushed to the door, and endeavoured to open it so as to throw the bomb into a field. Failing to do this, when he judged that the five seconds during which the fuse was timed to burn had elapsed, he held the bomb as close to his body as possible with both hands in order to screen the other men in the hut. Anderson himself and one other man were mortally wounded by the explosion, and five men were injured. The remaining five escaped unhurt. Anderson sacrificed his life to save his comrades.”

Anderson is buried alongside Fussell at Grave Reference II. K. 3, St. Venant Communal Cemetery in France, just to the side of the cross of sacrifice, amongst 253 WW1 Commonwealth soldier burials. The cemetery is associated with the Casualty Clearing Stations where Anderson and Fussell died.

Anderson’s headstone is shown at: https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3980361

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/287702/ANDERSON,%20CHARLES%20HENRY

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Anderson’s name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

In the Kew Guild Journal staff records Anderson is listed around 1914/15 as a ‘Present Kewite’ (still employed actually at Kew when war broke out) and employed as a ‘Gardener’. You can read more about him and his story at:

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

Charles Anderson’s “heroic” death, an alternative view:

Interestingly earlier this year (2016) James Wearn at Kew and I were contacted by Mike Thompson, who had a different interpretation of the grenade accident incident:

In Mike Thompson’s words, “Charles Henry Anderson was a fool and a show-off, who got himself killed through his own stupidity and cost the life of another man, as well as five others wounded.”

“He was in an army hut behind the line, kitted up for a trench raid and each man had been issued with two No.5 Mills Bombs.  All except Anderson carried them in their gas satchels. He was showing off how he had cut slits in the inside lining of his leather jerkin, to get bombs out more quickly. He was demonstrating this when the pin came out of one of the grenades. He ran to the door but the bomb exploded. The Court of Enquiry concluded that the bomb was not a faulty short fuse but recommended that improvements be made to the actual pin.”

“The Corps Commander, Lt-Gen Sir Richard Haking recommended him for the Albert Medal“.

To Mike Thompson this appears “By modern standards, an absolutely bizarre decision.”

The Court of Enquiry report is in the WW1 service file for the other man killed Bertram Fussell, which can be found on Ancestry. Anderson and Fussell are buried side by side.”

In this alternative interpretation, the Albert Medal recommendation appears today to Mike Thompson  “an absolutely bizarre decision”.

I have since read the Court of Enquiry notes and witness statements on Fussell’s service record (available on Ancestry).

In modern times / standards,  the medal might appear to be a wartime attempt to hide the awkwardness or embarrassment to his family or regiment and maintain morale and good press for the war effort.

Although the Court of Enquiry held that Anderson was to blame, his self-sacrificing efforts to save his fellow soldiers from the blast by shielding them from the explosion was noted.

Changes to the demonstration, issue and carrying of  Mills grenades were recommended in his battalion after this accident, as well as criticism of the ‘malleable’ yellow metal of the grenade pins.

Whether this was accident, mistake or both, both Anderson and Fussell are buried alongside each other.

Fussell’s death is recorded as Bomb Wound (accident) on 28.11.16 from which he died in 32 Casualty Clearing station at 9pm on 29 / 30 November 1916, after the Court of Enquiry had taken place. Only Anderson had died by the time the Court of Enquiry notes were typed up.

Bertram Fussell was a former  clerk of the Port Of London Authority who attested as a pre-war Territorial in 1912, living with his brother at 81 Dover Road, South Wanstead. Born in West Ham in January 1894, he enlisted in London on 5 August 1914, transferred regiments to serve with friends and finally embarked for France on 14 July 1916. He was injured by a shell wound on his right shoulder on 6 September 1916 and only returned to his battalion a week before his accidental death.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/287725/FUSSELL,%20B

Headstone photo at https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3980449

Bertram Fussell and Charles Henry Anderson, remembered.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Living Memory and 141 days of the Somme

November 18, 2016

18th November 1916 – the Battle of The Somme finally ceased after 141 days.

This period of the war from  1st July 1916 to 18 November 2016 has been marked by many centenary or anniversary projects across Europe and the Commonwealth.

Lovely touch, we have just received this smart certificate from the Living Memory team at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for our research and blog post about our local CWGC War Graves ‘at home’ in Newquay cemeteries, linked to the 141 days of the Somme battle.

Thanks very much to the Living Memory team.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/cwgc-projects/living-memory.aspx

Read more at:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-somme-the-ennor-family-living-memory-and-our-local-cwgc-headstones-in-newquay/

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WW1 casualties Natural History Museum staff war memorial

November 10, 2016

Remembering Robert James Swift, Natural History Museum staff, died 10 November 1916, Somme.

Gunner Robert James Swift 3474, 1st Battery, 45th Brigade Royal Field Artillery died on 10 November 1916. He has no known grave and is remembered on Pier / Face 1A / 8A of the Thiepval Memorial.

Also from the Somme Battles and with no known grave and listed on the Thiepval Memorial is fellow Natural History Museum staff member Private Stanley Thomas Wells 532040 (4674) D Company, 1/15 London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) who died on 19 September 1916, aged 22.

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Robert J Swift and Stanley Thomas Wells are two British Museum / Natural History Museum  staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

There are several war memorials and a Roll of Honour to the staff of The British Museum (Natural History) inside  its magnificent entrance hall.

This website has some good photographs:

 http://2ndww.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-natural-history-museum-in-world-wars.html

Other photos on the Waymarking website:

http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=6f276a15-e256-4ffe-aa4a-33184175fda5&gid=3

Further plaques reveal a link to SOE activity and weapons designed or demonstrated in some of its galleries, sealed  off during wartime and secret.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/departments-and-staff/library-and-archives/collections/world-wars.html

Within the British Museum (Natural History) or as it is now known the Natural History Museum,  there are two separate WW1 lists, one a Roll of Honour, the other a brass plaque listing the name of the dead staff.

Natural History Museum staff lost in WW1

Edward A Bateman

Private Edward Albert Bateman, 35698, 1st Norfolk Regiment, died 29 June 1918, aged 18. He is buied at plot I C 22 Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France amongst burials from local base hospitals. CWGC record him as the “son of Frank and Emma Bateman, 200 Valley Road, Streatham”.

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Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille. (Source: CWGC)

Frederick J. Bean

Thomas Douglas

John Gabriel

Private John Gabriel, 2865, 15th  Battalion London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles) died on 30 July 1916. He is buried in plot III B 10 Maroueil British Cemetery. CWGC records him as “the son of William and Matilda Gabriel. A Civil Servant”.  7 other soldiers named J Gabriel died in WW1.

E. George Gentry

Lance Corporal Ernest George Gentry 6896 2nd East Surrey Regiment died on 13 July 1915. He has no known grave and remembered on Panel 34 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/remembering-ernest-george-gentry-natural-history-museum-died-ypres-13-july-1915/

Duncan Hepburn Gotch
Second Lieutenant, 1293, B Compnay, 1st Battalion, Worcester Regiment, died 11 March 1915, aged 23. Remembered on the Le Touret Memorial to the missing of the early battles of 1914-1915 who have no known grave. Born in Kettering, the son of Davis F. Gotch (involved in shoe and leather manufacturing and later Assistant Secretary of Education Northants County Council) and Ethel Gotch, Bassingburne, Northampton. In the 1911 census, he was listed as Biology Student at Cambridge University. He was an entomologist.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/duncan-hepburn-gotch-entomologist-died-neuve-chapelle-11-march-1915/

Charles Hill

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Jerusalem Cemetery (Image source: CWGC)

I.J. Frederick Kingsbury

Private Isaac James Frederick Kingsbury 532927 2/15th London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) died of wounds on 22 February 1918, aged 24. He is buried at plot Q35, Jerusalem War Cemetery. CWGC records him as the son of Elizabeth Kingsbury.

According to NHM records, he was born in 1893 and joined the Museum as a Boy Attendant in the Depertment 0f Zoology on 11 June 1908. He became a full Attendant on 22 August 1914 working in the Fish and Reptile section under Boulenger.

In the Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians, it mentions that Boulenger named the Kingsbury’s Rocket Frog Allobates Kingsburyi in 1918 as a memorial to his colleague. This South American rainforest frog is now endangered http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/55100/0

George Pagnoni

Private 4187, 13 Kensington Battalion London Regiment died on 17 September 1916. Buried or commemorated on  213.6.9 screen wall section of  Kensal  Green All Soul’s Cemetery in London. CWGC records him as the “son of Henry and Flora Pagnoni (nee Bendall)”. His headstone inscription chosen by Miss M. Pagnoni, 15 Rosher Mansions, Fulham, SW6 is simply “Born 1898. For Home, King and Country”. The NHM archive lists him in photographs as a boy Attendant in the Geology department.

J. H. Smitheringale

Several men of this name are listed. Most likely to be Private 233848, 2/2 London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) died on 21 March 1918. He is remembered on Panel 85/86 Pozieres Memorial.

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Smitheringale is named amongst thousands of missing on the Pozieres Memorial. Image Source: CWGC.

Robert J Swift

Gunner  Robert James Swift 3474, 1st Battery, 45th Brigade Royal Field Artillery died on 10 November 1916. He has no known grave and is remembered on Pier / Face 1A / 8A of the Thiepval Memorial.

Stanley T Wells

Private Stanley Thomas Wells 532040 (4674) D Company, 1/15 London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) died on 19 September 1916, aged 22. He has no known grave and is remembered on Pier / Face 13C of the Thiepval memorial to the missing of the Somme battles. CWGC records him as the son of Thomas and Alice Elizabeth Wells, 33 Elmsleigh Road, East Hill, Wandsworth.

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Rocquigny Equancort British Cemetery (Image: CWGC)

Felix Gilbert Wiltshear

Rifleman F. Gilbert Wiltshear R/32865, 10th King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died on 23 November 1917, aged 35.

He is buried in plot  III.B.14, Rocquigny Equancort Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, Somme, a cemetery of over 2000 burials associated with local Casualty Clearing Stations. CWGC lists him as the “son of Felix Gilbert and Fanny Wiltshear; husband of Ellen Barbara Wiltshear, 19 Ellerby Street, Fulham.” His wife Mrs E.B. Wiltshear chose the words “Fight the Good Fight with All Thy Might” for his headstone.

We will add more information to these men as we come across it.

The 8 staff casualties from WW2 will be dealt with in a separate blog post.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 10 November 2016

 

 

WW1 related posts for Remembranace Week

November 7, 2016

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Autumn colours behind the ZSL staff war memorial, London Zoo, November 2010 (Photo: Kate Oliver)

Remembrance Week or Poppy Week is upon us again in the Somme Centenary Year 2016.

Here is a quick round up of some of our WW1 blogposts as part of the World War Zoo Gardens project, written or updated since 2009.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/ww1-related-posts/

I hope you find something of interest here.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

 

 

Remembering William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo Keeper died Somme 23 October 1916

October 23, 2016

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William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1 (Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

Remembering today 100 years on ZSL Keeper William Dexter who died on 23rd October 1916 during the Somme battles.

You can read more about him at:

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

One of the things I remember most poignantly about Dexter is that he was finally identified by his number or initials in “a piece of boot” (according to his pension and service records) ‘19841 R.B.’ (for Rifle Brigade)

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Burial details of how William Dexter was identified. Source: CWGC

Remembered also by his granddaughter Nova Jones whom I met at London Zoo’s war memorial whilst researching there:

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Nova Jones, Dexter’s granddaughter, inspects his name on the new panels at the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial. (Image: Mark Norris)

The old brass plaques are so well polished they were replaced in 2014 at the start of the WW1 centenary:

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Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 (panels now replaced by new ones in 2014)

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/remembering-ww1-in-zoos-and-gardens/

Remembered by his family and his workplace 100 years on.

 

Forgotten Wrecks of WW1 exhibition at Living Coasts until 16 November 2016

October 20, 2016

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Living Coasts http://www.livingcoasts.org.uk/ is currently home until 16 November 2016 to a fascinating exhibition Forgotten Wrecks of WW1  http://forgottenwrecks.maritimearchaeologytrust.org

The Forgotten Wrecks exhibition looks to raise the profile of under-represented aspects of the First World War.  Over 700 wartime wrecks are known to lie off the south coast of England.

These include largely forgotten ships and crafts of all shapes and sizes. Catch the exhibition at Living Coasts before it departs on 16th November 2016.

http://forgottenwrecks.maritimearchaeologytrust.org/

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Wrecks of course make fascinating artificial reef habitats for marine wildlife.

We must never forget though that many of these wrecks are also war graves.

This is something that struck me during my research into wartime zoo staff and also my Cornish coastal village war memorial when visiting the Tower Hill Memorial for Merchant Navy crews and Plymouth Naval War Memorial, both monuments  to those with no known graves except the sea.

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A few panels of the names of thousands of missing Royal Navy sailors on the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

The families of Torquay and Brixham along with Cornwall and many other coastal communities would have seriously disrupted by the submarine warfare affecting the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy shipping and fishing fleets.

Living Coasts also overlooks the site of not only a D-Day ‘hard’ embarkation point but also a short-lived WW1  former RAF / RNAS flying boat station. http://devonairfields.hampshireairfields.co.uk/torq.html

The hangers of this floatplane station were apparently sold off as war surplus after the First World War  to the canny Herbert Whitley to become bird aviaries at his fledgling Paignton Zoo!

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Find out more about visiting this Forgotten Wrecks exhibition at Living Coasts:

http://www.livingcoasts.org.uk/plan-your-visit/whats-on/events/detail/forgotten-wrecks-exhibition?utm_source=ENews&utm_campaign=October&utm_medium=Email

I must make time to get up to Torquay and see this Forgotten Wrecks exhibition before it finishes on 16 November 2016  at the always fascinating Living Coasts!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.


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