Archive for the ‘world war 2’ Category

London Zoo in the Blitz 26 / 27 September 1940 from magazines and press articles

September 28, 2015

This week sees the anniversary of the London Blitz affecting London Zoo, not just on the 26/27th September but for many anxious nights to come. Slowly press coverage and press releases trickled out, reassuring people that not much harm or damage had been done.

Our first report is from an Australian newspaper archive, itself reprinting a South African source? World news indeed!

LONDON ZOO BOMBINGS.

Animals’ Remarkable Escapes.

In London’s famous zoo elephants and monkeys, zebras and parrots have had remarkable escapes from indiscriminate Nazi bombing. The keepers (according to the “Cape Argus” Cape Town), have become amateur salvage men. The zoo suffered the disastrous effects of nearly 100 incendiaries and 14 other bombs recently, and while most of them fell either on paths or open spaces, a few hit buildings.

Monkey Hill, the ostrich and crane house, the restaurant, zebra house, aquarium, one of the aviaries and the antelope house have all been damaged. The aquarium keeper has been unofficially made foreman of the salvage gang. He has other keepers to help him. Jubilee and Jacky, the chimpanzees who were born at the zoo, are both still at the Zoo, with George and Chiney. They have been moved from the “chimp” house into the monkey house. So far the only animals which have escaped from the quarters through bombing are some monkeys and zebras and three humming birds.

There was great excitement the night a bomb fell on the zebra house. The building received a direct hit, and every one expected to find the animals dead. Not only were they alive and fit, but one ran a mile, as far as Gloucester Gate, with keepers in chase. One of the monkeys enjoyed a long spell of freedom. For three days it explored the Park, but towards the end of the third it returned to the Hill for food. There were about 30 monkeys set free by a hit scored on the Hill, but the keepers knew that if the animals were left alone they would soon return for food, and they did so. Although half a ton of concrete was blown over a parapet by the bomb, none of the monkeys was hurt. Fortunately, all the fish had been removed from the aquarium at the beginning of the war, so that none of them was hit when a bomb went through the roof.

Reprinted from The West Australian, Saturday 28 December 1940

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/47300068

ZSL 1940 p2

This magazine article in our collection is again a reprint of another paper – The Times – but with exclusive photographs for The War Illustrated magazine and makes interesting reading.

The zebra house shown is wrecked and its escaped zebra is ‘pictured’ later in our blog post in an unusual way, painted by a war artist.

ZSL 1940 p1

“The Zoo is in fact a microcosm of London. Hitler’s bombs cause a certain amount of damage to it, and a considerable amount of inconvenience; but they have not destroyed the morale or the routine of its inhabitants, animal or human, and it continues to function with a very respectable degree of efficiency”

In our August blogpost on the August 1940 edition of Boy’s Own Paper, we mentioned an article by Sydney Moorhouse advertised for the following month on London Zoo and zoos at war, September 1940.  The kind donation of this September issue to me  from Norman Boyd, a fan of the zoo artist L.R. Brightwell  means that I can now share this piece with you.

It should be read like The Times / The War Budget article on London Zoo’s blitz above as a reassuring bit of wartime propaganda in itself.

War zoo BOP 1940 1

The Boy’s Own Paper account of zoos at war was published the month that London Zoo was blitzed but written well before September 1940.

Warzoo BOP 2 1940

London Zoo’s preparation for War can be seen in some photographs taken from their Animal and Zoo Magazine in November 1939 in their library and archive blog :

http://www.zsl.org/blogs/artefact-of-the-month/zsl-london-zoo-during-world-war-two

zsl 40s map BW

The wartime /mid 1940s map we have for London Zoo in our collection  mentions the  Camel House “as damaged by enemy action” but it’s still standing today!

When Zebras roamed Camden Town during the Blitz

One of the remarkable sights of wartime London in the 1940 Blitz was an escaped zebra during the London bombing raid of 26/27 September 1940.

There is an excellent personal account of it by London Zoo Director Julian Huxley in his memoirs and snippets of what the Blitz was like for zoo staff on duty:

One night about 11 o’clock we heard a stick of bombs exploding nearer and nearer to our shelter, until the last bomb shook the foundations of the building.

I put on my tin hat and went across the Zoo to find that five bombs had hit the grounds, the Zoo’s water main had been cut and the restaurant was burning …

Firemen soon turned up and I conducted them to the Sea Lion Pool, the only source of water left, which they nearly drained before the flames were under control …

taken from Julian Huxley, Memories. Julian Huxley was the Director of the Zoo at the time.

The incident has been remembered also in a painting by war artist Carel Weight, now in the Manchester City Art Gallery.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/escape-of-the-zebra-from-the-zoo-during-an-air-raid-206376

zebra ww2 carel weight

London Zoo Bombsight ww2 website

London Zoo area in the Bombsight.org ww2 website

The amazing Bombsight.org  blitz map for 1940/41 also shows where bombs fell in and around the zoo, a website well worth exploring.

The Blitz on Britain’s cities and its zoos,  remembered.

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

 

 

Remembering the start of the Blitz 7 September 1940 (and a happy new school term )

September 7, 2015

Remembering the start of the Blitz 7 September 1940 (and a new term starts in school)

Today is the 75th anniversary of the day in the middle of the Battle of Britain that day bombing of RAF airfields and dogfights turned to night bombing of cities like London which went on for months almost without ceasing. The Blitz on London had begun.

There are widespread commemorations online and around the country of these events 75 years including the Battle of Britain Day 15 September, so that the next generation can pay their respects to and learn from the passing generation who lived through WW2.

Thankfully WW2 is still on the Primary School History Curriculum as schools go back in Cornwall.

100_7972

Small part of a WW2 display in a Cornish School c. 2012

Working out of Newquay Zoo on its Education section, I often get to visit primary and secondary schools and am  usually  impressed by the displays I see and work I hear going on.

This ranges from hearing “Hey Mister Miller”, a medley of 40s music and songs being rehearsed by student teachers with children at Antony School to seeing great mock up Anderson shelters in a 40s corner.

In another school which I think it might have been Devoran whilst taking rainforest animals in c. 2011/12,  I saw this simple WW2 display in its entrance / hall area. This must have been by Year 3 /4 (before the curriculum change that WW2 is now studied in Year 6).

100_7971

100_7969

Interesting Year 3/ 4 artwork studies of famous WW2 photos.

Year 3 in the past focussed on evacuation and a child’s view of the war. There is now a different WW2 history curriculum unit for year 6 in the New 2013/14 Primary National Curriculum.

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

Year 6 now have an  interesting wartime history unit in Cornwall Learning’s Inspire Curriculum Year 6 Battle of Britain: Bombs Battles and Bravery for the Spring Term Year 6

Mark Norris delivering one of our World War Zoo Gardens workshops in ARP uniform with  volunteer Ken our zoo 'Home Guard' (right)  (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

Mark Norris delivering one of our World War Zoo Gardens workshops in ARP uniform with volunteer Ken our zoo ‘Home Guard’ (right) (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

You can read more about the wartime history schools workshops that we offer here at Newquay Zoo in two blogposts:

Studying and  Designing WW2 Posters makes an appearance in the Year 6 History Unit – this original 1941 poster design in our collection was designed by two teenage evacuees the late Carmen Blacker and the late Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to the Bristol Hotel Newquay in the 1940s.

WAAF servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified  Chain Home Station like RAF Drytree, declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

The importance or miracle  of RADAR – WAAF servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified Chain Home Station (like RAF Drytree, Cornwall) declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

Very shortly in the next three weeks we will be blog posting about:

  • the Battle of Britain Day 15 September, stamps  and lots of Spitfires …
  • Peggy Jane Skinner’s teenage 1940 Blitz diary from our collection
  • the bombing of London Zoo 1940/41
  • the bombing of  Chessington Zoo and its partial evacuation to Paignton Zoo (our sister zoo) .  
World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

London Zoo’s ARP shelter pictured on our World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Remembering the start of the Blitz 7 September 1940 75 years on.

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

Contact us via the comments page or via the Newquay Zoo website.

Remembering Robert Hurst Cowley RAFVR died 2 September 1940

September 2, 2015

2 September 1940 is the 75th anniversary of the death of Robert Hurst Cowley, RAFVR on air operations in Scotland.

Robert was the  son of garden writer, former Kewite and WW1 veteran Herbert Cowley about whom more can be read on our Wikipedia entry for him:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Cowley

Herbert Cowley (1885-1967) from his Kew Guil journal obituary 1968

Herbert Cowley (1885-1967) from his Kew Guild journal obituary 1968.

Herbert Cowley had survived the trenches of a previous war, but lost many friends, family and colleagues. We wrote about him in a previous blogpost: 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/

Herbert’s unexpected move to the West Country and retirement from garden journalism may be explained by a sad wartime event in late 1940.

It appears that one of his sons, RAF Sergeant Observer Robert Hurst Cowley, 580643, died aged 22 on 2 September 1940 flying with 57 Squadron on Blenheim bombers on anti-shipping patrols over the North Sea from its base in Elgin in Scotland.

Robert is listed on the CWGC website as the “son of Herbert & Elsie Mabel Cowley of East Grinstead, Sussex”.

Runnymede memorial to missing aircrew (Image source: CWGC)

Runnymede memorial to missing aircrew (Image source: CWGC)

Robert Hurst Cowley has no known grave and is commemorated on panel 13 of the Runnymede Memorial to missing aircrew.

Robert is also listed on the St. Thomas a Becket church, Framfield on the War Memorial as ‘of this parish’. http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Framfield.html

Remembering Robert Hurst Cowley RAFVR, his grieving father Herbert Cowley and mother Elsie.

On wartime diaries and Our Land at War by Duff Hart-Davis

August 31, 2015

Duff Hart-Davis has recently released Our Land At War: A Portrait of Rural Britain (William Collins, 2015) an interesting new history book, focussed on the countryside during World War 2.

duff hart davis

The hardback so far has received good reviews:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/11573355/Our-Land-at-War-a-Portrait-of-Rural-Britain-by-Duff-Hart-Davis-review-profoundly-moving.html

The paperback is due for release in February 2016.

Researching  the World War Zoo Gardens project since 2008, I have read many chunky wartime history books by the likes of Juliet Gardiner and others in order to understand more widely what was going on in Britain on the Home Front in WW2. This has helped put the struggles of zoos and botanic gardens into context but also resolved many questions arising from the ongoing work of transcribing and editing a small collection of WW2 civilian home front diaries.

Some of these diary transcripts were used by Duff Hart-Davis in his research for Our Land At War and  I was delighted to see these diary sections appear in print for the first time.

A few of our family anecdotes crept in too, such as my mum being lookout to her evacuee gang in Sussex “scrumping in Vera Lynn’s orchard” (this is not a euphemism!) It was good to take a copy of Duff’s book up recently to show her these memories in print for the first time as well.

There are further snippets from my diary collection such as Home Guard diary entries by Charles G. Bond, apprentice wartime forester in the Forest of Dean. VE day diary entries record a day  of normal farm work from busy farmer and War Ag contractor John Alsop, farming at Longfield House Farm, High Marley Hill on the edge of the Gateshead and Newcastle collieries  (near Beamish Open Air Museum).

VE Day May 1945 carried on as normal for farmer John Alsop at his Marley Hill farm. (Source: Mark Norris private collection)

VE Day May 1945 carried on as normal for farmer John Alsop at his Marley Hill farm. (Source: Mark Norris private collection)

D-Day got scarcely more of a mention in this busy farmer’s diary:

D-Day 1944 entry in John Alsop's farmer's diary. Image source: Mark Norris, private collection.

D-Day 1944 entry in John Alsop’s farmer’s diary. Image source: Mark Norris, private collection.

The most extensive entries used by Duff Hart Davis are from the 1941 diary of Doreen Kippen, buried away in the Worcestershire countryside as a 20 year adult evacuee in the Tenbury Wells area, covering several pages of his book.

Duff was quite taken with Doreen as being “Lively minded, brave, stoical and slightly irreverent, with a strong sense of humour” in his words.

Doreen Kippen's diary entry April 20 1941 (image copyright: Mark Norris, private collection)

Doreen Kippen’s diary entry April 20 1941 (image copyright: Mark Norris, private collection)

It is a shame that I only have one year of Doreen’s  diaries, one of the stray volumes acquired online, compared to four years of farming diaries for John Alsop and six for schoolgirl, student and scientist Peggy Jane Skinner, all down to the vagaries of surviving house-clearances  and online auctions. Other volumes may be scattered in other people’s collections or have simply been lost or destroyed. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/happy-90th-birthday-peggy-jane-skinner/

Occasionally a second volume of a diary I have already transcribed turns up, such as a 1944 wartime diary of a Wimbledon lady involved in ARP in 1944 throughout the V1 doodle bug raids the first diary I collected in 2008. A single 1939 volume turned up this year, one I recognised as by the same author from long hours transcribing the handwriting and its cryptic and routine entries. This has given me missing details such as the previously anonymous author’s name and address, setting off a new line of research and editing for future publication. More of this another time …

As well as diary spotting, it was interesting to see how Duff  Hart-Davis  had written about how zoos in rural and city areas  had survived wartime, including how Chessington Zoo during the 1940 Blitz evacuated staff, livestock and miniature railway down to the safer rural seaside Devon site of Primley or Paignton Zoo, our sister zoo. I will feature more about this with some unpublished first hand accounts in our autumn 75th anniversary blogposts. The Slapton area clearances of country villages and disastrous US training exercise surprised by torpedo boats (Operation Tiger) are also mentioned, now the peaceful home to one of our Whitley Wildlife Conservation  Trust nature reserves at Slapton Ley.

Whilst it was fascinating to to be involved in the research for a new book and read the finished outcome, what was equally interesting was to come across new material in Duff’s book that I hadn’t read elsewhere in print.

The  first surprising section was Duff’s own memories of farm work as a small boy just before war broke out in 1939, an era of horses and steam machinery soon to give way to the more mechanised tractor rich intensive farming of wartime and post-war agricultural policy.

There are also fascinating sections about how the Scottish rural landscapes of privilege and country shooting became home to Special Operations Executive secret agent training camps, the gillies among those recruited to teach the silent arts of stalking and killing. Eccentric  naturalists like Gavin Maxwell, more usually associated with otters in his Ring of Bright Water book, were in demand as deadly trackers, readers of the land and the art of spooring.

Another interesting area Duff Hart-Davis  covers is the decline of country estates and later demolition of the more badly damaged country houses, requisitioned for a wide range of evacuated organisations and military bases. Some of these estates became the postwar basis for safari parks and zoos.

Land girls, Lumber Jills, hidden art treasures in Welsh slate mines, fox hunting n wartime and many other interesting areas are covered in this fascinating book.

Well worth a read in hardback or the forthcoming February 2016 paperback.

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

Remembering the British Chancellor and the bombing of Falmouth Docks 10 July 1940

July 9, 2015

Charles Pears (1873 -1958),  painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery www.falmouthartgallery.com

Charles Pears (1873 -1958), painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery http://www.falmouthartgallery.com

It is 5 years since we last posted on our blog about the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the British Chancellor and Falmouth Docks on 10 July 1940.

Now on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz on Britain’s towns, cities and ports, it is interesting to reread the ‘last post’ and postscript from 2010:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/postscript-to-our-price-of-oil-paint-big-ships-of-all-nations-bombing-of-the-british-chancellor-10-july-1940/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/the-price-of-oil-paint-and-big-ships-of-all-nations-from-the-ark-to-the-supertanker-german-invasions-budgets-the-world-cup-and-the-wartime-zoo-keeper’s-vegetable-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

I remember hearing David Barnicoat speak in 2010 on BBC Radio Cornwall about the 10 sailors and dock staff killed, the dramatic events at 2.30 /3.30 p.m. on an otherwise “lovely sunny day” and the marking of this anniversary on Falmouth Docks on Saturday 10th July 2010 with the sounding of the Docks siren to mark the 2010 anniversary and commemorate the loss of life and heroic rescue effort.

Read also an account of the rescue here http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fpboating/8258392.Deadly_raid_remembered/?ref=rss

Remembering the ten sailors and men  killed during this bombing, Falmouth, 10 July 1940.

Local civilians on board SS British Chancellor  or at Falmouth docks:

George Eric Bastian, aged 40

Walter Samuel Knott, 48

Charles Palin

Henry Arthur Pellow, 40

Samuel Prouse, aged 64

Leonard John Tallack

Merchant Navy crew of SS British Chancellor, mostly buried in Falmouth Cemetery:

3rd Engineering Officer John Carr, 26 (buried in Sunderland)

2nd Engineering Officer William Joseph Crocker, 36 (of Portsmouth)

Chief Engineering Officer Charles Halley Lennox, 56 (of Glasgow)

3rd Engineering Officer Philip George Lucas Samuels, 26

Further family information on CWGC.org records can be found for most of these men.

Remembered.

 

 

 

Remembering VE Day May 8 1945 and 2015

May 4, 2015

Our bunting is back out in the World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment garden at Newquay Zoo to remember and mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 1945.

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, late Summer 2011.

Remembering VE day May 8  1945 – many events are planned around Britain and the world to mark this 70th anniversary on Friday 8th May 2015, as the election news settles. The Gov.uk lists several VE Day 2015 projects.  BBC Radio Cornwall have also been collecting and featuring local memories of  VE Day events in 1945.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo  - blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo – blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

Here is a local Victory Day programme (1946) from our World War Zoo Gardens collections at Newquay Zoo:

Marazion VE day 1945

Some interesting and unusual sports – Tip the Bucket, Slow Cycle race – amongst the familiar egg and spoon and sack races  to celebrate Victory Day programme for the Marazion Victory parade in 1946.

 

Marzaion VE day 1945 2

Note the last phrase “The public are asked to decorate their houses with Flags and Bunting for the occasion”.

Many local people were interested to see this original Victory parade programme near its origin at the Trengwainton National Trust Gardens 1940s event in June 2014. A copy has now been passed on to the local Marazion school and museum

We will be back at Trengwainton with part of our wartime collection  at its next Sunday June 14th 2015 event  – check the Trengwainton Gardens website for details. They had a fantastic display at their own wartime allotment, including this fetching V for Victory 1940s garden poster:

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

After VE  day instead of relaxing in the wartime garden and planting flowers,  there was a switch from “Dig For Victory” to “Dig on For Plenty“, realising we had much of Europe to feed.

You can see more of Trengwainton’s wartime ‘victory’ garden and our part in their Victory Day  2014 events here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/trengwaintons-wartime-garden-project-cornwall/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/trengwainton-gardens-hurrah-for-the-home-front-1940s-event-2014-in-pictures/

However for my family and the nation there was still VJ Day to work towards, an a anxious and tired wait for the end of the war against Japan, which finally happened in August 1945.

This was covered in our zoo keeper and botanic garden staff FEPOW and Burma Star blogpost in January 2015: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/ 

Remembering VE Day 1945 …

Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

A wartime guide to Edinburgh 1943

April 1, 2015

This little wartime guide to Edinburgh is something I didn’t get time to post during the 2014 Scottish referendum or during the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo centenary in 2013. It is from the 5th Edition, November 1943.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

It gives a little flavour of wartime life in Edinburgh and Scotland during WW2. Clicking on a picture below should allow you to enlarge it and read more.

wartime guide 2wartime guide 3

More about Edinburgh wartime life, such as where to sleep for visiting servicemen and women:wartime guide 4

And of course, regimental clubs and less glamorous canteens and rest rooms for H.M. Forces:

wartime guide 5Alongside “leading churches in the city”, there is mention of Edinburgh Zoo and an image of its polar bears. There is also suggestions for Sunday evening entertainments other than churches.

wartime guide 6wartime guide 7 mapAmongst many recreation and entertainments including cinemas, theatres, public baths and zoos, golf seems to feature quite heavily in this little wartime tourism guide in the era of “holidays at home” in Scotland.

“>wartime guide 8

“Some addresses which may be useful” in wartime from ARP and NAAFI to the NFS and the YWCA.

wartime guide  10

wartime guide 12

wartime guide 11

So that’s a glimpse of wartime life in Edinburgh, a little bit of time travel.

There is a final page written in French which I will scan and add later, probably for Free French and Canadian French troops visiting the city.

Later in the year I will add more about the history of Edinburgh Zoo, its remarkable founder ‘Tom’ T.H. Gillespie and a few stories from its WW1 and WW2 history.

wratime guide 1

National Growmore Fertiliser – a brief history

March 4, 2015

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

Our poor soil is getting tired, entering our 7th growing season in the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo, just as it would have been for gardeners entering the 1945 growing season.

The first year or two in 2009/10, our Lion House lawn turned wartime allotment must have had a certain amount of stored natural goodness, being cultivated for the first time, along with good helpings of zoo bedding and zoo manure well rotted down.

The last two autumn / winters of 2013/14 we’ve given it an organic boost with green manures of mustard and clover grown and dug in before flowering. Like Heligan, we have used the traditional seaside remedies of using seaweed solutions or mulched sea weed dug and rotted down.

Since 2009 we’ve been keeping  it ‘semi-organic’, as our garden produce is not just for show but practically for our zoo animals. I have to be wary of chemicals and pesticides that would have been the quick fix for soil and pest problems in WW2.

It’s International Year of the Soil in 2015 (IYS) and December the 5th is now an annual World Soil Day, focussing on the growing challenge of feeding a growing world’s population with a potentially finite resource of soil. Much the same food security challenge faced farmers and food ministers in the wartime and post-war wrecked economy after World War 2.

The Soil Association's clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

The Soil Association’s clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

 

In future blogposts I will look at the organic and hydroponic movement that arose out of wartime and post-war  food production and intensification of farming. Few realised in the desperate state of wartime a nd positive view that ‘Science’ would solve all post-war problems until the slow discovery that some ‘miracle’ or quick-fix wartime pesticides like DDT would lead to the ‘Silent Spring’ of pollution in the 1950s and 1960s, as Rachel Carson christened the disastrous impact on wildlife and human health.  But  for now, I shall look at and try out the wartime solution of a simple and still much-loved  chemical fertiliser.

Update 15 March 2015:  As compromise and inspired by 1970s dandruff adverts, I will feed one half of the allotment National Growmore chemical fertiliser, the other half of the plot I will the leave as organic green manure fuelled or maybe Organic Blood Fish and Bone as an experiment.

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory! World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!
World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

 

This year for the first time, I’ll be using ‘Artificials’, taking my wartime gardening advice from the Ministry of Agriculture leaflets for 1945.  We have acquired many of these Ministry of Ag original leaflets for our archive but for muddy garden use and display we use a recent reprint.

These have been reprinted recently as Allotment and Garden Guide: A Monthly Guide to Better Wartime Gardening published by Sabrestorm  (www.sabrestorm.com) in 2009 edited by Garden historian Twigs Way. It describes Growmore in January 1945 as:

A SOUND GOVERNMENT FERTILISER
“To meet the needs of gardeners the Government arranged for the supply of a good standard fertiliser at a reasonable price. It is called “National Growmore Fertilser” and contains the three important plant foods – the analysis being 7 % N. (Nitrogen), 7 % Phosphate and 7 % Potash …”

“On most soils 42 lb of National Growmore Fertiliser should be sufficient for a 10 Rod Plot (300 square yards). A few days before sowing  or planting, scatter 1 lb. evenly over 10 square yards and rake in.”

“To give this general dressing to a 10-Rod allotment will take 30 lbs. this will leave 12 lbs for giving an extra dressing  for potatoes, winter green crops and spring cabbages. 4.5 lbs should be reserved for potatoes and should be applied at planting time. 5.5 lbs should be kept for applying during August to the autumn and winter green crops when they are making active growth. The remaining 2 lbs should be used during March as top dressing for Spring cabbage.”

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment - National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment – National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

The January 1945 leaflet goes on to suggest bulk buying if you can organise enough people to spilt the volumes ordered. This reminds me of childhood trips with my Dad to the local allotment society ‘potting shed’ on a Sunday to buy his share of the bulk bought fertiliser, seeds and such. With no car, we must have carried it or wheelbarrowed it home. The  smell of such places is quite evocative, dusty, fish, blood and bone, quite different from a modern garden centre.

“You will be able to get National Growmore Fertiliser from most sundries merchants. Allotment  Societies  and similar bodies, which have hitherto bought their fertilisers in bulk, are able to buy National Growmore Fertiliser in bulk at reduced prices.”

“On some allotments or in some gardens it may be necessary to give an additional top dreessing of a nitrogenous fertiliser (such as Sulphate of Ammonia) to any growing crops, applying it at the rate of about 1 lb per 10 square yards.” (January 1945 Min of Ag leaflet  p. 3-4)

Sundries merchants, hitherto – they just don’t write paragraphs like that anymore. As vanished as the evocative small of the local allotment society potting shed shop? Thankfully National Growmore Fertiliser is still alive and well available from most garden centres from several manufacturers such as J. Arthur Bowers and Vitax still made “to original ‘dig for victory’ formula” – http://www.vitax.co.uk/home-garden/vitax-growmore/

It also appears again on the REMINDERS monthly page for January 1945 Get Your Fertilisers Now. “Make sure of your fertilisers now, so that you have them at hand when needed”

Maybe gloves should be worn today ... How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

Maybe gloves should be worn today … How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser, illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

So important was Growmore to tired wartime soil and tired wartime gardeners that it was mentioned again in the February 1945 Allotment and Garden Guide Vol 1 No. 2. The end of the war was in sight after hard fighting but still the need to grow postwar crops meant that these leaflets carried on being published well past the end of the war in August 1945. Dig for Victory became Dig for Plenty, as rationing carried on for almost another ten years until 1954. Crop Rotation, compost, all these were important reminders to the winter gardener: “But before you get down to planning, have you yet got or ordered what you will need when you start outdoor operations? These are the items : SEEDS * SEED POTATOES * FERTILISERS *

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

A page or two later it has another reminder: “Have you got your NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER? you will need it for dressing your land before sowing and planting. it contains the three essential plant foods in balanced proportions …”

It crops up again in the Jobs Reminders, in March 1945: “Feed Spring cabbage … Lettuces and Spinach  … but keep the fertiliser off the leaves” and then onwards month by month in the Reminders. By July 1945, the war in Europe and VE day was over but things were still uncertain in the Far East. Reminders continued to gardeners to plant and sow to bridge the hungry gap next Spring 1946.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food's 1945 wartime gardening guide.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food’s 1945 wartime gardening guide.

What is National Growmore Fertiliser?

National Growmore is an inorganic or chemical fertiliser, broadly similar in its 7% each of Potash, Nitrogen and Phosphoric acid balance of nutrients (NPK 7:7:7)  to more traditional organic fertilisers like Blood, Fish and Bone.

Before the war,  nitrogenous fertilisers had existed in large numbers since Victorian times thanks to Chemists like Leibig and Humphry Davy. Prewar it would have been manufactured or sold by seed companies such as Sutton’s who offered a range of fertilisers:

  • Icthelmic Guano (sea bird poo, the reason some of our sea birds like the endangered Humboldt Penguins at Newquay Zoo became rarer when their Peruvian beach nest sites were mined or dug  back to useless bare rock )
  • Poultmure, treated chicken manure,  although no longer sold by Sutton’s or by this name is  still available in garden centres.
  • Garotta, still made under this name by several companies to speed or encourage compost breakdown.

When war broke out many of our European supplies of chemicals and chemical fertilisers such as (Sulphate of ) Potash became unobtainable, fell into enemy hands or found other competing wartime uses. Since the 1860s much of the Potash came from German or Prussian mining towns like Stassfurt.  Changing times meant fewer horses meant less available farmyard manure. Meanwhile a nation of gardeners was being mobilised to replace the same food supplies that had vanished into enemy hands and that (like today) we had become dependant on from foreign imports. A simple, easy to apply and multipurpose fertiliser at low cost and  widespread availability was required. National Growmore Fertiliser was the answer!

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

The Little Man with The Spade – unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940.

Why Growmore?

Growmore appears to have  got its simple name from an early version of the Dig For Victory campaign name and its popular Grow More food  leaflets. Eventually the campaign name changed to the more familiar Dig For Victory, its little gardener man logo replaced by the famous foot on spade  and postwar Dig for Plenty campaigns. Growmore remains the same name and composition to this day.

“Specifically Prepared to Produce Maximum Crops Of Vegetables”

Researching the introduction of Growmore, the National Archives files for the Ministry of Agriculture  MAF 51/24 suggest a start date of 1942 “National Growmore Fertiliser, a general purpose compound fertiliser”.

Looking at selections of historic newspaper archives through family history websites such as Find My Past as  a very rough sample reveals 7 mentions of National Growmore for that year, mostly in the later part of 1942,  whereas there are 166 for 1943 and so on.

The Ministry of Agriculture had made great use of the well-known garden writer Roy Hay (20 August 1910 – 21 October 1989) from 1940 onwards as part of its Dig for Victory campaign. In late 1942 he was used  to introduce National Growmore Fertiliser in his syndicated garden columns “Garden Hints”. Announcements appeared in many different papers ranging from  the Gloucester Journal on November 11 1942, Sussex Agricultural Express on 13 November 1942 to the Essex Newsman of the same week. Much of the copy Roy Hay provided and packaged in his garden columns was reproduced or recycled in the 1945 Allotment Guide:

A Standard Fertiliser

“At last gardeners and allotment holders can buy a standard fertiliser … to sold at prices not exceeding … 1 Cwt 25 shilings .. and authorised manufacturers will be permitted to put it on the market under this name. Many fertiliser manufacturers have already done so.”

There are a range of adverts from local newspapers that back this claim up of regulated prices “not exceeding”, such as this one from the Western Morning News 22 May 1943:

Fison’s National Growmore fertiliser for all vegetable Crops. Orders dealt with in strict rotation.Directions in Every Bag. 7 lbs 2/9 (2 shillings, 9d) 14 lbs 4/6, 28 lbs 7/6, 56 lbs 13/6 and 1 Cwt 25 shillings Carriage paid home.  It’s FISON”S for FERTILISERS. From seedsmen or direct from Fison’s Ltd Gardens Dept, Harvest House, Ipswich. Pioneers of Granular fertilisers.

 

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

A similar advert in the Yorkshire Post of 30 march 1943 boasts the royal credentials or patronage of another authorised maunfacturer:

By appointment to HM King George VI

NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER

The “Humber” Brand is manufactured by the makers of the famous “Eclipse” Compound Fish Manure. both of these aids to better gardening are packed in bags of 7 lbs, 28 lbs, 56 lbs, and 112 lbs, and supplies are available from your seedsman. Note – Special  terms are offered to Allotment Societies buying in bulk. Licensed manufacturers, the Humber Fishing and Fish manure Co. Ltd, Winchester Chambers, Stoneferry, Hull.

Whereas in the Lincolnshire Echo, 14 January 1944 Barkers and Lee Smith Ltd of Lincoln urge people to “Book your order now for spring delivery. Up to 3 cwt delivered tp premises at 25 shillings per cwt. No permit required.” Similarly a sense of urgency is found in this Cornishman advert of 1st July 1943:

BUMPER CROPS can still be obtained from your GARDEN if you use NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER NOW. You can purchase up to 3 Cwts free of permit from stocks at T.F. Hosking and Co., Marazion and Helston.

National Growmore made it into the regular Ministry of Agriculture adverts on

Wartime Gardening No. 22: SOWING TIME IS HERE

“If you’ve broken down rough ground till it is fine and level, and raked in National Growmore Fertiliser. take a last look at your cropping scheme. If you,ve allowed less than one-third of your space for growing winter greens, send at once for Dig For Victory Leaflet No 1 which shows you how to correct this serious mistake. You must make sure of enough winter gardens for next season. write to the Ministry of Agriculture, Hotel Lindum, St Annes On Sea, Lancashire.”

This address and the Hotel Berri Court Lytham St Annes seem to be the regular correspondence address for obtaining leaflets from the Ministry of agriculture which had dispersed or evacuated like many wartime ministries and organisations such as the BBC to a  safer ‘rural’ address or requisitioned seaside hotels.

Roy Hay even suggests National Growmore Fertiliser for Christmas 1942 in his column headed  “Tool Gifts for Gardeners” in the Essex Newsman 19 December 1942:

“A good present would be a bag of the new National Growmore Fertiliser – it has the advantage that you can buy quantities varying from a 7 lb bag at 2s, 9d to 1 Cwt at 25 shillings.”

 

Interestingly, the work of promoting National Growmore switched to Tom Hay, Roy’s retired gardener father in early 1943:

“They are fortunate who have a compost heap and for those less fortunate, the new National Growmore fertiliser…”  writes Tom Hay in the 18/2/43 edition of the North Devon Journal and Herald

Tom  Hay Plans  Your Victory Garden

“Roy Hay the national broadcasting gardening expert, whose articles in the Journal-Herald from time to time have been much appreciated by readers, has gone overseas on important work. Contrary to the Biblical story the mantle of Elisha has fallen in Elijah; in other words Mr Hay’s father Mr Tom Hay CVO, VMH, ex-superintendent of Royal Parks contributes this article:

“At no season is the great advantage of a carefully planned cropping system more evident than at present…”

and so Tom Hay goes on to talk about Crop Rotation, a major feature of the Dig for Victory campaign.

Exploring Roy Hay’s biography on Wikipedia reveals why he handed over many of his press columns and radio broadcasts on the BBC “Radio Allotment” to his father. He had been recruited as a Horticultural Officer to the besieged George Cross winning island of Malta to oversee its food production. He resumed his broadcasting career postwar with Fred Streeter on “Home Grown”, a Sunday forerunner of BBC Radio Gardener’s Question Time.

Roy Hay went on to found the Britain in Bloom movement in 1963, inspired by one in De Gaulle’s France. So another influence on the Newquay Zoo wartime garden which has featured as part of the zoo and Newquay’s efforts  in these ‘Bloom’ competitions.

As well as posters and radio allotments, newsreel films were well used to encourage reluctant diggers – you can see this in a lovely short 6 minute Dig For Victory MOI film with Roy Hay the radio allotment gardener http://www.thebigworld.co.uk/howtodigforvictory.htm.

Other garden writers like George H. Copley (N.D. Hort) in “Your Wartime Food Garden”  in the Lancashire Daily 26 May 1943 mention National Growmore Fertiliser in relation to fruit trees, advice later recycled again in the 1945 Allotment Guide.

For more on Fertilisers today check the RHS website https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=451

Enjoy the coming gardening season,  as March begins a busy period of sowing in the garden.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Postscript

There is an excellent section on wartime allotments in the new City Library of Birmingham, where I recently researched for information on the Birmingham Botanic Garden archives.
http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/allotmentsinwarandpeace

Mr. Middleton’s February and March Gardening Advice 1943

February 6, 2015

middleton calender cover

February and March gardening advice from Mr Middleton from the “Sow and Reap” 1943 calendar in our World War Zoo Gardens collection at Newquay Zoo. Happy Gardening!

middleton january week 3

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

 

feb2

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Some bird-friendly advice about pest control.

Time to order your seeds now! Soon time to get sowing.

feb3

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots – sow!

march1

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

 

march2

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

We’ll finish March with Mr Middleton’s late March advice, as he was a man who knew his onions …
You can read more about Mr. Middleton and his January 1943 advice in our previous post.
All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Remembering zookeeper and gardener Far East POWs 70 years on 2015

January 23, 2015

January 24th 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the death in 1965 of Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister and coiner of many memorable phrases including, most notably for our wartime gardens project, “War is the normal occupation of man. War – and gardening” (speaking to Siegfried Sassoon in 1918).

January 25th 2015 and 7th February 2015 are the less well-marked 70th anniversaries of several zoo and botanic garden casualties who died as FEPOWs (Far East Prisoners of War) or in the vicious fighting of what was called the ‘forgotten war’ in the jungles and oceans of the Far East. For many, the Burma Star was hard won.

G H Spare from the Kew Guild Journal obituary c. 1945/6

G H Spare from the Kew Guild Journal obituary c. 1945/6

Remembering Albert Henry Wells, London Zoo keeper killed in action, Burma, 25 January 1945

Remembering Gordon Henry Spare, Old Kewite / former Kew Gardens staff who died as a Far East POW (FEPOW), Borneo, 7 February 1945

Amongst the family medals I saw from childhood and that I now look after is a Burma Star belonging to my maternal grandfather, who died before I was born. A naval holder of the Burma Star for his service on aircraft carriers in the Far East, he survived several Kamikaze attacks. We still have some of the dramatic photographs in our family album.

My grandfather Len Ansell's Burma Star for naval service, with two portraits and his photos of life on board deck of an RN aircraft carrier from kamikaze attacks and seaplane prangs to deck hockey c. 1944/45 Source Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Collection.

My grandfather Len’s  Burma Star for naval service, with two portraits and his photos of life on board deck of an RN aircraft carrier from kamikaze attacks and seaplane prangs to deck hockey c. 1944/45 Source Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Collection.

So one day about fifteen years ago, I knew I would meet some amazing people with tales to tell when I was told that the Burma Star Association were visiting Newquay Zoo (home of the World War Zoo Gardens project) during a holiday gathering. I met them all by accident whilst I was clambering around our indoor rainforest in the Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, doing a feeding talk and rainforest chat.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

As they entered the heat and humidity of our Tropical House, I heard a different reaction to the usual “what’s that smell?” White haired old men remarked amongst themselves and to their wives that the smell “took them back a bit”. They were all transported back in memory to the tropics by that wet damp jungle smell.

As I scattered mealworms to attract the birds, pointed out various species of plants or animals then introduced some snakes and insects, I was surprised to be asked by one of them “if I knew what all the animals tasted like?”

The Burma Star embroidered: Embroidered hassock cushions, Zennor Parish Church Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris /WWZG

The Burma Star embroidered: Embroidered hassock cushions, Zennor Parish Church Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris /WWZG

I should have realised why he asked  when I saw the Burma Star proudly embroidered on some of their blazers and the regimental ties. These tough old men soon told me how they survived as soldiers or prisoners in the jungle, eating whatever they could catch or collect. For some of the prisoners amongst them, it literally saved their lives.

I quickly gave up talking and allowed our zoo visitors to listen to their jungle survival stories. From what I remember, to these hungry men, everything from snakes to insect grubs tasted “like chicken!” Having eaten a few unappetising invertebrates in the past, and those mostly dipped in chocolate, it only proves that hunger is the best sauce to unusual food!

Burma Star Association window, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Burma Star Association window, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

We do many rainforest talks for schools and visitors in our evocative and atmospheric Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, home to many interesting jungle animals including rare birds like the critically endangered Blue Crowned Laughing Thrush.

I  often think of those Burma Star veterans (who would now all be in their nineties, if still alive) and tell their “bushtucker” story whilst working or talking to people in the Tropical House.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

 

I thought of them recently when passing the Portscatho Burma Star memorial overlooking the harbour in Portscatho in Cornwall. I was puzzled why of all places it was there, but recently found more on the BBC archive about the unveiling of this here in 1998.  This memorial is especially dedicated for the missing who have no known grave, people like G.H. Spare of Kew or Henry Peris Davies of ZSL London Zoo. It is “dedicated to the memory of 26,380 men who were killed in Burma 1941-45 and who have no known grave, thus being denied the customary rights accorded to their comrades in death.

I wonder if the dedication of this memorial was the reason for the Burma Star Association gathering and social visit to Newquay Zoo, where I memorably met Burma Star veterans? This would have been around 1998.

I especially think of these men whenever I look at the Burma Star window in the beautifully rugged coastal church at Zennor in Cornwall.

I have inscribed the name of my Grandfather in the Burma Star memorial book at Zennor, along with the names of some of the casualties amongst London Zoo and Kew Gardens staff who died on active service in the Far East.

Burma Star memorial book, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Burma Star memorial book and lectern, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Close up of the Burma Star memorial inscription, Portscatho, Cornwall  Image: Mark Norris

Close up of the Burma Star memorial inscription,
Portscatho, Cornwall
Image: Mark Norris

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Dedication on the Burma Star Memorial Portscatho Cornwall, opened by Field Marshall Slim.  Image: Mark Norris.

Dedication on the Burma Star Memorial Portscatho Cornwall, unveiled by Viscount Slim, 1998  . Image: Mark Norris.

I  also thought of these men when displaying books and a silk jungle escape map in a display about another old man in the jungles of Far East Asia, plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward.

Frank Kingdon Ward in WW2 from a trail board from a past Newquay Zoo plant hunters trail. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Frank Kingdon Ward in WW2 from a trail board from a past Newquay Zoo plant hunters trail. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

If any prisoner had escaped or aircrew crashed down in these jungles, silk escape maps like these would have been a life saver. After the war, explorers like Frank Kingdon-Ward helped the US government find their missing aeroplanes (and crew) in these dense jungles and mountains. In this connection, see our postscript about missing aircrew on the Melbourne Botanic Gardens staff memorial tree: Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

The lower part of Borneo on a secret WW2 silk escape map in the World War Zoo Gardens collection. Labuan Island POW camp where G.H. Spare died is off the map,  further up the coast on the left-hand side (now in modern Malaysia).

The lower part of Borneo on a secret WW2 silk escape map in the World War Zoo Gardens collection. Labuan Island POW camp, Sabah, Borneo  where G.H. Spare died is off the map, further up the coast on the left-hand side (now off the coast of modern Malaysia).

From the Kew Gardens staff war memorial:

G.H. Spare, 7 February 1945
Gordon Henry Spare, Private 6070 SSVF Straits Settlements Volunteer Force / 3rd Battalion (Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps), Singapore Volunteers, died at Labuan, Borneo as a Japanese POW.
According to CWGC records Spare is remembered on column 396 of the Singapore or Kranji Memorial, as he has no known grave. He was the son of Harry and Grace Spare, Wallington, Surrey, and husband of Rose Ellen Spare, Worthing, Sussex. His wife, young son and daughter were evacuated clear of danger before the Japanese invasion.

Singapore Memorial (image copyright CWGC website www.cwgc.org)

G.H. Spare of Kew and Henry Peris Davies of ZSL London Zoo are remembered on the Singapore Memorial (image copyright CWGC website http://www.cwgc.org)

John Charles Nauen, 10 September 1943
J.C.Nauen was Assistant Curator, Botanic Gardens Singapore from 1935. Nauen served with G.H. Spare as a Serjeant 5387, volunteer in the 3rd Battalion, (Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps) SSVF Straits Settlement Volunteer Force.

His botanic skills were of help gardening and collecting plants from the local area to help keep fellow prisoners alive. Nauen died as a Japanese POW prisoner of war aged 40 working on the Burma-Siam railway in September / October 1943 of blood poisoning. He is buried in Thanbyuzayat CWGC Cemetery in Burma, alongside 1000s of fellow POW victims from the Burma-Siam railway. He was the son of John Jacob and Clara Nauen of Coventry.

Some of Nauen’s plant collecting herbarium specimens survive at Kew, whilst he has an interesting obituary in the Kew Guild Journal 1946 (alongside G.H. Spare) and The Garden’s Bulletin Singapore September 1947 (XI, part 4, p.266).

Percy Adams, ZSL Whipsnade keeper who died as a Japanese POW is buried here at THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY, Image: www.cwgc.org

John Charles Nauen of Kew and Percy Murray Adams, ZSL Whipsnade keeper who  both died as Japanese POWs are buried here at THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY. Image: http://www.cwgc.org

Many Botanic gardens and Herbariums were looted by invading forces, Singapore Botanic Gardens only surviving through the efforts of botanist Edred Corner.

More about Kew Gardens staff in WW2 can be found on this blog post. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-world-war-two/

An interesting Kew Gardens archives blog post on the vital nutritionist role of tropical botanists in keeping fellow POWs alive in internment camps has been recently written by James Wearn and Claire Frankland.

Ness Botanic Gardens FEPOW Bamboo Garden launch with Elizabeth and Zoe,  pupils from Pensby High School and Merle Hesp, widow of a FEPOW Harry Hesp, 2011.  Image source: Captive Memories website.

Ness Botanic Gardens FEPOW Bamboo Garden launch with Elizabeth and Zoe, pupils from Pensby High School and Merle Hesp, widow of a FEPOW Harry Hesp, 2011.
Image source: Captive Memories website.

A Far East Prisoner of War memorial garden was created in 2011 at Ness Botanic Gardens in Liverpool, linked to http://captive memories.org.uk There is more about this garden at the Waymarking website FEPOW garden entry

Names of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

Wells, Adams, Davies: three of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 (plaque since replaced with a more legible one, 2014)

London Zoo staff names killed in the Far East 

1. Henry Peris Davies (Lieutenant RA) ZSL Clerk: Killed in action Far East 21.12.1941

Lieutenant Davies 164971, Royal Artillery, 5th Field Regt, died aged 27. His name is listed on the Singapore memorial, like that of Gordon Henry Spare of Kew

According to his ZSL staff record card, Peris was born on 29th March 1913, he joined London Zoo as an accounts clerk on 2 September 1935. Four years later, he was called up as a Territorial on the 1st or 2nd September 1939.

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.  Image Source: CWGC

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.
Image Source: CWGC

2. Albert Henry Wells (Gunner RA) ZSL Keeper: Killed in action, Burma 25.01.1945

Gunner Wells 1755068, Royal Artillery, 70 H.A.A Regiment is buried in an individual grave in Taukkyan Cemtery, Burma, a concentration of thousands of battlefield graves from the Burma campaign. He was aged 36, the son of Henry and Mary Wells and husband of Doris Hilda Wells, Hendon, Middlesex.

According to his ZSL staff card, Albert Henry Wells was born on the 15 or 25 April, 1908. He was first employed at London Zoo in January 1924 as a Helper, the most junior keeper rank. He had worked his way up to 3rd Class Keeper  by 1937.

On January 11 1941 he was called up for military service and his staff card reports him as killed in action in Burma January 25 1945.

The rest of his staff card involves details of the pension being paid by ZSL London Zoo to his wife Mrs. Wells including additional amounts for each of his three children until they reached 16 in the 1950s.

 

3. Percy Murray Adams (Gunner RA) ZSL Whipsnade Keeper: Died in Japan POW 28.07.1943 aged 26. Gunner 922398, Royal Artillery, 148 (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regt.

According to his ZSL staff card, he was born on 15 July 1917 and joined ZSL Whipsnade on 24 May 1932. Like Henry Peris Davies at London Zoo, he was called up as a Territorial on September 3rd 1939. Adams was unmarried. In March 1942, his staff record card reports him as “Reported as Missing at Singapore. In 1945 reported died of dysentery in Japanese POW camp somewhere in 1943.”

Only  a few rows away from  Kew’s J.C.Nauen, Adams is also buried in Thanbyuzayat CWGC Cemetery in Burma.

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper

Percy Murray Adams, ZSL Whipsnade Keeper, Animal and Zoo Magazine c. 1937/8

These three men are all remembered on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial WW2 plaque. I also inscribed their names  in the Burma Star Association memorial book in Zennor Church on my last visit.

I will be updating the entries on ZSL London Zoo WW2 staff casualties later in 2015.

The grim story of what happened to Japanese zoo staff, vets and animals is well told in Mayumi Itoh’s recent Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy.

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Further reading about POW gardening can be found in Kenneth Helphand’s Defiant Gardening book and extension website

You can read more about the Burma Star and its assocaition on this website: http://www.burmastar.org.uk/epitaph.htm 

It’s probably appropriate to end with the Kohima prayer or Burma Star epitaph, which I didn’t realise came from WW1 but was used on the Kohima Memorial to the dead of the Burma Campaign in WW2. The words are attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958), an English Classicist who had put them together among a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One in 1916:

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

Rest in peace, Gunner Wells and  Gunner Adams and the many others who never returned.

 

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Postscript
Later this year I will blogpost about the staff memorial tree at Melbourne Botanic Gardens which remembers a Gallipoli / Middle East campaign casualty and an airman from the Far East Campaign in WW2.

Planted in memory of members of the staff who died in Active Service.

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

The original memorial tree website said that “information regarding E.J. Hiskins would be welcomed“. His CWGC records list him as Flight Sergeant Ernest Joseph Hiskins, Royal Australian Air Force, 410058, who died on the 15 April 1944.

He is remembered on Panel 9 of the Northern Territory Memorial. He is listed as the son of Ernest Barton Hiskins and Alice Mary Hiskins, of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia  (Image CWGC website)

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia (Image CWGC website)

The Northern Territory Memorial stands in Adelaide River War Cemetery and is one of several memorials erected to commemorate 289 men of the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Merchant Navy who have no known grave and lost their lives in operations in the Timor and Northern Australian regions and in waters adjacent to Australia north of Latitude 20 South.

More to follow!

Blog post by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: