Archive for the ‘WW2 dig for victory’ Category

3rd September 1939 – Britain declares war on Germany 80 Years On

September 3, 2019

A parliament in chaos, diplomatic relations with European governments at a crucial point, uncertainty over the future of the nation and disruption of life as we know it …

No, not BREXIT.

Nor even Climate Change.

I’m thinking back to Sunday 3rd September 1939, as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced on the BBC radio around 11 am that Britain once again was at war with Germany over its invasion of Poland.

Shortly afterwards the air raid sirens sounded and people headed for the shelters.

What were they supposed to do with their pet animals? What could zoos  do with their zoo animals?

Thankfully it was a false alarm. That time.

Today is the 80th anniversary of that day and for many ageing child evacuees and young people of that era , they still clearly remember the disruption of evacuation, the fear of aerial bombing and over the next six years many upheavals in ordinary life it caused their parents and families.

This Chamberlain BBC radio broadcast is featured in this newspaper coverage:

Over the last ten years as home of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo we have been researching how life changed in zoos, gardens  and botanic gardens.

How things changed for animals, for zoo staff, for zoo visitors and families and their neighbourhoods around Britain and in many other countries …

Look through our Blogposts going back to 2009 for more details.


World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

We have explored this since 2009 through events, partnership projects, signage, an allotment garden in the zoo, this blog, articles, and many chats with zoo visitors over the garden fence. We have developed schools workshops for primary and secondary schools

Look through our Blogposts going back to 2009 for more details.

A poppy blooms in the quiet September garden, a symbol of all that we have learned about zoos in WW1.

wartime garden BIAZA award, Mark Norris

Newquay Zoo’s wartime gardener and blogger Mark Norris with the BIAZA award for best plants in a landscape feature and design. 2011

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, 3rd September 1939 / 2019 



Wimbledon 1944 and the V1 Flying Bombs from an unpublished WW2 diary

June 15, 2019

1944 diary

Thursday 15th June 1944  – Germany started sending over pilot-less planes. Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm. Practice for Competition.

This is how Vera Richardson records the first notice of V1 Flying Bombs in her Wimbledon 1944 diary

Vera Richardson (b. 1907/8) lived with her mother and father at  “New Holme”, 218 Coombe Road, Wimbledon throughout the war.

‘Pilotless Planes’ was how V1 Flying Bombs were first described in the news.

The Oberon Pavilion on the Oberon Playing Fields (the pavilion is still there 75 years leter) is where Vera’s Civil Defence First Aid Mobile Unit (MU) is based.

V1 bombings in Wimbledon 1944
Jim Slade who remembers this incident notes that, whilst the first V1 dropped on London at Bow on 13th June, the real assault began on the night of the 15th / 16th June. They continued across Britain until May 1945. Jim Slade wrote the online article Civilian Air Raid Casualties in Battersea and Wandsworth in the Second World War (2006).
Wimbledon Museum notes the first V1 to drop on Wimbledon on the 16th June 1944, the last on 28th August 1944, very similar to the dates in this diary. 50% of all houses in the borough were damaged by the 1 tonne of explosive on each of these bombs. There were 648 casualties.
Norman Plastow in Safe As Houses: Wimbledon 1939-1945 gives further detail of the pilotless planes or V1 Vergultung ‘Revenge weapon’ No. 1. 1000 kilos of high explosives.

The first V1 in Wimbledon at Cliveden Road on the 16th June 1944 caused extensive damage to houses and killed 20 people, injuring 53 more. Another landed on waste ground on the 17th, damaging nearby houses.

Three more fell on the 19th June 1944  (see her entry for the 18th ‘All Night Raid’).

The first V1 of the night fell  at 3.40 in the morning on Wimbledon Park Golf Course, damaging houses but no casualties. A second fell at 6.30 am on Wimbledon Hill killed three people (including two police inspectors) and injured 16 others. The third bomb fell at 8.35 am on Dennis Park Crescent, injuring 24. As they exploded on impact on the surface, V1 bombs could damage 300 to 400 houses across a wide blast area.
These three V1s on the 19th June 1944 caused so much damage that teams of wardens had to be called in from as far afield as Salisbury, Market Harborough and Newark. A new evacuation was organised on a massive scale to escape this new Blitz.
The gaps in the diary could relate to the writer’s busy period dealing with the flying bomb disruption.
A further flying bomb fell on 20th June 1944 at Holland Avenue – 15 were injured damage was caused to all houses between Lindisfarne Road [where Vera’s Oberon First Aid Post was sited] and Coombe Lane. No surprise the First Aid competition was cancelled, since the teams were getting enough practice again for real.

On the 21st June 1944 , two more V1s fell, one at Church Road, the other on Rushmere Pond, Wimbledon Common. A third damaged by AA fire demolished the Wimbledon park golf course club house. A fourth fell on the Wandle Valley Sewage works. All damaged property.

In the early hours of the 23rd June 1944, a V1 dropped on Faraday Road, demolishing and damaging houses already repaired after bomb and incendiary bomb attacks. 1 person was killed, 7 taken to hospital and 25 treated for minor injuries. Another V1 was shot down by fighters over Wimbledon Common.
No further V1s fell on Wimbledon between 23rd June and 28th June, though many flew overhead to cut out (run out of fuel) and crash elsewhere along ‘Doodlebug Alley’.

Vera Richardson’s Diary June 1944

Saturday 17th June 1944 – Did not go out because of cough.

Sunday 18th June 1944 – Went to Oberon 5 – 11 pm. All night raid,

Monday 19th June 1944 – Went to Oberon for practice 8.30 to 9.30 pm.

Tuesday 20th June 1944 – First Aid (F. A.) Competition cancelled.
Wednesday 21st –
Thursday 22nd June 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Friday 23rd –
Saturday 24th –
Sunday 25th  June 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 11 pm.
Monday 26th –
Tuesday 27th June 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton.
Wednesday 28th –
Thursday 29th June 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 8.30 pm. Bomb fell on St Matthews Church. We had 2 ceilings down.
Friday 30th June 1944 – (B) Bomb fell in Cambridge Rd . & blasted our house. At night another on Melbury Gardens.

At 8.30pm on 29 June 1944 St Matthews  church was totally destroyed by a flying bomb.

In spite of this, the people of St Matthew’s continued to worship together. The Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church offered hospitality, and for a time the two congregations worshipped in the same building at different times. The damage to St Matthews Church on 29 June 1944 is shown in pictures here:


Copse Hill, Cottenham Park, Wimbledon and the flying bombs
29th and 30th June saw extensive damage in Vera Richardson the diary writer’s area. This is recorded in detail from Civil Defence records in Norman Plastow’s book.

29th June 1944
10.35 am V1 lands on an empty railway train at Gap Road Bridge, killing the driver. A second fell on Nelson Gardens, Merton killing one and injuring eighteen.

Vera the writer notes: Thursday 29th – Went to Oberon 4 – 8.30 pm. Bomb fell on St Matthews Church. We had 2 ceilings down.

At the end of Vera  the writer’s shift, at 8.55 p.m. 29th June 1944 St Matthew’s Church in Spencer Road was destroyed by a V1 , along with houses 2 to 18 Spencer Road destroyed by blast or fire damage. Plastow notes that “Many houses in Spencer Road, Durham road, Richmond Road and Amity Grove also suffered damage”, giving clues to where the writer lived as two of her ceilings were down. 40 were injured in this Spencer Road incident. Many were homeless, sheltering at local halls whilst the WVS set up Blitz Information Bureaux in Kenilworth Avenue and Durham Close.

30th June 1944

The writer noted: Friday 30th – (B) Bomb fell in Cambridge Rd . & blasted our house. At night another on Melbury Gardens.
On the 30th June 1944 at 10.35 a.m., 133-143 and 98-102 Cambridge Road were destroyed by a flying bomb, with further houses damaged along Cambridge Road, Richmond Road, Oakwood Road, Laurel Road and Coombe Lane. 3 were killed and 25 injured, other homeless people went to rescue centres. Another flying bomb fell on the golf course again, damaging Warren Farm. Further blast damage to the Queensmere Road and Parkside areas came from a flying bomb landing that evening in nearby Wandsworth.
At 2.50 a.m. a flying bomb fell demolishing No. 3-19 and 10 to 14 Melbury Gardens, cratering the road and fracturing gas mains which caught alight, damaging army lorries and injuring three people. Again the blast damaged houses near the writer’s area across Durham Road, Cottenham Park Road, Panmuir Road and Cambridge Road.
V1 bombs continued throughout July 1944. Whilst the writer notes her tiles being repaired from previous raids, other parts of Wimbledon were being damaged and people rendered homeless.

Norman Plastow notes:
4th July 1944 – railway line hit at Durnsford Road Bridge. 6 injured.
5th July 1944 – two more bombs fell, one at noon near Kings College where thankfully exams were taking place in the shelters. Others students and staff sheltered from flying glass under desks. Six casualties were caused in surrounding houses. The second bomb hit Wimbledon Common and Calonne Road.
7th July 1944 – whilst Vera the diary writer notes a ‘thunderstorm’ at midnight, early morning houses in Herbert Road, St. Andrews Church and its hall were destroyed along with damage over a very wide area. 12 went to hospital, sixteen to minor injuries and 115 homeless people were dealt with by the WVS.

Plastow noted:
10th July 1944 – 9.07 a.m. a flying bomb landed near Pelham Road School – no children were injured, but in nearby houses 1 died, 92 were injured (with 53 of these sent to hospital). 34 houses were destroyed, 85 houses seriously damaged and like many flying bombs up to 390 more houses suffered minor damage.

Vera the diary writer noted: Sunday 9th July 1944– Went to Oberon at 4 pm & stayed all night. Sat up on watch 2-30 to 4 am.
This continued to be a difficult time for Civil Defence workers and civilians. The V1 bombs continued to fall, on 12th July at Merton Board mills, on 14th July at Plough Lane.
Just after midnight on Sunday the 16th July two flying bombs landed. The first near Wimbledon Station, killed one and injured 46 in a nearby bus queue. A dance had just finished at Wimbledon Town Hall and the glass roof was blown in, thankfully with no casualties. The other flying bomb landed on Wimbledon Common, a third near the Southern Railway in Merton.
Again on the 19th, the 20th, the 27th, 29th, 31st July 1944  and 3rd, 14th, 20th, 22nd and 24th August 1944, more V1 flying bombs fell. These caused extensive property damage often to houses that had been repaired before and sometimes dozens of casualties and the occasional death.

Finally on the 28th August  1944 the last Wimbledon V1 fell.
Vera the diary writer was lucky to get speedy repairs to her roof by local builders. Plastow notes that despite there being 60,000 men involved in emergency repairs, there was still a severe shortage of building workers such as tilers to deal with such extensive damage. Builders were no longer called up into the forces, some were released early to help, some were recalled from retirement or brought in from Ireland or across Britain to help repair the V1 damage in London and the South East.

Vera Richardson’s Diary July 1944

Saturday 1st July 1944  –
Sunday 2nd July 1944 – Went to Oberon 5 – 11 pm.
Monday 3rd July 1944 – Rained all day.
Tuesday 4th July 1944 – Wood & Son of 71, The Ridgeway (builders) came to put our tiles back.
Wednesday 5th July 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton & to see Aunts F & D. Went to Oberon in evening. Builders finished on Wednesday.
Thursday 6th July 1944 – (F) Went to Oberon 4 – 10 pm. Thunderstorm at midnight.
Friday 7th –
Saturday 8th –
Sunday 9th  July 1944 – Went to Oberon at 4 pm & stayed all night. Sat up on watch 2-30 to 4 am.
Monday 10th –
Tuesday 11th July 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton and to Oberon in evening.
Added note: * D’s illness started [D her father was to die later in 1944)
Wednesday 12th July 1944  – D took to his bed ill – * Mrs Vasanx (correct spelling?) left Oberon.
Thursday 13th July 1944  – Went to Oberon 4 – 9pm.
Friday 14th –
Saturday 15th July 1944 – Planted 64 cabbages in the garden.

Sunday 16th  July 1944 – D still in bed. Went to Oberon 6 – 9pm.

Monday 17th –

Tuesday 18th  July 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton on to see Aunts F & D.
Wednesday 19th July 1944 – Planted Leek & Radish seeds in the Garden.
Thursday 20th July 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 10pm. D sat up for 25mins. Planted black radish seeds.
Friday 21st July 1944 – Colder day.
Saturday 22nd –
Sunday 23rd  July 1944 –  (B) Went to 4 – 9pm.
Monday 24th –
Tuesday 25th –
Wednesday 26th –
Thursday 27th – July 1944 Went to Oberon 4 – 9pm.
Friday 28th –
Saturday 29th –
Sunday 30th July 1944  – (F) Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Monday 31st –

Vera Richardson’s Diary August 1944
Tuesday 1st –
Wednesday 2nd –
Thursday 3rd August 1944  – Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Friday 4th –
Saturday 5th –
Sunday 6th August 1944– Went to Oberon 4 – 11 pm.
Monday 7th August 1944 – Lavatory & landing ceilings down this morning.
Tuesday 8th August 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton. No meat. Went to Oberon 8 – 11 pm.
Wednesday 9th –
Thursday 10th August 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Friday 11th –
Saturday 12th –
Sunday 13th August 1944  – D [father] still in bed. Went to Oberon 5 – 11 pm.
Monday 14th August 1944 – Cut dead wood off plum tree & chopped it up.
Tuesday 15th August 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton. To tea with Aunts F & D. To Oberon 8 – 11 pm.
Wednesday 16th –
Thursday 17th August 1944 – Went to Oberon 4.30 – 10 pm. Had supper there.
Friday 18th August 1944 – Helped Iris to pick greengages & damsels. Had tea with I & L.
Saturday 19th August 1944 – Rained today Sir Henry Wood died .
Sunday 20th –
Monday 21st –
Tuesday 22nd –
Wednesday 23rd August 1944 – (B) Paris retaken by Maquis.

Thursday 24th August 1944  –Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Friday 25th –
Saturday 26th-
Sunday 27th August 1944 – D still in bed. Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
Monday 28th August 1944  – Dr. Pritchard’s house bombed in Lambton Rd 3 – 3.30 pm.
Tuesday 29th August 1944 – Went to Clapham & Brixton. & on to tea with Aunts F & D. Went to Oberon 8 – 11 pm.
Wednesday 30th – (F)
Thursday 31st August 1944 – Went to Oberon 4 – 9 pm.
“Last day of Flying Bombs” noted by the writer on this week’s page. Presumably the 28th August 1944.

Blog posted using material from my WW2 Home Front Diaries Collection by Mark Norris, 15 June 2019.

100 Years On We Remember …

November 11, 2018

british legion stamp 1968

Men and women of WW1 – British Legion 50th Anniversary stamp from the 1971 in my collection.

Remembering on the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice

the brave men and women of many nations affected by war,

including the many zoo staff,  zookeepers, botanic gardens staff and others we have featured on our blog since 2008.

We will remember them.

Even  though the war was over (until 1939), there were still many zoo and botanic gardens staff who died after November 11th 1918 from wounds and the effects of war service.

We will post a blog entry on the centenary of their deaths as we have done throughout the 2014-2018 Centenary of WW1.


Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 11 November 2018.



Remembering Merchant Navy Day 3rd September 2018

September 3, 2018


Picture World War Zoo gardens Newquay Zoo May June 2010 089

“Let your shopping help our shipping” was one propaganda message about saving food – grow your own is another, promoted by a typical piece of advertising from a wartime gardening magazine (from the World War Zoo gardening collection / archive at Newquay Zoo).

Punch onions uboats 1917

A 1917 Punch cartoon from our World War Zoo Gardens archive collection

Remembering the brave men and women of the Merchant Navy past and present on Merchant Navy Day every 3rd September, who keep us and our animals supplied and fed in peacetime and wartime:

mercahnt navy the common task punch

Food Security: the Dig For Victory gardener and the Merchant Navy, twinned in “The Common Task” Punch cartoon in my collection (March 19, 1941)

Another reason to be thankful and also Dig for Victory! Dig for Plenty! 


Merchant Navy Day tributes, 2014  Tower Hill Memorial (Image: Mark Norris) 


“And Have No Grave But The Sea” – Tower Hill London CWGC War Memorial for Merchant Navy sailors of WW2   (Image: Mark Norris, 2014)

Remembering the Merchant Navy Crews involved in wartime along our Cornish coastline as well:

Remember as well the Merchant Navy crews buried in our local Newquay Cemetery including stewardess Louisa Tearle and also the crew of SS War Grange torpedoed off Newquay May 1918:

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 3rd September 1939 / 2019.

Gardening with Children 1908 and 2018

August 15, 2018

Jekyll children


1908 and 2018 – an interesting question: How best do you involve children in gardening? This is something staff at a zoological or botanic garden are sometimes asked, because gardening can be good for wildlife, for sustainability and for your mental health.

A blog comment or email from the USA arrived at Newquay Zoo recently:

“My name is Scott. I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way.”

I am fortunate to have (had) lots of fun chats with children and families whilst working in our World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo. Some children sneakily eat the edible stuff when I’m not there. Best of all, children often tell me about what they grow at home or in school.

How to Get Children Gardening

Back in 1908 the famous British garden writer and designer Gertrude Jekyll (rhymes with treacle) wrote a surprising book for its time called Children and Gardens. It was published by Country Life in both Britain and America.

Since reprinted and still available, you can also read a scanned  copy here, free:

Within a decade as World War 1 ground on, as most of the younger gardeners were called up on active service, these same British children would be encouraged at home and school to grow their own  food. The German U-boat submarine blockades seriously hit the import of food to Britain by merchant shipping.  Bad harvests were recorded in 1916 / 1917, leading to food ration books being issued in Britain in 1918.

American children were also encouraged to grow food, as part of Uncle Sam’s patriotic United States Schools Garden Army, after the USA entered the war in 1917.

This was WW2 Dig For Victory  25 years early, as mentioned in my March 2013 blogpost on Herbert Cowley, an injured WW1 gardening writer who was a friend and photographer to Gertrude Jekyll:

Gertrude Jekyll in 1908 had some interesting ideas about giving children ownership and pride in their gardens:


Staking your territory and naming it in plants.

I hope Gertrude Jekyll’s book encouraged at least a few parents of  posh Edwardian children to let them get a little bit dirty, wear practical working clothes and grow some food in real dirt.

childrengardens00jeky_0119 wheelbarrow

It might have given them a tiny but valuable appreciation of the manual toil of the working classes around the world who put food on their tables.

childrengardens00jeky_0058 pumpkin

From Children and Gardens … almost a feel or  look of Heligan gardens before that garden went quietly to sleep after WW1.

Hopefully some Edwardian children had some muddy, spud eating fun growing up, because of Gertrude Jekyll’s 1908 book.

Dyb Dyb Dig!

It is also interesting to note that the Baden Powell Scout Movement came into being around this time (1907/8), quickly followed by the Guides (191)) for the kind of girls who had already cleverly highjacked or gatecrashed their brothers’ opportunities to set up scout troops.

Girl Guides can be seen market gardening in 1917 here in this IWM image Q 108289 :

Interesting IWM WW1 Centenary article:


WW1 school girls  involved in gardening –  IWM image Q31135

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31155)


IWM Q31153 Horace Nicholls’ WW1  photo of British Schoolgirls growing food. 

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31153)

Some photos even show air raid shocked children gardening as convalescence and therapy


© IWM (Q 30542)

Caption: Air-raid shocked girls from the Llangattock School of Arts and Crafts, gardening their own plots at the Kitchener Heritage home for air-raid shocked children and educative convalescence for disabled soldiers at Chailey, Sussex. IWM Collection:  THE MEDICAL SERVICES ON THE HOME FRONT, 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 30542)

2018: It is the final year of the 1914-18 centenary. Within ten years of 1908, plenty of the young boys shown in Gertrude’s book would have been in khaki uniform and have had a very different experience of digging and mud than you could ever wish for anyone.

Some of the girls could have ended up working the land in the WW1 version of Land Girls, growing herbs or nursing for the same war effort.

childrengardens00jeky_0164 campfire

As the book was reprinted in 1933, some  photographs appear to have been retaken orupdated,  as I have seen some charmingly relaxed 1930s/ 1940s versions of my parent’s generation.

These 1908 pictures of children in the garden are surreal, whimsical, reminiscent of E. Nesbit and The Secret Garden, Cottingley fairies, Beatrix Potter and Alice in Wonderland.

childrengardens00jeky_0157 fun

Some garden sandpit, this one!

childrengardens00jeky_0158 in the sand pit

childrengardens00jeky_0068 saved seeds

This is in part an improving, natural history book, practically written advice to children and written for children (and parents) to read.
childrengardens00jeky_0167 tea kitchen

There is a whole chapter on Gertrude Jekyll’s cats sunning themselves in the garden, a hundred years before Youtube and The Internet was invented to show cute cat videos.

childrengardens00jeky_0109 first garden

Lots of personal childhood experiences in Gertrude’s book.

Most important is a patch of ground that a child can call its own to play, dig  or grow stuff. Modern urban British back gardens tend to be far too tiny.


Gardening advice, Boy’s Own Paper August 1940 – I’m not sure children would be allowed to mess around with Derris Dust today!

Dig for Victory gardens (or Victory Gardens in the USA) in WW2 were important ways to feed the family and involve schools and children in the war effort.

Popular monthly children’s magazines would have gardening articles by famous gardening authors:“go-to-it-lads”-the-boy’s-own-paper-august-1940/


Scott’s email 2018

1908 / 1918 / / 1940 / 2018: I was reminded of all this Children and Gardens material when I received an interesting email from a fellow blogger in the USA:

“My name is Scott and I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way. This seems particularly important today as kids would rather spend their time watching Disney Channel or playing video games when given a choice between TV and playing outside.”

I’m sure the Wild Network movement would agree with Scott about the threat of us all becoming a nation of “glassy eyed zombies” on I-pads and I-phones, or as my 1970s childhood version, “square eyed”.  However, before anyone complains,  video games and cartoons have their place in life.

Scott at the Architypes blog continues:

“Now as a blogger I have combined my experience with gardening and kids to create a helpful guide to prove that with a little creativity you can get kids excited about gardening.

You can see Scott’s ideas here:

Scott came across World War Zoo gardens through our blog post while doing some research and thought you might be interested in some of his ideas.

“Perhaps you could mention it on your blog or links page. Please let me know what you think, it would be great to work with you. Thanks for your time, Scott.”

There is some good advice from Scott in his article that I’m sure Gertrude Jekyll and the 1940s Dig For Victory gardeners would approve of.

Thankfully there are today some good books and websites on involving children with gardens, both in school, home and the community. Here are a few more websites from the UK, Australia and America, once you have read through Scott’s ideas:

As the modern Gerturde Jekyll of gardening TV today, Alan Titchmarsh, would say: “Whatever the Weather, Enjoy Your Garden!”

childrengardens00jeky_0171 paired children

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, August  2018.



Our contribution to the UK-wide “Ribbon of Poppies”, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, July 2018. This is where I start singing from our old school hymnbook Pete Seeger’s 1950s / 1960s protest song “Where have all the flowers gone?” 

Overheard at the World War Zoo Gardens

August 6, 2018


Rationing Section – World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Overheard early today whilst quietly watering the very dry and thirsty plants at the World War Zoo Gardens recreated zoo keepers’ allotment at Newquay Zoo.

A small family group approached the garden and looked at all the plants and then the garden sign.

Visiting Mum to her small boy: “See this ration book here on the sign?” 

Small boy looks at ration book on the sign and nods.

Mum: “This is what Granny had when she was a little girl.” 

“During the war food was rationed by these coupons and you often didn’t have very much food on your plate.”  

I want you to think about that ration book tonight and the next time you don’t eat all the vegetables and food on your plate.

Small boy stayed thoughtful and quiet throughout this last bit, before the family all walked away to look at more animals.

Point well made, I kept respectfully quiet, as this child was already outnumbered by family adults.




World War Zoo Gardens allotment, Newquay Zoo, July 2018 

I have overheard some fantastic family learning and conversations going on amongst visiting groups, whilst working in our zoo wartime  garden allotment next to the Lion House.

I have had great conversations with zoo visitors old and young about the plants and the history side.

I have heard the garden talked about and identified variously as Mr Bloom’s Garden, Mr McGregors’ Garden (hopefully without Peter Rabbit) or Granddad’s allotment.

Today’s overheard conversation  taught me one thing:

You can read books on interpretation and signage.

You can undertake brilliant visitor evaluation research on signage impact.

You can write wordy Learning Outcomes for your education project.

You can use long words like food security, Education and Engagement, cross-generational learning or  inter-generational learning.

What you can’t easily do is measure how wonderful and simple that parent / child / family interaction was. 

Thanks to that Mum, she made my day. It made the whole garden project worthwhile.

I will make sure to clear my plate tonight.

Herbs and garden sign Newquay Zoo 2015

On the fence next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads for our monkeys, harvested October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 6th August 2018.


Mr Middleton Calendar Boy of February 1940

July 18, 2018

middleton 1940 calendar

middleton 1940 calendar close up

Close up on this February 1940 Calendar page of Mr Middleton the famous veteran BBC Radio Gardener, broadcasting from 1934 until his death in 1945.

A random lovely item from our World War Zoo Gardens Collection.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 18 July 2018

A ribbon or tiny bow-quet of poppies, flowers and vegetables?

July 3, 2018



Ladybird poppies at Newquay Zoo’s  World War Zoo Gardens allotment July 2018 



Poppies popping up all over our wartime zoo keeper’s vegetable garden now!

Our Ribbon of Poppies #Ribbonofpoppies is popping up in unexpected places in our World War Zoo gardens allotment at Newquay Zoo amongst our vegetables, edible flowers  and scented herbs grown for animal food treats and scent enrichment.


Poppies and Poppy seedling pop up amongst the Rhubarb chard. You have to be extra careful with the weeding!



Edible Blue Borage flowers – a monkey treat! 




Garlic seed head in flower – a delicate treat for our monkeys, great for visiting bees too!


Edible nasturtium leaves and flowers – and Poppies!



‘Rhubarb’ Chard flower and seed heads and Poppies.



Cabbages and Poppies: A wild mix of poppies for remembrance and edible vegetables for our zoo animals.


Think this might be  Victoria Cross type of Poppy!

Lovely to see that our colleagues at Wildplace in Bristol have gone ahead with their 100 poppy varieties for the 1918 / 2018 Armistice Centenary – I hope to see this before the flowers fade.

Blog Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo, 3rd July 2018


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

March 20, 2018



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.

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:


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




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.



International Women’s Day March 8th – Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover

March 8, 2018

my home Cover

WLA Land Girl on front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 price 9d (Author’s collection/WWZG) Note the length of service armband.  

It were never that glamorous! A rather fluffy and idealised portrait of life for a WLA Land Girl is shown on the front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 (price 9d).

Life for the women of the Women’s Land Army was often very different, especially in winter.

Land Girls served in wartime zoos,  such as the team running the ‘Off the Ration’ Exhibition at London Zoo, set up with the Ministry of Information etc, to show householders how to look after simple food animals – pigs, rabbits, chickens.

This linked to a simple model wartime farm and garden which was established, as at Kew Gardens, to give gardening and livestock advice to members of the public and visitors.  Some Whipsnade Zoo paddocks were also ploughed up (by horse and elephant!) to be farmed for the war effort.

land army greatcoat labelThe quite small sized Land Girls woollen overcoat is quite a popular but surprisingly heavy fashion item for visiting schoolgirls to try on during our World War Zoo schools wartime workshop at Newquay Zoo


wartime clothing

Women’s Land Army greatcoat (second from right)in our original wartime clothing section.


Marking International Women’s Day March 8th and the activities of extraordinary ordinary women such as the Women’s Land Army in WW1 and WW2 with this colourful  Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 8 March 2018



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