Archive for the ‘WW2’ Category

Happy 100th birthday Dame Vera Lynn

March 20, 2017

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One of my treasured books that I tracked down, because it had been signed by Vera Lynn!

Happy Birthday Dame Vera Lynn, 100 years old today 20 March 2017, from all at the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

I watched an excellent new BBC documentary at the weekend shown to mark Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday on 20 March 2017. Many famous people and Burma veterans talked about their personal connection with Vera Lynn and her music in person or through her radio broadcasts.

I was very happy to see a brief momentary glimpse in Vera’s post-war home movies of her family garden and orchard.

Dame Vera Lynn has long been a treasured part of my family memories, growing up with wartime evacuee parents who played many of the old wartime songs.

Little did I realise until I started the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo back in 2008/9 that my late Mum would reveal a strange wartime connection to Vera Lynn, that she had had as a tiny and unhappy evacuee in Ditchling, Sussex where Dame Vera Lynn lived:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/scrumping-apples-in-vera-lynns-garden/

I was very proud to show Mum a copy of the book when this experience of Mum’s  was briefly written up in Duff Hart-Davis’ Our Land At War.

Last year my brothers scattered Mum’s ashes from Ditchling Beacon out over the Sussex countryside where Mum  had lived as an evacuee and had been an unwilling look out for an evacuee scrumping gang in Vera Lynn’s orchard.

Coming from similar parts of London and not that far apart in age, Mum and Vera Lynn also had a few spoken phrases in common, that watching Vera Lynn interviewed reminds me of my late Mum.

Whilst I never planted an apple tree in the World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment, we now have two container planted English apple trees in my home garden, one named Vera and the other named after my Mum.

This Vera Lynn story is a family one  with photos that I tell school children who are visiting Newquay Zoo for our Wartime Zoo / Life schools workshop.

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Part of our August 2009 wartime garden launch exhibition display – sheet music and “Sincerely Yours” BBC  original press 1940s photos of Vera Lynn.

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An excellent book written by Vera Lynn, well worth tracking down (1990)

Whilst we tend to think of Dame Vera singing to servicemen, she also had an important role through her radio broadcasts in the lives of wartime women, at home and in the services. She wrote a fabulous book about it, Unsung Heroines, cleverly titled, alongside her own autobiography Some Sunny Day.

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Dame Vera Lynn pictured centre with Dutch resistance heroines Joke Folmer GM and Nel Lind, Utrecht, July 1990.

 

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Lovely pic of Dame Vera Lynn Burma 44 surrounded by nurses, the unsung heroines of the Forgotten Army.

Vera Lynn, The Forgotten Army and the Burma Star

Dame Vera Lynn is much praised for her front line ENSA concerts to the Forgotten Army in Burma, where many of the proud Burma Star veterans had served that I was privileged to meet at Newquay Zoo one day.

Sadly my wartime zoo researches also reveal that some of the London Zoo and Kew and Melbourne Botanic Gardens staff serving in the Far East never survived, dying in the Burma and Singapore jungles or in the infamous Far East Prisoner of War camps:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/

I believe that my navy grandfather helped transport many of these skeletal POW survivors  home on his aircraft carrier. My Mum did not see him for most of / during the War due to her evacuation and his naval service.

Dame Vera will be much in the thoughts today  of many of the Burma Star veterans like those interviewed for the BBC programme at the weekend.

 

Happy 100th Birthday Dame Vera Lynn! May you have good health and many more birthdays!

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

and a link to Dame Vera’s special charity https://dvlcc.org.uk/

vera lynn 100

Moscow and Warsaw Zoo’s history in pictures

February 28, 2017

http://englishrussia.com/2017/02/23/moscow-zoo-in-early-20th-century/

Interesting blogpost in English with pictures from Moscow Zoo’s history including its role in wartime, through revolution and two world wars and floods.

Interesting picture of “Red Army on Field Trip To Aquarium!”

http://moscowzoo.su/about-zoo/history/   available in English

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Zoo

Staying in eastern Europe in wartime zoos –

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Shortly in March 2017, The Zookeeper’s Wife film about the amazing Antonina Zabinski and family who ran Warsaw Zoo in Poland during wartime occupation will be released; trailers can be seen at:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1730768/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Zookeeper%27s_Wife

Should be an interesting film, although the book by Diane Ackerman is difficult and harrowing to read at times.

The controversial figure of German zoo director Lutz Heck features heavily in this film / story, who left his own account in Animals My Adventure of his own German Zoo in Berlin in an Allied air raid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutz_Heck

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 28 Feb 2017

 

 

 

 

A question about wartime big cat keeping

January 31, 2017

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London Life, 28 March 1942

28 March 1942. National magazine London Life reader’s questions page –

 Amateur Zooman writes: “I have got a wartime job as attendant to animals in a small zoo, being unfitted for military service through old war wounds and have been told by my employers that there is only one thing to learn, and that is how to lure the animals safely in and out of their cages, as I have been warned against pushing them with a brush as it makes the big cats angry.

Up until now I haven’t had much success and am wondering if the ‘Brains Trust’ can find out for me some easy ways of luring the big cats back again after their cages have been cleaned?

Unfortunately the man who did the job before me has been called up and not been able to train me. I am absolutely single handed so please help! “

This is an intriguing reader’s letter in wartime 1942  from one of the many older men called in to keep zoos going when younger staff joined up or were conscripted. It could equally have been written by one of the many women who stepped temporarily in to fill keeper posts in wartime.

This untrained keeper or ‘Amateur Zooman’ is interestingly an injured veteran from the First World War “being unfitted for military service through old war wounds”.

 

The advice or reply given is from an animal trainer attached to a wartime circus.

“An animal trainer attached to one of the big circuses tealls us that big cats are playful and if you are not careful they will lean on the gate and shut you in, but that any animal will return quickly to a cleaned cage if a titbit of food is placed in the furthest corner. He will associate this titbit with getting back into his den.

Also all big felines like to be talked to! They will do more for an attendant who talks to them  as though they were intelligent than for one who treats them as savage, dumb beasts. Big cats are very curious, and if they see you doing anything unusual, are quite likely to try and get into the cage with you to investigate, so be sure that any intervening door is well closed.

When a big cat is angry, leave him alone. Don’t force any action on him, or he will bear a grudge against you for days. Leave him to himself and he will soon get over his moods.”

I wondered how this 1942 advice would stand up today in the world of modern zoos and big cat conservation, 75 years later.

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I asked my zoo colleagues who are  modern big cat keepers on carnivore section at Newquay Zoo what they thought of this interesting wartime article  and its advice.

Owen, one of our senior keepers responded thus on behalf of the others:

Interesting little read.

The response given isn’t actually a bad one! What the new keeper may not have realised is he is being asked is to positively reinforce the cat to move where he wants by using a small piece of food as a reward, as we currently do with the lionesses here.

The other option that could have been looked into then (albeit not overly common back in the day in zoos) would’ve been to train the animal/animals to go to station or target train them to touch the target to receive a reward (a small piece of meat) which again is a form of positive reinforcement. The target training would have also easily led the cats into moving for him.

The building a relationship by talking and training with the cat is always a good idea. It’s always better to be seen as the ‘good guy’ on a regular basis than the ‘bad guy’.

Some species are more likely to approach you than others and tigers seem to be more pro-keeper than some of the other big cat species, even chuffing at keepers to say hello. Not that they can comprehend our language but it is a way of getting to know you and we, as keepers, talk to the animals on a daily basis.

Although it is dated, the reply to him actually makes a lot of sense. We didn’t necessarily have the knowledge then as we do now but the talk of positive reinforcement and the keeper not wanting to negatively reinforce the animal movement (the brush mentioned) sounds like he wanted to do a good job!

Another thing I would’ve mentioned is not to underestimate them! They’re smarter than what people give them credit for and not to mention very dangerous.

Cheers,

Owen, Senior Keeper, Carnivore section,  Newquay Zoo

This answer from Owen is a longer and more detailed  answer than mine, which  would be write to the Ministry of Labour and ” get another job, any job, especially one  that isn’t going to eat you …”

Owen’s answer  is a brilliant modern keeper interpretation of the original advice using our modern zoo speak, which communicates our modern zoo mission –  enrichment, positive training – and animal  welfare etc.

An interesting article which  works really well as a ‘Then and Now’ piece, what has changed and what has not changed!

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A few more interesting pages and always an excuse for a flash of ankle or pretty face …

 

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More Camouflage ideas for ladies … hide in a bush.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, January 2017

Unknown Zoo, Wartime Elephants

January 3, 2017

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Interesting little ‘wartime’ snapshot of elephants,  about 7.5 cms by 6cms printed on Agfa Lupex film  and stamped FO21.

Anyone recognise which European zoo in the 1930s or World War Two these Elephants are at?

Is this in occupied Europe?

Are these off duty German servicemen enjoying a home visit to one of the many German zoos or are they part of the Occupying Forces somewhere?

Taking photographs of service personnel in the wrong situation could be a real problem but these may well be taken by other soldiers or their families. Certainly in Britain, camera film was scarce and taking photographs of anything military was unwise. Camera film in wartime was often in short supply for civilian use.

On the left is a white coated zoo keeper with mahout / elephant stick.

At the back centre behind the elephant is a building (an elephant house?)

There is a clear dry moat barrier between the elephants and the vistors by the viewing wall.

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Checking the Zoo Guidebook, feeding an elephant or examining identity papers?

Interesting little vignette – is this soldier checking the Zoo Guidebook, feeding an elephant treats or examining identity papers?

This appears to be a feed time, the (Asian?) elephants interacting with visitors, trunks stretched over the wall.

It appears a peaceful enough scene, with no weapons showing. I’m sure the odd service cap got eaten by these elephants!

I’d be interested to hear what people think and where this might be.

 

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, World War Zoo gardens project, January 2017.

Remembering Henry Peris Davies ZSL staff died Far East 21.12. 1941

December 21, 2016

 

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Names of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010. This well polished plate has been replaced in 2014 with a new one.

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

164971, Royal Artillery, 5th Field Regt, died aged 27.

Occasionally his official date of death is given as 31st December 1941.

Davies is listed on the Singapore memorial.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/

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

As well as being remembered on the Singapore War Memorial and the ZSL staff war memorial at London Zoo, 27 year old Henry Peris Davies is also remembered on the parish war memorial at Crymych, Pembrokeshire, Wales. This is presumably his home area.

Henry was the son of Evan and Anne Davies, and served with 5th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

A Probate record suggests that he was married and lived at 4 Mallard Way, Kingsbury and he left £1216 to his wife Ann.

Photographs of the Crymych memorial and his panel on the Singapore Memorial can be seen on Steven John’s website:

http://www.wwwmp.co.uk/pembrokeshire-war-memorials/crymych-war-memorial/

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Within Kranji War Cemetery stands the SINGAPORE MEMORIAL, bearing the names of over 24,000 casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces who have no known grave including London Zoo’s Henry Peris Davies. Many of these have no known date of death and are accorded within our records the date or period from when they were known to be missing or captured.

Individuals are commemorated on the Singapore Memorial in this way when their loss has been officially declared by their relevant service but there is no known burial for the individual, or in circumstances where graves cannot be individually marked, or where the grave site has become inaccessible and unmaintainable.

The land forces commemorated by the memorial died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity, many of them during the construction of the Burma-Thailand railway, or at sea while being transported into imprisonment elsewhere.

Remembered 75 years on, Henry Peris Davies of ZSL London Zoo.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 21 December 2016.

5th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery : Henry Peris Davies’ Regiment

5th Field Regiment – Jephson (from Rawalpindi & Nowshera, India 1939-1941)  firing 16 x 4.5 inch howitzers 63rd Battery, 73rd Battery, 81st Battery. supported Indian Regiment troops.  

5th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was commanded in 1941 by  Lt. Col. Edward William Francis Jephson

Times of Malaya’s blogspot :  http://malayacommand.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/1941-december-royal-artillery-indian.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_4.5-inch_Medium_Field_Gun

 

Happy Wartime Christmas Birthday Peggy Jane Skinner

December 20, 2016

 

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Peggy Jane Skinner’s 1943 diary and a photo believed to be her. Source: Mark Norris, WWZG collection.

Today is a birthday reminder of one of our wartime diarists from our wartime collection, wartime student Peggy Jane Skinner:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/peggy-skinners-wartime-christmas-1940/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/happy-90th-birthday-peggy-jane-skinner/

On what would have been her 92nd birthday (Peggy was born 20th December 1924 and died in 2011), we send her  giftwrapped her favourite 1940s film star Tyrone Power.

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1940s heart throb Tyrone Power (Image: Wikepedia source)

 

Happy birthday Peggy!

Scheduled Blog post by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo. 20 December 2016

Japanese zoos in wartime

December 7, 2016

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Faithful Elephants

Interesting children’s book about the fate of some Japanese Zoo elephants in wartime, originally  written by Yukio Tsuchiya and published in 1951. It was  reissued with illustrations by US illustrator Ted Lewin by publishers Houghton Mifflin in the USA in 1988.

Our second post of the day on the Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary, I wonder if Faithful Elephants  is still “read aloud  on Japanese radio every year to mark the anniversary of Japan’s Surrender in World War 2” each August?

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Back or inside cover blurb for Faithful Elephants

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Preface to Faithful Elephants (1988 version)

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Copies are available via online bookshops.

A true or fact-inspired  story to go alongside the many fictional stories set in wartime zoos, focussing on elephants …

Worth reading alongside Mayumi Itoh’s book Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy …

Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh’s  Japanese zoos in  wartime history book (2010)

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo,  7th December 1941

 

Remembering Pearl Harbor 1941 75 years on

December 7, 2016

Remembering Pearl Harbor 75 years on from the date that will live “in infamy”, the 7th of December 1941.

Here is the blogpost that we wrote on the 70th anniversary in 2011 with an interesting Pearl Harbor related camouflaged panda story (which coincided with the arrival of pandas at  Edinburgh Zoo c. 2011):

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/panda-tourism-and-pearl-harbor-a-wartime-perspective-from-world-war-zoo-gardens/

This wartime Panda  story is more widely covered in Maura Cunningham’s blogpost https://mauracunningham.org/2016/02/08/panda-monium-at-the-bronx-zoo-a-history/

Japan’s entry into the war against America, then Britain and the Allies had a profound  effect on world events, including on the careers and lives of several of the zoo and botanic Gardens staff that we have researched.

America’s entry into the war against Italy and Germany would have an unusual effect on our sister zoo at Paignton Zoo and Clennon Gorge  (where many GIs camped) and much of Southwest Britain with the arrival of the GIs.

Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh’s Japanese zoos in  wartime book

Mayumi Itoh’s book on Japanese wartime zoo policy makes grim reading and mentions what happened to some of the Japanese zoo keepers and vet staff during the war, as well as the unfortunate zoo animals.

Remembering 75 years on the many lives lost at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 and in the Far East campaign 1941-45.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 7 December 2016.

 

 

San Diego Zoo 1944 postcard

September 26, 2016

san diego 1944 PC front

Message on the back reads:

san diego 1944  pC back

I hope Lieutenant H.J. Eiland (?) survived his war service. A great address to post a card to “John Burks, c/o Voice of Victory, Wade City, Florida”

Close up of the 19 November 1944 Postcard shows a little wartime life at San Diego Zoo – GIs / US  servicemen in uniform peaked caps (tinted green) and a sailor in bottom left hand corner, hopefully with his gal.

san diego 1944 PC front closeup

An amphitheatre like this still exists at San Diego Zoo in 2002.

In my Post 9-11 visit in 2002, they played a patriotic anthem, naming all the states in the Union just before the animal ambassador show started. People were invited to cheer or join in when their state was mentioned. Service  veterans or Service families were also mentioned and applauded whilst the Stars and Stripes flag was displayed very prominently everywhere.

I can’t quite imagine this in Britain, starting a zoo talk or animal encounter with a cheery proud song listing all the shires, even post BREXIT …

Interesting postcard, proof of the entertaining, patriotic  and morale boosting role  of the zoo in wartime.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo

 

Elsie Widdowson and WW2 rationing

August 18, 2016

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

It’s August. The schools are on 2016 holiday break and Newquay Zoo is lovely and busy with families. http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/

I am also lovely and busy, preparing, repairing and refreshing schools and college workshop materials for September.

For the new City and Guilds 2016 syllabus  on animal managment delivered at  Newquay Zoo and Cornwall College Newquay,  I have been preparing new sessions for my new 16-19 year old students on animal feeding and nutrition.

https://www.cornwall.ac.uk/campus/cornwall-college-newquay

http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/education-clubs/cornwall-college

One of the challenging new elements is a bit of biochemistry (and it’s a long time since I did my O levels!)

In the course of finding simple enough ways for me to understand and explain the new nutrition bits such as the  chemical structure of amino acids, protein bonds and suchlike,  I came across this great BBC clip on Elsie Widdowson from CBBC’s Absolute Genius team Dick and Dom:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zf9rkqt

Dr. Elsie  Who?

I feel I should know the name, as I have been looking at wartime gardening and rationing since 2009 as part of the World War Zoo gardens project workshops for schools.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Elsie_Widdowson

Reading the story brought back very vague memories of this story being noted in passing in histories of food in wartime, rationing and gardening.

So who was Elsie Widdowson?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsie_Widdowson

A trip to the kitchens at King’s College Hospital, London, brought her into contact with Professor Robert McCance, who was carrying out research into the best diets for people with diabetes. The two bonded and started on a research partnership that was to span 60 years.

They studied the effect poor nutrition has in adulthood and their book The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940, became the “bible” on which modern nutritional thinking is founded.

Soon after the war started, she and Prof McCance lived for weeks in the Lake District eating the diet which they thought the British should consume during World War II to maintain basic health.They also cycled round Cambridge to study the importance of energy expenditure on diet. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

There’s a new volume for the World War Zoo gardening bookshelf – The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940 – and the 7th edition (2014 version) is still in print on Amazon from the Food Standards agency today.

World War Zoo Children evacuation suitcase & garden items Oct 09 018

Delabole Co-op and Camelford stores in Cornwall for meat, registered with Haddy’s for other rationed items, (is Haddy’s still going?) this well used (light brown adult RB1) Ration Book from Cornwall is part of our wartime life collection (copyright: World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo).

Widdowson and McCance headed the first mandated addition of vitamins and mineral to food. Their work began in the early 1940s, when calcium was added to bread.  They were also responsible for formulating the wartime rationing of Britain during World War II. (Elsie Widdowson’s Wikipedia entry)

Elsie Widdowson, wartime rationing star and Mother of the modern loaf as this BBC report named her – that’s one to chew on when you’re eating your lunchtime sarnies!

Elsie Widdowson and her scientific partner, Robert McCance, oversaw the first compulsory addition of a substance to food in the early 1940s, when calcium was introduced to bread. They were also responsible for formulating war-time rationing – some experts say that under their diet of mainly bread, vegetables and potatoes, that was when Britain was at its healthiest.(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

A biography  of sorts exists – McCance and Widdowson: A Scientific Partnership of 60 Years, 1933-93  A Commemorative Volume about Robert McCance CBE, FRS and Elsie May Widdowson CBE, FRS   published / edited by  Margaret Ashwell in 1993.

Interesting medical history blog entry by Laura Dawes about early  wartime food security concerns in Britain with a brilliant wartime photograph of McCance and Widdowson:


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