Posts Tagged ‘Belle Vue Zoo’

1916 The Somme, the Zoo and Kew Gardens

July 1, 2016

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour, 1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris)

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour, 1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris)

 

 

The 1st July 1916 was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, arguably one of the worst days in the history of the British Army.

Experts remain divided over whether Haig’s battle plans and The Somme Battles overall were a complete disaster or a sharp learning curve for his “Citizen Army” of volunteers.

Amongst these “Pals” battalions of early volunteers from similar streets, towns or trades were several Zoo and Botanic gardens staff, some of whom were killed or wounded. They joined the memorial and roll of honour list of scientists, museum staff, gardeners and naturalists that we have been following as part of the World War Zoo Gardens project to see what impact WW1 had on zoos, botanic gardens and similar trades and institutions.

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Several British zoo staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme battles. 
(Image: CWGC website)

‘The Zoo’  ZSL London Zoo

10.07.1916 Albert A Dermott 13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, Rifleman ZSL Messenger

Rifleman S/4504 Albert Arthur Dermott, 13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, (The Prince Consort’s Own) ZSL Messenger, aged 22, was killed on the Somme and has no known grave, being listed on the Thiepval Memorial.

Dermott is listed amongst the 72,000 names on the strangely shaped Thiepval memorial to the missing dead who have no known grave of the Somme battles of 1916-18. The memorial by Lutyens which sits high on a hill overlooking the killing fields of France is nicknamed by some the ‘elephant’, with its howdah or passengers on a zoo elephant ride.

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

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

According to CWGC records, Albert Arthur Dermott was the son of Frederick John Dermott and (Margaret) Rachel Frances Dermott (nee Creswell) of 2 Queen’s Road, Dalston, Middlesex, London. After his mother Rachel’s death, Dermott’s father Frederick remarried a Louisa Archer.

Albert was born in Islington, Middlesex, London on 25th April 1894 and was resident and enlisted in Marylebone, Middlesex. According to his medal records, he entered service overseas on 29 July 1915 (earning a 1915 star) and was killed just under a year later. He would have been only just past 22 years old when he was killed in action.

Dermott is listed on the Thiepval project database. The following biographical information was researched by Ken and Pam Linge for Dermott’s database entry, culled from Census information – Dermott was the youngest of five children. His siblings were Rachel Margaret Dermott (b.1883), Alice Louisa Dermott (b. 1885), Frederick John Dermott (b.1887), Edith Dermott (b. 1891). The young Albert was educated at Shap Street School, Hackney from 9th September 1901.

15.9.1916 Arthur G Whybrow 2547, 19 Bn. County of London Regt , ZSL Helper.

Whybrow joined up on 4 September 1914 and went to France on 8th March 1915. He was killed during the Somme battles, probably in the clearance of High Wood by 47th (London) Division, 15 September 1916.

Born around 1891, Arthur Whybrow worked first as a Domestic Gardener (like his father John) before joining London Zoo as a keeper (noted on his marriage certificate in July 1913). He married Daisy Sutliff and they had a child, Winifred Daisy Whybrow born 1913/14. Daisy remarried after Arthur’s death, a Mr Goodard in mid 1919.

 

High Wood was fiercely fought over during the Battle of the Somme until cleared by 47th (London) Division on 15 September 1916 when Whybrow was killed. The original ‘London’ Cemetery at High Wood was begun when 47 men of the 47th Division were buried in a large shell hole on 18 and 21 September 1916. Other burials were added later, mainly of officers and men of the 47th Division who died like Arthur Whybrow on 15 September 1916. His gravestone looks slightly more squeezed in next to others than normal as if this is a mass grave.
A G Whybrow lies buried with many others of his London Regiment who died on the same day.

At the Armistice in 1918  Whybrow’s cemetery contained 101 graves. The cemetery was then greatly enlarged when remains were brought in from the surrounding battlefields, but the original battlefield cemetery of London Regiment soldiers where Whybrow is buried is preserved intact within the larger cemetery, now know as the London Cemetery and Extension. The cemetery, one of five in the immediate vicinity of Longueval which together contain more than 15,000 graves, is the third largest cemetery on the Somme with 3,873 First World War burials, 3,114 of them unidentified.

Listed on CWGC website as the son of John and Louisa Whybrow, of Hampstead, London and husband of Daisy Goodard (formerly Whybrow), of 193, Junction Rd., Highgate, London.

05.10.1916 Gerald P Patterson 19th County of London Regt ZSL Helper

The 19 County of London Regiment may be an error or his first regiment. This is likely to be 43689 Private Gerald Phillips Patterson of the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment was killed on 5th October 1916 during the Somme fighting. He is buried in an individual grave XI. C. 4. in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. There is no family inscription on his headstone, pictured on the TWGPP website. .

The life of his battalion during the Somme battles is well set out in the Somme school visit site http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=2956

It is likely that Patterson went into action with the Norfolks on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Somme as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division as part of K2, Kitchener’s 2nd Army Group of New Army volunteers. Patterson was most likely killed during the attack and capture of the Schwaben Redoubt on the 5th October 1916. The next day his battalion went back for rest out of the line.

Many of Patterson’s 8th Norfolk battalion who were killed and whose bodies or graves were not found are remembered on the nearby Thiepval Memorial, alongside other ZSL staff like Albert Dermott.

Patterson is listed on the ZSL memorial plaque as 19th County of London Regiment; along with several other ZSL staff he enlisted locally in Camden Town, Middlesex, close to the London Zoo.

Later he must have transferred to his County regiment the Norfolks as he was born in Great Yarmouth like his parents and siblings. His father was a school attendance officer and Patterson was the youngest of 7 brothers and sisters, all born in Great Yarmouth. On leaving school, the 1911 census lists him as an Auctioneer’s Articled Pupil, before becoming a ZSL Helper (a junior or trainee keeper rank).

There are now 1,268 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the Connaught cemetery. The vast majority of the burials are those of officers and men who died in the summer and autumn of 1916 battles of the Somme. Half of the burials are unidentified, many brought in from smaller cemeteries around the Somme battlefields area.

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

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

23.10.1916 William Dexter Kings Royal Rifles, Rifleman ZSL Keeper

Rifleman S/19841 William Dexter was a married keeper enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, The Prince Consort’s Own, who died on or around 23 October 1916 aged 31. Dexter is buried in an individual grave XVIII. J. 5. at Bienvillers Cemetery, near Arras,and the Ancre, France.

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

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

According to his granddaughter Nova Jones whom I met at London Zoo in March 2014, William Dexter came from a zoo family of several generations. The daughter of William’s daughter Dora, Nova found in time for ZSL’s wartime centenary exhibition in 2014 a photograph of William Dexter in uniform with Rifles cap badge and has confirmed with the Royal Greenjackets Museum that “William as a Rifleman (Service no. S/19841) served with the 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) during the First World War.”

William Dexter was listed on his Army Medical Form as a “Keeper at Zoo”, 5 foot 5 ½ inches, Physical development ‘Good’. His father Robert Dexter had been employed at the zoo from the 1860s onwards. After working as a labourer and painter, William obtained employment ‘as worth keeping’ in 1908, rising to Junior Keeper of Ostriches in 1913 before joining up. The 31-year-old father of four children, enlisted in the Rifle Brigade in December 1915.
A portion of boot with his numbering appears to be all that helped identify William Dexter and prevent him being buried like all the others as “Unknown British Soldier”.

After barely one month serving in France he was listed as “Missing – accepted as having died on or since 23 October 1916”. Although war service and pension records are difficult sometimes to decipher, “A portion of boot” was seemingly all that was left to identify his missing body , along with posthumous medals and a pension, for official recognition and return by the authorities of Keeper Dexter to his wife and four children.

Belle Vue Zoo Manchester

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1916 deaths

3. Private William Morrey 27 June 1916

Several William Morreys from the Cheshire, Lancashire and Manchester area are listed on the cwgc.org site, obviously a local name.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme, it appears our William was the one who worked as a water and gas fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

Pioneer 130519 William Morrey died aged 21 on the 27 June, 1916, serving originally with the Manchester Regiment but on his death with the 1st Battalion of the Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (a gas unit).
William Morrey is buried in the middle of the second to back row of these hospital related casualties, Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.
Morrey is buried at an individual grave B17 at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. The great majority of the burials were carried out from such hospitals as the 4th Casualty Clearing Station where Morrey died at Beauval from June 1915 to October 1916.

Directly alongside Morrey in three other graves B 14-16 are three others of this special Battalion killed on the same day, Pioneer 129027 Richard Brown, Pioneer 128027 James Duckett (also from Manchester) and Pioneer 128805 Walter Norman Welton.

CWGC lists Morrey as the son of William and Lydia Morrey, of Widnes. Mr A.E. Morrey of 13 Ollier Street, Widnes, Lancs appears to have chosen the family inscription on his CWGC headstone: “He gave his life for Freedom”
Morrey and comrades lie in the middle of the second to back row of Beauval Cemetery, France. Image: cwgc.org
These Special Companies are described on the Long, Long Trail website http://www.1914-1918.net/specialcoyre.htm and on their forum posts #61 Royal Engineers Special Brigade: post #61 jones75 which gives the following information:

Pioneer William Morrey, No.130519, 21st Section, 1st Bn, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers
Born : Widnes, Lancashire.
Enlisted : Manchester, 20th January, 1916.
Resided : The Lodge, Halton View, Widnes.
Died of wounds in France on 27th June, 1916, aged 21.
Buried at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Row B, Grave 17.
William Morrey is also commemorated at St Ambrose church in Halton View, the Belle Vue Zoo memorial and on the Widnes War Memorial in Victoria Park, Widnes in Cheshire.

William Morrey was the second son of William & Lydia Morrey and died in No.4 Casualty Clearing Station on the 27th June as result of gas poisoning on the previous day.

His sister, Mrs Dutton of Milton Road, Widnes, received a letter from an Army Chaplain, Reverend H.D.W. Dennison, CF, in it he wrote….

”It is with deep regret that I have to tell you of the death of your brother, Pioneer W. Morrey. He was admitted into this hospital yesterday afternoon suffering severely from gas poisoning, and though everything possible was done for him, he died early this morning. I am burying him this afternoon with four of his comrades who suffered the same fate in Beauval Cemetery. May he rest in peace and, and may God comfort sad hearts that his loss will cause……”
An old boy of Simms Cross school, William Morrey also attended St Ambrose church and Sunday School and was a member of the Gymnasium at St Paul`s Parochial Rooms. On leaving school, he worked for five years as an apprentice gas & water fitter at the Corporation Gas Works in Widnes.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme he worked as a fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

He joined up on 20th January, 1916 into the 14th Bn, The Manchester Regiment, regimental number 32486 and in March that same year was transferred to the Royal Engineers and sent to France.
He wrote his last letter home in mid June and in it he said he was in the best of health and expected to be moved nearer to the front line. (WWN 1916)
The Special Brigade, Royal Engineers was a unit formed to counter the German Gas threat, they were employed to dispense poison gas from the allied trenches towards the enemies lines, it is possible that William Morrey was gassed carrying out this task as accidents and the effect of shell-fire on the equipment caused leaks on a regular basis.

So Morrey died in the preparation for the Somme, which three months later would claim another Belle Vue Zoo colleague, Alfred Routledge.

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
4. Private Alfred Routledge

He died serving with the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment on The Somme aged 23 on 26 September 1916. He was killed in an attack on Mouquet Farm which was part of the final and successful British attempt to capture the village of Thiepval.

The village occupied high ground in the centre of the battlefield and had been a British objective on the first day of The Battle of The Somme on 1 July 1916.

Alfred Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme” listed on the Thiepval memorial, having no known grave. Routledge was killed in the final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastrous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

CWGC lists him as the son of the late Alfred and Emily Barton Routledge of 504 Gorton Lane, Gorton. Married.

Routledge and fellow Belle Vue Zoo staff Sidney Turner and Ralph Stamp are remembered on the St. James Parish Church war memorial http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/st-james-church-gorton.html

Chester Zoo

George Mottershead who founded Chester Zoo in 1930s was badly wounded on the Somme on 15 October 1916. The Mottersheads were nurserymen and market gardeners, as shown in BBC Our Zoo June Mottershead’s  ‘Grandad’ Mottershead working well into old age and wartime to provide food for his son’s zoo animals. Three of June’s Mottershead uncles and step-uncles from this gardening family were killed in the First World War, two others on her mother’s side, whilst her father George was badly wounded on theSomme.

Kew Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew wartime casualties 1916

Several Kew staff were killed serving in the Somme area later in the autumn of 1916.

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

Sydney George Cobbold, 3 October 1916.

Sergeant Sydney George Cobbold, S/12906, 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died on the 3rd October 1916, aged 28. His 1917 Kew Guild Journal obituary lists from his letters back to Kew that he had enlisted in the Rifle Brigade by June 1915 and shortly after November 1915 embarked for France.
He is buried at Grave Reference II. B. 7, Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Rivière, a front line cemetery of 80 burials begun by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division in March 1916 and closed in March 1917. Looking at the Graves Registration GRU documents, it appears that on the same day that Sgt Cobbold was killed, 4 other 8th Rifle Brigade were killed and buried in the same plot 2 Row B of this front line cemetery alongside him – Rifleman L.J. Farr, W.G. Kittle, Benjamin Gordon (Jewish star in place of a cross) and fellow sergeant J.R. Aspden, Military Medal. Cobbold lies among his comrades and his men.

Sydney Cobbold (Kew Guild photo)

Sydney Cobbold of the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died 3rd October 1916, Somme area (Kew Guild photo)

John Divers, 9 October 1916

Rifleman John Divers, service number 7056, 1st / 9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles) and also County of London Cyclists, died on 9th October 1916 when his patrol into No Man’s Land towards the German trenches was wiped out. For a time he was “missing, believed killed” and an officer wrote to his father that they had not been “able to thoroughly search the ground” for his body.

As a result Divers has no known grave and is one of two Kew Gardens casualties (with H.M. Woolley) listed amongst the missing of the Somme Battles on the Thiepval Memorial at Panel Reference Pier and Face 9 C. John Divers is listed amongst over 72,000 men from the UK and South Africa who died in the Somme area before March 1918 and who have no known grave. An excellent Thiepval database exists to put faces to names and add to the publicaly available knowledge about these 72,000 men.
Several Kew staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial
At the end of September 1916, Thiepval village was finally captured from the Germans, one of the original objectives of the disastrous first day of the Battle of The Somme on 1st July, 1916. Attacks north and east continued throughout October when John Divers was killed and into 18th November in increasingly difficult winter weather. Over 90% of those commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial died like John Divers between July and November 1916.

Having visited this Thiepval memorial, it is like many of the other memorials to the missing such as the Ypres Menin Gate, quite overwhelming to scan the panels ccontaining thousands of carved names.

Born 7 August 1891 at Redhill in Surrey, he was the only son of a gardener and amateur botanist Mr Jos. Jas. Divers. From a well known family of gardeners, Divers worked with his uncle W.H. Divers VMH at Belvoir Castle, Grantham before joining Kew, March 1912, quickly becoming a Sub-foreman, Herbaceous and Alpine Dept. He was killed on the same day as fellow Kewite H.M. Woolley. (Thanks to his relatives for some of this background family / genealogical information).

Front Cover 2016

John Divers, Kew Gardens 

Herbert Martin Woolley, 9 October 1916
Listed on the Kew memorial as Rifleman / Corporal Herbert Martin Woolley, “Essex Regiment” is most likely to be Rifleman 3844, 1st / 5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), died 9 October 1916. Herbert is commemorated on Panel Reference Pier and Face 9 D, Thiepval Memorial, along with fellow Kewite John Divers.

Born 27 September 1883, Herbert was the son of G.H. Woolley, Vicar of Old Riffhams, Danbury, Essex. In 1908 after working in several nurseries and Kew 1906-08 he left to work managing a rubber estate in North Borneo. He returned from Borneo to join the Essex Regiment but ditched his commission and training as an officer to become a corporal in the London Rifle Brigade to see action more quickly. His brother suggest he was also promoted to Sergeant. Herbert was killed shortly after the attack on Combles in 1916.

Herbert or “Bertie” Woolley came from a high-achieving and distinguished family of 12 children including his brother Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Woolley (1880 – 1960), “Woolley of Ur”,a famous archaeologist who knew Lawrence of Arabia. His brother Major George Harold Woolley VC OBE MC (1892 – 1968) was the first Territorial to win the Victoria Cross. In G.H. Woolley’s autobigraphy, “Sometime a Soldier“, Bertie’s unusual decision to become a private soldier and change regiments to get to the front quicker is described:

“While I was on sick leave my third brother, Bertie, returned from British North Borneo. He had been trained at Kew Gardens and in Germany, and then was employed on rubber plantations in Borneo. When in England he had joined the old Militia, so I had no difficulty in helping him to get a commission in the Essex Regiment. He soon tired of England, so transferred as a private to the London Rifle Brigade; he did well with them in France and was quickly made a sergeant, then offered a commission. He was killed with the L.R.B. on the Somme in 1916.

 

G.H. Woolley, Sometimes A Soldier. London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1963, pp. 38-39

Charles Henry Anderson, Albert Medal, 29 November 1916
Lance (or Lance Corporal) Charles Henry Anderson died on 29/11/1916 aged 26, Service no. 2326, 1st/14th Bn. London Regiment (London Scottish). His medal record card states that in addition to the standard Victory and British war medals, he was also awarded the Albert Medal (citation below). Anderson is buried amongst 253 WW1 Commonwealth soldier burials at Grave Reference II. K. 3, St. Venant Communal Cemetery in France. From 1915 to 1917 this cemetery was linked to British and Indian forces Casualty Clearing Stations in the area.
His mother Mrs L. Anderson chose the inscription on his headstone: “I Will Give Unto Every One of You According to His Works” (Revelation 2.23)

” The King has been graciously pleased to award the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class in recognition of the gallantry of Lce. Cpl. Charles Henry Anderson, late of the 1st/14th Bn. of the London Regt., who lost his life in France in November last in saving the lives of others. On the 28th Nov., 1916, Lce. Cpl. Anderson was in a hut in France with eleven other men when, accidentally, the safety pin was withdrawn from a bomb.

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

Somme100

Royal Botanic Gardens  Edinburgh no doubt had staff who served during the Somme Battles but they lost no staff there. Their equivalent to the Loss of Pals battalions on the Somme was the loss of several staff in the local regiment 5th Royal Scots at Gallipoli in 1915.

Gardeners and others 

Garden magazine editor, writer and Kewite Herbert Cowley was home from the trenches, invalided out and newly married by 1916.

His new  brother in law was  killed on the first day of Battle of the Somme, as his wife Elsie Mabel (nee Hurst) lost her 30 year old brother Percy, a clerk.

Rifleman 4278 Percy Haslewood (or Hazlewood) Hurst of the 1st /16th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) waskilled on the 1st July 1916, during his battalion’s diversionary attack on Gommecourt. Percy left a wife Geraldine of 18 Teddington Park, Middlesex. His widowed clerk / accountant father Samuel and typist sister Elsie Mabel was left grieving for his loss.

Like Herbert’s Kewite colleagues Rifleman John Divers and Corporal Herbert Martin Woolley, Percy H. Hurst is listed on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing of The Somme (Pier / face 13C). Several other Kew Gardens staff are listed in the Kew Guild magazine ‘Roll of Honour’ section as serving in Percy Hurst’s local London Regiment but thankfully survived.

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/

Wartime editions gardening magazines and journals listed lost gardeners such as George Harrow, son of George Harrow of Veitch’s Nursery, killed 1st July 1916. Gardener T. Percy Peed, a nurseryman, died serving with the 8th South Staffs in France on 10 July 1916.

Gardener Sergeant L.A. Iceton Seaforth Highlanders died on 26 July 1916.

RHS Wisley lost several staff during the Somme Battle period including:

Private John Fletcher Lee 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry, died 5 July 1916, buried at Lijssentheok Cemetery.

2nd Lieutenant Fritz Bowyer, 9 Squadron RFC died on 25 July 1916, Arras a Flying Services Memorial.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/blogs/libraries/August-2014/First-World-War-commemoration-at-Wisley

Natural History / British Museum staff 

Private C.R. Dunt, killed Hebuterne, on staff of British Museum

 

 

Scientists, naturalists and others

Of the eight fellows FLS of the  Linnean Society casualties lost in WW1, two were lost in the Somme period and battles of 1916.

Geoffrey Watkins Smith 10 July 1916 
A Captain in the 13th Battalion Rifle Brigade, Geoffrey Watkins Smith died on 10 July 1916 is buried in grave III J 27, Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers la Boisselle. CWGC lists him as the son of Horace and Susan Eleanor Penelope Smith, of Beckenham, Kent. A Fellow of New College Oxford, Watkins Smith wrote several books including Primitive Animals and A Naturalist In Tasmania.

 

Wilfrid Omer Cooper  26 September 1916
Born 1895, he was killed in 26 September 1916. He had been involved with the Bournemouth Natural Science Society, studying isopods. Elected to the Linnean Society only in Spring 1915, he was still a private G/40113 in the 12 Battalion Regiment, Middlesex Regiment when he died aged 21. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme battles.
Wilfrid Omer Cooper has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
He is listed on the CWGC website as the son of the late John Omer Cooper (died 1912) and Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Thompson Cooper, 6 Queensland Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth. On the listing for Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW) he is listed as born at Boscombe, Bournemouth, Hants and resident at Bournemouth. He enlisted at High Beech, Loughton and was originally listed as formerly B/23290 Royal Fusiliers.

In 1911 census he and his brother Joseph Omer Cooper were both schoolboys living with their 89-year-old father (a retired auctioneer, surveyor and estate agent, born in Reading, Berkshire 1822-1912) and 53-year-old mother Mary (born Willenhall, Staffordshire, 1858-1944) at 50 Westley Road, Boscombe. Two other children had not survived infancy. His brother Joseph served from 1914-19 in Britain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).

He may be the author of several books including The Fishing Village and other writings (Literary and Scientific) posthumously published in Bournemouth by H.G.Commin 1917, the author one Wilfrid Omer-Cooper.

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

Remembered all as part of #Somme100

Posted on 1st July 2016 by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

 

Remembering William Morrey died 27 June 1916

June 27, 2016

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

William Morrey: Our World War Zoo Gardens memory square for #Somme100

Remembering today on the centenary of his death Pioneer William Morrey, a gas and water fitter at Manchester’s Belle Vue Zoo who died on 27 June 2016 along with several others of the 1st Battalion Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (a gas unit?)

https://www.1418now.org.uk/somme100/gallery/mark-norris-men-named-belle-vue-zoo-manchester-ww1-staff-war-memorial-gorton-park-cemetery-manchester

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

Morrey as a  Special Brigade serviceman was mentioned on a forum entry as part of research by Terry Reeves at http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/547-royal-engineers-special-brigade/&page=3

Morrey is commemorated on the Widnes War Memorial in Victoria Park, Widnes, Cheshire as well as the Gorton Park Cemetery war memorial for Belle Vue zoo staff.
Pioneer William Morrey No.130519 21st Section, 1st Bn, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers
Born : Widnes, Lancashire.
Enlisted : Manchester, 20th January, 1916.
Resided : The Lodge, Halton View, Widnes.
Died of wounds in France on 27th June, 1916, aged 21.
Buried at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Row B, Grave 17.
Commemorated at St Ambrose church in Halton View.
William Morrey was the second son of William & Lydia Morrey and died in No.4 Casualty Clearing Station on the 27th June as result of gas poisoning on the previous day.

His sister, Mrs Dutton of Milton Road, Widnes, received a letter from an Army Chaplain, Reverend H.D.W. Dennison, CF, in it he wrote….

“It is with deep regret that I have to tell you of the death of your brother, Pioneer W. Morrey. He was admitted into this hospital yesterday afternoon suffering severely from gas poisoning, and though everything possible was done for him, he died early this morning. I am burying him this afternoon with four of his comrades who suffered the same fate in Beauval Cemetery. May he rest in peace and, and may God comfort sad hearts that his loss will cause……”

An old boy of Simms Cross school, William Morrey also attended St Ambrose church and Sunday School and was a member of the Gymnasium at St Paul`s Parochial Rooms.

On leaving school, William worked for five years as an apprentice gas & water fitter at the Corporation Gas Works in Widnes.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme he worked as a fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

William Morrey joined up on 20th January, 1916 into the 14th Bn, The Manchester Regiment, regimental number 32486. In March 1916 that same year he was transferred to the Royal Engineers and sent to France.
He wrote his last letter home in mid June 1916 and in it he said he was in the best of health and expected to be moved nearer to the front line.
The Special Brigade, Royal Engineers was a unit formed to counter the German Gas threat, who were employed to dispense poison gas from the allied trenches towards the enemy lines.

It is possible that William Morrey was gassed carrying out this task as accidents and the effect of shell-fire on the equipment caused leaks on a regular basis.

image

Directly alongside Morrey in three other graves B 14-16 are three others of this special Battalion killed on the same day,

Pioneer 129027 Richard Brown,

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/34930/BROWN,%20RICHARD

Pioneer 128027 James Duckett (also from Manchester)

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/34964/DUCKETT,%20JAMES

Pioneer 128805 Walter Norman Welton.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/35120/WELTON,%20WALTER%20NORMAN

CWGC lists Morrey as the son of William and Lydia Morrey, of Widnes.

Mr A.E. Morrey of 13 Ollier Street, Widnes, Lancs appears to have chosen the family inscription on his CWGC headstone: “He gave his life for Freedom”

William Morrey and colleagues remembered.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 27 June 2016.

 

Dad’s Army and the Home Guard in the Wartime Zoo

February 6, 2016

Gnome guard wartime garden 015

Our LDV ‘Gnome Guard’ in his usual allotment spot in our wartime ‘Dig For Victory’ garden, Summer Newquay Zoo, 2010

The Home Guard has long suffered from the Dad’s Army image of the 1960s and 1970s comedy programme, but an image that has helped to keep its memory alive.

The new Dad’s Army  film with Bill Nighy and other famous British actors is due out on 5 February 2016.

Zoos and botanic gardens sometimes had their own Home Guard companies ranging from Whipsnade Zoo to Kew Gardens, with big wide open spaces suitable for paratroop or glider landings.

Kew also possessed its very own Home Guard in the shape of a special Garden Platoon. Many of those involved were old soldiers or regular visitors. The manning of Kew Bridge was one of their tasks.

http://www.kew.org/discover/news/kews-wreath-remembrance

Kew Gardens staff were involved in the local 63rd Surrey (RICHMOND) Battalion V Zone Home Guard:
“Few units have such a beautiful and historic area to defend as the 63rd Surrey (Richmond) Battalion.

In the early days its members were called on to provide nightly guards on the Thames bridges in their territory and on such historic premises as Kew Observatory and Wick House, once the residence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, which stands on Richmond Terrace …

Major Bott, who had fought so hard for this, was offered the command of the new Battalion. He refused on the ground that his work did not allow him the time to do the job as he felt it should be done. So the command was given to Sir Geoffrey Evans, C.LE., eminent botanist and soldier, who held it until his appointment as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Major Bott was made second-in-command.

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/ww2/home_guard/hg006.shtml

Many zoo keepers over or under military age served in the Home Guard, along with other evening jobs at their zoo or in the local community in the National Fire Service, Firewatching, Air Raid wardens (ARP)  or other war work including Dig For Victory gardens.

Often these Home Guard staff from zoos  were veterans of the First World War.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Home Guard lapel badge for your civilian clothes to indicate your branch of National Service. Author’s collection.

In the chaos and lack of weapons after the British Army’s evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940 when German invasion by paratroops or landing craft seemed imminent, surprisingly zoos were often allowed to keep their rifles and rifle-trained staff on account of the fears over large dangerous animals being loosed by air raids. Angus MacDonald (‘Mac’) was one such sure shot and a fine pest controller as well at London Zoo, as remembered by  the zoo writer L.R. Brightwell.

Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester became a source of some rather ancient weapons from its theatrical spectacular firework displays including 1866-vintage Snyder rifles, which were issued to members of the local 49th Lancashire Battalion of the  Home Guard during the Second World War (mentioned in Norman Longmate’s The Real Dad’s Army published in 1974 / 2012).

In 1943 the Fireworks Island itself was used for a public display of Home Guard Training, the Home Guard capturing a ‘nazi Flag’ as part of the display: http://www.chethams.org.uk/bellevue/files/original/c5c53efac3b80d96d3ac3a866b207a3f.jpg

More information on Belle Vue as a venue for the Home Guard can be found on the Virtual Belle Vue digitised collection at Chethams archive: http://www.chethams.org.uk/bellevue/files/original/22e81e259938404e6a9a309f33d0640a.jpg

Belle Vue Zoo remained a popular brass band venue in wartime including local Home Guards Bands, http://www.chethams.org.uk/bellevue/files/original/42e062a73a956504bccb320614777833.jpg 

Whipsnade  Zoo in Bedfordshire had its local Home Guard unit under ex-Army Captain W.P. Beal, the Zoo Superintendent.  Areas were turned over for rifle ranges and Home Guard training as mentioned in Lucy Pendar’s Whipsnade My Africa and Paul Wilson’s ZSL website article:

Mrs Beal’s jovial husband Captain W P B Beal (the Zoo’s first Superintendent, made famous by his curries in the Gerald Durrell’s book, Beasts in my Belfry) became the leader of the local Home Guard and made use of the Zoo’s facilities as far as he could. The Estates office became the Headquarters, the Cloisters were transformed into an indoor firing range and an outside range was created at the bottom of the downs below Bison Hill. The Zoo witnessed groups of men marching around, initially with just broom handles and farm implements and later with proper weapons.

https://www.zsl.org/blogs/artefact-of-the-month/whipsnade-during-the-second-world-war

Bristol Zoo was also home to its local Home Guard Unit:

The Home Guard of the 11th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment was based in the zoo’s cafeteria during World War Two. One member based at the zoo recalled how they were not allowed to march and parade in front of Alfred’s cage lest he become aggressive. At the time the troops discussed the causes of this, musing that it might be that their uniforms reminded Alfred of other primates. On reflection, as the keepers also wore uniforms, the writer concluded that it was more likely the marching itself which upset the gorilla.

He also recalled how night watch at the zoo was his scariest experience during his time in the Home Guard. On the one hand, he was worried about Germans appearing out of the dark but he was equally concerned that if a bomb dropped near the zoo the animals might escape from their cages. ‘Often, 17 year olds like myself exchanged our fears about what one would do if, spare the thought, in such an event the monstrous form of Alfred were to lumber forward out of the darkness’, he recalled, ‘probably run towards the enemy!’ he concluded.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Gorilla  quoting Bristol Museum, Alfred Archive L13, 23 July 1993.

home guard cert ww2

Home Guard certificate for Frederick Redvers Booth, Hailsham Sussex Battalion (Author’s Collection)

If you come across a Home Guard certificate, they only have the person’s name (as both men and women served) on the front but very usefully they are often stamped on the back with the Home Guard group and battalion they belong to.

home guard cert ww2 reverse

Certificate (back) for Frederick Booth, Hailsham Sussex Battalion

Training this new civilian or old soldier army in national defence brought forth a wide range of publications, some recently reprinted.

Home Guard cover

(Author’s collection)

The aims of the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) or Home Guard are set out in many of these rapidly written and published advice books, focussing on tone modern methods of war shown in the Invasion of Poland and Blitzkreig across Holland, Belgium and France of 1939/40. Parachutists, gliders and  tanks required training in roadblocks, street fighting and ambush techniques.

Home Gaurd Brophy book parachutists

Advice about parachutist and glider troops: Page 50 from the Home Guard Handbook (1940) by John Brophy

 

The Last word Home Guard

Page 125 from the Home Guard Handbook (1940) by John Brophy

 

LDV checklist Home Guard Brophy

Page 126 from the Home Guard Handbook (1940) by John Brophy

As we come across new stories of zoo or botanic garden Home Guard units or links, I will post them on this blogpost.

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

Remembering the lost WW1 staff of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester

November 7, 2015

19 zoo staff were lost as a result of active service during and after WW1 from the now vanished Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester.

Since 2009 I have been researching the wartime effects on a few typical British zoos operational in the First World War and what that generation learnt in preparation for surviving the Second World War (when our recreated World War Zoo Gardens dig for victory garden project at Newquay Zoo is set).

The few zoo war memorial records found so far stand in for a whole generation and for lost zoological gardens staff across the world.

Previously we have researched and posted about the 12 lost WW1 staff on the ZSL London Zoo staff memorial, where wreaths will be laid each year during the Armistice and Remembrance silences:

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

 

Belle Vue Zoo War Memorial 

This year in the 1915 centenary year, spare a thought for the 19 fallen staff of Belle Vue Zoo Gardens in Manchester (which closed 1977/78), their names listed on a vandalised zoo staff war memorial in Gorton Cemetery.

Reading the names means these men are not forgotten.

Read the names and spare a thought for these 19 lost Belle Vue Zoo staff from the First World War.

Researching and reading a few of these background stories puts a more personal face on the scale of the losses, especially in the First World War.

Belle Vue’s war memorial, Gorton Cemetery, Manchester on its unveiling 1926. Image: manchesterhistory.net

The Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff war memorial at Gorton cemetery in Manchester is now sadly vandalised and missing its bronze statue by  sculptor Ferdinand Victor Blundstone, one of of his several memorial designs.

The now missing Blundstone statue was cast by Parlanti. The memorial’s damaged condition is now noted on the UKNIWM UK National Inventory of War Memorials.

The Belle Vue Zoo war memorial was unveiled in Gorton Cemetery by members of the Jennison family in 1926,  who had owned the zoo from its Victorian roots until the year before. The Jennisons had lost two sons (and future managers or directors?) in the First World War.

Much has been written about Belle Vue as an early zoo and leisure gardens collection, which survived from the 1836 to 1977/8 such as this extensive Belle Vue Zoo Wikipedia entry and several books and films by Robert Nicholls. Its records are held in the Chetham’s Library Archive and now being scanned for public access.

Spare a thought for the Belle Vue men listed on the monument and their families.

Beautifully sunny photo of the Belle Vue Zoo war-memorial. Image source: Stephen Cocks' Tommy at War blog site https://gbt01.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/dsc006251.jpg

Beautifully sunny photo of the Belle Vue Zoo war-memorial. Image source: Stephen Cocks’ Tommy at War blog site

I first came across the memorial through the 1926 original press articles from its dedication at http://manchesterhistory.net/bellevue/warmemorial.html

Stephen and Susan Cocks’ Tommy at War 2010 blog entry The Belle Vue Monument (or Memorial) expanded on some of the the personal casualty information available on the cwgc.org website  https://gbt01.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/the-belle-vue-memorial-the-story-of-the-memorial/

https://gbt01.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/hello-world/

Since these  first 2010/11 postings by Stephen Cocks and my research on this website, members of the Manchester and Salford Family History Forum  have furthered the research locally and produced a fascinating section of their website on Gorton Cemetery, its war graves and the Belle Vue war memorial staff casualties and their families:

http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html

 

So who were these Belle Vue men?

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens  staff killed on active service 1915-1918

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1915 deaths

1. Private Henry Mulroy Served as Private 23516 in the 12th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed at Ypres on 16 August 1915, whilst his battalion were holding trenches to the south of Ypres.

Henry had only been in France for one month before he was killed. Another Manchester Regiment casualty from his 12th Battalion, Private 4970 J Mullen lies alongside Mulroy, killed on the same day.

Mulroy's grave lies among these at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. Image: cwgc.org

Mulroy’s grave lies among these at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
Image: cwgc.org

Mulroy was remembered in a blogpost on the centenary day of his death: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/remembering-h-mulroy-belle-vue-zoo-died-ypres-16-august-1915/

Mulroy is buried in an individual grave I.I.5 in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, to the South-west of Ypres, Belgium (Flanders). Ridge Wood was the name given to a wood standing on high ground between the Kemmel road and Dickebusch Lake. The cemetery lies in a hollow on the western side of the ridge and the position was chosen for a front line cemetery as early as May 1915. The cemetery, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, contains 619 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

Martin and Mary Middlebrook’s book on The Somme Battlefields (Penguin 1991) mentions that Mulroy’s battalion the 12th Manchesters have a special tall memorial stone near Contalmaison Chateau Cemetery, commemorating the 555 casulaties from 3rd – 6th July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme and overall the 1039 men such as Mulroy (a 1915 casualty) who died in the war. This number, Middlebrook says, is the “exact equivalent of the number of men who sailed from England with the original battalion in July 1915”  including Henry Mulroy. His Medal record card records this date of embarkation.

The 12th Manchester history website sets out Mulroy’s likely military journey from when the 12th (Service) Battalion formed at Ladysmith barracks, Ashton-under-Lyne in September 1914 of “Kitchener volunteers”. The battalion then moved south to Bovington camp, Wool in Dorset as part of 52nd Brigade, 17th Division, an invasion of Northern troops to rural Dorset. In January 1915 they moved to Wimborne in Dorset then in February 1915 back to hutments in the Wool area.

More on Mulroy’s 12th Manchester life in Bovington camp, Wool (now the site of the Bovington Tank Museum) can be read in  the downlodable pdf of Chapter II / 2 of G.E. Lanning’s Bovington Garrison By May 1915 they moved to Hursley Park, near Winchester where they stayed until embarkation from Folkestone on 15th July 1915.

On the morning of the 16th July 1915, 30 officers and 975 men of the 12th (Service) Battalion Manchester Regiment landed at Boulogne, moving on to be attached to the Liverpool Scottish for training in trench warfare at Ouderom around the 21st July 1915. The 12th Battalion first went into the line on the 24th July 1915 near Vierstaat and later SE of St Eloi. “For the rest of the year they were in and out of the frontline around Ypres”, the Manchester Regiment website notes of the period when Mulroy was killed. The 12th Battalion Manchester Regiment War Diary gives great detail of the Mulroy’s battalion movements and states around the period of Mulroy’s death a possible cause for his death:

15/8/1915 Quiet day; Some artillery activity in afternoon on both sides. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire during the night.

16/8/1915 Enemy fired rifle grenades on trench No 5.

17/8/1915 Very quiet day. Were relieved by the 9th Bn Duke of Wellington Regt. Relief commenced at 8.0pm but did not complete until 4.30am of the 18th inst owing to furious bombardment by the enemy.

Mulroy was in the 12th Manchester (Service) Battalion, so likely to have been one of Kitchener’s volunteers. On 7th Aug three days after war was declared, a recruiting poster and notices in the newspapers called for 100,000 men aged between 19 and 30 to the Army, serving for three years or the duration of the war. Within a few days the “First Hundred Thousand” had joined up. By the middle of September 1914, half a million men like Henry Mulroy had enlisted. Many of Mulroy’s battalion died in the Somme battles of 1916 where the New Army battalions suffered terrible losses.

Loos Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Loos Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

2. Private Frederick Lester  Reid,

Private Frederick Lester Reid served in the 1st Battalion of The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

This regular battalion was one of the first to land in France in August 1914 and had been present at The Battle of Mons. He was killed at the age of 31 on 25 September 1915.

The 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were part of The 1st Division which suffered heavily in the attack on the first day of the Battle of Loos. Initially caught in their own first British use of  gas, they moved forward as the gas cleared and finding that the German wire was uncut, suffered heavily as they attempted to cut through it in the face of German machine gun fire.

Private Reid has no known grave and is commemorated on The Loos Memorial to the Missing.

He was remembered on the centenary of his death in our Loos blogpost: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/gardeners-and-zoo-staff-lost-at-the-battle-of-loos-25-september-1915/

Private Reid was married to Jessie and lived at 256 Gorton Road, Reddich.

Reid's name is amongst the many on the Loos Memorial. Image: cwgc.org website

Reid’s name is amongst the many on the Loos Memorial. Image: cwgc.org website

As we approach the centenary of each casualty, we shall mark the day and research each casualty further on this blog. interesting information has emerged about William Morrey’s unusual service and death several days before the Battle of the Somme.

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1916 deaths

3. Private William Morrey, Several William Morreys from the Cheshire, Lancashire and Manchester area are listed on the cwgc.org site, obviously a local name.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme, it appears our William  was the one who worked as a water and gas fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

Pioneer 130519 William Morrey died aged 21 on the 27 June, 1916, serving originally with the Manchester Regiment but on his death with the 1st Battalion of the Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (a gas unit).

William Morrey is buried in the middle of the second to back row of these hospital related casualties, Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.

William Morrey is buried in the middle of the second to back row of these hospital related casualties, Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.

Morrey is buried at an individual grave B17 at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. The great majority of the burials were carried out from such hospitals as the 4th Casualty Clearing Station where Morrey died  at Beauval from June 1915 to October 1916.

image

Directly alongside Morrey in three other graves B 14-16 are three others of this  special Battalion killed on the same day, Pioneer 129027 Richard Brown, Pioneer 128027 James Duckett (also from Manchester) and Pioneer 128805 Walter Norman Welton.

CWGC lists Morrey as the son of William and Lydia Morrey, of Widnes. Mr A.E. Morrey of 13 Ollier Street, Widnes, Lancs appears to have chosen the family inscription on his CWGC headstone: “He gave his life for Freedom”

Morrey and comrades lie in the middle of the second to back row of Beauval Cemetery< France. Image: cwgc.org

Morrey and comrades lie in the middle of the second to back row of Beauval Cemetery, France. Image: cwgc.org

These Special Companies are described on the Long, Long Trail website http://www.1914-1918.net/specialcoyre.htm  and on their forum posts  #61 Royal Engineers Special Brigade: post #61 jones75 which gives the following information:

Pioneer  William Morrey, No.130519, 21st Section, 1st Bn, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers
Born : Widnes, Lancashire.
Enlisted : Manchester, 20th January, 1916.
Resided : The Lodge, Halton View, Widnes.
Died of wounds in France on 27th June, 1916, aged 21.
Buried at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Row B, Grave 17.
William Morrey is also commemorated at St Ambrose church in Halton View, the Belle Vue Zoo memorial and on the Widnes War Memorial in Victoria Park, Widnes in Cheshire.

William Morrey was the second son of William & Lydia Morrey and died in No.4 Casualty Clearing Station on the 27th June as result of gas poisoning on the previous day.

His sister, Mrs Dutton of Milton Road, Widnes, received a letter from an Army Chaplain, Reverend H.D.W. Dennison, CF, in it he wrote….”It is with deep regret that I have to tell you of the death of your brother, Pioneer W. Morrey. He was admitted into this hospital yesterday afternoon suffering severely from gas poisoning, and though everything possible was done for him, he died early this morning. I am burying him this afternoon with four of his comrades who suffered the same fate in Beauval Cemetery. May he rest in peace and, and may God comfort sad hearts that his loss will cause……”
An old boy of Simms Cross school, William Morrey also attended St Ambrose church and Sunday School and was a member of the Gymnasium at St Paul`s Parochial Rooms. On leaving school, he worked for five years as an apprentice gas & water fitter at the Corporation Gas Works in Widnes.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme he worked as a fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

He joined up on 20th January, 1916 into the 14th Bn, The Manchester Regiment, regimental number 32486 and in March that same year was transferred to the Royal Engineers and sent to France.
He wrote his last letter home in mid June and in it he said he was in the best of health and expected to be moved nearer to the front line. (WWN 1916)
The Special Brigade, Royal Engineers was a unit formed to counter the German Gas threat, they were employed to dispense poison gas from the allied trenches towards the enemies lines, it is possible that William Morrey was gassed carrying out this task as accidents and the effect of shell-fire on the equipment caused leaks on a regular basis.

So Morrey died in the preparation for the Somme, which three months later would claim another Belle Vue Zoo colleague, Alfred Routledge.

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

4. Private Alfred Routledge

He died serving with the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment on The Somme aged 23 on 26 September 1916. He was killed in an attack on Mouquet Farm which was part of the final and successful British attempt to capture the village of Thiepval.

The village occupied high ground in the centre of the battlefield and had been a British objective on the first day of The Battle of The Somme on 1 July 1916.

Alfred Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme”  listed on the Thiepval memorial, having no known grave. Routledge was  killed in the  final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastrous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

CWGC lists him as the son of the late Alfred and Emily Barton Routledge of 504 Gorton Lane, Gorton. Married.

Routledge and fellow Belle Vue Zoo staff Sidney Turner and Ralph Stamp are remembered on the St. James Parish Church war memorial http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/st-james-church-gorton.html

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff  1917 deaths

5. Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison

James Leonard was the son of James Jennison, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue Zoo. His father James died later that year, possibly hastened by this family loss. His cousin Norman, son of Angelo Jennison, also died on active service in Italy.

Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison served in the 15th Battalion of The West Yorkshire Regiment, the Leeds Pals. He was killed at Arras on 3 May 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to The Missing.

2nd Lieutenant James Jennison and Private William Stamp of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester have no known grave are remembered on the Arras Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

2nd Lieutenant James Jennison and Private William Stamp of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester have no known grave are remembered on the Arras Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

6. Private Ralph William Stamp, 18th battalion, Manchester Regiment, died aged 23, on the 23rd April 1917, and has no known grave, listed on the Arras memorial, the same as J L Jennison.

Private Ralph William Stamp was the son of Robert and Jane Stamp of 36 Newton Street, Gorton. He was killed in The Battle of Arras aged 23 on 23 April 1917, serving as a member of the 18th Battalion of The Manchester Regiment. Stamp has no known grave, so is commemorated on The Arras Memorial to the Missing. He is also remembered on the St James Church Gorton war memorial.

He appears to have been on the gardens staff.

Sergeant Oliver is listed amongst the 35,000 names on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing. Image: cwgc.org

Sergeant Oliver is listed amongst the 35,000 names on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing. Image: cwgc.org

7. Sergeant John E. Oliver

John Oliver served with the 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment and he was killed on 24 October 1917 towards the end of the ‘Battle of Passchendaele’ (The Third Battle of Ypres) from July 31st to November 6th 1917.

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

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

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

 

Thomas Tumbs' name on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Image Source: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo.

Thomas Tumbs’ name on Panel 22 of the WW1 section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Image Source: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, November 2015.

8. Stoker First Class T J Tumbs, AB

Died aged 40, killed on HMS Drake, 2 October, 1917, on convoy duty off coast of Ireland in U79 U-boat torpedo attack.

Remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Stoker First Class Tumbs was aged 40 and one of 19 sailors killed aboard the cruiser HMS Drake when it was torpedoed by German U Boat U79 on 2 October 1917.

Attacked while escorting an incoming Atlantic Convoy, the ship limped into Church Bay off the coast of Ireland where it sank and still provides a wreck popular with divers.

As he has no known grave, being lost at sea, his name is remembered on Panel 22 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, which I visited recently on a suitably wet and blustery day.

 

9. Private Harold?  Heathcote, 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), 19 October 1917, buried Baghdad war cemetery.

Private H. Heathcote is probably Private Harold Heathcote of Openshaw, who died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) on 19 October 1917 while fighting The Turks with The 5th Battalion of  The Wiltshire Regiment. Private Heathcote is buried in The Baghdad War Cemetery.

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1918 deaths

10. Sergeant J Fuller, Devonshire Regiment / Pioneer Corps, died 14 April 1918. Buried Amiens, France. Married.

On March 1918 The Germans launched the first of their offensives in a final bid to win the war. The British bore the brunt of these offensives in March and April and, although the British were forced to concede considerable ground, the line never broke.

Sergeant Fuller was married and lived at 9 Millen Street, West Gorton.

He was serving with the Labour Corps, having transferred from The Devonshire Regiment, possibly as a consequence of being wounded. He died on 14 April 1918 and is buried in St Pierre Cemetery, Amiens town was a key objective of the German offensive but never fell.

James Craythorne's grave lies just in front of the Cross of Sacrifice in this tiny French cemetery of 141 graves. Image: cwgc.org

Keeper James Craythorne’s grave lies just in front of the Cross of Sacrifice in this tiny French cemetery of 141 graves. Image: cwgc.org

11. Private James George Craythorne, 1/6 Manchester Regiment, killed 20 October 1918 ironically in the fighting for Belle Vue Farm, buried at Belle Vue (Farm) Cemetery, France.

Zoo Keeper James Craythorne is one of 66 1st /6th  or other Manchester Regiment casualties in the cemetery from the 20th October 1918. This ‘Belle Vue’ cemetery was named after a farm captured by The 42 East Lancashire Division, of which Private Craythorne was a member.

Three or four generations of the Craythorne family worked as small mammal and reptile keepers at Belle Vue Zoo, including James Craythorne who followed his own father into zoo work, was employed aged 12 from the 1880s  to retirement during another war in 1944, replaced then by his son Albert!

Gorton Cemetery's Cross of Sacrifice, a focus for the CWGC graves including William Turner's. Image: cwgc.org

Gorton Cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice, a focus for the CWGC graves including William Turner’s. Image: cwgc.org

12. Private Sidney Turner,

Sydney or Sidney Turner died in the UK aged 18, 3rd May 1917 serving as TR4/13456 in a reserve battalion (20th) of the Welsh Regiment, buried in Gorton Cemetery (near the site of the Belle Vue Zoo war memorial).

Several others who died after the war are also individually buried here in Gorton Cemetery.

The youngest soldier listed, he was the son of Thomas and Mary Turner of 58 Pinnington Road Gorton. His mother chose the headstone inscription: “Sadly Missed”.

image

Many of those buried in the cemeteries and churchyards of the city died in Manchester or nearby  hospitals. An intriguing note on the CWGC graves register sheet suggested his original ‘private grave / grass mound’ was ‘neglected’ and that he died at Kinmel Park Military Hospital at Kinmel Park Army Camp, Abergele, Wales. The crossed out ‘Rly’ note may refer to the Kinmel Camp Railway: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinmel_Camp_Railway

There are 69 First World War casualties  / burials scattered throughout the Gorton cemetery and a Screen Wall bears the names of 15 First World War casualties (including Turner?) whose graves could not be individually marked. The Manchester and Salford Family History Forum website has more about this memorial and casualties: http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com

Sidney / Sydney Turner's name can be glimpsed on the top of the plaque of this CWGC memorial in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester. (Image: CWGC)

Sidney / Sydney Turner’s name can be glimpsed on the top of the plaque of this CWGC memorial in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester. (Image: CWGC)

13. Captain Norman L Jennison, MC (Military Cross) , 6th Manchester Regiment (Territorials), died of flu, Genoa, Italy 30 October 1918

Norman Jennison was the son of Angelo Jennison, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo, and lived at 49 East Road Longsight.

Norman was a clerk and had joined the 6th Manchesters, a territorial battalion, before the war as a private.

Commissioned in 1916, he was attached to a trench mortar battery and served in Italy from October 1917, where he died of flu on 30 October 1918.

The Cross of Sacrifice and Row A & B in the terrace above Jennison's Row D grave, Staglieno Cemtery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

The Cross of Sacrifice and Row A & B in the terrace above Jennison’s Row D grave, Staglieno Cemtery, Genoa, Italy.
Image: cwgc.org

He is buried amongst the 230 First World War graves on the dramatically terraced Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa, Italy. His cousin James Leonard also died on active service.

Norman Jennison's grave lies in the middle of this second row (D) from the right amid dramatic mountain secenery, Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

Norman Jennison’s grave lies in the middle of this second row (D) from the right amid dramatic mountain scenery, Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918, and rest camps and medical units were established at various locations in northern Italy behind the front. Genoa was a base for commonwealth forces and the 11th General, 38th and 51st Stationary Hospitals, possibly where Jennison died.

 

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff “who died from the effect of war” after 1918.

Zoo owner Angelo Jennison unveiling in 1926 the Belle Vue memorial in Gorton Cemetery to his son, nephew and his zoo staff lost in the First World War. Image: manchesterhistory.net

This unusual addition or section of names gives a little glimpse of what must have happened to many zoo, aquarium and botanic garden staff who never recovered from the effects of active service in wartime.

14. Private WM Wheatcroft, 3rd Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment, died aged 28, 10 July 1919, buried in Gorton cemetery.

Private WM Wheatcroft served in The 3rd Battalion of The Kings(Liverpool) Regiment. He was the son of Sarah and Jessie Wheatcroft and died aged 28 on 10 July 1919. He is buried in Gorton Cemetery and at the time of his death his widowed mother had remarried and lived at 5 Bakewell Street Gorton.

Wheatcroft appears to have been on the Belle Vue gardening staff.

15. Sergeant Robert Hawthorne, died 24 June 1922, buried in Gorton cemetery alongside Belle Vue casualty Joseph Cummings.

16. Rifleman / Lance Corporal William Croasdale, Belle Vue’s baker, served Army Service Corps (bakery) and Kings Royal Rifle Corps, served overseas 1915 to 1919, aged 32, died 1922, (possibly Stephen Cocks suggests in a mental hospital, Prestwich).

William Croasdale is listed as having died from the effects of war and his history is far from uncommon for men who actually survived the fighting, but never the less still had their lives destroyed by the war.

His service record has survived and, as shown in Stephen Cocks’ Tommy at War blog, it gives a fascinating account of his life and army servive.

William Croasdale was living at 536 Gorton Road in Reddish when he enlisted into the army on 5 November 1914. He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, with blue eyes, fair hair and a fresh complexion. He was a baker at Belle Vue and his record actually includes a reference from James Jennison.

William was enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a baker and was posted abroad in May 1915 and, apart from 14 days leave in 1918, he served overseas until March 1919. William’s service was transformed dramatically in 1916 when he was compulsorily transferred to The Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

Apart from minor infringements of discipline, including being found in possession of dirty bombs (grenades) and returning a day late from leave, his record is a good one and he was promoted to lance corporal in 1918.

He returned from the war, but he died aged 32 in 1922 in Prestwich.

17. Private Joseph Cummings, died 9 May 1926.

Worked as a ball room attendant at Belle Vue (see also Robert Hawthorn with whom he is buried)

According to press reports, there were only 17 names on the original memorial when unveiled in 1926.

 

Walton's war at sea: Coronel and the Falklands are mentioned as the battle honours on this section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

Walton’s war at sea: Coronel and the Falklands are mentioned as the battle honours on this section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

18. First Class PO Matthew James Walton DSM, fought at the Battle of the Falklands naval action, 1914, died 1926 a few months before the memorial was unveiled.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/matthew-james-walton-dsm-of-belle-vue-zoo-and-the-battle-of-the-falklands-8-december-1914/

Petty Officer Walton DSM, who died in 1926 from the effects of war, had been present at The Battle of The Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914 at which The Royal Navy virtually destroyed a whole German squadron commanded by Admiral Von Spee.

According to the UKNIWM entry, Walton was the orchestrator of Belle Vue’s  famous firework spectaculars.

According to the press report, Bernard Hastain was present at the unveiling of the memorial. His own name must have been added as the  last Belle Vue staff name on the monument when he died in 1933.

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

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

19. Bernard Hastain

The last now almost unreadable name on the memorial is that of  Private Bernard A. Hastain  of the Rifle Brigade. Hastain was the scene painter of huge patriotic firework theatrical  specactles  at Belle Vue Zoo who died in the 1930s  from the effects of wounds.

Bernard Hastain was born in London in 1876, the son of an accountant’s clerk. After working in theatres in Drury Lane and at Covent Garden, he was employed by Belle Vue to paint the backdrops for the firework displays which were a major attraction at the zoo over many decades. The displays renacted major historical events, such as The Storming of Quebec and during The First World War included the renactment of battles, such as the capture of Vimy Ridge. Displays were on a spectacular scale, against a backdrop of up to 30,000 square feet of canvas, and watched by huge crowds from across a lake, many of whom were in a specially constructed grandstand.

During World War 1 Bernard Hastain served in the Rifle Brigade and later in the Machine Gun Corps. He was granted leave during 1917 to paint a backdrop for Belle Vue’s firework  reenactment of The Battle of The Ancre.

After working for the zoo for over 20 years, Bernard Hastain died in 1933 at the age of 56. His war service presumably contributed to his death and his name was the last to be placed on the memorial.

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net
Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, as they are often not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, as they are often not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

There are sadly probably many more names to add to  wartime casualty lists from zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums as our World War Zoo gardens research project continues.

We would be interested to hear of any more names or memorials that you know of and haven’t read about in the last 6 years of blogposts.

So buy a poppy (there’s a box in the Newquay Zoo office or shop if you’re visiting) and spare a thought for these men and their families on Remembrance Sunday, and also for the many people not listed who were affected by their war service, men and women not just from Britain but all over the world.

Posted November 2015 by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Gardeners and zoo staff lost at the battle of Loos 25 September 1915.

September 26, 2015

100 years ago the Battle of Loos which began on the 25th September 1915 saw another sad list of casualties from the zoo and botanic garden staff that we have been researching.

Many of them have no known grave and are listed on the panels of the Loos Memorial to the missing.

image

Over the next few weeks up until 14th October 1915 at Loos, around 2013 officers and 48,677 men became casualties (of which 800 officers and 15,000 men were killed). British casualties at Loos were about twice as high as German casualties.

The Battle of Loos was the largest British battle that took place in 1915 on the Western Front. The battle was an attempt by the Allies to break through German defences in Artois and Champagne.

The first day Sunday 25th September 1915 was when each of these men were killed.

In many places British artillery had failed to cut the German barbed wire in advance of the attack and many British troops were advancing over open fields, within range of German machine guns and artillery. The British were able to break through some weaker German defences and capture the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, mainly due to weight of numbers. Sadly British supply and communications problems and late arriving  reserves meant that any breakthroughs could not be exploited on that vital first day.

Sunday the 25th was an especially bad day for the volunteers and army reservists on the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh serving with the 5th Cameron Highlanders.  Four of their number were lost on 25 September 1915. All four are remembered on the Loos Memorial, having no known grave.

Losses at Gallipoli to their RBGE colleagues in the 5th Royal Scots had also been steadily happening throughout 1915.

  • Willam Frederick Bennett, 5th Cameron Highlanders, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff – missing
  • Alan Menzies, 5th Cameron Highlanders, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff – killed
  • John Stewart,  5th Cameron Highlanders,  Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff – killed
  • George Hugh Stuart,  5th Cameron Highlanders, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff – killed

Leonie Paterson and RBGE team have been blog posting the stories behind the RBGE men on their memorial. The losses at Loos and what happened to the 5th Cameron Highlanders are covered here: http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/17293

http://www.rbge.org.uk/assets/files/science/Library%20-Archives/RBGE_WWI_service_roll.pdf

http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/16244

About the four RBGE staff lost at Loos.

Lance Corporal S/10817 William Frederick  Bennett of the 5th Cameron Highlanders, aged 26,  is listed on panel 120A of the Loos Memorial having no known grave. CWGC list him as as the “Son of Anna Bennett, of 5, Holdings, Llanedarne, Cardiff, and the late William Bennett.” Bennett joined RBGE staff as Probationer in 1911, and enlisted in the 5th Cameron Highlanders on 29 August 1914 and served in Flanders for about five months before his death at Loos.

Private Allan Menzies, S/11385, died aged 21, serving with  “B” Coy. 5th Bn. Cameroon Highlanders, also remembered on Panel 122, Loos Memorial. CWGC lists him as the “Son of James and Mrs. Menzies, of 117, Scott St., Perth. A Forester in the Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.” Menzies joined the garden staff as a Probationer in August 1913 and like Bennett joined the Cameron Highlanders on 29th August 1914. He served for four months in Flanders before his death at Loos.

There are two John Stewarts died on 25 September 1915 serving in the 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, both on the Loos Memorial. Both deserve to be remembered but RBGE list the following as their man:

  • Lance Corporal John Stewart, S/14592,  died aged 25, 5th Cameron Highlanders. He is also remembered on Panel 120,  Loos Memorial. CWGC lists him as the “Son of Mrs. Elizabeth Christina Stewart, of Carrick Place, Alloway, Ayr.”

Private George Hugh Stuart, S/14584, died aged 23 serving with 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders. He is remembered on Panel 123 A, Loos Memorial.

Second panel, Kew Gardens War Memorial D - M C.L. Digoy to P.T. Martin Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Henry James Longhurst, remembered on the Second panel, Kew Gardens War Memorial, London. 
 Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Belle Vue Zoo (Manchester) lost 33 year old private 22109 Frederick Lester Reid of the 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, formerly Private 16565 Manchester Regiment. He is also named on the Loos Memorial to the Missing, having no known grave.

Stockport born and raised, he left a widow and several children. CWGC lists him as the “Son of the late Peter and Mary Ann Reid; husband of Elizabeth Jessie Reid, of 256, Gorton Rd., Reddish, Stockport.”

There is more about his war service at http://www.loyalregiment.com/22109-pte-f-l-reid-l-n-lan-r/  and the http://www.stockport1914-1918.co.uk

Belle Vue Zoo's now vandalised war memorial - luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

F.L. Reid listed  on Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Kew Gardens lost Rifleman Henry James Longhurst, R/7519, 2nd Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps, who died aged 23 on 25th September 1915. He has no known grave and is listed on Panel 101 / 102, Loos Memorial.

Born on February 3 1892, Longhurst is noted in his Kew Guild Journal obituary 1915/16 as “the first of our young gardeners to give his life for his country in this war” alongside W.H. Morland, another early Kew casualty at Gallipoli, who was then employed at  Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. He entered Kew on July 1913. He enlisted on November 21, 1914 and was killed in action “somewhere in France“, as we now know during the Battle of Loos.

Some of the many names panels on 15 foot high walls surrounding Dud Corner Cemetery's headstones - the Loos Memorial to the missing of this 1915 battle. (Image Source: CWGC)

Henry Longhurst is listed on one of the many name panels on 15 foot high walls surrounding Dud Corner Cemetery’s headstones – the Loos Memorial to the missing of this 1915 battle. (Image Source: CWGC)

The Anglo-Irish landed estates of Ireland, soon to be rocked by civil war and the Easter Rising of 1916, were already experiencing the same unsettling situation as English estates with the heirs lost and dynasties ending.

Charles Annesley Acton, heir to Kilmacurragh, killed 25 September 1915, Battle of Loos. Image Source: Kilmacurragh website.

Charles Annesley Acton, heir to Kilmacurragh, killed 25 September 1915, Battle of Loos. Image Source: Kilmacurragh website.

Charles Annesley Acton, heir to Kilmacurragh estate and gardens (now Botanic Gardens of Ireland) Was also killed on 25 September 1915.

When Thomas Acton died on August 25th 1908, his 32 year-old nephew, Captain Charles Annesley Acton then succeeded to Kilmacurragh. Born in Peshwar, India in 1876, he was educated following family tradition at Rugby and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

In 1896 he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and served with the regiment in Malta, Crete, Hong Kong, India and Burma. Following his uncle’s death Charles resigned his commission and settled for a gentleman’s life on the family estate … He continued to develop the estate and arboretum …

With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Charles and many of the gardeners at Kilmacurragh headed for the battlefields on the French Front. On September 25th 1915, Charles Acton, while trying to assist a fellow soldier, was mortally wounded by an explosion at Loos. He was only 39.

Major Charles Annesley Acton, D Coy. 9th Bn Royal Welch Fusilers is also remembered on the Loos memorial, panel 50 to 52. CWGC lists him as “Of Kilmacurragh, Rathdrum. High Sheriff Co. Wicklow, 1913, and J.P. Served in Crete, 1898, and China Expedition, 1900. Second son of the late Col. Ball-Acton, C.B., and Mrs. Ball-Acton.”

You can read more of this story about how Kilmacurragh lost both  Charles and another heir in WW1 along with most of the gardeners and declined until rescued as part of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland at http://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmac/kilmhist.htm

Later 1915 casualties

Later on in this month on 29 September 1915 London Zoo’s Sea lion keeper Henry Munro would be posted missing in Flanders,  and eventually judged to have no known grave is now remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial.

He was followed on 10th October 1915 by Kew Gardens pony boy private Frank Windebank and Sergeant H. J. Smith, both of the 7th East Surrey Regiment, killed on the same day and buried close to each other in Plot 1 of  Vermelles British Cemetery. During the Battle of Loos, Vermelles Chateau was used as a dressing station and Plot I was completed first. Smith and fellow Kewite Frank Windebank are buried at Vermelles Cemetery a  few graves apart with other 7th East Surreys.

We will post remembrance blog entries on the appropriate days.

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

All those who fought at the Battle of Loos, remembered.

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

Remembering H. Mulroy, Belle Vue Zoo, died Ypres 16 August 1915

August 16, 2015

H. Mulroy's headstone, Ridge Wood Military Cemetery (source: International Wargraves Photographic Project)

H. Mulroy’s headstone, Ridge Wood Military Cemetery (source: International War Graves Photographic Project)

Private H. Mulroy or Mullroy is one of the vanished Belle Vue Zoo (Manchester) staff who died on active service during the First World War.

Current research believes that he died aged 21 serving as a Private 23516 with the 12th  (Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment near Ypres on 16 August 1915.

Belle Vue zoo's sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead - a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Belle Vue Zoo's now vandalised war memorial - luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Mullroy or Mulroy’s name picked out on the Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. (Image: manchesterhistory.net)

His name appears on the sadly vandalised Belle Vue Zoo staff war memorial in Gorton Cemetery. It appears to have been spelt with a double LL as Mullroy. There is no casualty listed on CWGC with that unusual double L spelling.

Current research believes that H (Henry? Harry?) Mulroy died serving with the 12th Manchester Regiment at Ypres on 16 August 1915. Mulroy is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery near Dickebush and Ypres in Flanders, Belgium. There is no family information or inscription on his headstone or CWGC Cemetery entry.

image

Henry or Harry Mulroy  was born and enlisted in Manchester. He entered active service in France and Flanders with his regiment on 16 July 1915 and was killed a month later after only sixteen days in the trenches near Ypres. He was awarded the 1915 star, British War and Victory Medal.

His Manchester born mother Mary Jane Mulroy seems to have been his sole legatee for his final effects and war bonus / salary. His father Thomas Mulroy (born in Ireland) appears to have died at 31 Harvest Street in 1907, after working in textiles, as a  fustian and “calico dresser”.

Harry was the youngest of his family of 6 brothers and sisters (4 others died young) and was working as a shop assistant in the 1911 Census, the family living at 24 Oak Street, Gorton, Manchester. His older brother ‘Willie’ or James William (a calico dresser like his father) appears in service records later in the war as a partly deaf 31 year old conscripted into the Labour Corps on home service (from 1917 to 1919). An older sister Susan (b. 1891) was involved with Textiles / sewing, his oldest brother Thomas (b. 1879) involved in the fruit market and green grocery.  Brother Richard  b. 1888 was also involved in the local textile trade  (Cloth worker, weaving mill).

Interestingly in the 1911 Census return, his brother John (b. 1890, machine man, iron planer) spells the family name Mulroy but on the census summary return the census enumerator spells it as what appears to be  “Mullroy”.

Harry Mulroy’s War

There is an excellent website that outlines the history of the 12th Manchester  (Service ) Battalion as part of K2, Kitchener’s Army of volunteers.

The  whole battalion only landed in France on 16 July 1915 and their war diary has been transcribed here: http://www.themanchesters.org/12th%20WD.htm

After training in Britain, embarking for France and then marching and further training and troop “trench  instruction” They moved into the Southern Ypres salient for trench familiarisation and then took over the the front lines in that area. Harry’s regiment arrived in the trenches on 1st August 1915.

The War Diary, transcribed by Myles Francis, states:

July 1915

15/7/1915
[Battalion comprised 30 officers and 975 rank and file]
Entrained at Winchester for Service with Expeditionary Force in France.
12 noon  Embarked at FOLKESTONE … [for Boulogne].

30/7/1915
Proceeded by march route to White Chateau 3 miles west of HOOGE and bivouaced 48 hours.

1/8/1915
Relieved 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. Relief completed by 3AM of the 2nd inst without incident.

2/8/1915
Quiet day.

3/8/1915
Quiet day but for a few whiz bangs.

4/8/1915
Rather quiet with a little artillery activity.

5/8/1915
Quiet day.

6/8/1915
Our artillery more active than usual. Enemy shelled us with whiz bangs doing little damage.

7/8/1915
The Battalion began digging a V shaped ditch for barricade in front of our barbed wire and assembly posts near SNIPERS BARN. No attempt made by enemy to intefere. Hear that new troops have taken over enemy trenches.

8/8/1915
Very quiet day.

9/8/1915
2.15am Our artillery opened heavy bombardment on our sectors directed on a frontage of 500 yards. Ordered to cause diversion while 6th Division attacked at HOOGE. Reports from Patrols were that the enemy were seen leaving trenches on our front and making for BOIS QUARANTE.
9am Heard the attack by 6th Division was successful.

10/8/1915
Quiet day.

11/8/1915
Very quiet day.

12/8/1915
Normal. Small amount of shelling on both sides.

13/8/1915
Quiet day.

14/8/1915
Quiet with the exception of a few heavy shells which fell well behind the reserve trenches.

15/8/1915
Quiet day; Some artillery activity in afternoon on both sides. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire during the night.

16/8/1915
Enemy fired rifle grenades on trench No 5.

17/8/1915
Very quiet day. Were relieved by the 9th Bn Duke of Wellington Regt. Relief commenced at 8.0pm but did not complete until 4.30am of the 18th inst owing to furious bombardment by the enemy.

—————

So it seems unfortunate that Harry Mulroy, shop assistant and probable employee at Belle Vue Zoo, was killed on a quiet day in a quietish sector. He is buried next to another Manchester Regiment casualty of the same day, Private Mullen.

Whilst we currently have no perfect fit and definite proof that the Belle Vue Zoo H. Mullroy or Mulroy on the war memorial  is the same man as Harry Mulroy of the 12th Manchesters, by the misspelling of the name on several occasions and the family location, it is certainly highly possible they are the same man.

Latest Research

I first worked on the Belle Vue war memorial names in 2010, building on some earlier work by Stephen Cocks. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/%e2%80%9clost-in-the-garden-of-the-sons-of-time%e2%80%9d-remembering-the-fallen-zoo-staff-from-wartime-zoos-onremembrance-sunday-and-armistice-day-2010-in-the-wartime-zoo-gardens/

There is now a whole new section on the Manchester & Salford family history forum website at http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html covering current research by local historians on the names on the memorial. Fascinating site and a real labour of love …

Private Harry Mulroy, Remembered.

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

Matthew James Walton DSM of Belle Vue Zoo, fireworks and the Battle of the Falklands 8 December 1914.

December 6, 2014

The 8th December 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Naval Battle of the Falklands.

Belle Vue zoo's sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead - a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars.  Image: manchesterhistory.net

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

At the base of the battered Belle Vue Zoo staff war memorial in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester under the section ‘Died From Effects of War Service’ is  an interesting link to this far off naval battle, the name Petty Officer Matthew James Walton DSM.

Belle Vue Zoo's now vandalised war memorial - luckily the names, although hard to read,  are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names of Matthew James Walton and others, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Walton  died in the same year that the Belle Vue Zoo staff war memorial was erected in November 1926: the service was attended by former colleagues and managers  including the “Seawolves of Birkenhead, the latter in honour of Boatswain Walton, who fought at the Falkland Islands and died later.” I’m not sure who the Seawolves of Birkenhead were, possibly sea scouts?

The Battle of the Falklands 1914

The Falklands 1914 was an early British victory after the naval defeat at the Battle of the Coronel in the Western Pacific near South America weeks earlier on 1st November 1914. Two old British naval ships HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope were surprised and  sunk by German Admiral Graf Von Spee’s squadron of warships with the loss of 1570 British sailors. No survivors could be picked up with the threat of the other German ships around.

HMS Kent 1901-1920 Source: Wikipedia

HMS Kent 1901-1920 Source: Wikipedia

Walton won his Distinguished Service Medal on board HMS Kent, a Monmouth Class Armoured Cruiser which successfully pursued and  sank one of the German ships from the Coronel battle, the cruiser Nurnberg.

Five survivors from the Nurnberg’s crew of 332 were rescued and eight British sailors and marines were killed. Their memorial is appropriately for HMS Kent in Canterbury Cathedral and the ship’s bell will be rung at a memorial service at 11 a.m. on the 8th December 2014. For more details of this service, an exhibition  and the battle, see http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/2014/12/02/hms-kent-remembered/

By the end of the Battle of The Falklands 1914, two of the eight German ships had escaped, the Seydlitz and the Dresden. 1871 German sailors including Admiral Spee and his two sons. 215 German sailors survived from the sunken ships.

The Dresden did not survive for long, as Walton was on HMS Kent when it sank the Dresden at the Battle of Mas A Tierra on 14 March 1915.

“Nurnberg finishing off of Kent’s sister ship the Monmouth had been avenged” as it is deftly put in Adrian Beaumont’s book.

HMS Kent sustained some damage including damage to gun turrets and the ship’s wireless and signals room. The Imperial War Museum holds diaries or accounts of the battle  from a fellow Petty Officer  P.O. H.S.Welch and also Lieutenant V.H. Danckwerts from HMS Kent. There is much more in Adrian Beaumont’s excellent booklet which can be downloaded from the Canterbury Cathedral website.

 

Matthew Walton is one of the older  sailors somewhere amongst HMS Kent ship's company photo, taken during refit late 1915 after the Battle of the Falklands (Photo from Adrian Beaumont)

Matthew Walton is one of the older sailors somewhere amongst HMS Kent ship’s company photo, taken during refit late 1915 after the Battle of the Falklands (Photo from Adrian Beaumont)

Clues to Matthew Walton’s naval career

In the National Roll of The Great War XI Manchester, Walton has his wartime naval service summarised thus:

“Walton, M.J. DSM P.O. 1st Class, Royal Navy mobilised at the commencement of hostilities, he was posted to HMS Kent and proceeded to the South Atlantic, was in action at the Battle of the Falkand Islands. He was awarded the DSM for gallantry and devotion to duty and also took part in the sinking of the Dresden off Juan Fernandez Islands.

In January 1917 he returned home and until 1919 was engaged as Captain’s Coxswain of the Signal School Boat and then was sent to Russia where he saw much service.

Returning home he was demobilised in March 1920, and in addition to  the DSM, holds the 1914-15 star, the General Service and Victory Medals.  His address was listed as 9 William Street, West Gorton Manchester.”

His Distinguished Service Medal was gazetted on 3 March 1915 and in the Royal Medal Index 118358, RFR A1756, DSM 29087, Navy 29087 – more can be found on http://www.navalhistory.net. It would be interesting to know exactly what it was awarded for.

Histories of HMS Kent suggest that after Falklands and Mas a Tierra, she returned to the China Station in March / April 2015, then back to the UK in May 1915. She was involved in convoy escort duties and the China Station until July 1918. Walton left the ship to serve on HMS Victory I from 1917 to 1919.

In January  1919 HMS Kent was in Vladivostok to support American and Japanese Forces against the Bolsheviks.By this time Walton had moved ship again to HMS Fox, which was also involved in the Russian Campaign against the Bolsheviks. You can read more about this and HMS Fox at: http://www.naval-history.net/WW1z05NorthRussia.htm

More clues from Matthew James Walton’s naval records

From what I have deciphered of his Royal Navy Ratings Service record, held in the National Archives ADM/188/151, Matthew James Walton was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire on 12 November 1866. He appears to have joined the Royal Navy around January 1882 where his eyes and hair are recorded as brown. He was recorded as having scanty hair when he was mobilised again in 1914!

With good or very good conduct throughout, Walton (Navy number 118358) worked from his  home port of Portsmouth  on an impressive number of ships in the late Victorian and Edwardian Royal Navy. From 1882 to 1901 he served on the Impregnable, Northumberland, Royal Adelaide, Iron Duke, Sultan, Duke of Wellington, Raleigh, Victory I, Vernon, Boscawen, Howe, Minotaur, Excellent, Penelope, Revenge, Trafalgar and Royal Sovereign.

By 1898 he had been promoted to Leading Seaman and shortly afterwards to Petty Officer. Between 1901 and 1905 when he retired for the first time on pension, he served on Resolution, Formidable, Implacable, FireQueen? and Victory I again.

He may well have been maintained as a naval reservist as his records state that he joined the RFR Ports[mouth?] A 1756 on 13 December 1905.(Walton’s records stretch to two pages, including additions on a conveniently almost empty page of another sailor’s short naval career record). You can read more about the Royal Fleet Reserve here in an original leaflet.

On the outbreak of war 2 August 1914 as a naval reservist or former sailor, he was mobilised as a Petty Officer 2nd Class onto Victory I again until deploying to HMS Kent on 3 October 1914 until 11 January 1917. He achieved Petty Officer 1st Class on 16 September 1916.

After two years on Victory I again from 12 January 1917 to 25 April 1919, he moved to HMS Fox until 31 October 1919 on the Russian campaign against the Bolsheviks. He completed his service on Victory I on 29 March 1920 when he left the Navy. By this time HMS Fox and HMS Kent after Russian campaign service were destined for the scrapyard.

According to Wikipedia’s entry on HMS Victory, Walton may not have been always at sea when listed as part of the Victory I crew, as a “legacy of naval legislation that all naval ratings and officers must be assigned to a ship (which may include a shore establishment – still regarded as Her Majesty’s Ships by the navy). Any navy person allocated to work in a non HMS location (such as the Ministry of Defence in London) is recorded as being a member of the crew of HMS Victory!” This may cover Walton’s time as Boatswain or “Captain’s Coxswain of the Signal School Boat”. There is an interesting WW1 painting in the IWM collection Art.IWM ART 2620 of WRENS valve testing radios in the signal school at Portsmouth 1919.

His Belle Vue Zoo service would appear to have been either from somewhere between 1905 to 1914 or from 1920 to 1926 when he was living in West Gorton. There is mention of the M.Of.P Manchester (Ministry of Pensions?) on 19/8/1924 suggesting he was in this area till he died in Bucklow Cheshire aged 59 c. June 1926.

Walton and The Belle Vue Staff War Memorial

The Belle Vue Staff War Memorial entry on the UKNIWM UK National Inventory of War Memorials  suggests that Walton’s role at Belle Vue was not on the zoo keeping or gardening  side but on one of the many other trades at this early theme park. It is suggested on the UKNIWM site that Walton coordinated or orchestrated the Belle Vue fireworks displays: “The name of Matthew James Walton is commemorated. Walton orchestrated the Belle Vue fireworks displays and was complimented for them by Prince Louis of Battenberg.”

Maybe his naval experience as a Petty Officer allowed him the skill to command the pyrotechnics and the large cast with blank firing rifles that took part in these spectacles?

Under the headline  Fireworks to Firearms, the Liverpool Echo  of Thursday 11 March 1915 reports that Petty Officer Walton “of William Street, West Gorton has been awarded the DSM for naval bravery. The nature of his deed has not yet been disclosed. He was on HMS Kent in the Falkland action. Before the War he was gunner or manipulator of the Belle Vue Gardens war fireworks.”

One of Walton’s zoo colleagues present at the war memorial dedication  was Bernard Hastain, formerly of the Rifle Brigade and Drury Lane Theatre. Hastain painted the massive backdrops for these firework and mass theatrical spectaculars, often with a topical wartime or patriotic battle theme. Hastain’s name was the last name added in 1933 to the memorial section of staff who “Died From The Effects of War Service.”

Further material on http://www.manchesterhistory.net has press cuttings about the dedication of the war memorial, where speeches by Angelo Jennison mention that Walton “went off to distinguish himself at the Falklands”, also suggesting his Belle Vue service was pre-WW1. Jennison was one of the owner directors who lost a son and a nephew in the First World War; both their names are on the staff war memorial.

I have previously written a short biography about each of the Belle Vue Zoo casualties, based partly on work by Stephen Cocks. I will shortly be posting an updated blog post about these Belle Vue men with updated information from newly online records.

There is more to be researched and discovered about each of these men, as well as the Belle Vue Zoo service and wartime career of Matthew James Walton.

Family life – a few clues
Matthew James Walton was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire (some records suggest Pontefract). It appears that Matthew James Walton’s father, also Matthew Walton (born 1846, Bockleton, Yorkshire) was a basket maker working in Birmingham when he died young in his late 20s or early 30s between 1871 and 1881. This left his wife Hellenor or Ellen (born Cheltenham, 1838) to make a living with her teenage son Matthew James both as hawkers (1881 census) living in Cheapside, St. Martin’s, Birmingham; Matthew is recorded as ‘James’ in this census entry, as probably Matthew was how his father was regularly known. By the following January 1882, he had joined the Royal Navy.

Matthew James Walton got married in Cheltenham c. July 1900 to an Agnes Philips (b. 1869, also like Matthew’s mother born in Cheltenham) . They had three children by the time of the 1911 census when a Matthew J Walton is listed as a sailor, visiting with an Agnes Walton in Central Drive , Blackpool – was this a holiday? One son James Albert Walton had been born by 1901 when Agnes was living back in Cheltenham with her Philips family – presumably Matthew was at sea or serving away with the Royal Navy.

Belle Vue Zoo itself closed around 1977/8 and the site has now been redeveloped. Many of its records are now held in the Chetham’s Library collections in Manchester.

The Belle Vue Zoo staff memorial is noted as being in poor condition. The HMS Kent memorial is well cared for, despite the ship’s flags having been damaged following an air raid in WW2.

When the HMS Kent ship’s bell rings out at “six bells” or 11a.m. during the centenary memorial service, remember Matthew Walton, his shipmates and all the sailors involved on all sides in the Battle of the Falklands on 8th December 1914.

Any further information about Walton’s life, naval service or Belle Vue Zoo career would be welcome – contact me via the comments page.
Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

2012 – a whole growing season missed in the World War Zoo wartime garden …

November 8, 2012

Hello again – at long last! It’s been over 6 months since my last blog post and a whole growing season in 2012 has come and gone in the wartime garden at Newquay Zoo. And I missed it all …

Mr Bloom visits the World War Zoo Dig For Victory wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, 2 April 2012 with project manager Mark Norris.

April 2012 started really well with a visit to Newquay Zoo from popular Children’s TV gardener Mr. Bloom. After an exhausting day signing autographs and singing songs from his show, he popped over to see our award-winning World War Zoo wartime garden plot.

Somewhere in the midst of the RHS National Gardening week in April I downed tools mid planting and didn’t come back.  I have a good excuse (and an impressive scar to prove it) as I have been offline and away from my daily work and wartime garden at Newquay Zoo since mid April with ill-health requiring an operation.

So whilst I recovered offline and at home, my zoo colleagues got the 2012 harvest in for the zoo animals  – a small harvest, for the weather this growing season was generally poor.

Convalescence and nursing a still aching wound or operation scar have taught me a few things. Patience, for one. I also realise how physically difficult and slow their recovery and return to work would be for zoo keepers  injured during the war.

It’s poppy time again and time to spare a thought for keepers and animals affected by war over the last century. Below the list of keepers killed in action on the Belle Vue Zoo gardens staff memorial in Gorton Cemetery Manchester  is a postscript,  keepers who died after 1918 from the effects of war service.  My lungs are now healthy again but keepers and zoo staff at Belle Vue Zoo such as Bernard Hastain were passing away years later from the after-effects of being gassed in the First World War. You can read more about these men in last November’s blog posts, 2011.

I had hoped whilst convalescing off work to catch up on researching wartime zoos and botanic gardens  for our forthcoming book but morphine (an age-old pain-killer familiar to injured troops) doesn’t do much to help you concentrate on reading.  I did come across some interesting sections in books I was lent by kind friends on country houses in wartime. Some of those estates with animal collections had an important wartime role, as did those  later to be opened postwar as stately homes  and safari parks. Some such as Harewood House (still with a popular bird collection) were convalescent homes like the one you might have seen in Downton Abbey series 2.

Others such as Woburn housed London Zoo’s priceless library collection safe from the London Blitz and later housed a secret Wrennery of WRNS (navy women) working as part of the Bletchley Park codebreaking network.  Knowsley Safari Park at Prescot in Merseyside still bears the scars on its rough ground of tank and artillery training.

It was the loss of wartime heirs, shortage of staff, crippling death duties, lack of wartime maintenance and the destructive effects   of troops stationed in these houses that saw many estates broken up and sold off, houses demolished. Others opened to the public and developed leisure attractions to pay their way, such as Longleat  and its famous safari park. Maybe Downton Abbey series 47 or some such will see the grounds full of roaming lions or elephants …

So whilst wartime was a difficult time for zoos, and often fatal for their staff and animals, it had the surprising effect in postwar Britain of creating more zoos and wildlife parks when old estates were sold or opened to the public with animals as part of the attraction, alongside the house. Marwell Zoo is one such surviving example, created in the 1960s by John Knowles and once home to a secret wartime airfield. 

It’s Poppy month and also the 7oth anniversary of El Alamein in 1942.  Church bells silent since 1939 were rung in Britain to celebrate El Alamein,  featured in the wartime film Desert Victory.  Fighting between the Desert Rats and the Afrika Korps in the Western desert of North Africa claimed the life of one zoo keeper or aquarist, Peter Felix Falwasser of Chester Zoo, Yorkshire born despite his foreign-sounding name. A Gunner in the 1st Royal Horse Artillery, he died of wounds from the  Tobruk battles aged 26 on 22 December 1942. He’s buried in Heliopolis War cemetery, Cairo in Egypt, a wartime hospital cemetery beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  

Chester Zoo Archive Zoo News, 1942/3

We hope to gain more such glimpses of wartime life from his letters home to his zoo colleagues from recent donations to the Chester Zoo archive by founder’s daughter June Mottershead, herself a wartime zoo keeper as set out in her story, Reared in Chester Zoo.

Whilst I was convalescing, I saw the Wartime Farm series on BBC TV and spotted on a leaflet for  improvised toys for Christmas a handmade wooden toy engine just like one in our World War Zoo Gardens  wartime collection.

So whilst zoo gift shops are full of lovely present ideas and expereinces,  this Christmas we hope to informally twin our wartime allotment   with a sustainable modern one through the gift of an allotment somewhere in the developing world through the Oxfam Unwrapped gifts scheme. There’s some great ideas for gifts and well worth a look at www.oxfamunwrapped.com

Signing off until the next post , hopefully only for a few weeks this time … Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

“LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME”: Remembering the fallen zoo staff from wartime zoos onRemembrance Sunday and Armistice Day 2010 in the wartime zoo gardens.

November 9, 2010

“LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME”

 

Two poppy crosses in memory of zoo staff of all nations lost or injured worldwide in 1914-18 and 1939-45 amongst the growing food plants of the World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

November 2013 and March 2014: please see the updated information on ZSL London Zoo casualties from WW1 from this blog post which has been updated with new research

NOVEMBER

is always a bit of a solemn month for me in the garden with the darker days earlier, the lost hour of summer time, leaves fallen; it is also Remembrance Sunday, poppies and Armistice Day.

One of many overwhelming lists of names in stone. Arras Memorial to the missing with no known graves from the Arras offensive of 1917 and (foreground) CWGC individual graves Image: cwgc.org

At Newquay Zoo, there is one of the noisier two minutes silence in the nation if the maroon bangs go off at 11 o’clock in Newquay, as this sets off all the zoo animals calling out.

At London Zoo, at memorials and churches all over Britain and Europe, people will stop and gather, think and reflect on the extraordinary, almost incomprehensible loss of life in wartime which affected so many walks of life including zoos and botanic gardens.

 

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Heligan Gardens http://www.heligan.com/

near Mevagissey in Cornwall, only about twenty miles from Newquay Zoo, is a garden restoration unlike many others I have visited, as it is haunted by the loss of the generation of garden and estate staff. They left their names under the penciled graffiti “Come not here to sleep nor slumber” in the “Thunderbox”, the primitive bothy toilet for estate staff. Many of these staff did not survive their service in the First World War in mind or body. The estate and garden without its usual labour force, as the Heligan staff today simply describe it, “quietly went to sleep” until the story was uncovered along with the overgrown gardens in the early 1990s. A beautiful little book tracing the staff named and signed in pencil on that wall and on the estate books has recently been published The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Heligan History: Lost Gardens, Lost Gardeners, being a Commemorative Album of Heligan through the Twentieth Century, featuring the Tremayne archive and the stories of staff who were lost in the Great War (published by Heligan Gardens Ltd and available on their online shop for about £3.95)

 

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens suffered similar losses of staff, as poignant as the effect on estates like Heligan or large organisations like the Great Western Railway (West country stations like Exeter still have the long list of the dead on their platform walls).

Few records survive for zoos, I have so far frustratingly found.  I have been researching the wartime effects on a few typical British zoos operational in the First world war and what that generation learnt in preparation for surviving the Second world war (when our wartime dig for victory garden project at Newquay Zoo is set) for a forthcoming article in The Bartlett Society Journal www.zoohistory.co.uk  The few records so far can stand in for a whole generation and zoos across the world.

On Armistice Day Thursday 11th and on Remembrance Sunday 14th, spare a thought for the keepers and zoo staff remembered on the ZSL war memorial at London Zoo. 12 names are listed from the staff  out of 54 who served in the forces or munitions work in the First World War out of a staff of 150.

Poppies will be laid at the ZSL War Memorial, a Portland Stone memorial designed  by architect John James Joass in 1919, based on a medieval Lanterne des Morts memorial  to the dead at La Souterraine,  Creuse Valley, France. The memorial was moved from the main gate area in 1952 after the 1939-45 names were added and is now near to the Three Island Pond area.

Reading the names means these men are not forgotten.

Read the names and spare a thought for these lost zoo staff from both wars.

Researching and reading a few of these background stories puts a more personal face on the scale of the losses, especially in the First World War. I shall feature a few more of these stories over the next year as information is discovered. The impatient reader can check the www.cwgc.org site.  Many thanks to Kate Oliver at ZSL who transcribed or guessed the names on the very well polished brass name plates.

strong>November 2013 and March 2014: please see the updated information on ZSL London Zoo casualties from WW1 from this blog post which has been updated with new research.

ZSL London Zoo war memorial

 The Zoological Society of London

In memory of employees who were killed on active service in the Great War 1914-1919

29.9.1915        Henry D Munro            4 Middlesex Regt                ZSL Keeper (Transcribed details on this need to be checked)

18.03.1916      William Bodman           (Buffs) 6th Btn, East Kent Regt, Private            ZSL Helper. Age unknown. Commemorated on the Loos Memorial, no known grave.

10.07.1916      Albert A Dermott         13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, Rifleman   ZSL Messenger, aged 22, killed on Somme, no known grave, listed on Thiepval Memorial

15.9.1916        Arthur G Whybrow      2547, 19 Bn. County of London Regt , ZSL Helper. Killed aged 23 during Somme battles, probably in the clearance of High Wood by 47 (London) Division, 15 September 1916. Individual grave at London cemetery, Longueval. Married.

05.10.1916      Gerald P Patterson       19 County of London Regt                   ZSL Helper (Transcribed Regiment details on this need to be checked)Probably Private G P Patterson of the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment was killed on 5th October 1916, no age given, during the Somme fighting. Individual grave. Buried in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France.

23.10.1916      William Dexter  Kings Royal Rifles, Rifleman      ZSL Keeper2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade. Aged 31.  Individual grave at Bienvillers Cemetery. Married.

09.04.1917      Robert Jones            9 Royal Fusiliers       ZSL Gardener

Two possibilities exist for this casualty, firstly Private GS/60595 Robert Jones, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was born in Islington or Highgate, Middlesex around 1881. He was married to Bertha Lewin of Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon around 1905 / 1906 in Camden / Highgate. He was formerly listed as 23358 6 Middlesex Regiment, having enlisted in Harringay and been resident in Highgate. On the 1901 census he is listed as a Gardener (not domestic) and in 1911 as a Nursery Gardener. On the CWGC website he is listed as the husband of Bertha Jones of 22 Caxton Street, Little Bowden, Market Harborough. This Robert Jones died of wounds on 7 April 1917 (two days different from the ZSL dates on the war memorial plaque) and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery in Arras.

The second possibility is 472712, 1st / 12th Btn. London Regiment (The Rangers), aged 31. Individual grave,  Gouy-en Artois Cemetery, killed first day of the Battle of Arras 1917. Listed on the 1911 census as a coal porter gas works, rather than a gardener. Hopefully the ZSL staff records will help to determine the correct Robert Jones. Both casualties deserve to be remembered.

21.4.1917        Henry George Jesse Peavot      Honourable Artillery     Co       ZSL Librarian    B Co. 1st Btn, aged 35.  Killed during Battle of Arras period, No known grave, listed on Arras Memorial. Married.

23.9.1917        Albert Staniford            Royal Field / Garrison Artillery  ZSL Gardener  174234 216 Siege Battery. RGA   Individual grave, Maroc British cemetery, Greany, France.  Period of Third Battle of Ypres / Passchendaele, July to November 1917

03.10.1917      William Perkins      Royal Garrison Artillery     ZSL Keeper 115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery.  Buried in individual plot, Belagin Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium. Aged 39. Married.

29.11.1917      Alfred? L? Day                2 Rifle Brigade                          ZSL Helper
At first sight 19.1.1918 may apprar to be a wrong date transcribed on a well polished brass plate; the most likely casualty for this name is Alfred Lomas Day, S/20305 2nd Bn, Rifle Brigade, killed 29 November 1917 and buried in an individual grave (1841) Rethel French National Cemetery, Ardennes, France. However March 2014 research on ZSL staff record cards suggests that this casualty may be an R Day or Richard Day who died on 19 January 1918 as a German POW. Further research is required to find out if this man is the same or different from Alfred L Day.

10.9.1918        Charles William Dare    County of London Regt                        Helper, 245116, London Regt (Royal Fusiliers),  Vis-en-Artois memorial, no known grave. Killed during period of the “Adavnce to Victory” (August to November Armistice  1918)

“TILL THE RED WAR GLEAM LIKE A DIM RED ROSE / LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME” memorial verse

Zoological Society of London

In memory of employees killed by enemy action during the war 1939-45

Regent’s Park

Davies. Henry Peris (Lieutenant RA)    ZSL Clerk: Killed in action Far East 21.12.1941   164971, Royal Artillery, 5th Field Regt, died aged 27. Listed on the Singapore memorial.

Leney. William Walter Thomas      ZSL  Overseer: Killed by flying bomb 25.11.1944

Peachey. Leonard James (Sergeant RAF)    ZSL Clerk: Killed in air crash Lincs 18.12.1940

Wells.  Albert Henry (Gunner RA)         ZSL Keeper: Killed in action, Burma 25.01.1945 Gunner 1755068, Royal Artillery, 70 H.A.A Regiment

Whipsnade Park 

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

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

Checking with the excellent Commonwealth War Graves Commission records site http://www.cwgc.org under ‘search for a casualty’ shows that Albert Henry Wells is buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Myanmar (Burma). Percy Adams in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Myanmar / Thai border. The CWGC website notes of this cemetery: “The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery was created [postwar] by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the northern section of the railway, between Moulmein and Nieke.”

ZSL Clerk Leonard Peachey,  RAF Volunteer Reserve,  died aged 32 as Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in an air training crash serving with 22 Squadron in Lincolnshire at RAF North Coates / Cotes. He is buried in North Cotes (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs alongside what are presumably his crew from 22 Squadron, killed on the same day:  Sergeant Pilot Dennis George How RAFVR (aged 23) and Sergeant Observer Paul Victor Renai (aged 22, from Wellington, New Zealand) and Sergeant Wireless Operator / W.E. Mechanic Ralph  Gerald Hart (22). 22 Squadron brought the Bristol Beaufort into operational service http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/collections/aircraft/bristol-beaufort.cfm; receiving the first aircraft in November 1939 and, after an intense work up at North Coates in Lincolnshire, the Squadron resumed operations in April 1940, beginning with mine-laying sorties. It moved to RAF Thorney Island where torpedo operations were resumed in August. In order to cover a wider area of sea the Squadron sent out detachments, to RAF Abbotsinch  then to St Eval, Newquay in Cornwall  being the most regular posting. 22 Squadron was re-formed at Thorney Island in 1955 as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Squadron. Information from http://www.22squadronassociation.org.uk/Hist1546.html

Leonard Peachey, ZSL Clerk is buried among these RAF graves at North Coates (St Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs. Image: cwgc.org

William Leney at 65,  old enough to have served in the First World war, was killed alongside his wife Kate Jane Leney (also 65) at 59 King Henry’s Road (Hampstead, Metropolitan Borough) by flying bomb. Several flying bombs are recorded as having fallen around the London Zoo area, close neighbour of RAF Regent’s Park.

Kate Oliver of   ZSL London Zoo’s current education team kindly transcribed the well polished names. She thinks that Helpers were young staff who had not attained keeper rank, something I will be following up in researching their backgrounds through the census, National Archives, London Zoo archive and National Archives. .

I am interested in hearing from anyone who has further information about these men or of other wartime zoo, aquarium or botanic garden related gravestones or rolls of honour. I can be contacted at Newquay Zoo.

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester, war memorial stories

Belle Vue’s war memorial, Gorton Cemetery, Manchester on its unveiling 1926. Image: manchesterhistory.net

The only other well documented zoo one is for Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester at Gorton cemetery in Manchester, now sadly much vandalized.  Much has been written about this early zoo and leisure gardens collection, which survived from the 1830s to 1977/8.

Spare a thought for the men listed on the monument, and their families. To read more of their stories, Stephen and Susan Cocks have follwed up information in the book The Belle Vue Monument (or Memorial)- with information on the cwgc.org website and others for  the blog entry at http://blog.guidedbattlefieldtours.co.uk/2010/01/15/hello-world

More about the memorial, press articles from its dedication in 1926 and its current vandalized state can be found at http://manchesterhistory.net/bellevue/warmemorial.html and more from Stephen Cocks at http://blog.guidedbattlefieldtours.co.uk/2010/02/04/the-belle-vue-memorial-the-story-of-the-memorial

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens  staff killed on active service 1915-1918

1915 deaths

Private Henry Mulroy, 12th Battalion. Manchester Regiment, killed Ypres, 16 August 1915. Buried Ridge Wood Military cemetery.

Private Frederick Lester  Reid, 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancs Regt, died aged 31, 25 September 1915, battle of Loos, no known grave, listed Loos Memorial. Married.

1916 deaths

Private William Morrey, died 27 June, 1916, Manchester Regiment / 1st Battalion, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (probably a gas unit), buried Beauval cemetery, France. (Several William Morreys from the Cheshire, Lancashire and Manchester area are listed on the cwgc.org site, obviously a local name).

Private Alfred Routledge, 11th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed on The Somme, aged 23, 26 September 1916. Married. Listed on the Thiepval memorial, no known grave.

Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme” (in Geoff Dyer’s words),  killed in the  final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastreous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

1917 deaths

Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison, 15th, Battalion West Yorks Regt (Leeds Pals) killed Arras, 3 May 1917 – no known grave, listed Arras Memorial. Son of James, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo. His father James died later that year, possibly as a result of this loss. His cousin Norman, son of Angelo Jennison, also died on active service.

Private Ralph William Stamp, 18th battalion, Manchester Regiment, died aged 23, 23 April 1917, no known grave, listed on the Arras memorial, the same as J L Jennison.

Sergeant John E Oliver, 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed 24 October 1917, Passchendaele battles, no known grave, listed Tyne Cot memorial. Married.

Stoker First Class T J Tumbs, aged 40, killed HMS Drake, 2 October, 1917, convoy duty off coast of Ireland in U79 U-boat torpedo attack.

Private Harold?  Heathcote, 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), 19 October 1917, buried Baghdad war cemetery.

1918 deaths

Sergeant J Fuller, Devonshire Regiment / Pioneer Corps, died 14 April 1918. Buried Amiens, France. Married

Private James G Craythorne, 1/6 Manchester Regiment, killed 20 October 1918 ironically in the fighting for Belle Vue Farm, buried at Belle Vue (Farm) Cemetery, France.  (Three or four generations of the Craythorne family worked as small mammal and reptile keepers at Belle Vue, including James Craythorne who follwed his own father into zoo work, was employed aged 12 from the 1880s  to retirement in 1944, replaced then by his son Albert!

Private Sidney Turner, Welsh Regiment, died aged 18, Welsh Regiment, buried in Gorton Cemetery (site of the Belle Vue Zoo war memorial). Several others who died after the war are also individually buried here.

Captain Norman L Jennison, MC (Military Cross) , 6th Manchester Regt (territorials), died of flu, Genoa, Italy 30 October 1918 serving with a trench mortar battery. Son of Angelo, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo. His cousin James Leonard also died on active service.

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff died from the effect of war after 1918.

Zoo owner Angelo Jennison unveiling in 1926 the Belle Vue memorial in Gorton Cemetery to his son, nephew and zoo staff lost in the First World War. Image: manchesterhistory.net

This unusual addition gives a little glimpse of what must have happened to many zoo, aquarium and botanic garden staff who never recovered from the effects of active service in wartime.

Private WM Wheatcroft, 3rd Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment, died aged 28, 10 July 1919, buried in Gorton cemetery.

Sergeant Robert Hawthorne, died 24 June 1922, buried in Gorton cemetery.

Rifleman / Lance Corporal William Croasdale, Belle Vue’s baker, served Army Service Corps (bakery) and Kings Royal Rifle Corps, served overseas 1915 to 1919, aged 32, died 1922, (possibly Stephen Cocks suggests in a mental hospital, Prestwich but others have disputed this).

Private Joseph Cummings, died 9 May 1926.

First Class PO Matthew James Walton DSM, fought Battle of the Falklands naval action, 1914, died 1926.

Private Bernard A Hastain (name almost unreadable) Rifle Brigade, formerly a scene painter at Drury Lane and Belle Vue for their Firework spectaculars, died of effects probably of gas, 1933.

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

There are sadly many more names to add to these wartime casualty lists from zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums as our World War Zoo gardens research project continues. We would be interested to hear of any more names or memorials you know of.

mark.norris@newquayzoo.org.uk

So buy a poppy (there’s a box in the Newquay Zoo office if you’re visiting) and spare a thought for these men and their families on Remembrance Sunday, and also for the many people not listed who were affected by their war service, men and women not just from  Britain but all over the world.

Afternoon autumn light on the poppies, plants and sandbags of the wartime zoo keeper’s garden at Newquay Zoo

And then enjoy the noisy peace of the zoo gardens or wherever you find yourself …


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