Posts Tagged ‘botanic gardens’

Kew and CWGC team up for a unique look at the Somme

June 1, 2016

In a distinctive and poignant tribute to the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew has teamed up with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission CWGC  to look at the Somme from a very different perspective.

Read more here on the www.1914.org website:

http://www.1914.org/news/kew-and-the-cwgc-team-up-for-a-unique-look-at-the-somme

I look forward to attending the 6th  July event and hearing all about it!

Somme100-Kew-with-CWGC-624x459

Somme 100 at Kew

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Remembering Private Duncan Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

June 13, 2015

Remembering Private Duncan Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 5th Royal Scots killed at Gallipoli 11th to 13th June 1915

http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/15680

Planting the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Memorial Tree

February 25, 2015

 

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

A few moving photographs have been sent to me from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Archive.

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

These images have kindly been made available by Sally Stewart and the Library team at RBG Melbourne and remain copyright of the State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Memorial Tree seems to go under several synonym plant names in the articles, plaque and press cuttings – Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) its now widely used name or Queensland Box Tristania conferta (synonym). This evergreen tree is native to Australia, though cultivated in the USA and elsewhere. Other common names include the one mentioned in the 11.11.46 newspaper article Brisbane Box – there is more about this Box tree on its Wikipedia entry. The memorial plaque reads:

Lophostemon confertus BRUSH BOX.

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

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

Read more about these men at our previous blogpost Bugg’s Life and Death: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/buggs-life-and-death-royal-botanic-gardens-melbourne-staff-memorial-tree/

I was interested to hear from the Melbourne team about the Gallipoli Oaks project.

A Gallipoli Oak has been planted by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC Retd at the Gardens  on 13 November 2014 to mark the Centenary of WW1 working with RBG Melbourne and National Trust of Australia. This was the first of 500 seedlings planted as part of the Gallipoli Oaks Project, descended from a Quercus Coccifera (Kermes Oak) sent home from Gallipoli by Australian soldier Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke.  It is hoped that over the centenary years 2014-18 that each primary school in Victoria will receive a Gallipoli oak seedling as a living memorial.

There are photographs, teacher resources and more information at  the project website: http://gallipolioaks.org/about/

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Bugg’s Life and Death: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree

February 2, 2015

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree  (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

On the 2 February 1915 Driver Arthur William Bugg of the Australian Army Service Corps  set sail from his native Melbourne, Australia on HMAT Chilka heading for the Middle East and Gallipoli campaign. Three months earlier he had been working as a gardener at Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  He was never to see Melbourne again. Nine months later from the day of his embarkation,   Arthur died of illness (meningitis) in a Cairo hospital on the 2nd November 1915

Revisiting the article I wrote for BGEN called Using the garden ghosts of your wartime or historic past   there is a section on   staff memorial trees at Kew Gardens (the recently 2014 storm-felled  ‘Verdun Oak’), the Ginkgo trees at Kilmacurragh and at Melbourne. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne page that  I originally found  is now a ‘vanished link’ on the internet (originally from 1996, http://www.msk.id.au/ memorials2/pages/30560).

With the interest in WW1 anniversary and Gallipoli centenary in 2015, this information should be back in the public domain.

The original photograph and now vanished 1996 web page for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

The original photograph and now vanished 1996 web page for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

There is now a brief new link page at Monuments Australia http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/multiple/display/32471-royal-botanic-gardens-staff-memorial-tree In case it vanishes again, here are the details: “The memorial tree is a Brush Box (Lophostemum confertus) and commemorates two employees of the Royal Botanic Gardens who died on active service – Arthur William Bugg (1895 – 1915) who died during World War 1 and E.J. Hiskins who died during World War 2.”

“A commemorative plaque is mounted on the trunk of the tree. The tree was planted by Ernest Henry Bugg (1881-1971) on 10 September 1946. Ernest Henry Bugg was the elder brother of Arthur William Bugg and also served in the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) during World War 1.”

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree plaque (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree plaque (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Lophostemon confertus BRUSH BOX. Planted in memory of members of the staff who died in Active Service.

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

 

Melbourne Botanic Garden’s WW1 casualty
Arthur William Bugg was born in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda on 28 January 1895 and was the son of Henry isaac Bugg and Drusilla Martha Sophie Bugg (nee Carroll). He went to St Kilda State School in Melbourne.

Arthur served as a Driver (service no 5207) in 12th Company, Australian Army Service Corps as part of the 13th Light Horse Brigade Train 3.  The 3rd Light Horse Brigade  Train were primarily recruited around the Melbourne area and trained at Broadmeadows.

Arthur William Bugg's picture.Source: from The WW1 Pictorial Roll of Honour, www.vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

Arthur William Bugg’s picture.Source: from The WW1 Pictorial Roll of Honour, http://www.vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

A photograph of him exists amnogst thousands of Australian casulaties at http://vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

Bugg enlisted on 29 December 1914, aged 19. He was speedily embarked as he had already been enlisted before the war as a Territorial in the 28th Australian Army Service Corps.

After Arthur embarked on HMAT A51 Chilka on 2nd February 1915, he disembarked in Egypt and underwent further training at Mena Camp. It seems likely that he and his Company  saw service in Gallipoli.The HMAT A51 Chilka, owned by the British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London, was leased by the Commonwealth on war service until 4 August 1915.

Arthur  died at Heliopolis, Egypt on 2nd November 1915 aged 20 as a result of meningitis.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt and is also remembered on the headstone of his maternal grandparents, William and Ellen Currell, in St. Kilda Cemetery, Melbourne. He is also remembered on panel Number 181 of the Australian National War Memorial.

Like 62,000 other lost Australians from WW1, Arthur Bugg’s name will be individually projected for 30 seconds onto the exterior wall of the  of the Australian War Memorial thirty times throughout 2015 to 2018 – see their website for details – beginning on Thursday 19 February 2015, 12.24 a.m.

The CWGC website lists him as “Son of Henry Bugg, of 13, Smith St., St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.” Although there appears to be no cross by request, there is the simple inscription “Peace” at the base of his headstone at the request of his father listed in CWGC Headstone schedules.

Headstone inscription chosen by his father for A.W. Bugg (Source: CWGC )

Headstone inscription chosen by his father for A.W. Bugg (Source: CWGC )

There is an interesting Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour Circular of biographical details supplied by his parents.He was his father proudly recalls him as a boy as “One of the first Baden Powell Scouts formed in St. Kilda [Melbourne]”

A.W. Bugg's personal details supplied to the Australian war Memorial by his father (Source: AWM 131)

A.W. Bugg’s personal details supplied to the Australian war Memorial by his father (Source: AWM 131)

More can be read about Bugg’s life on the AIF website, which mentions us occupation as a “gardener” at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens: www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=38240. There is more at RSL Virtual War Memorial www.rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people/339423

Cairo War Memorial Cemetery (image CWGC website)

Cairo War Memorial Cemetery (image CWGC website)

Bugg’s headstone can be seen on the War Grave Photographic Project website.

Apparently this Staff Memorial Tree was mentioned in an article published in the Australian Herald-Sun newspaper on 23rd March 1992 in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens Revitalisation Appeal. The article, entitled “Family Tree for Buggs” included a photograph of Ernest Bugg planting the tree in 1946 and a photograph of some of his descendents who attended a family reunion at the memorial tree in 1992. Hopefully I or somebody can track these 1992 photos down via the Herald-Sun newspaper website.

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Hiskin’s father and Bugg’s brother are pictured with relatives. Copyright: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

 

Photographs of the planting and of the families can be seen in cuttings and photographs from scrapbooks in the State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne/Archive:   https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/54606/

There is also information about the Gallipoli Oaks project.

Melbourne Botanic Garden’s WW2 Casualty 

The original memorial tree website said that “information regarding E.J. Hiskins would be welcomed“.

His CWGC records list him as Flight Sergeant Ernest Joseph Hiskins, Royal Australian Air Force, 410058, who died in action in an air crash on the 15th April 1944. He is remembered on Panel 9 of the Northern Territory Memorial, alongside his pilot H.S. Ashbolt. He is listed as the son of Ernest Barton Hiskins and Alice Mary Hiskins, of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia  (Image CWGC website)

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia (Image CWGC website)

The Northern Territory Memorial stands in Adelaide River War Cemetery and is one of several memorials erected to commemorate 289 men of the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Merchant Navy who have no known grave and lost their lives in operations in the Timor and Northern Australian regions and in waters adjacent to Australia north of Latitude 20 South. Again I will look for some additional information on his service and the circumstances of his death.

Hiskens is also remembered on Panel 102 of the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra.

So far I have found newspaper listings of his being “previously posted missing now  presumed dead” in the latest RAAF casaulty list published in Australian newspapers on 29 September 1944, www.nla.gov.au/nla.news-article.11363210

A year earlier in the Argus, Melbourne Victoria of 27 November 1943, under Family Notices is the happier news of his marriage or engagement to Peggy, only child of Mr and Mrs M.J. Stanton, 10 Ryan Street, Coburg to Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF, second son of Pte. And Mrs Hiskins  (E.B) 53 Lydia Street, Brunswick.  www.nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11800090.

On most of his records his mother Alice is is next of kin and his marriage is not mentioned but this marriage or engagement coincided with a period of special leave in his records.

The circumstances of his death  are sketched out in the research on his crashed plane a Beaufighter of 31 Squadron on the ADF Serials website www.adf-serials.com.au/2a19.htm

His Beaufighter plane a Mk. X Beaufighter had the RAAF serial  number A19-178, and the RAF serial number LZ201. There are several codes next to its history 30/11/44 2AD, 19/01/44 5AD, 11/03/44 3 AD then 16/03/44 31 Squadron.

There is much about 31 Squadron on the Australian War memorial website, including photographs. It mentions that No. 31 Squadron, based at Coomalie Creek (near Darwin, Australia), flew ground attack sorties against the Japanese in Timor and the Netherlands East Indies, as well as anti-shipping patrols and convoy protection missions.

On 15 April 1944, there is an entry:

“Damaged by Japanese Anti Aircraft Fire which knocked out starboard engine. After flying for 20 minutes on port engine, aircraft lost height and crashed into the Timor Sea.”

The crew Pilot Flight Sergeant H.S.Ashbolt, and Navigator Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins were in action as part of formation of 31 Squadron Beaufighters were attacking Japanese positions at Soe village in Timor. According to his ADF Gallery / RAAF file, his Beaufighter developed a starboard engine oil leak from Japanese anti aircraft fire:

“the aircraft was seen to lose speed and height and strike the water 60 nautical miles off the South Coast of Timor. The only wreckage was part of a fin, wing, dinghy and three fuel tanks. There was no sign of the crew.”

Full RAAF records and photos  for his pilot Harry Ashbolt  and Ernest Hiskins can be found on http://www.adf-gallery.co.au

Ernest’s ‘Circular’ record lists him as a “Botanist” whilst his air force records list him as a graduate of a Crown Horticulture Scholarship at Burnley Horticulture School (still open today) in 1937-39 and working at Lands Department (State) Treasury Gardens Melbourne.

Sadly Ernest’s brother Wireless Officer K.J. Hiskens was also killed flying in Wellington bombers with 70 Squadron RAF on 26 June 1944. He  is buried in Budapest Cemetery.

AWM roll of honour for E J Hiskens RAAF (Source: AWM)

AWM roll of honour for E J Hiskens RAAF (Source: AWM)

Other Memorial Trees

Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century ... RIP 2014

Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century … RIP 2014

Kew’s Verdun Oak was damaged by a storm in 1914 on the eve of the WW1 Centenary.

Kilmacurragh’s memorial trees are Ginkgo biloba grouped still 100 years on  in their original nursery beds, a story told on the Kilmacurragh Gardens website. 

The Kilmacurragh Ginkgo biloba trees still in their nursery beds planted close, 100 years on a memorial to their vanished staff of 1914. Picture: Kilmacurragh website

The Kilmacurragh Ginkgo biloba trees still in their nursery beds planted close, 100 years on a memorial to their vanished staff of 1914. Picture: Kilmacurragh website

Remembering zookeeper and gardener Far East POWs 70 years on 2015

January 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Kew Gardens staff war memorial:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London Zoo staff names killed in the Far East 

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

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

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

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.  Image Source: CWGC

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.
Image Source: CWGC

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

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

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

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

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

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

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia  (Image CWGC website)

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia (Image CWGC website)

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

More to follow!

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

 

 

 

How botanic gardens and zoos survived wartime – talk at Kew Gardens 20/10/14

October 15, 2014

Preparing for my talk:

“How  botanic gardens and zoos survived wartime”  Mark Norris, Newquay  Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens project

Monday 20th October  6pm, Jodrell Lecture Theatre, RBG Kew. £2 entry. Please arrive by 5:45pm.

For more details and to see the other talks this coming year see http://www.kew.org/sites/default/files/kmis-updated.pdf

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/how-botanic-gardens-and-zoos-survived-wartime

 

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh commemorate WW1

September 19, 2014

Much has been made by politicians on various sides of the Scottish Referendum in the 1914 centenary year about the contribution of Scottish people to the Allied war effort in World War 1.

In the week of the Scottish Referendum, I received a surprise email from Ann Hill about a press cutting in the Downs Mail Maidstone online edition for September 2014, asking if I had any more information or contact with relatives of Walter Henry Morland? The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh are looking for relatives of their fallen staff, including Morland who worked at Kew Gardens as well as Edinburgh. Through the World War Zoo Gardens project I have met or heard from several relatives of keeper and gardener casualties from London Zoo and Kew Gardens.

At last a photo of Walter Morland, part of Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh search for Walter Morland's relatives, Maidstone Downs Mail September 2014

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh search for Walter Morland’s relatives, Maidstone Downs Mail September 2014

I had come across Walter Morland through his Commonwealth War Graves Commision entry as a “rose garden specialist” when researching the lost staff of RBG Kew Gardens, alongside Sydney Cobbold, . Staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh have been putting together a display, alongside a poppy lawn sown by staff and Scots military veterans.

The Scotsman – Wednesday, 22nd July 1925

BOTANIC GARDENS WAR MEMORIAL.

Sir Lionel Earle, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., C.M.G., Secretary of H.M. Office of Works, yesterday afternoon unveiled a memorial tablet to the twenty members of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens staff who gave their lives, in the Great War. The tablet is in the entrance hall of the laboratory. About a hundred relatives and members of the staff were present. Sir Lionel Earle said the memorial served a double purpose. Firstly, it was a lasting testimony to the members of the staff who sacrificed their lives for the great cause; and, secondly, it was a memorial to Sir Isaac Bayley-Balfour, late botanist, administrator, and agriculturist, who did so much for the Botanic Gardens. It had been Sir Isaac’s last wish that a memorial to these men be placed in the entrance hall. The Rev. E. C. Houlston, B.D., officiated at the service, which concluded with the sounding of the “Last Post.”
Extract taken from the Scottish War Memorial project website

I had come across photos of the memorial to the RBG Edinburgh staff photographed on the Scottish War Memorials Trust website.

What I hadn’t seen was the Roll of Honour of all the RBG Edinburgh staff which isaccessible on their website. In a future blogpost I  will look more closely at the details in case as with some information that I’ve found on other sites during  my research  has become unavailable over time.

Knowing that Walter Morland had died at Gallipoli on 2 May 1915 and having an interest in Gallipoli where one of my relatives served, I was surprised to read how many of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh men had served or died at Gallipoli, all as a result of serving at the hard-pressed 5th Battalion, The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), obviously the local regiment for many of these Edinburgh men.
Breifly, the http://www.1914-1918.net/royalscots.htm webpage lists the 5th as 1/5th Battalion (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles)
August 1914 : in Forrest Hill, Edinburgh. Part of Lothian Brigade, Scottish Coast Defences.
11 March 1915 : transferred to 88th Brigade, 29th Division at Leamington Spa.
Sailed from Avonmouth 20 March 1915, going via Egypt to Gallipoli 25 April 1915.
Returned to Egypt 7 January 1916.

Brabyn’s other surviving RBGE colleagues in the 5th Royal Scots then fought in France, after their service in Gallipoli.
Moved to France, landing at Marseilles, 10 March 1916.
24 April 1916 : transferred to Lines of Communication.
15 June 1916 : amalgamated with 1/6th to become 5/6th Battalion (due perhaps to decimation of numbers?)
29 July 1916 : transferred to 14th Brigade, 32nd Division.

Some of Walter Morland’s RBGE colleagues in the 5th Royal Scots served and thankfully survived to be demobilised in 1919, no doubt to see the war memorial erected.

It is good to see many organisations taking time  to commemorate the service and sacrifice of  their past staff and families.  It is also good to put a name to a face for Walter Morland at last, gone but definitely not forgotten. As Lawrence Binyon phrased it in his poem “For The Fallen”, published in the Times 100 years ago this week, “We Shall Remember Them”.

I hope that somebody eventually makes a family connection with Morland and his colleagues, so  are able to help RBGE and the research of its archivist Leonie Paterson at commemorate@rbge.org.uk

I will talk more about some of these lost Gardeners from zoos and botanic gardens in my forthcoming KMIS / Kew Guild related talk about may World War Zoo Gardens research and the blogpost research ‘Such is the price of Empire’ (a quote from Walter Morland’s Kew Guild Journal obituary) at Kew Gardens on the evening of the 20th October 2014. Check the http://www.kew.org events and what’s on section for details.

Remembering WW1 in zoos and gardens

August 3, 2014

Although I have spent  the last 5 years as part of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo researching WW2 and how it created shortages and other challenges for zoos and botanic gardens, I have frequently been asked recently about the effects of WW1 in light of the www.1914.org centenary events now underway.

Here is a summary of our recent WW1 related blog posts that you might find of interest.

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)

1. The Lost Zoo Keepers and Gardeners of London Zoo WW1

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

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/london-zoos-war-memorial-recent-pictures/

London Zoo plans a WW1 centenary exhibition http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/the-zoo-at-war

and also a Little Creatures family celebration of regimental mascot Winnipeg or the original Winnie the Pooh being deposited at London Zoo 100 years ago when its Canadian Regiment went off to France.

http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/little-creatures-family-festival

and material from Mary Evans picture archive:

http://blog.maryevans.com/2013/04/london-zoo-at-war.html

2. Lost Zoo Keepers from Belle Vue Zoo Manchester (and London Zoo) WW1 – updated from 2010/11

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/

3. National Allotment Week, 4- 10 August 2014 and other ww1 centenary garden links

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/national-allotment-week-4-10-august-2014-in-the-world-war-zoo-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

4. Port Lympne Zoo / Reserve centenary WW1 / WW2 and other WW1 centenary garden links

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/world-war-zoo-gardens-project-spreads-to-other-zoos-and-gardens/

5. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – Linnean Society casualties

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

6. Lost Ecologists of WW1 – The British Ecological Society

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/lost-ecologists-of-the-first-world-war/

7. Mr. Mottershead, WW1 and WW2 at Chester Zoo – “Our Zoo”

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/zoo-do-you-think-you-are-tracking-down-family-history-and-wartime-concrete-at-chester-zoo/

8. Animals in wartime WW1

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/war-horse-war-elephant-war-ferret-the-wartime-role-of-zoo-and-other-animals-from-tommys-ark-and-the-world-war-zoo-gardens/

 

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

Botanic Gardens in wartime WW1

Many Botanic Gardens had a zoological section and similar challenges to zoos in wartime. I wrote a free downloadable  article about this for the BGEN gardens website:  http://bgen.org.uk/resources/free/using-the-garden-ghosts-of-your-wartime-or-historic-past/

1. The Lost Gardeners of Kew Gardens in WW1

Kew has many activities such as tours and an exhibition planned. I will be giving a talk at Kew on 20 October as part of their Kew Guild / KMIS evening talks.

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

2. Lost “Gardeners and Men” WW1 poem from Kew Guild Journal

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/for-king-and-country-fought-and-died-gardeners-and-men/

3. Lost Gardeners – 1914 / 1915 Part 1

A brief  look through the garden journals of the time at the effects of war on gardens, estates and gardeners

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/lost-gardeners-of-world-war-one-1914-and-1915/

4. Garden writer Herbert Cowley, Kew Gardens  and WW1  Dig for Victory schemes

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/

5. Finally, a brief look at the home front, rationing, food and farming  in one Cornish village in WW1

http://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

 

Watch this space for further WW1  blogposts:

Several more blog posts are in preparation in my spare zoo and home time for 2014 and 2015:

  • The Whitley family in WW1 and Ww2 who set up our sister zoo Paignton Zoo
  • Gardeners in 1916 onwards using the garden journals now online
  • WW1 in adverts from original magazines
  • Energy saving and salvage initiatives in Ww1 , WW2 and the EAZA Pole to Pole “pull the plug” campaign 2014
  • London Zoo in WW1 and the ‘first Blitz’ of WW1
  • Dublin Zoo,  Irish zoos and gardens in WW1
  • Updates on the Belle Vue Zoo and London Zoo memorial casualty research.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them …”, words from the 1914 poem by Lawrence Binyon familiar from many Remembrance services and written on cliffs at Polzeath (or Portreath – some controversy on this!) near Newquay Zoo, home of the World War Zoo Gardens Project:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/3112708.stm     BBC Cornwall page and plaque pictures.

We would be interested to hear of other gardens and zoo related stories from WW1 – contact us via the comments page!

Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo – World War Zoo Gardens project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Allotment Week 4 – 10 August 2014 in the World War Zoo Garden at Newquay Zoo

July 30, 2014

WW1 soldiers gardening

WW1 soldiers gardening

As an unlikely part of the National Allotment Society NSALG, we at Newquay Zoo like to mark the National Allotment Week in some way on our recreated wartime zoo keepers allotment.

Although the focus of our recreated wartime zoo keeper’s allotment is WW2’s Dig For Victory campaign, we have increasingly been asked about zoos, allotments and gardens in World War 1. part of the focus of Allotment Week this year is the WW1 heritage being commemorated around Britain http://www.1914.org

“The week is also an opportune time to highlight the need to strengthen the protection for our remaining allotment sites and emphasise the benefits allotments bring to people and the environment. The 4 August 1914 saw Britain declare war on Germany and although allotments had existed in the UK from the 18th century, the ensuing food shortages lead to the creation of the local authority allotments that we recognise today. Their numbers have waned considerably but 100 years later working an allotment plot remains a popular pastime. This contribution that allotments make to the health and well-being of people and the quality of the environment is generally acknowledged and has been endorsed by many studies but there is much competition for land in our crowded urban environments and, although protected by legislation, allotments are vulnerable …” (NSALG website)

Allotments on the railway side, South West, WW1 (unnamed magazine photo in author's collection)

Allotments on the railway side, South West, WW1 (unnamed magazine photo in author’s collection)

 

Over the next week, I’ll be changing our small permanent display case in the Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, adding some WW1 material amongst the WW2 Dig for Victory material (such as WW1 ration books, recipe books and postcards). Along with WW1 medals and stories of Keepers in WW1, this will show how the experiences of WW1 prepared zoo and gardens staff for surviving WW2 – what was similar and what was very different?

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

More on zoos, gardeners and gardens and WW1 commemoration

We have previously written about the WW1 losses at ZSL London Zoo Regent’s Park, who are planning their own WW1 exhibition. For example one of their zoo gardeners Robert Jones was killed, alongside many keepers and other staff:

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

and at the now closed  Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/remembering-zoo-staff-killed-on-active-service-poppy-days-are-here-again-in-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Spades as Trumps - allotments and an early version of Dig For Victory WW1, The War Budget, 1917

Spades as Trumps – allotments and an early version of Dig For Victory WW1, The War Budget, 1917

 

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline, demolition or diversification of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Port Lympne was one such estate, Woburn, Knowsley and Longleat amongst others. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

I wrote an article about this last year for the BGEN botanic gardens website on their free resources, all about using your garden or site heritage.

You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links to zoo and gardens staff memorials.

Exhibitions  on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions. I look forward to talking on 20th October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens research at the KMIS talks – see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

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

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

The lights will be going out all over Europe on the evening of the 4th August http://www.1418now.org.uk/lights-out as part of wider 1914 centenary activities, see http://www.1914.org events.

Happy gardening, and happy National Allotment Week 4 to 10 August!

More pictures of our allotment in summer soon, resplendent with artichokes and broad beans before the animals get to eat them!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo

Lost Gardeners of World War One – 1914 and 1915

June 29, 2014

“It is to be hoped that we shall not have too many deaths to record among horticulturalists …”

wrote  a Versailles nurseryman in the October 24th 1914 edition of the Gardener’s Chronicle. It was to prove a false hope.

Reading through First World war period copies of The Garden, My Garden Illustrated and The Gardener’s Chronicle, it is possible to get some idea of the effects of the “Great War” on gardeners, their families and the parks or estates where many of them worked.

I’ve been researching since 2009 for the World War Zoo Gardens project based at Newquay Zoo how zoos and botanic gardens survived wartime and increasingly we’re asked about what happened in WW1.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Gardener’s Chronicle is now available online in several places including at the Biodiversity Heritage Library www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/83840# Library online at the University of Amherst and other websites. The Garden Illustrated edited by Kew gardener and injured soldier Herbert Cowley is also available online at this and other sites.

In August 1914 within weeks of war being declared, already some estate owners had published or publicised the patriotic response of their gardens staff; Welbeck Abbey was one such estate which soon  became a military hospital and later army staff college.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassinated at Sarajevo in June 1914, one of the flashpoint triggers of WW1, was injured in a hunting accident there before the war.

At Rotherfield Park, Hampshire, Head Gardener Wilmot H. Yates joined the National Reserve, one of whose tasks was to guard Prisoners of War (Gardener’s Chronicle, 19 September 1914). POWs by the end of the war would be working on the land to replace the men killed or on active service.

G.B.Blackwell of Woodgreen Park Estate, Cheshunt, Herts proudly sent a photograph of 6 unnamed Woodgreen Park gardeners who had enlisted.

J.L. Veitch of the famous Nursery family was swiftly gazetted a Captain in the 7th Cyclists’ Battalion, Devonshire Regiment and saw action in France by Christmas 1914. He was one of many Kew Gardens trained men to be killed later in the war on 21 May 1918, an obituary being posted in the Gardener’s Chronicle on 1 June 1918. Later in the same month in 1914, 40 Kew Gardens men were noted as volunteered (see our Kew WW1 blogpost).

Baron de Worms of Milton Park was noted as having “sent 6 servants” or estate staff, along with a former South African / Boer War veteran Head Gardener William Gent on the National Reserve (see above), who was also liable for call up.

Notable was also the sons of older nurserymen being called up and for the professional soldiers and reservists amongst them, quickly being killed in the early battles of the war. This loss of heirs “and sons” would have an ongoing effect on historic houses and estate gardens, as well as nursery businesses for many years after WW1. It was to be part of the death and decline of many such gardens.

One correspondent ‘A.C.’ in The Gardener’s Chronicle of September, 19th 1914 notes that some gardens staff were leaving their gardens posts not only to enlist but also to avoid “coercion on the part of employers is to be deprecated.” Who was A.C.? It was common for many contributors to be known only by initails or a pen-name. There is a suggestion from Sarah Cobbold that this might be her relative Arthur Cobbold, brother of Kew WW1 casualty Sydney Cobbold, and a noted gardens speaker during wartime with such timely messages as “Help the War, Help Your Country, Help Yourselves by Growing Vegetables.” Sarah is also researching his literary activities, as Arthur also appeared to be a writer on gardening in The Manchester Guardian. Arthur was Curator of the Charles Darrah collection of Cacti at Alexandra Park Manchester for 30+ years until retiring in 1934.

 

WW1 soldiers gardening

WW1 soldiers gardening

War, Lord Derby and Knowsley Park
Interestingly for someone researching the effect of the war on zoos, Knowsley Hall (now home of Knowsley Safari Park) had extensive parkland and an exotic menagerie, once painted in Victorian times by Edward Lear. Many of its gardens staff joined up, supported by Knowsley’s owner the Earl of / Lord  Derby:

Gardeners respond to the Call
Eight young men from the fruit and plant departments of Knowsley [Park], the seat of the Earl of Derby, have volunteered or active service … Lord Derby will keep the places of the men open until the end of the war … Gardener’s Chronicle, 29 August 1914.

Lord Derby went on to set up the Derby Scheme to encourage more volunteers for the Army, but eventually conscription was introduced in 1916. Lord Derby served as Secretary of State for War from 1916 to 1918.

In the Second World War, parts of the grounds of Knowsley Park near Prescot were used as tank and army training. The craters were still visible when the Safari Park was created in 1971. There was also a No 49 SLG (Satellite Landing Ground) RAF Knowsley Park from May 1942 to November 1944, staffed by No. 37 and 48 MU Maintenance Units. Remnants of a P51 fighter were excavated from a crash site recently.

Knowsley Esate Prescot (now Safari Park) Tank Training 1940/1 IWM image collection English: The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45  Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940.  Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

Tanks on the Lawn! Knowsley Estate Prescot (now Safari Park) IWM image collection The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45
Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940. Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

Several times in the autumn of Gardeners Chronicle in 1914 the prospect of a “Gardeners Battalion” or Pals Battalion was suggested such as ‘CR’ 5 December 1914: https://archive.org/stream/gardenerschronic356lond#page/n407/mode/1up and an eralier suggestion by W.N. Wright of Northampton on November 7th 1914, p.310: https://archive.org/stream/gardenerschronic356lond#page/310/mode/1up

‘Disruption of the Horticultural Trades’ 1914
The war beginning in the August 1914 harvest season caused much disruption to the horticultural trades. In The Gardener’s Chronicle of the 19th September 1914, boy scouts are noted as harvesting flower and vegetable seeds – in Germany!

Show and exhibition halls became drill halls, being quickly requisitioned for mobilisation and the wave of eager recruits enlisting as volunteers. Many flower and produce shows were cancelled, including wartime Chelsea Flower Shows, the proceeds of others gone towards “the relief of distress caused by the war“. Other nurseries offloaded stocks of flowers and produce patritiocally to hospitals.

The Gardener’s Chronicle featured news in French and Belgian for the many refugee Belgians who had fled to Britain to escape the fighting. Very quickly French and Belgian horticulture was affected as fighting swept through the countryside, destroying vulnerable areas like glasshouses and nurseries. News of casualties of notable gardens and gardeners were carried in these journals and a Societe Francaise d’ Horticulture de Londres continued to meet on the 1st Saturday of each month in London from 1915. The equivalent publication in France Le Jardin shut down at the start of the war by October 1914 as so many of its staff had been mobilised into the war effort.

Much the same happened in Britain in some nurseries and businesses like the Cheddar Nursery of George B. Mallett, who had enlisted in the Bristol Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment when the rest of his eligible staff had enlisted; his nursery business was ‘suspended’ (Gardener’s Chronicle, 26 September 1914).

George Bunyard’s nursery was also affected by the callup, maiantaing their full staff whicch appears to mean supporting the families of those men who had left to enlist and appealing for public support through sales from the horticultural trade to maintain this.https://archive.org/stream/gardenerschronic356lond#page/191/mode/1up

Many local newspapers featured advertisements for young or old garden staff, leading to a witty Punch cartoon by A Wallis Mills of May 19, 1915 about the demand for any available labour:

Lady: “I hear that your boy has left his last place and I thought he might come to us as a gardener.”

Cottager (mother): “Well, Mum, there’s been arf a dozen after im this morning. But I shall be very happy  to put you on the waiting list.”

It was in this market that many women gardeners would get their chance of work and experience, if only for a few years.

Punch 1915 cartoon on the demand for garden labour once enlistment  had removed many young men from garden work. (Source: World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Punch 1915 cartoon on the demand for garden labour once enlistment had removed many young men from garden work. (Source: World War Zoo Gardens collection)

WW1, Ireland and The Easter Rising 1916

George B Mallett appears to have survived the war, unlike Alan Livingstone Ramsay, a partner in his father’s Charles Ramsay & Son, Royal Nurseries, Ballsbridge Road, Dublin:

“volunteered for service on the outbreak of war and has been gazetted a lieutenancy in the Royal Irish Regiment. He left Dublin on Christmas Eve 1914 to join the second battalion of his Regiment at the front and was last heard of at Rouen” (GC, 9 January 1915).

Although he served in France, Ramsay was to die aged 26 on active service on 24 April 1916 fighting in his home town of Dublin. He was the first Dublin-born British Army officer to die fighting the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising for Irish independence of 1916. According to his CWGC records, he is buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin. Catherine de Courcy’s excellent history of Dublin Zoo describes more about how the city and its Anglo-Irish institutions like the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland’s zoo fared during the uprising. You can read more about Ramsay and his family on a JSTor archive article from the Dublin Historical Record. 

There is more about how WW1 affected Anglo -Irish estates and gardeners in the WW1 Kew gardens blog post entries about Charlie Beswick and C.F. Ball, along with my ‘garden ghosts’ article on the BGEN website, mentioning lost gardeners from Glasnevin, Kilmacurragh and Fota Gardens in Ireland.  

Other gardens affected in 1914 / 1915

Mr James Whitton, Superintendent of the Glasgow Public Parks and Gardens Department records in the Gardener’s Chronicle of 3 October 1914, p.238 that his office clerk and five young gardeners had gone from the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Already  29 of its young men had volunteered for the Kitchener’s New Army of volunteers, more were expected to enlist, whilst Whitton’s own son was  already mobilised as a Captain in the 7th Scottish Rifles (Territorials)  and noted an enthusiastic reaction by other Territorials of the Lowland Scottish Division. Kew Gardens, Birmingham and RBGE Edinburgh Botanic Gardens would also steadily lose staff to the war.

The territorials appear to have been popular amongst the staff and men of some Nurseries such as Kelway’s, where James Kelway the Nursery Owner was Captian of the Langport Co of the Territorials (Somerset Light Infantry) and  precluded from serving (by age?) He notes that 25% of his eligible men were already enlisted – 24 men so far – in the Gardener’s Chronicle September 19, 1914, p. 205.

5 staff and 3 students had left Wisley to enlist (Gardener’s Chronicle, 12 September 1914) – a memorial exists for their fallen staff and they are blogging their research.

Messrs. Sanders and Sons notes from their orchid houses 12 out of 27 staff joined up including 3 Belgians, leaving behind a staff of “nearly all married and elderly” whilst at Chivers & Sons 40 joined the colours, many Reservists or Kitchener volunteers (Gardener’s Chronicle, 5 September 1914).

Other presumably smaller nurseries note single staff leaving such as P.C. Bridge, the travelling salesman from J. Cheal’s Lowfield Nursery joining the 25th County of London Regiment Motorcycle Section (GC, 12 September 1914). Bridge appears to have survived the war, unlike another Cheal’s man, Private Richard Hubert Holton, the son of Richard Henry and Sarah Holton,

“foreman at J. Cheal and Son’s Nursery, Crawley, Sussex to whom the deepest sympathy will be extended by his numerous friends in the horticultural world …” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 31 August 1918)

Private R.H. Holton, 201034, 1/4 Royal Sussex Regiment died in the closing months of the war aged 25, on 29 July 1918 and is buried at Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery, Marne, France.

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Sutton’s Seeds and WW1

9 staff went from Suttons Seeds of Reading into the Territorial Force, along with several of Arthur Sutton’s sons, Eric and Noel quickly gazetted as officers. Arthur Sutton established a rifle range for his staff at Bucklebury Place.

Sutton was to lose most of his sons in the war, “of his five sons who have joined HM Forces, four have laid down their lives for their country” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 6 April 1918). His other son Leonard Noel Sutton was badly wounded. A fuller account of this is given in Richard Van Emden’s recent book, The Quick and the Dead. A memorial (UKNIWM#1940) survives to his sons and the staff of the Royal Seed Establishment (Sutton’s), listing 23 names, worthy of a separate blog post in future.

Several articles in 1914/5 and even adverts by Clay’s Fertiliser notes the bizarre development of trials by Sutton’s of using radioactive uranium to encourage lettuce growth! This substance would be put to an even deadlier and less optimistically constructive use at the end of the next war.

1916 onwards

After the Somme battles beginning 1st July 1916, I thought that long casualty lists would appear in the pages of Gardener’s  Chronicle and other journals in the weeks after July 1916 as  many of  Kitchener’s 1914 and 1915 volunteers, Derby scheme men and Pals battalions saw action. However surprisingly few obituary entries appear in the second half of 1916 and into 1917, although I’m sure the deaths and wounds of many ordinary gardens staff went unnoticed in the garden journals. We shall describe the effect on gardeners and the horticultural world after 1915 in the second part of this article in a future blog post.

Gardening, allotments and food production was soon to change gear with the unrestricted U-Boat warfare of 1917, loss of men, disastrous harvests and the spread of patriotic allotments along with food rationing in 1917 and 1918. Herbert Cowley’s editorials in The Garden Illustrated increasingly reflected this.

ww1 ration book

ww1 ration book

Gardening was also suggested as horticultural therapy during and after the war for recovering physical and mental health of returning veterans, something that has reoccurred recently through Gardening Leave with links to Chelsea Physic Garden and Royal Chelsea Hospital and other groups, again another blog story here for the future, illustrated with contemporary WW1 gardening journal links.

 

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a ww1 ration book

More on gardeners and gardens in WW1
You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.
The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links.

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

Exhibitions at the Museum of Garden History on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions.

I look forward to talking in October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens  research at the KMIS talks -see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently  about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Meanwhile its forward in time and back out onto the WW2 Dig For Victory allotment at Newquay Zoo to tidy up after some delicious and much needed days of rain and clearing all that has bolted in the recent hot weather, some to the animals at the Zoo, some to the compost heap.

Happy gardening,

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project , Newquay Zoo, 29 June 2014


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