Posts Tagged ‘Kew Gardens’

Remembering James Garnett of Kew Gardens died WW1 Passchendaele 3rd August 1917

August 3, 2017

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Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial. Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

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James Garnett is remembered on the Second panel, Kew Gardens War Memorial D – M. (Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project)

Another Lost Gardener from Kew Gardens 100 years ago today 3rd August 1917.
3rd August 1917 – Private James Garnett, service number 11380, 2nd Battalion, the Wiltshire Regiment, died aged 28 during the Battle of Passchendaele.

 

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Garnett is remembered on Panel 53 of the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing of Passchendaele battles (Image:  CWGC)

Kew Gardens labourer James Garnett has no known grave and is listed on Panel 53 of the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men like James Garnett who would have passed through it on their way to the battlefields.

It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those who died prior 16 August 1917 like James Garnett are listed amongst the 54 thousand names of men who have no known grave.

United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war.

menin gate

A rare moment of quiet at the busy Menin gate memorial to the Missing in Ypres, reminding of the high walls of names I saw 25 years ago. James Garnett of Kew Gardens is listed amongst them. Image: CWGC

 The Last Post is sounded at 8pm every night by local fire brigade volunteers at the Menin Gate.

James Garnett is listed as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour. He is listed as the son of Mrs. Fanny Garnett, of 6, Manor Grove, Richmond, Surrey.

RBG KEW arethusa-temple Kew website copyright

RBG Kew’s war memorial, Temple of Arethusa, Kew (Image copyright : Kew website)

Private James Garnett, remembered at Kew Gardens 100 years on from his death, 3rd August 1917 / 2017.

For more about the Kew Gardeners lost in WW1 and others who died at Passchendaele, visit our blog links at

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 3 August 1917.

Remembering F.T. Pursell Kew Gardens WW1 died 4 April 1917

April 4, 2017

Frederick Thomas Pursell or Purssell, died 4 April 1917
Gunner / Sergeant Frederick T Purssell or Pursell, 51510, Royal Field Artillery, 70th Bty. 34th Army Brigade, died 4 April 1917 in Ypres.

He is buried at Grave Reference IX. F. 16, Vlamerthinge New Military Cemetery, Belgium. Just outside the normal range of German shell fire, the village was used both by artillery units (such as Pursell belonged to) and field ambulances. There is no family inscription on his headstone, pictured on the TWGPP website.
Listed as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour. In the 1911 census Purssell is listed as a Stable Hand (Student Part Time) at the “Royal Gardens Kew”. He was born in Surrey around 1894 to a father Roger Purssell who was a bricklayer, living at Pond Cottage in Kew.

CWGC Graves registration documents reveal that he was killed or died on the same day as 3 others of his 34 Army Brigade Royal Field Artillery colleagues, Wainwright, West and Cronin lie buried alongside him.

Remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial – read more at:

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

Remembering Allan Beard of Kew WW2 died 1946

August 6, 2016

Kew Gardens lost 14 staff on active service in WW2 including a postwar casualty Allan Beard who died around 6 August 1946, 70 years ago today.

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Kew Gardens WW2 staff War memorial part 3  (photo:  Mark Norris)  

The 14th and last name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial is Allan Beard, who served as a despatch rider with the Middlesex Regiment and died aged 31 a “tragic death” just after the war, possibly from injury related to war service.

His obituary http://www.kewguild.org.uk/articles/1855/ appeared in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal.

Beard had been a gardener on the Parks Staff at Stamford Park, Ashton Under Lyne until he joined up in 1939. http://www.tameside.gov.uk/parks/stamford/history

Along with several garden colleagues, he had joined Hyde Company, Territorial Army section of the 6th Cheshire Regiment in early 1939; this would see him very quickly called into service three days before war broke out. By October 1939, he was serving with the Middlesex Regiment and fought through the campaigns of 1940 in Northern France and Belgium, eventually being evacuated from Dunkirk.

Back in Britain, instead of promotion Allan Beard chose to train as a despatch rider partly from a love of motorbikes.

Sadly he was the victim of a wartime traffic accident (not surprising with blackout etc), being struck by an army lorry in Canterbury in 1943.

By June 1944 he had been discharged from the army on medical grounds and returned to his previous garden job. Stamford Park by then had lost its railings in wartime, collected as salvage metal for the war effort, but had been maintained as a public park, popular like Kew Gardens with people encouraged in wartime to “holiday at home”.

Allan Beard entered Kew in August 1946 under a Government assisted training scheme. His obituary is reported in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal but not listed on the CWGC website as his death occurred as a civilian after military service. It may have been linked to his earlier accident.

To read more about Kew Gardens in WW2:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-world-war-two/

Allan Beard of Kew Gardens, remembered 70 years on.

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

Remembering Jutland casualty John Knowles Jackson of Kew Gardens

May 31, 2016

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John Knowles Jackson on the Kew Gardens Staff War Memorial  (photo: Mark Norris)

 

 

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Jackson’s grave is to the right of this CWGC photo of Farsund Cemetery graves. One of the seven unknown sailors has a headstone to the left. (Source: CWGC)

 

Ordinary Seaman John Knowles Jackson, formerly on the staff at Kew Gardens, J/47092, HMS Fortune, Royal Navy, died on 1st June 1916, aged 22.

He is one of nine naval or Royal Marine burials (four named) from the 1916 Battle Of Jutland buried at Farsund Cemetery, Norway.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/54250/FARSUND%20CEMETERY

He is listed as the son of (W or) Thomas and Ann Jane Jackson, 25 Westby Street, Lytham. He was born at Lytham, Lancashire on December 4, 1893.

 

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Jackson arrived at Kew Gardens to work in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in August 1914 from Lytham Hall, Lancashire.

He left to join the Navy in March 1915. He served on several ships – HMS Diadem, HMS Argonaut and HMS Hecla – before joining the destroyer HMS Fortune, which was sunk in the Battle of Jutland.

HMS Fortune https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Fortune_(1913)

Jackson’s name is amongst the lost crew list of HMS Fortune on this website:

http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/britishguide/jutland/hms_fortune_casualty_list_1916.htm

 

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Jackson’s grave is third from the left in this photo. (source: CWGC)

Jackson was Kew’s only Royal Naval casualty. He was buried a month later on the island Of Farsund in Norway. His CWGC headstone is in local grey stone. The unidentified sailors are marked simply “Known unto God”.

The story of the Kew Gardeners remembered on their staff war memorial in WW1 is told here: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Remember John Knowles Jackson of Kew Gardens and Lytham.

Remember these unknown sailors, the navy crews of Jutland and their families 100 years on, 31st May and 1st June 1916 / 2016.

Somme100-Kew-with-CWGC-624x459

 

 

Remembering C.F. Ball of Kew & Glasnevin, killed Gallipoli 13 September 1915

September 13, 2015

C.F. Ball, Dublin Fusiliers, killed at Gallipolli, pictured in The Garden obituary, October 16 1915.

C.F. Ball, Dublin Fusiliers, killed at Gallipolli, pictured in The Garden obituary, October 16 1915.

Charles Frederick Ball, 13 September 1915 Private Charles Frederick Ball, service number 16445, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (Pals Battalion), died Gallipoli on 13/09/1915, aged 36.

“A delightful companion, unassuming, sincere and a most lovable man…” quoted from a short and touching obituary and portrait was also published in The Garden (October 16, 1915, p.514) by his friend and fellow soldier , the editor Herbert Cowley (who had been invalided out of the army)

Ball is buried at Grave Reference II. A. 8, Lala Baba Cemetery, Turkey. This cemetery was created from smaller burial grounds after the Armistice on a low hill between the southern side of Suvla Bay and a salt lake. The hill was taken in the fierce fighting of August 1915 during the Gallipolli campaign against the Turks, a doomed amphibious landing which was the brainchild of Winston Churchill.

Lala Baba cemetery, Turkey. Image copyright CWGC

Lala Baba cemetery, Turkey. Image copyright CWGC

Charles was the son of the late Alfred and Mary Ball, of Loughborough and husband of Alice A. Ball, of 15, Percy Place, Dublin, whom he married in Dublin on December 16, 1914. This was one of many such wartime marriages mentioned in the Wedding Bells section of the Kew Guild Journal.

Ball had left Kew in August 1903 to work as Assistant and later Foreman at the Royal Botanic Gardens Glasnevin in Dublin. He was also editor of Irish Gardening and a friend and fellow travelling companion to Bulgaria with Kew collegue and Alpine plant enthusiast Herbert Cowley, injured in the First World World War (see previous Blog post on Cowley). His wife Alice chose the Biblical inscription on his headstone: “Greater Love Has no Man than This”. C F Ball Kew Ww1

A Life Member of the Kew Guild, there is a lengthy tribute to Charles Ball in the Kew Guild Journal including a final sighting of him just before he died, sheltering behind a rock under fire, digging away at ‘weeds’ with his bayonet to send back home seeds to his botanic garden colleagues. From the tone of the account, this seemingly strange behaviour had happened several times!

CF Ball gardenillustrate7915lond_0542

His obituary notes that: ” Even while on active service in Gallipoli his love of collecting persisted, and numerous seedlings are growing on at Glasnevin from seeds he sent home, gathered in the vicinity of Suvla Bay.” Oak seeds were sent back by a Kew officer from Gallipoli for cultivation at Kew (see W.H. Morland’s entry).

Later entries in the Kew Guild Journal 1921 are from Old Kewites who had travelled across this area, noting as botanists and gardeners would, what native plants were found there, soil types and climate along with the planting by the then Imperial War Graves Commission (now CWGC). Kew staff and Old Kewites were involved for many years as horticultural advisors to the Commission.

A cultivar of the South American shrub Escallonia is named ‘C.F. Ball’ in his memory, a beautiful shrub with dark green leaves and bright red flowers, excellent for bees. It is available from many nurseries.

escallonia c f ball

There is more about C.F. ball on the Flower of the Dublin Fusiliers message board.

c f ball medal card

C. F. Ball, died Gallipoli 13 September 1915, remembered.

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

Remembering Robert Hurst Cowley RAFVR died 2 September 1940

September 2, 2015

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

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

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

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

Herbert Cowley had survived the trenches of a previous war, but lost many friends, family and colleagues. We wrote about him in a previous blogpost: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

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

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

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

Runnymede memorial to missing aircrew (Image source: CWGC)

Runnymede memorial to missing aircrew (Image source: CWGC)

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

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

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

Remembering John Mackenzie Campbell Kew Gardens died 14 July 1915

July 14, 2015

 

Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial. Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial.
Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

John Mackenzie Campbell is remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial. Unusually he died of heatstroke whilst in training in Canada and is buried in Toronto.

RBG Kew's war memorial, Temple of Arethusa, Kew  (Image copyright :  Kew website)

RBG Kew’s war memorial, Temple of Arethusa, Kew
(Image copyright : Kew website)

After training at Kew, Scottish-born Campbell had been working in Canada since 1908 and volunteered for the Army, serving as  Private John Mackenzie Campbell, 204th Canadian Beavers Infantry Battalion

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

Toronto St. John’s Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

 

He died and was buried in Toronto (St. John’s Norway) CemeteryToronto, Canada in 1915. His 1917 Kew Guild Journal obituary lists him as dying aged 36 of sunstroke whilst training in Canada, where he worked for the Toronto Parks Department.

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

He was born into a family of ten children of Mr. Roderick Campbell of Ardross, Lanarkshire and the late Isabella Campbell. His private headstone exists amongst other IWGC / CWGC headstones, a photograph exists on the TWGPP website. 

His Kew Guild Journal obituary can be read here: http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s24p333-38.pdf

Old Kewites  returned from working in many parts of the Empire to serve in the armed forces in both world wars. You can read more about Campbell and the other Kew Gardens staff casualties at our previous Kew WW1 blogpost “Such is the Price of Empire.” https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Remembered.

j mac campbell Kew

 

Remembering the Lost Gardeners of Gallipoli 2015

April 25, 2015

ANZAC day on 25 April 2015 is the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli.

Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign, Dardanelles, Turkey.  (Image: CWGC website)

Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign, Dardanelles, Turkey.
(Image: CWGC website)

On the day and over the next few months of bitter fighting, several zoo related and botanic gardens staff were killed at Gallipoli.

C.F. Ball, Dublin Fusiliers, killed at Gallipolli, pictured in The Garden obituary, October 16  1915.

C.F. Ball, Dublin Fusiliers, killed at Gallipolli, pictured in The Garden obituary, October 16 1915.

Kew Gardens lost Charles F. Ball and Walter Morland from amongst the former  Kew trained staff. Charles Ball was based at Glasnevin, now part of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland.

Walter Morland in his 5th Royal Scots uniform (Source: RBGE archives)

Walter Morland in his 5th Royal Scots uniform (Source: RBGE archives)

Private Charles Frederick Ball, service number 16445, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (Pals Battalion), died at Gallipoli  on 13 September 1915, aged 36. He is buried at Lala Baba Cemetery in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Lala Baba cemetery, Turkey. Image copyright CWGC

C.F. Ball lies amongst the top left hand side row of graves  to the west of this picture Lala Baba cemetery, Turkey. Image copyright CWGC

C.F. Ball, Gallipoli casualty, is remembered in the hedging plant Escallonia ‘C.F. Ball’.

Kew trained gardener Walter Morland of the 5th Royal Scots was killed at Gallipoli. Married in 1909 whilst serving at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Morland enlisted on August 31 1914 in the 5th Battalion Royal Scots (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles) at Edinburgh where he was (CWGC entry) “on staff at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh as a Rose Specialist“..

Morland survived the landings on April 25th 1915 (the date on his entry to Theatre of war on his WW1 medal record card) but died on 2nd or 7th May – records vary – during:

“an assault on a wood below Krythia on May 7th. For three weeks no traces of him could be found, and it was supposed he had been taken prisoner; then his chums, during an advance, found his body.”

Walter Morland has no known grave and is remembered with many other missing men on panel 26-30 of the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Ball and Morland’s stories are told more fully on the Kew Gardens WW1 War Memorial blogpost: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

RBGE Gallipoli Casualties

The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) had many former staff serving in the local regiment  the 5th Battalion Royal Scots including Kew trained Walter Morland.

Several of the 20 RBGE staff casualties were killed at Gallipoli. Archivist Leonie Paterson has uncovered the service stories behind their Roll of Honour and the RBGE War Memorial.

Private Duncan Smith, RBGE Gardener 1909, served in the 5th Royal Scots in Gallipoli and was killed in action after three months on 11 June 1915.

William Gordon Dickson, Labourer RBGE 1914, Private 5th Royal Scots  killed in action Gallipoli 28 June 1915.

Sergeant George Fallow, 5th Batt. The Royal Scots, a former gardener on the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, died 19th August 1915, in Egypt, of wounds received in action at Gallipoli. Fallow had a Buddleia fallownia plant named after him by RBGE staff http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/12442

Private John Mathieson Brown, served 7th Royal Scots  Egypt and Galliopoli 1 year, killed in action Gallipoli 24 November (1917?)

RBGE Gallipoli Survivors

Others served and survived Gallipoli like Private William Dykes employed at RBGE as a Boy (junior staff) in 1914. Dykes served at Galliploi and France for 2 years with the 5th Royal Scots, being wounded once and demobilised in 1919.

Corporal Horace Elwood, RBGE Probationer 1913, also served with the 5th Royal Scots for  1 year 1 month at Gallipoli, twice wounded, demobilised 1919.

Henry Johnstone (RBGE Labourer) served in Egypt, Gallipoli and Flanders for three years, 9 months, being once wounded and demobilised 1919. Charles Lamont (RBGE Probationer, 1914) also served for these periods and places, again once wounded.

John McMillan Lugton, RBGE Park Keeper 1913, served as a Squadron Sergeant-Major in the Scottish Horse for three years Gallipoli, Egypt, Balkans and France, being twice wounded.

Alexander McCutcheon, RBGE Gardener 1907 returned on demobilisation to become a Foreman in 1919. He had served as a Sergeant in the Royal Scots for three years ten months in Gallipoli and Flanders.

James Maxwell Hampson, RBGE Labourer 1914, served as a Private, 5th Royal Scots at Gallipoli for one year,  only to be killed in action two years later in France on 8 March 1918.

Dublin Zoo RZSI – Frank Brendan O’Carroll

Zoo families were affected by the loss of staff but also of the members of staff families on active service. Sons, brothers, grandsons and heirs of zoo and botanic gardens staff were lost in WW1. The wealthy citizens and Dublin Zoo council members living in Merrion Square in Dublin had their own family losses. One such was Frank Brendan O’Carroll, the son of Dublin Zoo RZSI council member Joseph O’Carroll MD FRCPI of 43 Merrion Square, Dublin.

Second Lieutenant Frank Brendan O’Carroll, 6th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers died on 10 August 1915, aged 20 as part of the Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. He is remembered on panel 190-196 of the Helles memorial to the missing, Turkey.

The circumstances of his death are recorded in the 6th Battalion war diary: http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com/battaliions/6-batt/war-diaries/1915-08/1915-08-trans-htm

7 August Suvla Bay. Made landing at C Beach on Anafarta Bay at 18.00. Battalion in reserve under Brig General Hill. Took up position at Entrance to Salt Lake. 6th and 7th Dublins attached to 31st Brigade.

8 August Suvla Bay. Battalion on water and ammunition fatigue for the Brigade

9 August Suvla Bay. Battalion attached to 33 Brigade (General Maxwell), Moved from beach about 02.30 to Hill 50. A Coy detached to support the right flank of the Brigade. Battalion ordered to support firing line near Ali Bay Chesme point 105-H-8.

Officers killed Lt Doyle, wounded believed killed 2nd Lt Stanton, 2nd Lt Mc Garry. Wounded and missing Major Jennings. Wounded Capt Luke, Capt Carrol, Lt Martin, 2nd Lt Carter, 2nd Lt Mortimer, 2nd Lt O’Carroll. Missing Lt Clery. Killed wounded and missing Other Ranks 259.

The Europeana website has a poignant letter from father Joseph as he worries over four sons including another fighting in Gallipolli. http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/3619

O’Carroll’s name on the memorial is pictured on http://www.irishmedals.org/irishmen-at-gallipoli.html

 

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne have a staff memorial tree which remembers Driver Arthur William Bugg AASC who died in hospital in Egypt  in 1915 as part of the AIF. Members of his family have been involved in the Shrine at the ANZAC service in Melbourne. We have posted more about this memorial on our previous blogposts.

You can hear more of the survivor’s voices (including Alexander Burnett of the Royal Scots) from Gallipoli on the IWM WW1 centenary Podcast No 14 

You can also read more on the CWGC website: http://www.cwgc.org/anniversaries/gallipoli.aspx

Remembered

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

 

A garden in a war desert Zonnebeke Ypres 1915 by Herbert Cowley

March 29, 2015

Herbert Cowley's article "A Garden in a War Desert", The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

Herbert Cowley’s article “A Garden in a War Desert”, The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

The April 1915 RHS lecture  on “Informal and Wild Gardening” by James Hudson was reprinted over several issues of The Garden weekly journal alongside  interesting articles by former Kew Gardener and The Garden sub-editor Herbert Cowley, away serving at the front. His own writing on war-ravaged gardens  in the same journal proved an interesting and ironic counterpoint to James Hudson’s more studied and peaceful ideas of wildness and beauty.

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

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

Cowley was at the time serving with the 12th County of London Regiment (The Rangers) who had been in France and action  since Christmas Day. He is likely to have been a prewar Territorial with this short four number (2477) to have embarked so soon. His battalion are featured in a propaganda or recruiting film at the time: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060010035

Our Sub Editor wounded in action ran the headline in The Garden, May 8 1915:

“for the past eight days we have been in severe battle. I am slightly wounded by shell – only a bruised rib and am in hospital. Dreadful warfare is till raging … We must win …”

Shortly afterwards, as  fighting continued in the Second Battle of Ypres, Rifleman H. Cowley 2477 was home with a Blighty wound that would finish his military career and was recovering in  Surgical 7, 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford “wounded in the knee while bandaging another soldier in the trenches.”

gardenillustrate7915lond_0185

Before this Cowley had been writing home about the horticultural sights “somewhere in France or Belgium” on page 169 of the April 10th, 1915 issue of The Garden. Previous mention by various readers had been made of sending flower and veg seeds to serving soldiers:

“the suggestion re quick growing seeds is excellent. Delightful instances are now to be seen of dugouts, covered with verdant green turf, garden plots divided by red brick and clinker paths suggestive of an Italian garden design. Some plots are now bright with cowslips, Lesser celandine and fresh green leaves of the cuckoo-pint, wild flowers obviously lifted from meadows and ditches nearby. Yet the roar of heavy guns and the roll of rifle fire are incessant. Verily the Briton is a born gardener …”

These are the kind of ‘trench gardens‘ that Kenneth Helphand writes about in Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime and his legacy website www.defiantgardens.com

Herbert Cowley's article "A Garden in a War Desert", The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

Herbert Cowley’s article “A Garden in a War Desert”, The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

In the June 26 1915 edition of The Garden Illustrated, the convalescent Cowley  wrote about “A Garden in the War Desert” that  he had observed in the ruined walled garden of Zonnebeke Chateau at Zonnebeke near Ypres in Belgium:

https://archive.org/stream/gardenillustrate7915lond#page/313/mode/1up

This article proves to be an interesting piece of Great War prose or reportage, vivid in its description of early wartime destruction, ‘Romantic’ in its lost or secret garden associations of ruin and verdant wildness.

Herbert Cowley’s last battle May 1915

12th London Rangers history - Zonnebeke 1915

12th London Rangers history – Zonnebeke 1915

This article by Cowley can be read alongside the Regimental History which mentions Zonnebeke: https://archive.org/stream/rangershistorica00whee#page/32/mode/2up

12th London Rangers - Ypres May 1915 battles

12th London Rangers – Ypres May 1915 battles

The May 1915 battles where Cowley was wounded are recounted here: https://archive.org/stream/rangershistorica00whee#page/35/mode/1up

1/12th London Bn in the second battle of the Ypres.

“On the night of May 2nd-3rd, the Battalion was sent to dig a trench line, fire and support trenches, on the Frezenburg ridge, and to man this, which was to become the front line in the event of a retirement from the salient at Zonnebeke taking place. This retirement took place the following night (May 3rd-4th) on which night the new line was improved.

The German artillery soon found the new line on the Frezenburg ridge, and shelled it repeatedly, causing numerous casualties. Relief by the Monmouths, eagerly looked for by the troops now wearied with the strain of many days under continual shell fire, took place on the night May 7th-8th, and the Battalion retired to dug-outs behind the G.H.Q. line, arriving about 4 a.m. Heavy shelling of these dug-outs from about 6 a.m. onwards caused numerous casualties and forbade rest.

At 11.15 a.m. came the order to advance in support of the Monmouths, the right of the Brigade line having been broken by the German advance. The Battalion, now about 200 strong, advanced with A, B and C Companies in the front line, led by Major Challen and Major Foucar, and D Company, under Captain Jones, in support, the Machine Gun Section with one gun only left, moving independently on the left flank.

The Battalion had to pass through a gap in the barbed wire in front of the G.H.Q. line on which German machine-guns were trained, and suffered heavily in its passage. The whole of the ground over which the further advance took place was heavily shelled, and in places exposed to heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, so that the Battalion rapidly dwindled. A small remnant pushed forward to the rise where the trench line had been and there dug in, and stayed the German advance. The Machine Gun Section under Lieut. J. K. Dunlop, operating independently, did extremely useful work and was able to bring enfilade fire to bear on the advancing Germans, until the gun was struck and disabled by shell fire.

Of survivors there were ultimately collected by Sergeant W. J. Hornall (every Officer having been either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner), 53, mainly pioneers and signallers. All the remainder were either taken prisoner, killed, missing or wounded.

The determination of the attack, it is said, was such that the Germans thought it could only have been made by troops sure of speedy and strong support, not, as in fact was the case, by practically the last remaining troops between them and Ypres, and so the enemy dug in without further advance, and thus was achieved the object for which so many gallant souls gave up their lives. The few survivors, after assisting to dig trenches in the vicinity for the next two or three days were ultimately withdrawn to the rest they so richly deserved.”

A PERIOD OF TREKS.

“There were many sad and many glorious days to come, but for sheer tragedy the Second Battle of Ypres stands out most prominently from the many vicissitudes through which the Rangers went during the War.

The brave effort on the Frezenburg ridge had brought about the end of the original Battalion. Of the Officers and men who had so whole-heartedly and unselfishly prepared themselves for war during the days of peace, only fifty-three men, headed by Sergeant Hornall, struggled out of the shell-fire and the mud and slush in front of Ypres.

Meanwhile Lieut. Withers Green, the Battalion Transport Officer, had brought up to Ypres every man of Battalion Headquarters, every detail on whom he could lay his hands, and some reinforcements that had lately arrived under Lieut. Benns and 2nd Lieut. Bentley. By May l0th, however, the German advance had been stemmed and the eighty odd men that composed Lieut. Green’s party were not needed. Accordingly they proceeded to a camp near Ypres and slept the night in some huts. It was here that Sergeant Hornall and the band of fifty-three survivors, begrimed with mud, dazed and utterly weary, reported to Lieut. Green in the early hours of May nth. They had little enough time that day to sleep and recover from their experiences, for at 5 o’clock in the afternoon the Battalion, now numbering five officers (counting Lieut. Lindop, the Quartermaster and Lieut. Uloth, the Medical Officer) and two hundred N.C.O.’s.”

Herbert Cowley would have been amongst the many wounded of this Battalion. He survived his wound,  got married at the end of 1915 and returned to his garden writing career as editor of The Garden. He died in the late 1960s after a long and busy horticultural career.

Many thanks to contributors on http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=186158 for this Regimental information.

There is more about Herbert Cowley’s recovery, life and writing career in my previous blogpost and my Wikipedia entry for him:

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/

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

 

 

 


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