Posts Tagged ‘Newquay’

Newquay’s lost wartime fire crew remembered 75 years on

April 23, 2016

Newquay’s wartime fire crew lost 5 members during the Plymouth Blitz of 23 April 1941.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/the-plymouth-blitz-70-years-on-and-newquays-lost-wartime-afs-firecrew-remembered/

Remembered 75 years on.

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With Ferrets to War – an anniversary update on Newquay’s Dr. Arthur Hardwick

December 13, 2014

Back in early 2012, I posted a blog about the wartime activities of Newquay GP Dr. Arthur (A.G.P) Hardwick and an interesting diary account of his smuggling ferrets as ratters  back to his medical post in 1918 in the trenches of World War 1.

The 16th December 2014 sees the 60th anniversary of Arthur Hardwick’s death in 1954, back in GP practice at Newquay at the Island House, Newquay.

See blogpost 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/

Part of Hardwick’s story of innovative wartime pest control was told in WW1 historian Richard Van Emden’s fascinating book Tommy’s Ark.

Tommy's Ark

I was delighted to hear from Chris Blount, Marilyn Thompson and Joanna Mattingley about their research into Major Hardwick’s life, to be celebrated at the Newquay Heritage Centre / Museum when it reopens.

Chris wrote in his Newquay Voice column in 2012 about  childhood visits to the ministering hands of Dr. Hardwick, his family doctor:

“Apparently Newquay’s Doctor Hardwick – well remembered by many including myself, because he was our family doctor in the 1950s – was a medical officer Captain with the 59th Field Ambulance and served in many of the bloodiest battles of the First World War …

Little did I, or my mother,  know when we visited Doctor Hardwick’s surgery at Island House on the top corner of Killacourt many years later, where the skilful and much respected medical practioner’s hands had been – and the stories he could have told us.”

No doubt Chris would be amazed to read the further section about Arthur Hardwick’s trench medicine experiences in Emily Mayhew’s recent book Wounded: The Long Journey Home from the Great War

wounded jpeg

The chapter on Regimental Medical Officers and their Field Ambulances  is partly based on sections of Hardwick’s unpublished diary  that is now housed in the Imperial War Museum library (www.iwm.org.uk), a facility disturbingly recently threatened with closure and budget cuts, unbelievable in the 1914 centenary year.  Other chapters in Mayhew’s fascinating book are based on the experiences of nurses, chaplains, stretcher bearers, surgeons,  ambulance drivers and the many others connected to the medical treatment and rehabilitation of casualties.

Hardwick (1890-1954) went to Mesopotamia after the war, not returning to Newquay until 1927, where eventually he married Suzanne Clemens  James in 1930 and settled down to his medical practice. He also went on to become a Fellow of the Zoological Society.

Ferrets aside, one of his ways of coping with the stress of his medical role, when recalled to a quieter area  behind the fighting  trenches, is mentioned by Mayhew in Wounded (p.45):

… in late spring [1917] Hardwick attached a makeshift plough to his horse and created a small vegetable garden. It was a fertile spot, thanks also to the horse, and the neat little rows of green shoots emerging from the manure -rich soil contrasted with the devastated remains of a small town nearby.

Part of the rehabilitation at the time and still offered today though Gardening Leave is horticultural therapy, of interest to this  wider blog / research project, but that’s another story for another blogpost.

What Hardwick and thousand of other  WW1 medical colleagues learnt the hard way through improvisation, necessity and courage still informs emergency medical response teams in current conflicts like Afghanistan today.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

 

 

Remembering “Muck’s Mauler”: Liberator US Navy Air Crash, Watergate bay, Newquay, Cornwall 28 December 1943

December 17, 2013

Muck's Mauler  Liberator crash relics on display, on loan from Douglas Knight, Newquay Zoo wartime weekend  May 2010

Muck’s Mauler Liberator crash relics on display, on loan from Douglas Knight, Newquay Zoo wartime weekend May 2010

During World War Two, Britain as an island was heavily dependent (as we are today) on supplies, fuel and food coming in by ship.

Despite the home grown efforts of “Dig for Victory Garden” allotments behind homes, in parks and  even zoo gardens, this  made Britain’s ports and shipping vulnerable  to attack and blockade by the German air force and U-boats.

Watching  out for enemy submarines and protecting these convoys was the job not just of the Royal Navy but also many British and American coastal patrol aircraft from airfields along the coast such as St Eval or St. Mawgan, near Newquay in Cornwall. Convoys of food and fuel arrived safely but at considerable cost in the loss of men, ships and aircraft.

The occasional remnants of one such casualty from Christmas 1943 can still be glimpsed on the beach a few miles down the coast from where the World War Zoo Gardens project and its allotment garden is based at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

At 2.02 a.m. on December 28th 1943 a United States Navy PB4Y1 Liberator “Muck’s Mauler” Liberator – designated ‘war-weary’ – took off from RAF St Mawgan with nine crew members and four passengers aboard. It is believed the plane got into difficulties shortly after take-off and tried to turn back to base when it came down and crashed into rocks. All 13 service personnel aboard the aircraft were killed. Five other unnamed US Navy personnel rescuers drowned trying to save the crew, rappelling down the cliffs and into the night sea in vain to save them.

The crew of Muck’s Mauler –
Rance A. Thomas
Louis T. Perkins Jr
Paul M. Lawthian
Norman Teraut
Edwin H. Rogers
Thomas J. Zock
Edward G. Forkel
Harry Jetter
Charles Minella.

Passengers onboard
Ensign Robert L. Scott
Harold Rossenberg
Harold C. Nylund
Paul Brow.

Edwin H Rogers was born in August 1915 at Williams Station, near Columbia, Houston Co, Alabama. Rogers served in the United States Navy and “Ferried war weary bombers and crew from England to Bermuda during World War II”.

The crew's Fort Scott Cemetery memorial stone from the Find a Grave website.

The crew’s Fort Scott Cemetery memorial stone from the Find a Grave website.

There is a memorial stone plaque on the Find a Grave website http://image1.findagrave.com/photos/2010/147/660073_127509938445.jpg for Edward G Forkel, Harold C Nylund – 1943 and some others in some of the crew reburied in Fort Scott Military Cemetery, Kansas in the USA, listing names and airforce ranks where they were reinterred in 1949.

The day after the accident, 14-year-old Douglas Knight cycled to the scene with his brother Alec and found a number of relics in the sand which were put on display at Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens project wartime weekend in May 2010. Douglas arranged to replace and rededicate the plaque on the cliffs where the plane hit. According to Douglas’ address at the memorial service:

“The Liberator … was on its way back to the States, it had done approx. 558 flying hours on the original engines and then would be replaced with a more modified version. I was only 14 years old when my brother Alec and I myself heard about the tragedy. We cycled out to Whipsiderry and walked across the beaches to the scene of the accident. I can still remember that before we came around Lion Rock, there was a terrible stench in the air. We now know that the plane was flying to the States and that there were thousands of gallons of aviation fuel when it crashed and caught fire.

The scene that met our eyes as we came around Lion Rock I will never forget. The cliff was all burnt and the beach was covered with wreckage. There were RAF lorries taking away the engines and other large parts of the wreckage. The bodies of the air crew and those drowned in a rescue attempt were taken away before we arrived.

For several years after this accident whenever we walked across this part of the beach we still found bits of the wreckage.”

Engine section and other relics from the crashed Muck's Mauler on display at Newquay Zoo's wartime weekend in May 2010, loaned by Douglas Knight

Engine section and other relics from the crashed Muck’s Mauler on display at Newquay Zoo’s wartime weekend in May 2010, loaned by Douglas Knight

Wreckage still turns up on the beach crash site after heavy seas. Douglas Knight worked with air historian  Martin Alexander  who has been researching the crash for many years to confirm the names. They arranged for a plaque and dedication ceremony  to mark the place on the cliffs and you can read  Media coverage of the plaque dedication ceremony.

Douglas lent some of these relics, parts of an engine, bullets and instrument gauges, the glass amazingly uncracked to one of our World War Zoo Gardens wartime display events in 2010, a solemn reminder of the human cost of keeping our wartime supply chain safe.

Investigating the crash, the American air force eventually requested greater air sea rescue services in the form of high speed motor launches to be reinforced locally, working out of ports such as Padstow to back up existing lifeboat crews.

Liberator crews like “Muck’s Mauler” were tasked to watch for and sink German submarines or U-Boats which were a threat to Britain’s food supplies and war materials being shipped to Britain. The crew of ‘Muck’s Mauler’ appear to have served at RAF St Eval as well as Dunkeswell airfield in Devon,  then a ‘ferry crew’  landed to refuel and crashed just after takeoff.

Without the protection from these aircrews and the bravery of the Merchant Navy, Royal and US  and Navy crews in shipping convoys, Britain would have struggled to feed its rationed people and carry on preparing for the invasion of Europe on D-Day June 1944 in which the people, coast and country of Cornwall and Devon played such a part.

I will post further related photographs as I come across them in 2014. A beautiful scale model of ‘Muck’s Mauler’ can be seen at http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/43365-pb4y-1-navy-liberators-academy-172/ on the http://www.britmodeller website.

Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (not) be appearing in our World War Z – oo garden at Newquay Zoo

August 21, 2011

Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (gnot) be appearing in our World War Z-oo  garden  at Newquay Zoo (but only as a gnome, gnot as a zombie slayer)

Don’t be confused. World War Zoo has  a big budget rival and star cast who have been filming in Cornwall and elsewhere in the last few weeks.

World War Z is a blockbuster zombie movie  with Brad Pitt set in an apocalypic future.

World War Zoo gardens is a small budget recreation of a typical wartime Dig For Victory zoo keepers allotment set in the 1940s with a well travelled star cast of … gnomes and vegetables.  

You could argue that both look at dealing with the threats of an uncertain future …. and the garden looks at sustainable options such as local food.

You could argue that getting the ‘look’ right is important in period gardens and zombie  movies – right old posters, right old tools etc.

As for zombies … this is probably my fellow keepers and zoo staff who have led very early morning zoo tours at 5 am and 7am for ‘wild breakfasts’ . We feel quite half dead if not undead by the end of the day … great fun but thankfully that was the last one this year. Until we do halloween tours (see our Newquay Zoo events page). But for now – Zzzzzz….

As for catching a glimpse of ‘Brad’ at the zoo, one of our jolly bearded gnomes now has  g-name! You can see Brad’s jolly beard on the BBC Radio Cornwall footage below. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-14375711

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-14595801

For lots of jolly garden tips, check out the August job lists: http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/todo_now/index.php and http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/calendar/August 

http://www.growyourownclub.co.uk

After writing our wartime zoo gardens book, we could write ‘Zombie Gardening’ … you heard it here first. I can see it now on the bookshelves. it makes creepy scarecrows look almost tame.

The Plymouth Blitz 70 years on and Newquay’s lost wartime AFS firecrew remembered ..

April 21, 2011

AFS / NFS crews like those of the Newquay AFS rushing to action – pictured by fireman artist Reginald Mills from “In the Service of the Nation” a wartime publication for the NFS Benevolent Fund (image from the World War Zoo gardens project collection).

The 23rd April 1941 saw another Blitz night on Plymouth.

Racing to assist, the Newquay wartime fire crew were hit by a bomb as they arrived at Plymouth.

Reposted from our blog of 22/2 March 2011 (see our Archive posts), Newquay lost 5 of its volunteer fire crew  out of a total of 9 crew. 2 more were badly wounded.

The details of the 5 casualties are  from the Commonwealth War Graves site http://www.cwgc.org/search

GUY IVOR CAMERON  FEATHERSTONE, Age: 40 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Featherstone, of Green Gables, Pentire, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

ERNEST STANLEY  OLD, Age: 37 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Old, of 9 Trenance Road, Newquay, Cornwall, and of the late J. Old; husband of V. Old, of Endberry House, Berry Road, Newquay. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

BENJAMIN ARTHUR  PHILLIPS, Age: 32 Date of Death: 24/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. C. Phillips husband of Amy Phillips, of 63 Ulalia Road Newquay, Cornwall. Injured 23 April 1941, at Plymouth; died at Prince of Wales Hospital, Greenbank.

 STANLEY VINEER,Age: 38 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Husband of Gladys I. Vineer, of 9 Robartes Road, Newquay, Cornwall. Died at Market Street.

FREDERICK ROBERT ELFORD WHITING, (‘Bob’ Whiting)  Age: 28 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. R. M. Whiting, of Chumley, Porth Way, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

Pathe Newsreel 27 June 1940 ID No. 1290.27 features film  of  a ‘Robert Whiting’ of Newquay making puppet caricatures of topical personalities: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/puppets-2/query/smith

Photos of them are still proudly displayed alongside a memorial plaque at Newquay Fire station.

Lest we forget …

New Home Front ‘design or reimagine a poster’ campaign 2011

March 29, 2011

New Home Front Design Competition – Closing date: 6 May 2011

Wartime recycled handmade toys and Blitz, our re-enactor bear have got the squander bug surrounded - surrender! Objects from the Newquay Zoo wartime garden archive collection.

New Home Front 

(“How we can learn from Britain’s war time past in the age of dangerous climate change and energy insecurity”) are launching a competition to find the best ways in which the wartime poster and public education campaigns can be re-imagined to help today’s society understand the dangers of climate change, and what they can do to help. Wartime slogans such as “Is your journey really necessary?” remain relevant today when so much business travel could be replaced by video conferencing, for example. New Home Front is supported by UK Green MP Carolyn Lucas and a pdf report and audio press coverage can be found on their website.  

For more information see http://www.newhomefront.org/

Wartime posters can be seen on  http://www.iwm.org.uk website

So what is The New Home Front?

Lessons from the wartime generation for the modern world’s changes.

wartime posters and a forgotten skill - seed saving practice for next year's crops at World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

Over the past two years at Newquay Zoo in our World War Zoo wartime garden project, I have been researching how we can learn from the wartime experience of zoos in surviving shortages and uncertainty as a way of preparing for the future. Editing personal diaries of wartime life or talking directly to older zoo visitors and WI groups of roughly my wartime evacuee parents’ generation about their experiences of rationing and allotments, “making do and mend”, has been as fascinating as chatting over the ‘garden fence’ to the smallest primary children who have ‘done the war’ at school and are proudly growing things to eat at home or in their schools gardens.  

Occasionally zoo staff and visitors are puzzled why I’m working on a wartime dig for victory allotment, surely a ‘history and heritage’ project looking back in a forward-looking, modern zoo / ‘environmental park’.    

So I was really interested to read the short New Home Front report by Andrew Simms (commissioned by Caroline Lucas UK Green MP) which is available to download free on pdf on http://www.newhomefront.org/

I’d be very interested to hear what you think of their ideas (and so would they). This is not the first time I’ve read ‘like minds’ on the subject. Several other recent books you might enjoy (all available on Amazon): 

 “Suppose such shortages arose again, maybe as a result of climate change, would the experiments of the past help ordinary people to survive? Better still, could we adapt some war-time methods of saving and sharing food and fuel with a generous spirit of neighbourliness?”

Introduction to Katherine Knight, Spuds, Spam and Eating for Victory: Rationing in the Second World War (Tempus, 2007)

 “In wartime the can-do community spiritedness of the propagandists instructions to ‘Make Do and Mend’ and ‘Dig for Victory’ fired the public’s imagination. Post-war, however, bald bossy exhortations seemed an insult to a people who had endured six years of wartime working and wanting, only to experience, with peace, an apparent decline in living standards … who, at times of national crises, could swing together. Britain did so in 1940 and I believe would do so again should a future global crisis threaten the essentials of our national life and culture. Should that need arise, our leaders today could do far worse than look back to 1940, to our nation’s darkest hour, to learn form our grandparents – and how they fought their way back towards peace and prosperity.” 

Patricia Nicol,  Sucking Eggs: What your Wartime Granny could teach you about Diet, Thrift and Going Green (Chatto, 2009)

 Covering everything from recycling to recipes, from fuel saving, food miles to fashion as well as gardening and holidaying at home, these books are as fascinating as the Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm TV series (Lion TV, when are you going to make Wartime Farm?) or the original BBC Wartime Kitchen and Garden (Please, please Acorn Media / BBC, please release this 90s classic on DVD) .

A Titchmarsh before his time ... C.H. Middleton, the radio gardener. This original wartime paperback has recently been reissued.

It’s also worth tracking down the recent ‘exhibition book’ for the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition Ministry of Food by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, 2010.

 Despite recently reading the beautifully presented and written Digging for Victory by Mike Brown and Twigs Way (Sabrestorm, 2011), I have yet to find a better gardening book on the urge to live and garden in extreme circumstances than Kenneth Helphand’s Defiant Gardens. http://defiantgardens.com/

In a world of nuclear accident, natural disaster, recession and political upheaval, I keep coming back to these ‘old and new’ books for facts, recipes, inspiration and challenge when I occasionally tire of reading the jovial and down to earth C.H. Middleton’s radio gardening talks (reprinted recently by Aurum Press as Digging For Victory, Dig on For Victory and Your Garden in Wartime), a Titchmarsh before his time.  

 You can find out more about our World War Zoo wartime garden project online on our website www.newquayzoo.org.uk and our events section, or by looking at past entries on the blog archive here.

Of zoos and fire-fighting, today and in wartime …

March 22, 2011

Newquay Zoo Keeper Nicole Howarth doing fire training, Action Fire Protection training, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Newquay Zoo Keeper Nicole Howarth doing fire training, Action Fire Protection training, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Listening to the excellent coverage on BBC Radio Cornwall of the Plymouth / Cornwall Blitz material over the last few days, I was interested to hear that a Saltash or local SE Cornish fire crew had been killed attending the Plymouth Blitz, as this also happened to the Newquay AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) crew despatched to help Plymouth crews on 23 April 1941.

An up-country fire crew was despatched to replace them in Newquay afterwards. It is briefly mentioned in the late Bettye Grey’s book Oh Get On! http://www.narehotel.co.uk/about/book  all about Newquay tourism / life in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I’m told by veteran BBC journalist (reired), Newquay Voice columnist and local boy Chris Blount that Bettye died only a couple of weeks ago but her memories live on in this lively little paperback.

I believe there is a memorial fire bell to the lost crew at Newquay Fire station.

I came across this Newquay fire crew story researching more for the World War Zoo project gardens here at Newquay Zoo. We’re busy preparing for our wartime garden display week in May half term (beginning 28th May for the half term week 2011) which will feature  amongst other areas this aspect of zoos, botanic gardens in wartime and their fire watch / fire training.

Training manual for AFS wartime fire staff, featuring the Coventry made pumps from another blitzed city and the much feared incendiary bomb. (Images: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

 

Fire is still something to be planned for in today’s zoo, with stores of hay and straw. Natural and man-made disasters affecting  zoos and aquariums are not unknown, and many zoo keepers thoughts are with their collegues in Japan at the moment:  http://http://www.waza.org/en/site/pressnews-events/press-releases/zoos-and-aquariums-affected-by-earthquake-and-tsunami-in-japan  gives more details. The response to wartime difficulties in Japanese zoos  is described   in the recently published book by Ms. Mayumi Itoh, Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy: The Silent Victims of World War II, 2010, Palgrave MacMillan, New York (available via Amazon).

No stirrup pump here! Newquay Zoo bird keeper Gary Ward doing modern fire training with Action Fire Protection, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, March 2011

Ironically, the entire Newquay Zoo staff have just done our fire extinguisher and fire awareness training, so it is still something we  think about.

We have for the future ‘wartime zoo’ schools workshops and illustrations for the wartime zoo book and events displays an old stirrup pump (used post war by gardeners for watering and pest control), incendiary bomb and shrapnel, fireman’s tunic, helmet, axe, canvas bucket and other material. All this kit zoo staff would have used in their wartime role or part time work as firemen.  Much of the material will be displayed at our May half term wartime garden week (May 28th to June 5th 2011) – see the Newquay Zoo website for details (blog roll / links opposite) .

The details of the 5 casualties are  from the Commonwealth War Graves site http://www.cwgc.org/search

GUY IVOR CAMERON FEATHERSTONE, Age: 40 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Featherstone, of Green Gables, Pentire, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

ERNEST STANLEY  OLD, Age: 37 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. Old, of 9 Trenance Road, Newquay, Cornwall, and of the late J. Old; husband of V. Old, of Endberry House, Berry Road, Newquay. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

BENJAMIN ARTHUR  PHILLIPS, Age: 32 Date of Death: 24/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. C. Phillips husband of Amy Phillips, of 63 Ulalia Road Newquay, Cornwall. Injured 23 April 1941, at Plymouth; died at Prince of Wales Hospital, Greenbank.

 STANLEY VINEER, Age: 38 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Husband of Gladys I. Vineer, of 9 Robartes Road, Newquay, Cornwall. Died at Market Street.

FREDERICK ROBERT ELFORD WHITING, (‘Bob’ Whiting)  Age: 28 Date of Death: 23/04/1941 Additional information: Fireman, Newquay A.F.S. Son of Mrs. R. M. Whiting, of Chumley, Porth Way, Newquay, Cornwall. Injured at Plymouth; died same day at Swilly Hospital.

Pathe Newsreel 27 June 1940 ID No. 1290.27 features film  of  a ‘Robert Whiting’ of Newquay making puppet caricatures of topical personalities: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/puppets-2/query/smith

Lest we forget …

POSTSCRIPT

Two weeks ago the Newquay Voice newspaper and columnist Chris Blount produced a whole page feature on the lost 1941 Newquay Fire Crew. I also turned up more information  from Cornwall At War 1939-1945, Peter Hancock, Halsgrove,  2002:

Page 93

“From December 1940 Plymouth became one of the targets for so called Baedeker Raids, cathedral cities listed in the German’s pre-war Baedeker Tourist Guides. These reached their most devastating in March and April 1941. In towns as far away as St. Austell and Newquay people looked to the east to the glow of the blazing city lighting up the night sky. To help deal with the infernos, fire crews were dispatched to Plymouth from stations throughout Cornwall, as well as from the South of England. After a cold journey riding on the sides of the fire tenders, exposed to the elements, the men stayed as long as a week before they were stood down. The crews ate and slept when they could. They were assisted by the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), though they might not have been considered equals. These volunteers, men and women, worked either full time or part time. In Mid 1941 the AFS was combined with the regular fire service to form the National Fire Service under the Fire Services (Emergency Provision) Bill. The problem of incompatible hoses and standpipes was also addressed, as Cornish brigades had found themselves impotent when their hoses would not connect to some Plymouth water mains.”

 “Tragically on 21 April 1941 five volunteer firemen from Newquay were killed, while two others lost limbs. One of the survivors is recorded as saying, ‘It was strange, because nine of us were there and the explosion killed every other one in the line. Each alternate person was all right.” [Quote from the late Albert Trembath, quoted in The Cornish Guardian, 26 April 2001, p.28.]

“On the same night, an underground shelter in Portland Square, Plymouth received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb. 72 people were killed, with only two survivors. Six Saltash AFS men were killed whilst fighting a fire in King Street, Devonport … Between 21-25 April, during what became known as the ‘Five-Night blitz’ on Plymouth, 590 people including 17 firemen were killed. On 23 April 1941 Mount Edgcumbe House was gutted when it was struck by incendiary bombs.  The fire brigades were hampered through a lack of water, as well as by a UXB [Unexploded Bomb] that was reported at the Torpoint Ferry Entrance, causing all traffic to be stopped, proving to be a “serious handicap for Fire Brigades from Cornwall many of whom were stopped at Liskeard and diverted to Saltash”

[Quote from History of Incidents, S.E. Cornwall (Incident No. 61), Cornwall Record Office, Truro.]

An up country fire crew was despatched to replace the AFS crew  in Newquay afterwards. It is briefly mentioned in the late Bettye Grey’s book Oh Get On!  http://www.narehotel.co.uk/about/book  all about Newquay tourism / life in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Bettye Grey’s book excerpt, from pages 91 -92; this is taken from the first hardback edition known as Oh My Dear Life!, 2000, privately published, now available in paperback as: Oh Get On!

“In April 1941 with the blitz at its height the Newquay detachment of the AFS was sent for. By the time they arrived the city was ablaze and they had not even reached the pumps before their fire tender received a direct hit and five Newquay members of the crew were killed … The whole of Newquay grieved for those five brave local chaps. That night 1000 bombs incendiary bombs rained on Plymouth. The whole city burned. In all 17 firemen were killed and the centre of Plymouth had finally been completely destroyed.”

Of Gerald Durrell, wartime gnomes and gardens (and air raid shelters) in zoos … Spain and London latest

March 15, 2011

Our 'missing' wartime gnome sends another postcard home ... from the former air raid shelter tunnels at London Zoo.

Taking shelter at London Zoo September 1939, a sandbagged tunnel under the road (Zoo and Animal magazine, November 1939)

 

Our missing Gnome Guard-ener  from our recreation of a 1940s wartime zoo gardens project sends a message home. ‘Bert’ mysteriously disappeared over a month ago and reappeared first at Paignton Zoo, then has sent another card back from a wartime site at London Zoo:

They used this tunnel as an air raid shelter during World War 2. Unfortunately there wouldn’t have been this bright light then. It would have been cold dark and scary. Just looking at it makes me feel small! Love from your Gnome Guard!”

In our wartime collection of photos, you can see one end of the tunnel sandbagged, a tunnel usually used for moving pedestrians and elephants (which were evacuated to Whipsnade).  In many zoos, empty animal enclosures (London, Bristol, Edinburgh), slit trenches (Whipsnade),  underground aquariums  (Chester) and visiting Birmingham Botanic Gardens last week, underneath their bandstand! Evacuee Peter Pollard was present at Chessington Zoo when the zoo air raid shelters took a direct hit with many casualties – he’s interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall (see website link on our blog roll).   

In the peace of Newquay Zoo, we’ve been busy fencing and smartening up our wartime garden at Newquay Zoo in advance of an expected to be busier than normal  weekend this weekend, 19 and 20th March 2011, for  our Locals weekend – £2 entry (with proof of Cornish address) – see our website www.newquayzoo.org.uk for details.

Hopefully our wartime Gnome Guard-ener will have returned in the next few months for May is proving busy – a talk at Chester Zoo about wartime zoos for members on Saturday 21st May and  a busy May half term week of activities  at Newquay Zoo celebrating both BIAZA’s Love Your Zoo campaign and our Newquay Zoo wartime garden weekend (May 28 – June 5th 2011 http://www.biaza.org.uk 

LATEST POSTCARD RECEIVED 23 March 2011

Have gnome, will travel ... Newquay Zoo's missing wartime Gnome Guard-ener makes it out from Cornwall to Devon and London to Spain! Bioparc Valencia,  March 2011

Have gnome, will travel ... Newquay Zoo's missing wartime Gnome Guard-ener makes it out from Cornwall to Devon and London to Spain! Bioparc Valencia, March 2011

Our roaming gnome has sent a postcard back from Spain – Bioparc Valencia hosted the EZE European Zoo Educators meeting recently, with several British zoo education staff attending. This is probably how Bert got there.

Unusual Bristih visitors in Spain are nothing new. Many unusual British volunteers fought against the ‘fascist’ forces in Spain in 1936, including writer Laurie Lee or observed the fighting  like journalist George Orwell.   

The memory of this civil war time and Franco era is still raw in Spain, as described in Giles Tremletts’ excellent book Ghosts of Spain.  We haven’t yet researched what happened to zoos such as Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War. The bombing of Guernica (famously pictured by Pablo Picasso)  gave British zoo staff planning for the next war a good idea of what to expect from aerial attack.

Whildst this was going on in late 1930s in Spain, not far away the young Gerald Durrell was exploring the animal rich nooks and crannies of the Mediteranean island of Corfu, famously described in My Family and Other Animals.

They also serve, who only sit and read ... Looking a bit like Gerald Durrell, 'Gerald' our replacement wartime Gnome Guard-ener (until the original one returns from his travels, pictured in The Cornish Guardian miniature copy). World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, March 2011

Soon after his return to wartime Britain, Durrell’s time at Whipsnade Zoo in 1945 as a student keeper are described in his other early books. Two mysterious gnomes arrived last week  in our lovely refenced, repaved garden (all work done by zoo builder John Murrell and Mike his garden volunteer). We have a stop-gap Gnome Guard-ener in place until Bert returns, which we have christened “Gerald”.  A slightly more expensive bronze statue of Gerald Durrell can be found at Jersey Zoo.With his cartoonist’s great sense of  humour and his love of travel, we’re sure Gerald would approve of the whole gnome escap-ade, our  wartime garden and its animal enrichment work, not disimilar to the poly tunnel market gardens at Jersey Zoo and now Paignton Zoo.

AWOL Wartime Gnome Guard-ener’s tour of duty makes it from Newquay Zoo to London Zoo’s war memorial … “lest we forget”

March 3, 2011

Our wartime Gnome Guard-ener pays his respects at London Zoo's staff war memorial, March 2011

Our missing gnome from the World War Zoo wartime gardens project at Newquay Zoo has turned up somewhere else  … and sent a postcard home from London Zoo.

A postcard has arrived at Newquay Zoo, picturing our gnome visiting London Zoo with a message from him on his travels. It reads: “It’s really good to see this after hearing so much about the London Zoo staff who died during the war. Lest We Forget …”

We covered some of the poignant stories of ZSL London Zoo staff lost on active service in both world wars in our November and December 201o blog posts. 12 staff were lost in WW1, 5 more in WW2.

We’ve no idea where he will turn up next … but his photo is in the Cornish Guardian this week detailing his last trip, to our collegues at VertiCrop in Paignton Zoo. Meanwhile we are building a new fence around our wartime allotment – supposedly to keep out straying feet and our animals out from nibbling the food before its grown. But it might keep gnomes in place on duty. Maybe he’s avoiding hard Dig for Victory work, as there’s new sandbags to fill.

Let’s hope he’s gn-home by May in time for our BIAZA Love Your Zoo and wartime week in half term and our  trip to Chester Zoo in May 2011 to talk about wartime zoos.

More about the World War Zoo project on www.newquayzoo.org.uk news sections.

Bert our Gnome Guard-ener goes AWOL and turns up at Paignton Zoo’s VertiCrop – latest

February 24, 2011

LDV gnome gone AWOL ... Bert our World War Zoo Gnome Guard-ener checks out hi-tech hyrdroponic gardening at VertiCrop, Paignton Zoo. The bearded one on the right is Kevin Frediani, Paignton Zoo's Curator of Plants and Gardens. (Image: Paignton Zoo)

Received from the Press Office,  Paignton Zoo (before the gnome went AWOL):

A garden gnome in military uniform has gone missing from Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

And now the member of the Gnome Guard has turned up 80 miles away at Paignton Zoo in Devon!

 The gnome went missing from Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo garden exhibit, which shows the affect of war on zoos, their animals and their staff. He has now been found inspecting Paignton Zoo’s Verticrop Facility in the company of Curator of Plants and Gardens Kevin Frediani.

 Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo Education Manager, who started the World War Zoo project, said: “I think he’s gone to find out about gardening at other zoos. US troops were stationed on land at Paignton Zoo during the war. And it’s appropriate that he stopped off to look at the VertiCrop vertical growing system, as it’s said that the American army pioneered hydroponics to help feed soldiers during the war.”

“We hope he’ll be back in time for Newquay Zoo’s wartime zoo garden week during May half term. He’s also going to Chester Zoo for a conference in May, where the Newquay Zoo education team will be giving talks on zoos and wartime garding during the war.’’

For more information on the World War Zoo garden project, and education at Newquay Zoo, please visit the official website www.newquayzoo.org.uk.

We look forward to hearing more of Bert’s exploits and to his eventual safe return …


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