Posts Tagged ‘world war 2’

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.

Plymouth Blitz diary 1941

March 20, 2016

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April 1941 entries (anonymous Plymouth Blitz diary, c/o Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project)

Plymouth Blitz 1941 diary

‘Awful Blitz’ – Last year this anonymous diary of a Plymouth civilian turned up in an online auction and is now part of my collection of wartime civilian diaries.

I feel fairly sure the anonymous author is a woman, a health worker, health visitor or district nurse. Some of the handwriting in ink and pencil is cramped or smudged and difficult to read in the small section allotted to each day in this small personal diary.

Two excellent books by Gerald Wasley Devon at War (Halsgrove) and the Plymouth:  A Shattered City  (Halsgrove, 2004) describe and illustrate the effects of the Plymouth Blitz very well.

Here is an edited selection covering the March and April Plymouth Blitz weeks of 1941, my small tribute to the people of Plymouth and of Blitzed Britain 75 years on.

Where I cannot make out the smudged or cramped ink handwriting, I have put best guesses in brackets or dots if not sure […] and will add details as they become clear over time.

 

This section of the diary opens with the royal visit after a quiet unblitzed night.

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March 1941 Blitz entries (anonymous Plymouth  1941 diary, c/o Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project)

Thursday 20 March 1941

King and Queen in Plymouth. Peace all night.

Dull morning. Down Beaumont, lovely day later. Dev(onport) dips then town in [?blazing?] Sunshine. To Salisbury Road Schools then Dr. Harrison in Princess Square. Home, tea. Cookery school and Easter Cake. Siren 4.30 and again 8.30pm Awful blitz.

Ended midnight. Lay on bed.

Fri 21 March 1941

Up early and out Swilly. Down town lunch hour. Spooners gone. St Andrews burning via ?ove? street to collect marmalade and cake. House craft. Home, lunch and out Swilly. Then [w..] Hawkes to tea. To CH (City Hospital), had bath – could not see Mac. Packed bag. Put oil away. Awful blitz 8.30 till midnight but felt calmer than on Thursday.

[Editor’s note: CH is the abbreviation for City Hospital. Love Street is in Plymouth. St Andrews Church was lost in the Plymouth Blitz. Beaumont maybe Beaumont Road in the St. Jude’s area of Plymouth.Swilly (now North Prospect) was the original official name (and still known to many as Swilly) given to the first council estate built in Plymouth during the 1920s. There was also a hospital there who dealt with many blitz victims.Spooner’s department store was destroyed in the  bombing (‘gone’) – see photos and more information at Derek Tait’s website: http://plymouthlocalhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/spooners.html

Sat 22 March 1941.

Up early and out Beaumont, Dentals. Town Hall staff moving into Beaumont. After Dentals went market and then home and cleaned flat. Sun came out. Icky arrived. Had lunch. Went via Drake’s Circus to market and looked at ruins. Firemen still playing hose on smouldering parts. To Stoke House and then walk via Peverell to Hartley Vale and [???] Kelly. Bus home, tea then saw Icky off in awful crowd. Lovely sunny afternoon. To CH  City Hospital – found Mac evacuating and saw ruins of Children’s ward. Home. Supper down with J’s

[Editor’s note: Icky and Mac a nurse of some rank are two friends of the writer who recur throughout the diary entries.
It is possible that Mac is Dr Allison McNairn, who won the George Medal for her bravery at the Children’s Ward of the City Hospital during the Blitz.

http://www.dnw.co.uk/auction-archive/catalogue-archive/lot.php?auction_id=94&lot_id=53991

The Daily Emergency Bulletin No. 1 March 1941 mentions the “12. Public Health Department has been transferred from the Town Hall Stonehouse to Beaumont House, Beaumont Park, Plymouth Telephone Plymouth 2821, Ext. 249.” Bulletin shown on p. 116, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.

This Bulletin also mentions “List of Rest Centres open: Mount Gold Methodist, Mount Gold Road; Salisbury Road Baptist, Plymouth; Clarence House, Clarence Place, East Stonehouse; St. Jude’s Hall, Beaumont Road; St. Gabriel’s, Hyde Park Road; Swarthmore Settlement, Mutley Plain; All Saints, Harwell Street; St Peters Hall, Wyndham Street, Plymouth; Central Hall, Saltash Street; YMCA Hostel, Union Street; St. George’s Road, Ryder Road”. The diary writer mentions several of these locations and Rest Centres which were for “Food and Shelter for those rendered homeless”.

From the 1930s, Stoke House became known as Devonport Guardians’ Children’s Home.

See section 4040 http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/archivescatalogue?criteria%3D4040%26operator%3DAND%26toNo%3D40%26accno%3Dyes

The bombing of the City Hospital children’s ward and loss of several nursing staff and young children is remembered in a plaque in Derriford Hospital. It is mentioned in several websites such as the BBC People’s War and also:

http://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/ourorganisation/newsandpublications/pressreleases/Pages/AirRaidMemorialService.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/99/a7185099.shtml 

Sunday 23 March 1941

Peace all night but difficult to sleep. To CH City Hospital and Swarthmore. Then back Eggbuckland. Walk Stonybridge, Plymbridge, Estover. Jerry siren and guns. Shown over Estover farm 172 cows. Walk George Hotel. Bus CH (City Hospital), did washing and shampoo. Then out Miss Jago. Home with J’s. Cold.

Monday 24 March 1941

Peace all night. Dull drizzle. On [Mutley] Plain and the Salisbury Road. Siren 11 am. To Beaumont and Cobourg with reports. Home, lunch. Walk out Swilly via Peverell. Quiet clinic. Mist and rain. To Stoke House. Mill bridge to see […] Vine via Odeon to Housecraft then home. Siren 6.30. Washed and wrote. Knitted, J’s.

[Editor’s Note: Cobourg Street in Plymouth was also home to Plymouth City High School for Girls, where the writer seems to go for lunch on her rounds. The High School served “Communal Meals will be served at Portland Square, Treville Street School and Plymouth Girls High School between 12 and 2 pm at a cheap rate. open Sunday” according to a Ministry of Information Plymouth Circular 25-4-41 (p. 165, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.]

Tuesday 25 March 1941

Quiet night. Rain and drizzle. Mutley Plain, Central Park and Devonport. Home via Hoe and saw Miss Coburn. Back lunch and out Dev[onport] via Cobourg Street, called Stoke House then Beaumont and saw Mrs Robert Walker. Raining. Muddy. CH City Hospital for bath and saw Mac. Dinner etc and eve[ning] with J’s.

Wednesday 26 March 1941

Quiet night. Mist and rain. Up Henders Corner then Salisbury Rd School to Virginia House and Housecraft. Home lunch. Bank and Peverell Dr Johnstone. V. Wet. Saw smashed up Jerry outside CH City Hospital. Out Stoke House [??] Dev(onport). Walk home via Manadon. Lovely evening. Parcel from Jo and letter. Cleaned. Cooked. Wrote letters. Darned, J’s.

[Editor’s Note: the  Virginia House Settlement were welfare and community buildings in former church and community buildings on Looe Street and Batters Street developed with the help of Plymouth MP Nancy Astor between the wars.]

Thursday 27 March 1941

Good sleep and nice quiet night. Lovely a.m. To Housecraft and Barbican. Then Beaumont. Saw Thynne re. billeting children. To Devonport  Dips then Miss Glover. Lost bag. Hot day out Laira Green School – finished early. Nice walk [??] Marsh Mills, Stonybridge, Estover …Miss ??son, Aerodrome, Stonybridge Eggbuckland and back. Inoc typh: made Easter biscuits. Jenkins gone. Sirens and guns 9pm [??]

[Editor’s note: Inoc typh – See “free inoculations against Typhoid: Persons wishing to avail themselves of this service should go to Prince of Wales Hospital, Greenbank, between 9.30 am – 11 am or 2.30-5pm” according to a Ministry of Information Plymouth Circular 25-4-41 (p. 165, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.]

Friday 28 March 1941

Wet. Swilly via Swarthmore and St. Gabriel’s. Home. Lunch via Peverell and to Compton Lodge and saw delicious flat. Walk out Milehouse and did clinic. Rain in through Lukes roof. Home via town. Parnell called. To CH City Hospital, bath. Home and cooked Easter biscuits and saw Jenkins. Knitting and darning.

Saturday 29 March 1941

Cold and dull. Restless night ac/o

To Beaumont no D.S. to town found Dingles and Town Hall Devastation awful. Beaumont billeting Thynne. St Jude’s Rest Centre. after lunch walk over moors Moorland Links. Saw Dr and Mrs Harrison. Bus home from Derriford. CH City Hospital for ironing. Dinner etc Siren 8.45. V.cold talked mrs Montague on steps.

[Editor’s Note: Dingles was a major department store which was damaged like the Town Hall during the Blitz].

Sunday 30 March 1941

Lovely sunny a.m. Up CH City Hospital and saw [???] MacN? Icky arrived. Walk Mount Gold and saw babes then Rest Centre. Then Stonybridge,  Plymbridge. Lunch, pine wood in baking sun ….

[Editor’s note: Mount Gold was a hospital in wartime Plymouth. Rest Centres were part of the WRVS, civic and Civil Defence responses to displaced or bombed out people – see previous note.]

Monday 7 April 1941

Brilliant sun but very cold. Town v. Late then punctured so reached Plymouth at noon. Letters and lunch then stopping in lovely sun up Swilly. Back Plain bus and cleaned up flat. Raid 9.30 – 12.30 then again 1.30 – 4.30 am. Dressed in cupboard. Fire watched at Rand and Co.

Tuesday 8 April 1941

Up early for good bath CH City Hospital incendiaries ++ Hartley and HE at Swilly. Devonport via Hartley bus v. Tired all day. Had tea Stoke House then in lovely sun to flat, did ironing and had dinner CH then sewing at Sellecks. Peace all night.

[Editor’s note: ++ is probably the diarist’s symbol for many. HE is High Explosive bombs].

Wednesday 9 April 1941

Cold raw morning. Out school St. Budeaux, shopping and to Communal Dinner [at] High School. Back Devonport and called Stoke House with Rawlin. Back flat and did good clean up. Siren 11 pm just as in bed. Quiet at first then planes and guns. In Sellecks and out firewatching till late.

Thursday 10 April 1941

To CH bath early. Lovely sunny morning. Down Beaumont, fetched luggage from flat > Devonport Dips to [???] Lunch, lovely sun. Throng in shattered Plymouth to Sussex Street Re. patient. Home, flat, cleaned up then caught 3.45 bus Exeter. Coffee Dellars [???] See Whole City. Home. Supper. Planes + Siren in [???] Incendiaries. House burned out Copplestone.

[Editor’s Note: according to website http://www.exetermemories.org.uk, “Deller’s became a favourite venue after the outbreak of war for the many who were displaced, or had been evacuated to Exeter. Members of the Women’s Land Army were guests at the café, along with evacuated children, and of course, service men meeting their sweethearts.” It was damaged by bombing and fire damage in 1942 in the Exeter Blitz.]

 

Friday 11 April 1941 Good Friday

Did not hear all clear. Nice morning. Walk […] Copplestone and St. [???] road. Incendiaries + Then [???] Home and to 3 hours [church] service. After walk [Radford or Redditch] lake, St. Johns and Ex??? Then home same way. Tea guesthouse St. Johns. Apples, tour round Ralditch. Dinner in drawing room. Sirens. Played piano + + all clear 5 am.

 

Saturday 12 April 1941

Lovely sunny morning V. Hot walk Exmouth and met DB there and home by bus Littleham. Cycled Marley, Lympstone, Woodbury village, Hogsbrook Rise [in] afternoon. Tea bungalow and home. Dull and cold. Nice ride home. Knitting eve. Siren, noisy, planes + Bombs at Exmouth. Got to bed 12.30.

 

Sunday  13 April 1941 Easter Sunday

Lovely morning . Up 5.30 and to 6 am service then home and breakfast etc. then walk Littleham church. Packed. Sat on font. Home over cliffs and fields. In afternoon to Exmouth on cycle, see bomb on beach. V. Cold windy Home rain […] Rd. tea and took run out up Knowle. Washed hair. Potato cakes.

 

Monday 14 April 1941 Bank Holiday

Siren on and off all night. Common on fire and bombs? […] Up breakfast and out before on bike collecting news. Then bus Exeter RB and on Plymouth. Sun came out Ivybridge. To flat. Looked dilapidated after Budleigh. Tea Mrs. Hynes. Home and cleaned then took luggage Mrs H. and slept there night v. Comfy. Siren about 5am.

 

Tuesday 15 April 1941

Lovely morning. Up dressed and down flat then out Devonport. Down Town and OU Comm Church, did shopping Town and out Dev(onport) – slack ish. Home eve[ning] via Peverell and Mutley. Note Rands re sleeping there. Up Hynes – lovely eve. […] knitting […] Long raid 9.30 to 5.20 am.

Wednesday 16 April 1941

Lovely morning v. Tired. Down flat and baked cake, Sellicks then town and Stoke House and lunch High School. Glorious day. Devonport Park afternoon (crossed out section – up to see Mrs O’Sullivan who was v. Depressing) Think no air raids. Put advert in paper for flat.

Thursday  17 April 1941

Lovely morning. Out to St. Budeaux for A.N. [AnteNatal?] clinic. Lovely day. Home and cleaned flat and to CH City Hospital for tea. Then Dr Hynes. Shoals of adverts from flat, spent week inspecting them.

Friday 18 April 1941

Swilly as usual. To High School, lunch and met [? at ? ?] City Hospital. Caught 3.45 bus Exeter, v. long and crowded journey. Home night perfect peace. Good sleep.

Saturday 19 April 1941

Lovely morning. On bicycle to Exmouth for some margarine. Lovely ride home. In afternoon cycled with DB to Tidwell, Bicton and Yettington. Then to find bomb craters near Blackberry ??farm?? Lost DB. Started to rain. Went home. DB arrived later and lively debate ensued re leaving her. In evening did much cooking ac/o Mick’s injured hand. Peace night. Mick from Skinners [???]

Sunday 20 April 1941

Lovely morning but cold. To Littleham. Church DB home over cliffs. After lunch walk ?? To cliffs in sun. Caught 3.35 bus Exeter and Plymouth. Back to flat prepared supper. To Hynes and peace all night.

Monday 21 April 1941

Down flat early then to School Clinic. Lovely sun. Met Thomson. To town and flat there flat lunch and out [to] Hynes [in] evening. Air raid 9.30 pm Fires planes ++ ended 4.30 am. Devonport attacked and rest of Plymouth.

Tuesday 22 April 1941

Up early and down flat. Still intact. Then out Devonport. Time bomb near Stoke House, much damage Albert Road. Lunch High School and back Devonport. Visited Welcome Rest Centre. Back there afternoon then Yelverton to see Black. Lovely.

Air Raid all night 9.30 to 3a.m. Devonport badly attacked and Police Station and terrace by Hospital. All Town roped off.

Wednesday 23 April 1941

To St. Budeaux school dull and wintry walk Eggbuckland vicarage and Wideycourt. Could not get [to] High School for lunch. Out Devonport – time bomb near [???] Back Stoke House burned out. Then to Gratton [… Fayre …] And to see […] Bus home. To flat and out [to] Hynes.

Thursday 24 April 1941

Air raid 9.30 to 1 a.m. Devonport again and oil tanks Torpoint. To Beaumont Dips and then Town Hall. High School lunch. Lovely sunny day. To Stoke House children in a school and then school inspect[ion] St. Budeaux. Home and cleaned flat. Then [to] Hynes. Shampoo. Lay down and slept 2am.

Friday 25 April 1941

Good rest. Lovely evening. To Swilly via Peverell, Beacon Park. Seized with renal colic before lunch at High School. Could not do clinic. Home. Saw Mrs. Collier. Bed. Down for news and then long good night. Lovely day. Siren 10pm and 1.30am.

Saturday 26 April 1941

Up early and down to get breakfast. To Town Hall, Stoke House, Rest Centres etc. Home lunch. Finished Rest Centres and Ben lovely sunny walk [???] Tralee and back to flat. Then to another Rest Centre then home,  washed stockings. Icky rang up. Pleasant evening. Siren 6pm.

Sunday 27 April 1941

Dull and v. cold wind. Down flat and did rest centres. Visited Smellie. Home lunch and up [to] Hynes and down out Holbeton. Walk along Hill Drive into Holbeton […] home to flat and started packing. Walk [… ] Eggbuckland and home.

Monday 28 April 1941
Lovely morning out St Budeaux and Swilly then home flat. Called Marshall’s in Cornwall. Up Mrs. Hynes. Siren 10 to 10 and v. intensive raid. Finished about 1.30 am. Dreadful damage St. Budeaux and Saltash.

Tuesday 29 April 1941
Lovely sunny morning. Out to Devonport – still time bombs. Then to Stoke House children – Matron going Clovelly. Walk out [Linkelly?]
then to High School lunch. Out Swilly afternoon. Tea Mrs. Kennedy. Packed up and went Hynes. No go at [Coll …] Dreadful raid 10 to 10 – 2 a.m.

 

————————————————————————–

[Editor’s note: Our local NFS Newquay Fire Crew were lost attending the 27/28 Plymouth April fires.

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

The diary continues for the rest of the year. Another notable entry is on “May 1 1941 evacuation school children” and “Friday 9 May Evacuation Exam” along with “Saturday 3rd May Churchill Visit” but that is another story for another post.

Children from Stoke House Children’s Home and the related Scattered Homes were evacuated to Clovelly in Devon – see Plymouth Archive catalogue 4040 http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/archivescatalogue?criteria%3D4040%26operator%3DAND%26toNo%3D40%26accno%3Dyes

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

If you wish to reuse or quote extracts from this Plymouth 1941 Blitz diary, please credit it back to the above and this website. I can be contacted through the Reply / Comments page on this  blog.

 

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

February 6, 2016

Gnome guard wartime garden 015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

home guard cert ww2

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

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

home guard cert ww2 reverse

Certificate (back) for Frederick Booth, Hailsham Sussex Battalion

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

Home Guard cover

(Author’s collection)

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

Home Gaurd Brophy book parachutists

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

 

The Last word Home Guard

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

 

LDV checklist Home Guard Brophy

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

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

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

1941 grimmest year of the war 75 years on

January 1, 2016

italldependsoneme1941

‘It All Depends on Me’ playing card sized propaganda for your pocket diary, from the Brewers Society, 1941/42 (image from the World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

On the 70th anniversary of 1941, the “grimmest year of the war” according to some, I posted the following blogpost about our World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/1941-the-grimmest-year-of-the-war-sowing-saved-seed-solving-shorthand-clues-and-editing-wartime-diaries-for-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-project-at-newquay-zoo/

2011 / 2016: We are still hard at work on the wartime diaries project as new diaries come into our collection.

2011 also sadly saw during  the 70th anniversary of the dark days of 1941   the death of ‘Betty Turpin’, much loved British soap actress who in the 1940s was  better known as wartime singing star Betty Driver:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/it-all-depends-on-me-or-you-betty-driver-rip-potato-pete-mr-chad-and-propaganda-of-the-1940s/

Rereading these 5 year old blogposts from 2011  is sad in some ways, as David Lowe’s wonderful BBC music nostalgia programmes finished in 2012, still much missed.

1941 was also the year of the Plymouth Blitz where a Newquay AFS fire crew was lost, something to remember in April 2016 on the 75th anniversary. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/the-plymouth-blitz-70-years-on-and-newquays-lost-wartime-afs-firecrew-remembered/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/of-zoos-and-fire-fighting-today-and-in-wartime/

WWZ gardens June 2011 002

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011

Our Graphics sign for the project produced by Stewart Muir, graphic designer Michelle Turton and myself arraived in 2011. Still looking good five years later and would have been read by hundreds of thousands of people.

wartime garden BIAZA award, Mark Norris

Newquay Zoo’s wartime gardener and blogger Mark Norris with the BIAZA award for best plants in a landscape feature and design.

2011 was the year of our BIAZA Zoo Gardening award in November: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo-wins-a-zoo-oscar-national-biaza-2011-gardening-award/

http://www.biaza.org.uk/plant-care-management/awards-and-commendations/world-war-zoo-gardens/

2011 also saw me talk about wartime zoos at the Chester Zoo / WAZA / SHNH /  Bartlett Society zoo history conference in May 2011, the talk now published as a journal article in the proceedings.

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

gnome ZSL war memorail

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

2011 was also the year our wartime garden gnome or ‘Gnome Guard’ disappeared, popped up at Paignton Zoo and did a European zoo tour with postcards home before reappearing one day. Still haven’t found how or who aided and abetted this … https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/one-of-our-gnome-guards-is-missing-from-newquay-zoo/

LR Brightwell's wartime panda poster London Zoo 1942

L.R. Brightwell’s wartime panda poster for London Zoo 1942

December 2016 will also see the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the USA into the war on the Allied side. This was marked in 2011 by a topical blogpost on Giant Pandas of all things:

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

 

Chester Zoo June's Pavilion Oakfield House gardens May 2011 014

George Mottershead in uniform with wife Elizabeth, World War One, one of many family photos in the lovely June’s Pavilion, Chester Zoo 2011

The First World War Centenary was still in the planning in 2011. This year 2016 sees the anniversary of conscription in the UK and the battles of Verdun and the Somme in July 1916.

The Somme and 1916 saw the deaths of several more British zoo keepers and botanic garden staff and no doubt many of their French and German colleagues.

We will post 1916/2016 centenary blogs closer to the time on the effect these battles had on these men and their families and colleagues, not least George Mottershead. George survived a serious disabling injury at the Somme to found Chester Zoo in the 1930s, something celebrated since 2011 in the BBC series “Our Zoo”.

2011 was a busy year of anniversaries and gardening.

Happy New Year for 2016 and thanks for reading.

I wonder what we’ll be looking back on in another 5 years?

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

Paisley War Weapons Week December 1940

December 9, 2015

Close up of a portrait possibly of Peggy Jane Skinner, enclosed in her 1940s diaries. Source: Mark Norris, WWZG collection.

Close up of a portrait possibly of Peggy Jane Skinner, enclosed in her 1940s diaries. Source: Mark Norris, WWZG collection.

Paisley War Weapons Week, 9th to 14th December 1940.

15 year old Peggy Jane Skinner’s 1940 diary records how this national fundraising event happened 75 years ago in Paisley in Scotland,  where she and her SW London born family were based during the war.

Today we are used to charity appeals at Christmas but this was one appeal with a difference in 1940.

Saturday 7th                 Went to Paisley with Bunty to see [the film] My Two Husbands, it was very amusing.   Altogether, it was quite a good show. Paisley was crowded, it was War Weapons Week …

Thursday 12th              It is Paisley War Weapons Week this week, our savings collection last week towards it was £175, this week it is £333, making a total of over £500 which is five times as much as we aimed at.

‘Our savings collection’ probably refers  to a local area or school collection.

I found an interesting reference to this 1940 War Weapons Week in Glasgow and Paisley in a poem by Lance Corporal Alexander Barr,  193 Field. Ambulance, R.A.S.C.  on the BBC People at War website,  www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/33/a5748933 contributed by elsabeattie on 14 September 2005 as Article ID: A5748933

WAR WEAPONS WEEK

Well done Glasgow, and all the rest

For Savings Week you’ve done your best

Now it’s Paisley’s turn to show

How keen we are to crush the foe.

 

We need more tanks, more ‘planes, more guns

We need them all to beat the Huns

The road to victory we can pave

If all will do their best to save.

 

We’ve got the men, they’ve proved their worth

In every corner of the earth

Our need today is £.S.D.

Each shilling helps to keep us free.

 

Great Britain always has been free

The ruler of the mighty sea

If everyone will do his bit

Britain can still be greater yet.

 

Our Provost asks a million pounds

Paisley with patriots abounds

If each will save that little more

Above that figure we can soar.

 

Go to it, Paisley, show your mettle

And Hitler’s heroes we’ll quickly settle

Soon then this dreadful war will cease

And we shall live once more in peace.

 

© L/Cpl. Alexander Barr. 193 Field. Amb. R.A.S.C.

Alexander Barr’s photo and poem can be found at Article ID: A5748933 BBC People at War website, www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/33/a5748933

Remarkably a short silent black and white 3 minute film exists of the Paisley War Weapons Week 1941 inaugural procession parades in the National Library of Scotland archive http://ssa.nls.uk/film.cfm?fid=3469 amongst several other Paisley clips.

The film shows according to their archivist a “pipe band leading a procession of navy, army, home guard(?), women’s army, police force and the fire brigade through the streets, past crowds and the Lord Provost of Glasgow and army officers standing on the rostrum taking the salute. Procession along the streets past the La Scala cinema and shops.”

Somewhere amongst the crowds on the film may have been a young Peggy Skinner! Amongst the parade may also have been her Home Guard father William Ernest Skinner, an engineer and draughtsman from London, working for the war effort in Paisley.

Part of the fundraising drive and parades through Paisley was a crashed German fighter plane, 4 (S) /LG 2 Bf109E White N flown by Ofw. Josef Harmeling which was shot down or force-landed at Langenhoe near Wick, Essex on 29th October 1940. According to Larry Hickey and Peter Cornwell, the plane was widely displayed   “across Northern England and Southern Scotland in support of several local War Weapons Weeks and visited many towns including Glasgow and Paisley during late November 1940…” Source: http://forum.12oclockhigh.net

Closer to our World War Zoo Gardens project base at Newquay Zoo, we have in our collection an interesting example of a competition to design a poster  for local and evacuee schoolchildren, in this case Benenden School. These girls were of similar age to Peggy Skinner.

 

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon: Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon on Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

We will post a little more of Peggy’s 1940 Christmas diary this week, so you can read it day by day 75 years on, a little of the everyday lives and anxieties of wartime folk.

Happy Christmas!

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

Saving energy and salvage in wartime – advice for today from Vicky Victory the Hair Aid Warden!

September 22, 2015

Salvage message in WW1 ration book (Image Source: Mark Norris, private collection)

Salvage message in WW1 ration book (Image Source: Mark Norris, private collection)

World War 1 and World War 2 both saw salvage and energy saving drives that are uncanny parallels of modern initiatives like ‘Pull the Plug’, the Pole To Pole challenge set up by EAZA European Zoos.

Encouraging positive behaviour change is nothing new, as we can see from these interesting items in our collection:

Energy saving WW2 style Bookmark (source: author's collection, on loan to World War Zoo Gardens project)

Energy saving WW2 style
Bookmark (source: author’s collection, on loan to World War Zoo Gardens project)

From the days before Twitter and Facebook, there are many examples from WW1 and WW2 of mini-messaging from bookmarks and  bus tickets to big broadcast messaging through posters (‘weapons on the wall’) and numerous information films.

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

Posters are a great wartime study resource and the primary history Inspire Curriculum Year 6 WW2 unit suggest a poster design session to mix Art and Design with History.

St George and the wartime dragon, ready for St. George's day this week - striking Battle of Britain imagery from Carmen Blacker and Joan Pring's wartime design for  Newquay War Weapons Week, whilst evcauted with  Benenden school to Newquay.  Copyright Newquay Zoo

St George and the wartime dragon, ready for St. George’s day this week – striking Battle of Britain imagery from Carmen Blacker and Joan Pring’s wartime design for Newquay War Weapons Week, whilst evcauted with Benenden school to Newquay. Copyright Newquay Zoo

You can  see the WVS website for posters and Imperial War Museum for wartime poster examples. There’s a COGS poster, the Squanderbug, etc  all downloadable for classroom use. You can also buy great reproduction Wartime Posters through the IWM  shop, I use these posters  in our Year 6  wartime zoo schools workshops.

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.

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

The Squanderbug is another of my wartime cartoon favourites.

salvage bus ticket WW2

Mini Eco- messaging examples 1940s style on 1940s bus and tram tickets. (Image Source: Mark Norris, private collection)

Mini Eco- messaging examples 1940s style on 1940s bus and tram tickets.

Save Steel - An encouragement to reuse rather than recycle, with Vicky Victory The Hair Aid Warden (USA) (Source: author's collection, World War Zoo gardens Project)

Save Steel – An encouragement to reuse rather than recycle, with Vicky Victory The Hair Aid Warden (USA) (Source: author’s collection, World War Zoo gardens Project)

Save Steel – An encouragement to reuse rather than recycle, with Vicky Victory The Hair Aid Warden (USA).

Salvage was not all as glamorous as Vicky Victory in the beauty salon.  It could involve,  as the WVS did, dragging village ponds for abandoned tyres as rubber became more scarce after December 1941 with the war spreading  in the Far East .

The WVS  have produced some excellent teachers resources  and picture gallery,  including of COGS “Children on Government Salvage” collecting scrap metal and school salvage clubs.

Energy saving became not only thrifty and money saving but also a patriotic duty in wartime. This was recycling at gunpoint!

Part of our wartime garden display on Make Do and Mend in wartime, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens collection

Part of our wartime garden display 2010 on Make Do and Mend in wartime, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens collection

Round the back of the Europe on the Edge aviary, once the 1940s polar bear enclosure can be seen wartime surplus concrete tank traps built into pillars, a clever bit of wartime / austerity salvage, Chester Zoo, May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Round the back of the Europe on the Edge aviary, once the 1940s polar bear enclosure can be seen wartime surplus concrete tank traps built into pillars, a clever bit of wartime / austerity salvage, Chester Zoo, May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Reduce Reuse Recycle is a modern way of looking at Make Do and Mend, involving zoo scrounging and recycling materials in unusual ways.

Chester Zoo still had visible in 2011 wartime concrete road blocks sold as Government Surplus to George Mottershead to build enclosures when building materials were scarce in the 1940s.

Newquay Zoo's wartime roaming 'gnome gaurd-ener' in front of some original wartime concrete pillars with a historic past, Chester Zoo May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Newquay Zoo’s wartime roaming ‘gnome gaurd-ener’ in front of some original wartime concrete pillars with a historic past, Chester Zoo May 2011 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project)

Our Modern Energy Saving Challenge

The parallels between wartime and peacetime challenges are explored in the interesting New Home Front reports including their poster competition modern ‘wartime’ propaganda posters http://www.newhomefront.org/

Phil Wellington's winning modern 'wartime' poster for the New Home Front Report No. 2 (Image Source: http://www.newhomefront.org)

Phil Wellington’s winning modern ‘wartime’ poster for the New Home Front Report No. 2 (Image Source: http://www.newhomefront.org)

Energy saving  is now a big challenge in peacetime for a modern Zoo or Botanic Garden – how to look after our rare  animals and plants in the most environmentally friendly way, and how to involve our visitors in positive behavioural change for wildlife.

Recently throughout 2014/15 many zoos have run ‘Pole to Pole’ activities as part of this EAZA European Zoo Association campaign.

We have got through thousands of leaflets to visitors, amongst other activities, as well as continuing our ongoing energy audit which is part of our past Green Tourism Gold award and current ISO 14001 accreditation.   You can learn more about this here on our Newquay Zoo website page. and some good links on our Paignton Zoo website page. pole to pole leaflet

The Two Degrees is the Limit Campaign 2015

Scientists are clear about the devastating effects on human well-being, the natural world and its biodiversity that man made global warming above 2⁰C will have. As part of the Pole to Pole Campaign of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, website and zoo visitors signed the petition  to demand the commitment of our national governments and the European Union to support all measures which help keep global warming under the 2⁰C limit, and to work towards a binding global agreement at the intergovernmental meeting on climate change in Paris in December 2015.

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

 

Remembering the British Chancellor and the bombing of Falmouth Docks 10 July 1940

July 9, 2015

Charles Pears (1873 -1958),  painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery www.falmouthartgallery.com

Charles Pears (1873 -1958), painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery http://www.falmouthartgallery.com

It is 5 years since we last posted on our blog about the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the British Chancellor and Falmouth Docks on 10 July 1940.

Now on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz on Britain’s towns, cities and ports, it is interesting to reread the ‘last post’ and postscript from 2010:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/postscript-to-our-price-of-oil-paint-big-ships-of-all-nations-bombing-of-the-british-chancellor-10-july-1940/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/the-price-of-oil-paint-and-big-ships-of-all-nations-from-the-ark-to-the-supertanker-german-invasions-budgets-the-world-cup-and-the-wartime-zoo-keeper’s-vegetable-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

I remember hearing David Barnicoat speak in 2010 on BBC Radio Cornwall about the 10 sailors and dock staff killed, the dramatic events at 2.30 /3.30 p.m. on an otherwise “lovely sunny day” and the marking of this anniversary on Falmouth Docks on Saturday 10th July 2010 with the sounding of the Docks siren to mark the 2010 anniversary and commemorate the loss of life and heroic rescue effort.

Read also an account of the rescue here http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fpboating/8258392.Deadly_raid_remembered/?ref=rss

Remembering the ten sailors and men  killed during this bombing, Falmouth, 10 July 1940.

Local civilians on board SS British Chancellor  or at Falmouth docks:

George Eric Bastian, aged 40

Walter Samuel Knott, 48

Charles Palin

Henry Arthur Pellow, 40

Samuel Prouse, aged 64

Leonard John Tallack

Merchant Navy crew of SS British Chancellor, mostly buried in Falmouth Cemetery:

3rd Engineering Officer John Carr, 26 (buried in Sunderland)

2nd Engineering Officer William Joseph Crocker, 36 (of Portsmouth)

Chief Engineering Officer Charles Halley Lennox, 56 (of Glasgow)

3rd Engineering Officer Philip George Lucas Samuels, 26

Further family information on CWGC.org records can be found for most of these men.

Remembered.

 

 

 

A wartime guide to Edinburgh 1943

April 1, 2015

This little wartime guide to Edinburgh is something I didn’t get time to post during the 2014 Scottish referendum or during the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo centenary in 2013. It is from the 5th Edition, November 1943.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

It gives a little flavour of wartime life in Edinburgh and Scotland during WW2. Clicking on a picture below should allow you to enlarge it and read more.

wartime guide 2wartime guide 3

More about Edinburgh wartime life, such as where to sleep for visiting servicemen and women:wartime guide 4

And of course, regimental clubs and less glamorous canteens and rest rooms for H.M. Forces:

wartime guide 5Alongside “leading churches in the city”, there is mention of Edinburgh Zoo and an image of its polar bears. There is also suggestions for Sunday evening entertainments other than churches.

wartime guide 6wartime guide 7 mapAmongst many recreation and entertainments including cinemas, theatres, public baths and zoos, golf seems to feature quite heavily in this little wartime tourism guide in the era of “holidays at home” in Scotland.

“>wartime guide 8

“Some addresses which may be useful” in wartime from ARP and NAAFI to the NFS and the YWCA.

wartime guide  10

wartime guide 12

wartime guide 11

So that’s a glimpse of wartime life in Edinburgh, a little bit of time travel.

There is a final page written in French which I will scan and add later, probably for Free French and Canadian French troops visiting the city.

Later in the year I will add more about the history of Edinburgh Zoo, its remarkable founder ‘Tom’ T.H. Gillespie and a few stories from its WW1 and WW2 history.

wratime guide 1

WW2 at Newquay Zoo and other Primary Workshops ‘Inspire’d by the new curriculum.

January 5, 2015

Breathing New Life into Old Bones and Fossils – The new primary curriculum and the Cornish Inspire Curriculum

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc 

An interesting  development we have seen this year is the new 2013/4  primary curriculum, and specifically the Inspire Curriculum packages being pioneered in Cornwall by Cornwall Learning:  http://theinspirecurriculum.co.uk/

As these four to six week cross-curricular topic based units of the Inspire Curriculum were only launched in September 2014, we had an unseasonably busy start to the Autumn term with lots of unexpected new requests for visits to the zoo or outreach talks to schools, not next term or Summer but this week or at the very latest next week please!

This flurry of activity was coupled with requests to support topics like teeth, food  and skeletons for newly christened workshops like “Why are humans animals too?” (Year 3, Unit 1) and Year 4 Unit 1 “Where Does my Food Go?”  Out of the resources cupboard and back into our everyday workshop box have come  carnivore, herbivore and omnivore skulls or odd objects like a lion-chewed mangled  plastic enrichment ball to illustrate different teeth points. For some of our live encounter animals like African Land Snails  a cheese grater or sandpaper is the best way to show what their microscopically tiny radula teeth are like!

Over the next few months as new topics are being first delivered in class, we will update our curriculum workshops and look for new curriculum opportunities in addition to what we already offer.

Although the full  curriculum topic packages  for schools have to be purchased from Cornwall Learning,  there is a glimpse of available curriculum map summaries in published materials online on Cornish school websites. Published  to inform parents of the new curriculum, they reveal some interesting possibilities to engage schools with Newquay Zoo’s education and conservation mission.

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Gardens and the new WW2 curriculum links

Whilst popular topics from the old primary curriculum like World War Two evacuation seem at first sight to have disappeared, on closer examination they have morphed into new titles  like Year 6  Unit 5   “The Battle of Britain – Bombs,   Battles and Bravery 1940”. Evacuation crops up in open History questions like “What was it like to be a child during WW2?”

Throughout 2015 we will use this topic and Inspire curriculum map to refocus our existing wartime history talks, still focussed around life in a wartime zoo. You can see our workshop write up for our current wartime zoo workshops.

Below we have put a few interesting zoo links to the new Inspire Curriculum WW2 unit , to which we will add more in future blog posts.

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

The WW2 curriculum map has some interesting questions to engage learners to read, write and research in different genres – fictional diaries, stories or biographies.  For English links,  there is  for Text Evacuee diaries based around Children’s book Goodnight Mr Tom, or writing war stories with the theme “The Night the Bomb Fell” as well as Biographies of War Heroes. Lots of possible zoo and botanic garden links there, including the short biographies of WW2 wartime careers of Kew staff and London Zoo staff.  

I have heard some fabulous sing-alongs, poster displays and seen some great murals when visiting schools on offsites with animals.  For Music and Media there is the chance to “listen to and sing popular WW2 tunes”, as well as “preparing and broadcasting their own WW2 radio programmes with songs, message and news items”. Hopefully there’ll be some handy gardening advice and kitchen front recipe tips on the radio (see previous blog posts).  It sounds a bit like creating the Kernow Pods wartime garden podcast on our website.

For Art and Design there is a chance to look at examples  and design your own WW2 propaganda poster, as WW2 evacuee Benenden School girls did for a 1941 competition for Newquay War Weapons Week (see poster in the background of our workshop display). I look forward on school visits to seeing many “Large scale murals of London during the Blitz using silhouettes” as the Inspire curriculum WW2 unit suggests, hopefully with London Zoo’s escaped Blitz  zebra somewhere around (famously painted by war artist Carel Weight). And why the London Blitz , not Plymouth or Exeter or many other blitzed towns?

Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Centre: The original WW2  Newquay War Weapons Week poster designed by evacuee Benenden girls. Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

Another History topic question in the Inspire WW2 Unit is “Why was the Battle of Britain important and how did the use of RADAR help in its victory?” There are many interesting future blog stories to post about around the development of radar, codebreaking and the wartime scientific work of botanists or zoologists like Solly Zuckerman who designed and tested air raid helmets under explosive test conditions on himself and a few unwilling volunteer zoo monkeys.

For Maths  – “Exploring Coding and the Enigma Coding Machine” in the Inspire Curriculum opens up some interesting topics. Senior  zoo staff in WW1 and WW2 such as ZSL’s Peter Chalmers Mitchell, Julian Huxley and Aquarium Curator E.G.Boulenger were involved in wartime intelligence, often at the vaguely named ‘War Office’ and in Boulenger’s case as a  possible codebreaker (often this is not explicitly stated but hinted). Possibly their knowledge of Latin and German as keepers and classifiers of animals, friendly with German zoo directors and scientists, would have been useful.

Woburn Abbey housed a “Wrennery” in its attic, accommodating WRNS women linked to the Wireless Intercept stations as part of the Bletchley Park network. Kew Gardens had some equally ‘secret’ staff  missions such as William W.B. Turrill writing documents on the vegetation of various wartime areas, whilst Herbert Whitley’s Paignton Zoo’s bird collection  housed a secret carrier pigeon loft as part of the National Pigeon Service and Royal Corps of Signals. Other zoos such as Blackpool, Port Lympne, Marwell and Knowsley had interesting wartime pasts (airfields, tank training, crash sites)  as declining  estate gardens before conversion post-war to zoos and safari parks.

WAAF servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified  Chain Home Station like RAF Drytree, declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

WAAF or WRNS servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified Chain Home Station –  declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

Another Science question in the  Inspire curriculum WW2 unit “How was light important during WW2? (the Blackout, searchlights etc)” and “How does light reach our eyes?” links well with our nocturnal animal / in the dark talks. Animals at Newquay Zoo have some super senses ranging from echo-locating bats at nighttime over the zoo lake to vibrissae (otter whiskers), super-sensing snakes which listen to the ground without ears or ‘ground radar’ cockroaches who listen through their ‘knee ears’. Even the humble carrot reputedly eaten to improve the night sight of fighter pilots like ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham was used as cover story  for the secret development of RADAR. Strange sound locators (below) were widely publicised as cover for the success of this secret invention, such as  this image from our collection:

soundlocator C card

Planthunters and gardens

There are also gardening and plant links that open up interesting possibilities for connecting to our World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment such as  Year 2 Unit 6 – “Sowing and Growing” whilst  planthunters such as George Forrest make a surprising appearance in Year 1 Unit 6 “The Potting Shed – Buried Treasure”. An amazing adventurous  character, George Forrest, as you can see from the RBGE magazine, a real life Indiana Jones like many planthunters!  Time to think about plant trails and workshops for 2015 or 2016, maybe?

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

Cornwall has a rich heritage of plants received from famous planthunters. Some were Victorian figures like William and Thomas Lobb. There were many explorers from the poles to planthunting who  were actively exploring  into wartime such as Reginald Farrar, Frank Kingdon-Ward and George Forrest. Their wartime careers in WW1 and WW2 is something I’m researching for a future blog post. Their amazing adventures in tropical forest and mountain valleys were being reported back through garden journals  magazines alongside news of WW1 which saw many gardeners enlist as we have covered in other blog posts.

elderly plant hunter and wartime secret agent Frank Kingdon Ward in battledress 1940s (taken from his last posthumous book 1960  volume in the Newquay Zoo wartime life collection).

Elderly plant hunter and wartime secret agent Frank Kingdon Ward in battledress 1940s (taken from his last posthumous book 1960 volume in the Newquay Zoo wartime life collection)

Some of the wartime exploits of ageing plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958) included teaching jungle survival, surveying secret escape routes for pilots in Japanese held territory and searching for missing planes through Asian jungles (whilst collecting plants en route). A secret silk escape map of SE Asia in our collection illustrates this story well. 

Evolution, Dinosaurs  and Fossils

There are also other welcome new  titles such as  “A Voyage of Discovery”  (Year 6 Unit 5) bringing Darwin’s life, voyages and discoveries back into the classroom and also a chance to look at fossils and dinosaurs in Year 3 – “Shake, Rock and Roll”. Our Darwin 200 bicentenary resources from 2009 including our Darwin stamp blog with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have another life with this chance to discuss evolution and extinction, highly relevant to the modern zoo conservation mission of any of our Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust sites at Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo or Living Coasts.

Modern Foreign Languages are embedded in topic maps throughout, so a chance to freshen up our basic Spanish and French offerings about animal names, habitats,  travel and conservation projects. Lots of possible links here – Maybe a ‘crash course’ in French for lost secret agents or downed airmen to survive in occupied France to complement the WW2 unit? Maybe some simple Spanish as  Charles Darwin had to learn to find his way around South America on his Beagle journey?

Other old favourite topics, snappily retitled include these which complement our workshops:

Classification (Year 1 Unit 8 – “Animal Allsorts”)

Habitats (Year 4 Unit 9 – “A Place for Everything”)

Rainforests (Year 4 Unit 7 – “Amazing Amazon”)

Life Cycles (Year 5 Unit 5 – “Round and Round”)  

There are others  well as several focussing on human and animal senses:

(Year 1 Unit 7 – “Brilliant Bodies”)

Sound and sense (Year 4 Unit 6 – “Sounding Off”)

Other slots include current affairs (Year 6 unit 2  – “What’s Happening Now?”) and an interesting ‘The Apprentice’ style  Young Enterprise unit Year 6 Unit 9 “You’re Hired” (a possible link to business studies?)

We also like the links to journeys, navigation, maps, travel  and explorers across many Primary years (such as Year 5 Unit 3 – “Poles Apart”)  whilst “Dragons – Fact and Fiction” in Year 4 Unit 4 might bring some interesting reptile requests!  

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon: Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon: Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

Not all Cornish schools have adopted this Inspire Curriculum package yet; some I know intend to use it to develop a Cornish or more regional focus to some aspects of the curriculum, using the local area and history. This was pioneered through the Sense of Place initiative.  

Inspire, Sense of Place and the new primary curriculum  are all good opportunities to spot what old, new or unusual topics we might be asked to support the delivery of during an outreach animal encounter or  school visit to the zoo.

Watch this space! The zoo education team can be contacted on 01637-873342 or via the zoo website.

Happy New Year  from all the Education team!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, and Education Manager  Newquay Zoo .

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 90th birthday Peggy Jane Skinner!

December 20, 2014

Back in 2012 I published a few excerpts from wartime diaries from my collection; amongst them my favourite is a selection belonging to Peggy Jane Skinner, born 90 years ago on 20 December 1924 in Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond, Surrey.

Several years of research eventually tracked down a death certificate stating that Peggy died in 2011, aged 86.

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

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

In 1940 Peggy was a 15 year old Kingston / Richmond schoolgirl living in Glendee Road, Renfrew on the edge of Glasgow and Clydeside, Scotland. She spends her summer with relatives back in Kingston-upon-Thames and Richmond, London. Her father William Ernest Skinner appears to have been working as an “co-ordinating engineer” in wartime Glasgow factories and became a sergeant in the local Home Guard battery (probably anti aircraft guns or rocket batteries protecting Glasgow factories and shipyards).  Originally from a Hartlepool maritime family, her father is described on Peggy’s birth certificate as a cycle agent, a year earlier as a draughtsman. These were skilled jobs and maybe where Peggy got her scientific side from.

By 1941/2 she had made it on a Carnegie Trust Grant and Renfrew Education Authority grant to the University of Glasgow as a wartime science student in botany, radio, astronomy and ‘Natural Philosophy’ (science), again working though her summer in wartime London as a council clerk.

Over the next year or two, we’ll feature a little more about Peggy Skinner’s diaries for 1940, 1943 and 46-49 in later blogposts; eventually part of the 1943 diary section will be added to the Glasgow University Story website and  blog  http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/ww2-background/

The 1943 diary is full of interesting detail about being a female student at a wartime university, of her friends attending Daft Friday dances, complaints about catering and problems with wartime transport (by tram or trolleybus) making it to lectures on time.

Together with the 1940 diary, we get many glimpses of the highs and lows, stresses and strains of her school and student life as a civilian on the Home Front in Scotland and London. There is much about clothes rationing, Paisley War Weapons Week 1940, balloon barrages behind her house at Glendee Road in Renfrew,  fundraising for wartime charities, firewatch, canteen work for the war effort as a university  student  after completing her chaotic wartime schooling with schools requisitioned by the military and school windows meshed against bomb blasts, for example:

Friday 6th September 1940: Air Raid Practice yesterday, fire drill today …

Thursday 12th … half day from school as net was being put on windows …

Thursday 24th October … Air raid last night lasted for two hours. It’s the first time that anything’s happened when the siren’s gone. Several bombs dropped in Joyhnstone and round about. An awful lot of noise last night. 

We don’t have a diary for 1941 and the period of the Clydeside Blitz, but she survived and passed her matriculation exams to attend university.

In our 2012 blog post we quoted from her 1943 diaries. Like Churchill with his view that the end of 1942 was the ‘end of the beginning’, Peggy’s  1943 wartime student  diary entries start on a more optimistic note than her (missing) 1942 diary would have done:

Tuesday 2nd     February 1943:                I’m going to bed very late again as I had a bath and once I get in I can never be bothered getting out. The war news has been good now for a month or two, it is the best spell we have had since war began, the only trouble seems to be in Tunisia and it’s not too serious there – yet. It must do the occupied countries a lot of good to hear good news for a change.

Saturday 9th  January 1943:      Very uninteresting day for my last Saturday of holiday.  I would have liked to have gone with mum and dad to see Noel Coward In Which We Serve but I did not like to ask and anyway I’d made up my mind that next term I must work harder (what a hope but I must try) and must try also to enjoy myself more, but how I could do that without going to dances which is impossible, I don’t know.”

When she saw it later, she liked the film, more so than Mrs Miniver:

Wednesday 7th  April 1943  –  I went to pictures by myself this evening to Paisley to see “Mrs Miniver” with Greer Garson  and Walter Pidgeon. As I rather expected I would be I was rather disappointed with it. I’d heard such a lot about it  that I’m doubtful if any picture could come up to standards which were to be expected of a film  of which I’d heard such glowing stories. The little boy in it was awfully good, also the clergyman and Walter Pidgeon and the Young Mrs Miniver but Greer Garson seemed to have an awful fixed grin on her face.

Postwar life

9 November 1943 – Joint Recruiting Board … Had interview this morning, after first two girls had asked for the forces, we were all called in and told that the only option we have is Research or Industry. I did not know for sure which to sy, so said Research. Air Force bloke spent so much time talking to each person that I did not get away till 10.30 and so missed Geography again.”

Graduating in 1944, the  next diary in my collection  picks up Peggy’s story in 1946 working at RAE Farnborough aircraft development factory on Radio and Mica Condensers. As RAE Farnborough was scaled down after the war, she moved to TCC Condensers in Acton (which later became part of Plessey). The TCC  building and firm closed mid 1960s, becoming later a BBC building used for Doctor Who 1970s filming.

Peggy kept regular diaries but we only have a few, covering the next 3 years to 1949. She worked on electronics, condensers and batteries, radio and early television, including visits to Alexandra Palace in its early BBC TV days.

Her diaries are full of technical information on condensers, capacitors, Schering Bridges and Q-Meters. FAST, the RAE Farnborough collection have expressed their interest in the early 1946 sections about life at the Ambarrow hostel and RAE Farnborough as it was changing over into peacetime. Her job at RAE from 1944 onwards on Radio was obviously of support for the war effort; there are wartime TCC Condensers for radio equipment in the Imperial War Museum.

Her late 1940s diaries evoke a London of post-war Austerity, power cuts, strikes, heatwaves, wet Victory Parades and continued rationing shortages, including of clothing. Peggy spends a lot of time ‘mending stockings’ and buying  ‘remnants’ of cloth to make clothes.

Peggy Skinner's patent on batteries, Yardney Corps 1956/60 USA

Peggy Skinner’s patent on batteries, Yardney Corps 1956/60 USA

And after that no more diaries, just a few traces that I’ve found through family history websites. She took out a co-patent on battery developments for Yardney Corp USA /UK in the 1950s /60s. No doubt that Peggy who had a wartime Astronomy and Science BSc Degree from Glasgow would have been delighted to learn 60 years later that modern Yardney Lithion batteries were in use with the Mars Rovers in her lifetime and are still going strong on Mars in 2014.

Peggy Skinner's patent on Lithion batteries, Yardney Corps 1956/60 USA

Peggy Skinner’s patent on Lithion batteries, Yardney Corps 1956/60 USA

Peggy Skinner comes across in her diaries as an inquisitive, spirited but  quite a shy young woman with many friends and  large London family of aunts, uncles and cousins. She never married for some reason; maybe the missing diaries cover lost romances.

Throughout life she was involved with the church, teaching Sunday school (quite reluctantly at times) and as part of the postwar Christian revival crusades of the late 1940s such as the Norbiton Fellowship. She seems to have worshipped at local Anglican churches including St. Peter’s Norbiton for many years. She also appears to have spent much of her later adult life living with or caring for her mother Minnie Letitia Skinner who died in the mid 1970s, sharing a house in Woodfield Gardens, New Malden.

The diaries came into my collection via an online auction  from a house clearance in that area.

So far we have found no surviving relatives either from the Field or Skinner families, including her younger brother Mick / Michael (who died late 1990s?) or cousins Peter and Madge.

In the early raids of 1940, her father considers having her and Mick evacuated overseas (before the SS City of Benares disaster). As the Battle of Britain raged over her home London skies and merged into the Blitz, her family consider asking her cousins Peter and Young Madge up to the apparent safety of Glasgow, only to have bombing raids visit thir area too in 1940 and 1941. By the end of her 1948/9 diaries her brother Mick is doing his National Service.

If Peggy Jane Skinner were still alive, she would be celebrating her 90th Birthday on 20 December 2014. We would love to hear from anyone who knew Peggy Skinner via our comments page.

Wartime Christmas and Birthdays
On her 16th birthday 1940 she records: “Black velvet for frock, jumper, ring and money to buy books were my presents. Half Day for 3rd Years Dance [at School] … Short Air-Raid warning this evening.”

There is little recorded in the way of gifts for Christmas 1940, although being in Scotland there is first footing by neighbours: “Saw New Year in. Mr Buchanan was first foot” (Glasgow, 1 January 1940) and “Mr Read (neighbour) saw the New Year In so this should actually be here” (Glasgow, 1st January 1941).

A rare survival of a cardboard Christmas stocking toy in our World War Zoo gardens collection alongside the excellent Christmas on the Home Front book by Mike Brown

A rare survival of a cardboard Christmas stocking toy in our World War Zoo gardens collection alongside the excellent Christmas on the Home Front book by Mike Brown

 

The book Christmas on the Home Front by Mike Brown gives a good idea of how tight things were trying to obtain Christmas presents as the war went on. Peggy was hand making bead doll brooch presents for a ‘sale of works’ by the AYPA (Anglican Young People’s Association) at Christmas in 1940. Peggy’s  1946-49 diaries show that things didn’t ease rapidly as she tries to track down suitable gifts for family.

On her 19th birthday like many wartime celebrations gifts were sparse: “a pot of cream from Mrs. Baine … a pixie hood and very cute bookmark from Aunt Madge” and for Christmas equally sparse: “Auntie Madge’s parcel arrived. I got cold-cream and powder from her and a collar from Grandad [Field]. Also received a diary from Eileen Swatton.” Sadly we don’t have this diary for 1944 or 1945.

Close up of a portrait possibly of Peggy Jane Skinner, enclosed in her 1940s diaries. Source: Mark Norris, WWZG collection.

Close up of a portrait possibly of Peggy Jane Skinner, enclosed in her 1940s diaries. Source: Mark Norris, WWZG collection.

If Peggy Jane Skinner were still alive, she would be celebrating her 90th Birthday on 20 December 2014.

We would love to hear from anyone who knew Peggy Jane Skinner via our comments page.

Happy 90th birthday Peggy Jane Skinner, not forgotten!

 

 


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