Posts Tagged ‘WW100’

Remembering Charles Whitley killed WW1 Arras 11 April 1917

May 16, 2017

Remembering Captain Charles Whitley, 7th KRRC, brother of Paignton Zoo founder Herbert Whitley, who was killed at Arras,  11 April 1917.

The Battle for Arras finished today 100 years ago on the 16th May 1917.

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Hibers cemetery, where Herbert’s brother Charles Whitley is buried, on the brow of the hill to the left of the cross of sacrifice (Image; CWGC website)

A mistake in blogpost scheduling meant this did not go out on the 11th April on the centenary anniversary as intended.

Captain Charles Whitley, 7th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Military  Cross, died aged 28 on 11th April 1917 during the Battle for Arras (9 April – 16 May 1917).

He is buried at  Grave Reference C. 15, Hibers Trench Cemetery, France.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/31605/HIBERS%20TRENCH%20CEMETERY,%20WANCOURT

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website lists him as born at Halewood, Liverpool and as the Son of the late Mr. Edward Whitley and Elizabeth Eleanor Whitley, of Primley, Paignton, Devon.

His headstone personal inscription is a Bible verse chosen by his mother:  “I  thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians Chapter 1 Verse 3”

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KRRC soldiers are buried alongside their Captain Charles Whitley at Hivers Trench Cemetery, Jersey. Surrounding cemeteries at Wancourt and the Arras memorial bear more names of Whitley’s fellow KRRC soldiers.

There are several websites which describe Charles Whitley including portraits, obituaries and pictures of his headstone:

http://www.flintshirewarmemorials.com/memorials/hawarden-memorial/hawarden-sodliers-2/charles-whitley/

In the 1911 census, Charles Whitley aged 22  was  living as the Joint Owner and Occupier of “Weatherstones”, Windle Hill, Neston, Cheshire.  The other Joint Owner and Occupier was Edmund Page.

Both Charles and Edmund were engaged in a similar  type of stock breeding venture as his brothers Herbert and William in their farming and stock ventures in Devon. Charles was partnered with Page in   “a special and scientific line in farming and cattle breeding” (Hawarden Parish magazine, memorial service / obituary 1917 shown in the Flintshire War Memorials website.)

Looking at the portraits of Charles and brother Herbert you can see a strong family resemblance.

The Battle of Arras

For 38 days the Battle of Arras saw the highest average daily casualty rates of any British offensive in a First World War Battle. Over 300,000 soldiers were killed or wounded on the British, Allied and opposing German side.

From 9th April to the 16th May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.

At first it seemed like success, the British and Allied army achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun, surpassing the record set by the French Sixth Army on the first day of the Battle of The Somme 1 July 1916, which went so badly wrong for the British Army. This British advance slowed in the next few days, the period when Charles Whitley was killed, as the German defences recovered.

The Battle of Arras soon became a costly stalemate of trench warfare for both sides.

By the end of the Battle of Arras on May the British Third and First armies had suffered about 160,000 casualties and the German 6th Army 125,000 casualties. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)

Several zoo keepers from London Zoo and other zoos were also killed in this same 1917 period and Arras battle. No doubt many of the various Whitley family’s farm and estate workers in Wales and Devon also served and some died.

ZSL London Zoo librarian Henry Peavot

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/remembering-zsl-london-zoo-librarian-henry-peavot-killed-ww1-21-april-1917/

ZSL London Zoo Gardener Robert Jones

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/robert-jones-london-zoo-gardener-killed-battle-of-arras-april-1917-ww1/

J.L. Jennison of Belle Vue Zoo

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/remembering-j-l-jennison-of-the-belle-vue-zoo-jennison-family-died-ww1-3rd-may-2017/

Ralph Stamp of Belle Vue Zoo https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/remembering-ralph-stamp-of-belle-vue-zoo-manchester-died-23-april-1917-ww1/

Charles’ brother Herbert Whitley, a keen zoologist and gardener,  established his Zoological Gardens at Primley, Paignton, Devon in 1923 partly as a Botanic Garden.

Many Botanic garden staff were killed in WW1 including during the Battle of Arras..

Botanic gardeners, naturalists and scientists killed at Arras 

Charles Beswick of  Kew Gardens and Fota

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/remembering-charles-beswick-of-kew-gardens-and-fota-died-ww1-22-april-1917/

F.T. Pursell of Kew Gardens

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/remembering-f-t-pursell-kew-gardens-ww1-died-4-april-1917/

Fred Honey of Kew Gardens

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/remembering-frederick-honey-of-kew-gardens-died-ww1-17-april-1917/

Munro Briggs Scott of Kew Gardens Herbarium

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/remembering-munro-briggs-scott-of-kew-gardens-herbarium-killed-12-april-2017-ww1/

Australian herpetologist Dene Barrett Fry

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/remembering-zoologist-dene-b-fry-aif-fellow-linnaean-society-nsw-died-arras-1917-ww1/

Many of these men who have no known grave are remembered on The Arras Memorial, maintained by the CWGC

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/82700/ARRAS%20MEMORIAL 

CWGC have also produced an interesting online booklet about the Battle of Arras, including mention of poet Edward Thomas killed on its opening day. http://blog.cwgc.org/arras-intro/

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Herbert Whitley, trademark cigarette in mouth (Image source: Paignton Zoo website)

One wonders what might have happened if Herbert Whitley had been fit enough to fight?

Herbert Whitley was lucky in someways to have had poor enough eyesight to fail an army medical, likewise his brother William was unable to serve, having severely damaged his leg in a riding accident years before. Their contribution to the war effort would be as estate owners, animal breeders and farmers, then a reserved occupation.

‘What If’ History?

Captain Charles Whitley served on the Western Front, gaining a Military Cross for gallantry before being killed in 1917.

If Herbert had been fit to serve, this could well have been his story. A What If? history that would see no Paignton Zoo opened, no Slapton Ley nature reserve was preserved for the nation from inappropriate development and ultimately no Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) was formed on Whitley’s death in 1955.

Read more at:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/war-and-the-whitleys-para-medics-peacocks-and-paignton-zoo/

Remembering Charles Whitley, the men of the 7th King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the many casualties of the Battle of Arras on both sides, 100 years on from this 38 day battle ended, 16 May 1917 / 2017. 

Thankfully there is now a lull in the casualty lists amongst zoo and gardens staff until August 1917 when the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium known as Passchendaele dragged on bloodily into the harsh muddy winter months from 31 July – 10 November 1917 (3 months and 6 days) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

Remembering Herbert Southgate of Kew Gardens died WW1 Gaza 19 April 1917

April 19, 2017

 

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Herbert Southgate of  Royal Botanic Gardens Kew –  Remembered on the WW1 section Kew Gardens staff memorial (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

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Fellow Norfolk regiment soldiers Foyster and Snelling who died on the same day lie buried near Herbert Southgate, Gaza Cemetery. Source: CWGC

Serjeant Herbert William Leonard Southgate, 240701, ‘A’ Company, 1st/ 5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, died on 19 April 1917, aged 28.

He is buried at Grave Reference XXX. F. I, Gaza War Cemetery, Israel / Palestine area. http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/651381/SOUTHGATE,%20HERBERT%20WILLIAM%20LEONARD
Previous to training and working at Kew Gardens in 1910-12 and 1913, he had worked at Raynham Hall Norfolk and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. http://www.holfordtrust.com And http://www.hha.org.uk/Property/2673/Westonbirt-House–and–Gardens

He was noted as an orchid specialist. He also worked on The Gardener’s Magazine for a brief time.

He most likely died during the Second Battle Of Gaza (17-19 April, 1917) fighting against the Turks and was posted missing until his body was found seven months later and buried by British troops. Gaza was finally recaptured in November 1917. Herbert served with his younger brother, one of many Soi.

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Herbert Southgate is surrounded by fellow 1/5th Norfolks, killed on the same day in Gaza. Source; CWGC

 

Born on 19 September 1888, he is listed as the son of Herbert William and Hannah Southgate, of East Raynham, Fakenham, Norfolk (hence enlisting in a Norfolk Regiment).

The inscription on his headstone from his family reads “Thanks be to God who giveth us victory through Jesus Christ”.

Herbert Southgate, remembered at Kew Gardens and through the work of CWGC a 100 years after his death. 

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Herbert Southgate is buried in Gaza Cemetry. Source: CWGC

Read more about the staff of Kew Gardens who served in WW1:

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

1/4 and 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/norfolk-regiment/

1/4th Battalion
August 1914 : in Norwich. Part of Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade, East Anglian Division.
May 1915 : the formation was retitled as 163rd Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Division.
29 July 1915 : embarked at Liverpool and moved to Gallipoli via Mudros. Landed at Suvla Bay on 10 August 1915.
19 December 1915 : evacuated from Gallipoli and arrived at Alexandria. Served in Egypt and Palestine thereafter.

1/5th Battalion – which Southgate served in.
August 1914 : in East Dereham. Part of Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade, East Anglian Division. Record same as 1/4th Battalion.

So Kew’s Sergeant  Herbert Southgate may have served at Gallipoli also.

You can also read more about the Battle for Gaza where Southgate and many other Norfolk soldiers lost their lives on this interesting website:

http://greatwarliveslost.com/2017/04/18/thursday-19-april-1917-we-lost-2083/

I was surprised to discover the similarities with the Western Front – gas and tanks:

In keeping with the “Western Front” flavor of the battle, the British introduce poison gas and tanks to the eastern battlefield for the first time. Two thousand gas shells and six tanks are available. While the tanks are certain to be deployed, doubts remain about whether to use gas due to operational concerns.

It is estimated that the Turkish forces occupying the Gaza-Beersheba defenses number between 20,000 and 25,000. As the infantry attack is about to commence, the guns concentrate on the Ali Muntar strong point, south east of Gaza. This includes the firing of gas shells for the first time.

One result of the prolonged bombardment is to provide the Turks with ample warning that a major attack is imminent, giving them plenty of time to finalize their defenses.      (Great War Lives Lost website entry for 19 April 2017)

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

Homeland, Britain March 1917

March 22, 2017

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Percy Izzard, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918)

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post on Homeland, Percy Izzard’s book of nature writing on the British countryside during the First World War, here are several more daily entries. A book well worth tracking down second-hand.

 

Some deal with the changing agricultural landscape, such as noticing (March 28th 1917) that “It is interesting to see how quickly the birds have become accustomed  to the motor plough. The strange form and immense noise of the machine …” 

 

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March 25th (1917) “And although the flowers were few when you think what this day has seen in other years, never did they open to a world readier to welcome them”

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welcome to a world weary not only of the long winter, but also the war?

 

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British farming and the countryside was facing difficulties by 1917 from poor harvests and the call up of male farm workers. Add to this the demands of feeding several armies overseas. From early  in the year, the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German U boat blockade of Britain increased the sinking of merchant shipping bound for  Britain with imported food from around the Empire and world.

These were pre-war cheap and plentiful food imports that we had come to rely on, much to the detriment of pre-war British farming.

Both rationing (1918) and a form of WW2 style Dig For Victory in 1917 were eventually organised  in Britain in WW1.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/country-life-1986-article-on-ww1-wartime-gardening/

We will feature more from Homeland by Percy Izzard in late March / early April 2017, when the quiet world of nature in Britain that he works hard to convey  can be read 100 years on as (directly ? deliberately?) at odds  with events overseas, the Battle of Arras (9 April to 16 May 1917) in France.

This  battle would involve many of Izzard’s audience of  “soldier lads” who read his daily nature column in the Daily Mail in the trenches. Forming a valuable bit of escapism, these short daily columns would be adapted and edited to become his book Homeland: A Year Of Country Days in mid 1918.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)

The Battle of Arras would see the deaths on active service of several of the zoo staff, botanic gardens staff and  naturalists that we have been researching through the World War  Zoo Gardens project.

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

 


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