Posts Tagged ‘WW2’

San Diego Zoo 1944 postcard

September 26, 2016

san diego 1944 PC front

Message on the back reads:

san diego 1944  pC back

I hope Lieutenant H.J. Eiland (?) survived his war service. A great address to post a card to “John Burks, c/o Voice of Victory, Wade City, Florida”

Close up of the 19 November 1944 Postcard shows a little wartime life at San Diego Zoo – GIs / US  servicemen in uniform peaked caps (tinted green) and a sailor in bottom left hand corner, hopefully with his gal.

san diego 1944 PC front closeup

An amphitheatre like this still exists at San Diego Zoo in 2002.

In my Post 9-11 visit in 2002, they played a patriotic anthem, naming all the states in the Union just before the animal ambassador show started. People were invited to cheer or join in when their state was mentioned. Service  veterans or Service families were also mentioned and applauded whilst the Stars and Stripes flag was displayed very prominently everywhere.

I can’t quite imagine this in Britain, starting a zoo talk or animal encounter with a cheery proud song listing all the shires, even post BREXIT …

Interesting postcard, proof of the entertaining, patriotic  and morale boosting role  of the zoo in wartime.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo

 

Plymouth Blitz diary 1941

March 20, 2016

image

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.

image

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.

 

Plymouth Marine Biological Association blitzed 20 March 1941

March 18, 2016

Remembering Stanley Wells Kemp and the fire teams in the Plymouth Blitz

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Wells_Kemp

The Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association on the Hoe in Plymouth was severely damaged on the evening of 20 March 1941 in the Plymouth Blitz. It also suffered HE bomb damage to its extensive glass on 28 December 1940.

The 1941 bombardment is described in the obituary of Stanley Wells Kemp who was the director of the MBA at the time. He sacrificed his living quarters to the flames in order to try and save his ‘aquarium’ laboratories.

imageObituary

http://sabella.mba.ac.uk/1303/01/Obituary_Stanley_Wells_Kemp.pdf

More resources on the MBA in the Plymouth Blitz can be found on the MBA website including a typed description of the damage, republished in the journal Naturehttp://www.mba.ac.uk/nmbl/projects/history/125laboratory/resources/blitz

Blitz and pieces at our Wartime zoo workshops

March 10, 2016

Another successful wartime zoo workshop at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

Before busily  packing away our interesting archive of wartime items until their  next outing for a schools workshop, so I thought I’d photograph a few more items in our collection to share with you.

wartime toys

Previously we showed a little of our  wartime workshop for schools about how  wartime changed life for zoo staff, animals, visitors and more generally for people on the Home Front in Britain in World War 2.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/ww2-at-newquay-zoo-and-other-primary-workshops-inspired-by-the-new-curriculum/

It’s always interesting to see what items attract children’s attention each time. The handmade toys proved popular and the school may well have a go at making some of their own. (I have a few plans and books of these).

 

A wartime toy ark made from whatever wood was available by Mr Ernest Lukey, teacher from Poole, Dorset for his daughter Wendy (kindly loaned to Newquay Zoo).

wartime toy ark

Mr Lukey’s  hand carved wooden toy animals are the only time you’ll see elephants, rhinos, camels and giraffes at Newquay Zoo. The real ones are usually seen at our sister zoo at Paignton, operational throughout World War 2.

wartime wooden animals

Trying on helmets and heavy woollen wartime uniforms and clothing was also popular:

wartime clothing.png

land army greatcoat label

Inside the Women’s Land Army greatcoat was this 1943 label and inside the pocket this curious cardboard roll of labels – maybe to do with size?

land army greatcoat label and size tags.png

In our next Blitz and Pieces we’ll feature another popular item on display – the insides of the family ARP (Air Raid Precautions) First Aid Box, still intact 70 years on.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo (March 2015).

 

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

Remembering Leonard Peachey London Zoo staff killed in RAF crash 18 December 1940

December 18, 2015

From Zoo Clerk to Air Gunner …

75 years ago today on 18 December 1940 one of London Zoo’s young clerks Leonard James Peachey was killed in an RAF air  crash during WW2.

North%20Coates%20(St%20Nicholas)%20Cemetery

Leonard Peachey, ZSL Clerk is buried among these RAF graves at North Coates (St Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs. Image: cwgc.org

 

The first of ZSL’s five WW2 casualties, ZSL London Zoo  Clerk Leonard Peachey  is buried among the RAF graves at North Coates (St Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs.

ZSL Clerk Leonard Peachey,  RAF Volunteer Reserve,  died aged 32 as Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in an air  crash, serving with 22 Squadron in Lincolnshire at RAF North Coates / Cotes (various spellings exist!).

He is buried in North Coates (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs alongside the rest of his crew from 22 Squadron, and buried alongside in adjoining graves in the same row:

  • Sergeant Pilot Dennis George How, RAFVR (aged 23)
  • Sergeant Observer Paul Victor Renai (aged 22, from Wellington, New Zealand) 
  • Sergeant Wireless Operator / W.E. Mechanic Ralph  Gerald Hart (22).
The roles involved – pilot, observer, wireless operator / mechanic and Peachey’s own role as Wireless Operator / Air Gunner suggest that this is an entire Beaufort crew of 4.
There is more about Bristol Beaufort  and the roles of its crew of four  at this site:
http://www.pilotfriend.com/photo_albums/timeline/ww2/Bristol%20Beaufort.htm
You can see inside the cramped cockpit of one of these Bristol Beauforts of Peachey’s 22 Squadron here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212625
Peachey’s air gunner post can be seen here in this 22 Squadron Beaufort photo around December 1940 (sadly not his individual aircraft) http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208658. The caption reads:
Air gunners at their positions on board a Beaufort Mark I, L4461 ‘OA-J’, of No. 22 Squadron RAF at North Coates, Lincolnshire. One gunner occupies the Bristol Mark IV turret, mounting a single .303 Vickers K-type gas-operated machine gun. For added protection against beam attacks, 22 Squadron has installed another K gun, mounted in the port entry hatch. IWM photo CH 637

Peachey’s headstone can be seen at http://twgpp.org/information.php?id=4066060

Leonard Peachey in the London Zoo staff records

ZSL London Zoo has not only a fine library but an amazing archive including staff records cards dating back to Victorian times.

Leonard was born on 19 October 1909. He joined the zoo as a young Office Boy on July 17 1927 on 27 shillings and 6d a week, promoted to Messenger by 1928 and finally Clerk on 20th December 1935.

His Pay increases and records then tended to be in mid December eerily almost on the date or  day of his air crash. On the 17th December 1938, his Clerk’s pay went up a further 5 shillings to 95 shillings a week.

The following year, he would be dead in an air crash.

His record card mentions that he was a ‘Territorial called  RAF  16 September 1939′ two weeks into the war (presumably the RAF VR Volunteer Reserve). His record card simply recalls 18.12.40 Killed in Air Crash North Coates Lincs.

A married man, his family address like many London Zoo staff shifts around the North London area, in his case  finishing at Woodhouse Road Finchley (with a temporary address in 1936 curiously at Veyges, Bystock, Exmouth, Devon; a long journey to work!)

634px-Royal_Air_Force_Coastal_Command,_1939-1945._CH639

Royal Air Force Coastal Command, 1939-1945. Aircrew of No. 22 Squadron RAF walking away from their Bristol Beaufort Mark 1s after a mission, at North Coates, Lincolnshire. Wikipedia Public Domain source via Daventry B J (Mr), Royal Air Force official photographer – http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//51/media-51626/large.jpg Photograph CH 639 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

From zoo clerk to air gunner … Peachey’s life in the wartime RAF

Peachey’s 22 Squadron brought the Bristol Beaufort into operational service in 1939/ 1940: a preserved Beaufort can be seen at the RAF Museum Hendon  RAF Museum Bristol Beaufort In their illustration, Peachey’s exposed position as a dorsal (mid to back of plane) ‘rear gunner’ can again be seen.

There is an interesting Wikipedia Bristol Beaufort article describing and picturing  the Beaufort.

Several of the first production Beauforts were engaged in ‘working-up trials’ and final service entry began in late November 1939 / January 1940 (according to different sources) with 22 Squadron of RAF Coastal Command.

After this intense work up at RAF North Coates in Lincolnshire, the Squadron resumed operations in April 1940, beginning with mine-laying sorties.

The Squadron’s torpedo operations against enemy shipping used several bases during the war including RAF North Coates, RAF Thorney Island Sussex, RAF Abbotsinch and RAF Portreath and RAF St Eval in Cornwall, only a few miles from where our project base at Newquay Zoo for the World War Zoo Gardens allotment is based.

It was presumably during  these operations that ZSL London Zoo clerk and RAFVR Sergeant Leonard Peachey and his fellow Sergeants in the crew were killed on 18 December 1940.

22 Squadron was re-formed at RAF Thorney Island in 1955 as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Squadron and was finally stood down from Search and Rescue duties with the Bristow privatisation in October 2015. Further squadron information from http://www.22squadronassociation.org.uk/Hist1546.html

Peachey’s airfield is now home to the North Cotes Flying Club but the main concrete runways that Peachey’s 22 Squadron have now been removed for agriculture. Photos of the now discontinued airfield can be found on various sites including http://i388.photobucket.com/albums/oo322/Ossington_2008/NorthCoates39-94.jpg

These photos are amongst  others on the informative Airfield Information Exchange website: http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/community/archive/index.php/t-1068.html

I came across the Airfield Information Exchange website whilst researching a  forthcoming 2016 blogpost on British zoos that were once wartime airfields. Watch this (landing) space.

The circumstances around his air crash 18 December 1940

Researching the crash there appeared to be one most likely candidate (right type of plane, right squadron, right date) for Peachey’s fatal air crash.

Leonard Peachey and crew were the crew of 22 Squadron’s Bristol Beaufort L4516 OA-W which crashed on 18 December 1940 listed as “Marshchapel  – Engine Failure after take off for Wilhelmshaven, aircraft stalled and crashed.” (Source: http://www.bcar.org.uk/1940-incident-logs)

This plane L4516 OA-W is photographed around the same time in the Imperial War Museum archive by official RAF  war photographer  Flight Lieutenant Bertrand John Henry Daventry in 1940.

The caption for one IWM photo  (CH 1851) offers some interesting additional information:  http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210000 :

Mark XI aerial torpedoes being taken out on trolleys towards a Bristol Beaufort Mark I, L4516 ‘OA-W’, of No. 22 Squadron RAF at North Coates, Lincolnshire. Shortly after this photograph was taken, L4516 was destroyed when it stalled after a night take-off from North Coates and hit the ground near Marshfield, detonating the mine it was carrying.© IWM (CH 1851)

Is this Peachey’s crew and aircraft? A helpful aircraft historian at the RAF Museum sent me the following helpful infomation from the first volume of Coastal Command Losses by Ross McNeill confirming that the crew of L4516 is that resting in the churchyard at North Coates after taking off at North Coates at 20.10 for the target of  Wilhelmshaven

Stalled due to an engine failure shortly after take-off and crashed at Marshchapel, Lincolnshire. The Time Impact Mine exploded setting the aircraft on fire and killing all the crew. Sergeant Renai of Wellington, New Zealand and the other crew members (Hart, How and Peachey) rest locally in St. Nicholas Churchyard, North Cotes, Lincolnshire.

Wilhelmshaven was a German naval base and port, hence the mines and torpedoes that these 22 Squadron Coastal Command aircraft were pictured carrying.

Leonard Peachey and crew / colleagues are mentioned in this RAF North Coates related blogpost, showing the original preserved airfield gates that Leonard and crew would have known.

http://2ndww.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/raf-north-coates-lincolnshire.htmlhttp://2ndww.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/raf-north-coates-lincolnshire.html

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Names of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 – these worn original plaques have now been replaced with new ones.

Peachey is also remembered on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial WW2 plaque.

ZSL War Memorial 003small

Autumn colours behind the ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, November 2010 (Photo: Kate Oliver, ZSL Education)

Leonard Peachey and his Crew L4516 OA-W remembered, each November by London Zoo staff and 75 years on by the World War Zoo Gardens project online.

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

 

 

Peggy Skinner’s Wartime Christmas 1940

December 10, 2015

December 1940  – a schoolgirl’s wartime Christmas in Scotland

If you are struggling to choose or afford Christmas presents this year, spare a thought for the fashion conscious 1940s wartime young woman like Peggy Skinner!

Peggy Skinner is a 15 to 16 year old schoolgirl in her final years of school, transplanted in wartime to Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland from her South London home.

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

Like many school girls she is worrying about exam results and making it into her  school leaving year in 1941. She makes it to wartime Glasgow University on a Carnegie Grant to study Astronomy, Maths, Radio and Science, but all this seems far away in Christmas 1940. [I’ve added additional notes in brackets].

Much of her social life revolves around school friends and a church youth group, attending a Bible Class en route to becoming a Sunday School teacher of a weekend throughout her wartime student years. 

Peggy is obviously a bright girl, daughter of an engineer and draughtsman. School is thankfully going well for her despite relocation and wartime disruption. Unusually at the time for a female student, she is doing well studying Science and Maths.

 

Glasgow schools in wartime

Many Glasgow schools were closed early on in the war or requisitioned for military and civil defence use. Peggy’s school seems to have a range of teachers on loan from other schools.

Amongst the range of teacher names and nicknames somebody in Paisley or Glasgow might recognise or identify Peggy’s school:

Jetta Yuill her French teacher from Renfrew High School, Bone her Latin teacher, ‘Fanny’, Miss Buchanan, Miss Reid and Miss Blair her Gym teachers, ‘Doc’ and Billy Robb her Science teachers, Stoney, Denham or Denman her Physics and Science teacher, Tommy Henderson, Alice Young, Miss McKim, Miss Walker, Hutchison or Hutchie, Stevenson her History teacher, Mr. Reid her music teacher and McCrossan who produces the school play.

Does anyone recognise any of these names from wartime school days?

Peggy Skinner’s summer in Scotland safe from the London Blitz and Battle Of Britain in July to September 1940 were covered in a previous blogpost: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/battle-of-britain-day-remembered-15-september-1940/

More about Peggy’s life (1924-2011) and other wartime birthdays and Christmas entries can be found here on what would have been her 90th birthday tribute in December 2014: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/happy-90th-birthday-peggy-jane-skinner/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/1942-the-end-of-the-beginning-70-years-on-in-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Peggy Skinner’s wartime diary, December 1940

Sunday 1st                    As [the local vicar] Mr Laming is away, the Marines’ chaplain took the Eucharist. Mr [Bovey?] took Bible Class and some one from Trinity Paisley took evensong. His profile was like Tyrone Power’s but he spoke so slowly.

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[Tyrone Power, the famous U.S. film actor of the time, was a bit of a Peggy Skinner favourite!]

 Monday 2nd                  Physics marks back, they were really out of 120 but they were counted out of 100 since we didn’t get all the time we were supposed to. I’ve got 50% for my Latin.

Tuesday 3rd                 I have found out that I am the highest in lower History in our class, so I’m quite bucked. I got 67% for my Chemistry which is far better than I’d expected.

Wednesday 4th            Dance practice with boys at Gym. Latin sentences in place of or in addition to the exam ones, of course I couldn’t do them. AYPA – went to Youth welfare meeting, pretty boring.

[Anglican Young People’s Association, a church youth and social group of the time]

Thursday 5th                Dance practice with boys. Latin marks back, the sentences we had yesterday were counted in place of the ones in the exam. They brought my marks up a bit. It is 55% which I think is good.

Friday 6th                     Half day. Went to Whist drive round church hall. I just filled in, had to help Mum get the hall ready first.

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

[See our separate blog post for Paisley War Weapons Week]

Sunday 8th                    Communion and Bible Class. It is very cold. I think it is freezing tonight. Trying to think of Xmas presents.

Monday 9th                   Higher History marks back. I am second equal and first equal when averaged British and European history is taken.

Tuesday 10th                Xmas is getting very near and I haven’t brought any presents. I don’t know what to get. Our parcel from Grandma arrived last Friday.

[Grandma is back home with the family in London]

Wednesday 11th          Literature back, I got 30 ½ out of 45. I’m third equal in our section. Didn’t do much at AYPA tonight.

 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.

Friday 13th                   English marks back. We got away at 1.30, because of yesterday’s collection. I went to Paisley in the afternoon, Xmas shopping, I wasn’t very successful, everything’s so expensive.

Saturday 14th               Very miserable day. Went to Paisley with Mum in afternoon, got nothing we went for. Stockings are 2 to 3 times the price they used to be.

 

Editor’s note: This shortage and price increase was pre-clothes rationing, which would arrive in six months time on Sunday June 1st 1941, partly to manage and organise scarcity, profiteering  and excessive prices.

The shortage of shoes and everyday clothes became a major irritation for Peggy throughout her diary including into the austerity and rationing period long after the war, especially being tall.

Thankfully her family were competent makers of clothes with whatever remnants became available.

 

Sunday 15th                  Poured with rain again, I had to borrow an umbrella to come home from church this morning. I went to Bible Class and evensong.

Monday 16th                 We had our report cards back. The Rector [the School Headmaster] sent for some people but luckily not me. Packed Xmas presents this evening.

 

[These presents are to be posted to her remaining family down south in London.]

 

Tuesday 17th                I hate Maths now (although the periods are often quite good, like the ones today) because we always seem to be so keyed up.

Wednesday 18th          Dancing in boy’s shed this morning because the Gym was being decorated. Only 7 at AYPA tonight, so as usual did nothing.

Thursday 19th              Half-day for 4th, 5th, 6th year dance – I did not go. I’ll hear all about it tomorrow I expect. It was just an afternoon affair.

Friday 20th                   [Peggy’s 16th birthday] Black velvet for frock, jumper, ring and money to buy books were my presents. Half-day for 3rd years dance. We have a big Hamlet crossword puzzle to do. Short air –raid warning this evening.

Saturday 21st               Another short warning, which I did not hear last night. Bessie and Jean came to tea, just talked. I at any rate quite enjoyed myself.

 Sunday 22nd                 Woke so late that I had a job to get to church in time but service was only beginning as I went in. I went to Bible Class. I tried to finish the [Hamlet school] crossword but couldn’t.

Monday 23rd                Two boys had managed to get the crossword done. We only had two periods this afternoon then got away early. I’ve still some Xmas shopping to do.

Tuesday 24th                Half day, broke up, we did X-word puzzles in Maths, nothing in History and Bible and worked in English and Chem. I went to midnight Eucharist, took communion. Church was crowded.

Wednesday 25th            Christmas Day  Went to [neighbours] Read’s for tea and evening, two other people there, we had a very good time but I’m so sleepy now Xmas is over. This year it’s come unexpectedly and passed quickly.

 

Christmas in Wartime

Not the first Christmas of the war, but this was the first Christmas in wartime where rationing was beginning to have an effect on food and gifts. Later entries by Peggy Skinner for 1943 and 1946-9 record the ongoing difficulties of finding suitable presents and making of things to sell for charity fundraising.

 

Thursday 26th              Didn’t wake till midday. Went round to Bunty’s but I got no reply So I just came home and read. I haven’t started my homework yet.

Friday 27th                           Saw Bunty this morning. We have a [barrage] balloon opposite us now, the site has been prepared for months but the balloon wasn’t brought till today.

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Peggy Skinner’s wartime home  is towards the top of the photograph,  (top right) a barrage balloon on the balloon site nearby protecting the Hillington Rolls Royce and other factories at the bottom left. Canmore.org.uk ID 211548

This barrage balloon site near her house is on the National Historic Monuments Record for Scotland in the Glendee Road area of Paisley, protecting factory areas at Hillingdon.

https://canmore.org.uk/site/211548/renfrew-loanhead

Saturday 28th             Got letters from Bessie and Jean this morning, they were very amusing, especially if they were compared. Went to see Pinocchio the full length cartoon alone this afternoon.

Sunday 29th                    Good crowd at Communion, had service in church at Bible Class. Good number of carols at evensong, choir alone sang them all, quite a few I didn’t know.

Monday 30th                   Went round to Bunty’s this afternoon, we both tried to do some history. She and I went down to library this evening . Miserable cold wet day.

Tuesday 31st                   Reads came over this evening, had a little party, quite a good time. I’m full and tired. Mr Read saw the ‘New Year’ in,  so this should actually be here.

 

Editor’s note: This list entry about ‘first footing’ by neighbours gives you a clue when her diary was sometimes written, often at the end of day before sleep.

 

January 1941

Wednesday 1st               I did not get up till dinner-time today, all the family was late up. Did some English this afternoon. Snow.

Thursday 2nd                  While I was down the town this afternoon the siren went but I just finished my shopping and then wandered home. Nothing happened, the [barrage] balloon opposite didn’t even go up.

We have no diaries from Peggy for 1941 and 1942. These two January entries give us a few clues as to what was to happen in coming months.

Like her entries for January 1940, the winter of 1941 is recorded by other diarists in our collection and other published diaries as a harsh one of frozen pipes and snow.

The lack of reaction to the air raid siren and ‘nothing happened, the balloon opposite didn’t even go up’ would change on 13 and 14th March 1941 when Clydebank and the Glasgow area were heavily bombed. Sadly we don’t have Peggy’s diaries for this eventful year.

Happy Christmas!

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.

Chessington Zoo Blitzed 2 October 1940 – eyewitness accounts

October 2, 2015

peter pollard and derek witney

Two wartime friends reunited again after nearly 75 years, 2014 – evacuee Peter Pollard (left) and Derek Witney, Chessington Zoo staff child (right) Photograph: Derek Witney

A chance conversation with the Hart family about their ‘zoo evacuee father / grandfather’  whilst picking crops in  our wartime garden as part of our Junior Keeper experience back in 2008 led me to the story of Peter Pollard, Derek Witney – and the tragic story of Chessington Zoo on 2nd October 1940.

These are some of the previously unpublished memories I have been sent by Peter and his sister Wendy, along with the story of Derek Witney, wartime Chessington and Paignton Zoo staff child.

Ladies first …

Peter and Wendy Pollard, Chessington Zoo 1940 (Pollard family album)

Peter and Wendy Pollard, Chessington Zoo 1940 (Pollard family album)

Wendy Gothard (nee Pollard): 1940 Chessington memory

“As I was only four when we lived at Chessington Zoo in the Summer of 1940, my memories could best be described as snapshots, but they are very clear. I was allowed complete freedom to play around the zoo all day long, without any adult supervision, and apart from scraped knees I came to no harm.

I loved the rehearsals for the circus. I would sit on the bench closest to the ring, all on my own – magic. Sometimes there would be cubs born to the big cats, and I shall never forget sitting on the ground and having a cub carefully settled on my lap for a cuddle.

The slides in the playground both thrilled me and scared me to bits. They were very high, and of course even taller for a small person. The older children would go down head first, but I never managed that.

Our caravan in the corner of the field was amazingly quite small. With gas mantle lighting the temperature ranged from ninety odd degrees near the ceiling to freezing at floor level. My mother would stand ironing in her bra and sheepskin boots. In the floor there was a small trapdoor which my parents would open for ventilation until an air raid warden came knocking saying he could see the light from a long way off. With several windows it was difficult not to have a single chink of light showing.

I remember well the night of the bombing when the big air raid shelter was hit.

The small brick shelter is clear in my mind, but I have no picture of the big shelter. The next day I was forbidden to go the zoo, and I knew something terrible had happened there, so perhaps my mind blotted it out.

Later my mother told me that the bomb rolled down the steps, but they did not tell me that my playmate [Derek Witney],* the son of the zoo manager, was among those killed.

We did not know whether the Germans had just unloaded a few bombs on something suspicious or were actually aiming for a munitions factory just up the road, but my father was in a great hurry to move us away from the zoo in case they returned.

However, one of the bombs had made a crater in the lane from the zoo to the main road, and he had a big problem getting the caravan out. The animals were evacuated to [Whipsnade].* They were taken away two by two , an unusual sight as the elephants plodded along the main road.

My time at the zoo is among my most cherished memories. It was my garden, my playground ,and even when the visitors were there, it was still my zoo. Fortunately, they went home.”

Wendy Gothard (nee Pollard), Chichester, December 2008.

Wendy Pollard and Derek Witney, Chessington Zoo 1940 (Pollard family archive)

Wendy Pollard and Derek Witney, Chessington Zoo 1940 (Pollard family archive)

Researching this story,  I struggled to reconcile this memory with any WW2 casualty lists, but as it later proved it was not Derek Witney who was killed on the night but another of her zoo playmates. Derek Witney thinks the elephants were headed somewhere else- Devon!

chessington aerial 1950s

Aerial detail of Chessington Zoo from Alan Ashby’s We Went to the Zoo Today: The Golden Age of Zoo Postcards (2009)

Chessington Memory  – Peter Pollard (born 1930)

By the end of August 1939 I was approaching my ninth birthday, my sister Wendy was five years younger and we lived with our parents in a three year old detached house by the River Thames at Richmond. However when war was declared I was not actually there, having been sent for safety to The Linns, a 1000 acre dairy farm outside Dumfries, owned by my Uncle Alex and Aunt Kathleen. It was in a window seat at The Linns on 3rd September 1939 that I listened to the historic broadcast by Neville Chamberlain which ended “and I have to tell you now that no such undertaking (to withdraw from Poland) has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany” …

The rest of the family were not cowering from the bombs in the bolt hole under the stairs. My father let the house for the duration of the war to a Czech diplomat called Pospisil, bought a small caravan and sited it in the car park at Chessington Zoo which I think was still open but very quiet. Later on a bomb did land on Richmond Palace across the river and the blast damaged our house, but fortunately it was empty at the time.

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My rough sketch notes from my conversation with Derek Witney on 1940s locations, identified with Derek on a more recent 1960s 1970s map of Chessington  Zoo from the online Chessington Zoo.info website

Chessington Zoo – 1939/40 memory by Peter Pollard 

In 1939 the zoo proper occupied the same area as it does now, although the animals and attractions were very different. There was one small field for parking on the North Boundary, whereas now there is parking for thousands of cars at both North and South ends. At the heart of the Zoo was “The Burnt Stub”, a beautiful old manor house occupied by the owner Reginald Goddard.

The Southeast quadrant of the site was mainly a vast playground of high slides, oscillating roundabouts and swing boats.

In the centre of the site, and immediately in front (i.e. South) of “The Burnt Stub” was a  small permanent circus with stabling and props rooms, and also the terminus and workshops for the miniature railway. This was no land train but a genuine miniature locomotive, all steam and polished brass, which took visitors around the site on narrow gauge tracks.

Just to the west of the Burnt Stub was an odd construction, a cafeteria room with large cage attached to the left and right hand sides for lions and tigers respectively, while beyond that was a small lake for water birds like flamingos.

I returned from [school at Dumfries Academy in] Scotland in the Spring of 1940, and had free access to all parts of the zoo, even the private areas. This was quite perfect for a boy of nine. I helped to feed all the wild animals, and the ponies in the circus. I helped backstage in the circus during the performances, hosed down the elephants, helped to polish and maintain the rolling stock and rode the rails whenever I wanted., and spent hours in the huge playground.

But it didn’t last.

chessington bombsight graphic

Satellite mapping of Chessington Zoo Bombsight.org 1940/41 bomb mapping

The Chessington Raid – memory by Peter Pollard 

There were two air raid shelters in the zoo.

The first was a small brick surface shelter like a tool store, with room for four camp beds, which was used by Mr. Goddard and his family. It was not blast resistant.

The second was a proper shelter, excavated four feet into the ground and covered over with arched corrugated sheeting and the excavated earth to five feet above ground. There was  enough room for about twenty people, sleeping on wooden shelves. This was where my family and I spent our nights, sharing with the zoo keepers and their families. It was by uncomfortable, with no privacy and little sanitation.

One day in the summer of 1940 Mr Goddard who owned a second zoo in Paignton  [* Goddard had entered a wartime business arrangement with Herbert Whitley at Paignton Zoo]  to which he had transferred some animals, told my father that he would be making a short inspection visit to Devon, and invited my family to use his shelter while he was away.

That same night a German Bomber flew over and mistaking the zoo buildings for a nearby army camp in the moonlight, dropped four bombs.

The first breached the railings of the water bird enclosure, releasing dazed birds to wander round the Zoo.

The second blew out the cafeteria, leaving the big cats on either side uninjured and angry but fortunately still secure.

The third landed on the driveway and did little damage but the fourth penetrated straight through the roof of the big shelter, exploded and killed every body inside, including our friend ‘Derek Witney’.* [Here Peter has made a fortunate memory slip after 70 years]

Our family in the flimsy brick shelter was unscathed, and I didn’t even wake up.

Chessington wartime memory by Peter Pollard.

Bombsight.org 1940 /41 bomb map of Chessington Zoo with one bomb clearly on the zoo site. Image : bombsight.org

Bombsight.org 1940 /41 bomb map of Chessington Zoo with one bomb clearly on the zoo site. Image : bombsight.org

The aftermath – a memory by Peter Pollard 

My father decided that we were still too close to the Luftwaffe bombing campaign on London and hastily removed us to a farm at Christmas Common in Oxfordshire where we had only well water and a two mile walk each way back to the shops in Watlington.

This was a bit too primitive, and we came back as far as a farm at Hedgerley, between Beaconsfield and Slough. The farm was owned by the Halse family and it was Brenda Halse who taught me how to trap and skin rabbits. It was still a two mile walk each way to the good shops in Beaconsfield but at least it was sometimes (depending on the weather) possible to get a bus into Farnham Common where I attended a small primary school for the Autumn term of 1940.

In January 1941 I was sent off to Board at Derby Grammar School, which was settled in a holiday camp in the wilds of Derbyshire near Matlock. But that is another story …

Previously unpublished Chessington wartime memory by Peter and Wendy Pollard, written up for the World War Zoo Gardens project November 2008 (with thanks to the Hart family).

The dustjacket cover to Frank Foster’s circus autobiography Pink Coats, Spangles and Sawdust (Stanley Paul, late 1940s) Image: Mark Norris, private collection

Frank Foster’s account

Frank Foster, “Pink Coat, Spangles and Sawdust”, published by Stanley Paul 1949?

Frank Foster was a circus performer, ringmaster and equestrian director who wrote one of the few accounts of wartime Chessington Zoo. R.S. Goddard (or ‘RSG ‘ as Derek Witney still calls him) died very suddenly at Christmas 1946 and few archive records have survived throughout the changing ownership of Chessington Zoo.

P.158. “After we had arrived back at Chessington twenty-one bombs fell in the grounds. One was a direct hit on a shelter and killed three attendants.

Two high explosive bombs dropped within a hundred yards of the elephants quarters. With lions, tigers, polar bears and many other animals to look after, this was an anxious time.

Apart from the possibility of their being killed there was the danger that cages might be blasted open and occupants escape into the surrounding countryside.

Fortunately this has only happened to the penguins’ cage: their quarters were completely demolished.

Searching in the debris for their remains, we were astonished to see them walking towards us, like Charlie Chaplins, along the miniature railway track.

They’d been blown clear and without hurt. Later came the buzz bombs …”

These blitzed penguins are possibly some of the ‘dazed water birds’ that Peter Pollard mentioned. (Derek Witney  chatting in October 2015 also thinks this might be a bit of characteristic circus story embroidery by Goddard or Foster).

Frank Foster’s 1949 book is out of print and hard to obtain, so I have scanned the 4 relevant pages about wartime:

chessington foster 1

chessington foster 2chessington foster 3

chessington foster 4

Tracing the Chessington Zoo Casualties of 2 October 1940

For a while I could find no trace of a Derek Whitney being killed at Chessington Zoo or a bombing date. Now thanks to the CWGC records being online, I have found the identity of the child and other zoo staff sadly killed that day.

cwgc chessington casualties

The three casualties recorded CWGC as “Died at Chessington Zoo Shelter” on 2nd October 1940 by the Municipal Borough of Surbiton are:

  1. Annie Page, aged 37, the Cottage, Zoo, Chessington. Daughter of Mrs Todd, 128 Woodside Road, Westborough, Guildford, wife of Reginald Page.

cwgc ronald page

 

2. Ronald Page, aged 10, son of Reginald and Annie Page. 

 

3. Elizabeth Arnold, aged 54, of the Lodge, Chessington Zoo, wife of George Arnold.

Several family photos of the Page family, Ronald, Reginald and Annie can be found on the Ancestry website.

A BBC audio clip of Peter Pollard 2010

There is a short sound clip of Peter from 2010 online talking about the bombing on  a BBC Radio Cornwall report as well as a brief paragraph:

“For a while Peter Pollard found himself living in a caravan in the car park of Chessington Zoo at the age of nine in the summer of 1940. He shared his memories with the Zoo for the exhibition.

Reflecting on the time Peter said: “It was wonderful for a small boy of nine. I had a complete run of the zoo, I helped in the circus, maintained a miniature railway, they had an enormous playground there, it was perfect, it was heaven.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8539000/8539314.stm

Chessington Zoo advert 1937, Zoo and Animal Magazine (Image source: Mark Norris private collection)

Chessington Zoo advert 1937, Zoo and Animal Magazine (Image source: Mark Norris private collection)

Researching and confirming this wartime story

Curiously the Pollard’s  9 & 5 year old memories seem to suggest that they quickly left Chessington for safety somewhere else and were told their playmate ‘Derek Whitney‘ [sp] was killed in the bombing.

What they did not know until 70 years later was that Derek had left that day with his father, the park’s engineer, to take some animals and the miniature railway down to Paignton Zoo, a story Derek confirmed when he visited me at Newquay Zoo last year. Leopards, lions and tigers were mentioned as travelling down. Mr. Witney was there on behalf of Chessington Zoo’s  Mr. Goddard  to help Mr. Herbert  Whitley open his  zoo up again (see late August 1940 press cuttings) from its early wartime closed state.

The Miniature Railway by the way is still going strong at Paignton Zoo. Mr Witney, Derek’s father, was the Chessington Zoo Engineer and organised taking one train and the track down to Paignton Zoo. According to Derek, this train  returned at the end of the war when the animals returned. It was obviously popular as the miniature railway was reconstructed postwar. Life in wartime Paignton Zoo sounded a little makeshift, the family lived in a caravan for about a year.

I first had a feeling that the Pollard’s account was slightly wrong after 70 years when I couldn’t find a CWGC or death record for a ‘Derek Whitney’.

Having been reading the two Chessington history books by the late  C.H. Keeling of the Bartlett Society and some further research on this little reported 1940 incident (compared to the buzz bombs of 1944), it suggests that a “Derek Whitney of Burgh Heath Surrey, who literally grew up around Chessington’s Circus” (p. 29 , The Chessington Story, CH Keeling) had met Clinton Keeling  the author to talk about the 1935 Chessington Circus blaze where some circus horses were killed. So unless Clinton Keeling had met a ghost …

This set me thinking that something in the Pollard stories did not tie up with what happened and led to reuniting Peter and Derek 70 plus years later!

The ‘forgotten name’ of their playmate casualty was young Ronald Page.

Herbert Whitley as Derek Witney would have known him. Source: Paignton Zoo

Herbert Whitley as Derek Witney would have known him. Source: Paignton Zoo

Meeting up with Derek Witney and family to hear their stories

In 2014 I was lucky enough to meet up several times with Derek Witney at Newquay Zoo and  also when he came in the company of wife and grandson to my wartime zoo and botanic gardens Kew Guild talk at Kew Gardens. It was odd to be able to put his picture of being reunited with Peter Pollard on screen, tell his story and then point to Derek in the audience!

image

The Witney family visiting me at Newquay Zoo, full of a lifetime of stories of working with animals, 2014. (Derek Witney and his wife on the right) Image: Mark Norris

Derek told me more about his meeting with Peter, who is now suffering from health problems. Derek also remembers meeting Herbert Whitley wearing a battered pair of old white plimsolls at Paignton Zoo (Whitley was famous for his scruffy or eccentric dress sense). Derek’s other  family memories of this period include:

Eight or nine people in the shelter that night it was hit included my grandmother who was keeping house while we were on our way down to Paignton with a convoy of animals having left that morning.

The alarm was raised by two of the zoo staff who were in another part of the shelter.

I was not aware of any animals going to Whipsnade for the duration of the war but this could well be true.

What I am absolutely certain is that the Elephants remained at the park and worked in the circus during the whole of the war. I know this to be true as I looked after them as part of my duties in my school holidays.

Frank Foster came to  Chessington at the start of the war from Bertram Mills Circus along with some of the animal trainers and remained there until the end of hostilities when he and some of the artists returned to the Bertram Mills circus while at Chessington  Frank was responsible for the circus smooth running only.”

Derek Witney, personal comments, 2014

As we pored over past maps of Chessington Zoo in the past (http://www.chessingtonzoo.info/zoo-maps.html) to locate where the shelters were, Derek mentioned that the surviving brick built shelters remained for many years in various roles such as tool sheds, something Peter said they looked much like.

“I hope that this will further inform you of life at Chessington”: I am currently chatting to Derek Witney about more of his wartime memories of Paignton Zoo.

This temporary wartime expedient business  merger between Goddard’s Chessington Zoo and Whitley’s Primley / Paignton Zoo is not a well-studied area and I will post more on this blog as I uncover more.

primley pic WW2

“You Will Enjoy Yourselves Here!” These documents remain in the Archive at Paignton Zoo and we will post further research about them in time.

primley zoo pic 2 ww2

Derek Witney, one of the remaining Chessington / Paignton Zoo wartime staff children,  mentioned to people after my Kew Guild talk  about the GIs at Paignton Zoo and their big Anti Aircraft AA guns, being there at Paignton Zoo protecting the Clennon Gorge GI camp in the run up to D-Day.

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

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/d-day-1944-and-the-disappearing-peacocks-and-ducks-of-wartime-paignton-zoo/

This was further supported by Dave Ellacott, Reserves Warden, Primley park and Clennon Gorge, who mentioned

“As for GI leftovers I have not found anything which would have hinted at their presence.  Google earth makes a claim that there was a gun emplacement in Primley Park which makes sense as this is on an elevated position with good 360 views of Torbay.”

Lots more stories to follow …

Remembering Ronald and Annie Page and Elizabeth Arnold, “Died at Chessington Zoo Shelter”, 2 October 1940. 

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

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.

 


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