Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

Remembering the lost WW1 staff of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester

November 7, 2015

19 zoo staff were lost as a result of active service during and after WW1 from the now vanished Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester.

Since 2009 I have been researching the wartime effects on a few typical British zoos operational in the First World War and what that generation learnt in preparation for surviving the Second World War (when our recreated World War Zoo Gardens dig for victory garden project at Newquay Zoo is set).

The few zoo war memorial records found so far stand in for a whole generation and for lost zoological gardens staff across the world.

Previously we have researched and posted about the 12 lost WW1 staff on the ZSL London Zoo staff memorial, where wreaths will be laid each year during the Armistice and Remembrance silences:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/remembering-lost-wartime-staff-of-zsl-london-zoo-in-ww1/

 

Belle Vue Zoo War Memorial 

This year in the 1915 centenary year, spare a thought for the 19 fallen staff of Belle Vue Zoo Gardens in Manchester (which closed 1977/78), their names listed on a vandalised zoo staff war memorial in Gorton Cemetery.

Reading the names means these men are not forgotten.

Read the names and spare a thought for these 19 lost Belle Vue Zoo staff from the First World War.

Researching and reading a few of these background stories puts a more personal face on the scale of the losses, especially in the First World War.

Belle Vue’s war memorial, Gorton Cemetery, Manchester on its unveiling 1926. Image: manchesterhistory.net

The Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff war memorial at Gorton cemetery in Manchester is now sadly vandalised and missing its bronze statue by  sculptor Ferdinand Victor Blundstone, one of of his several memorial designs.

The now missing Blundstone statue was cast by Parlanti. The memorial’s damaged condition is now noted on the UKNIWM UK National Inventory of War Memorials.

The Belle Vue Zoo war memorial was unveiled in Gorton Cemetery by members of the Jennison family in 1926,  who had owned the zoo from its Victorian roots until the year before. The Jennisons had lost two sons (and future managers or directors?) in the First World War.

Much has been written about Belle Vue as an early zoo and leisure gardens collection, which survived from the 1836 to 1977/8 such as this extensive Belle Vue Zoo Wikipedia entry and several books and films by Robert Nicholls. Its records are held in the Chetham’s Library Archive and now being scanned for public access.

Spare a thought for the Belle Vue men listed on the monument and their families.

Beautifully sunny photo of the Belle Vue Zoo war-memorial. Image source: Stephen Cocks' Tommy at War blog site https://gbt01.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/dsc006251.jpg

Beautifully sunny photo of the Belle Vue Zoo war-memorial. Image source: Stephen Cocks’ Tommy at War blog site

I first came across the memorial through the 1926 original press articles from its dedication at http://manchesterhistory.net/bellevue/warmemorial.html

Stephen and Susan Cocks’ Tommy at War 2010 blog entry The Belle Vue Monument (or Memorial) expanded on some of the the personal casualty information available on the cwgc.org website  https://gbt01.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/the-belle-vue-memorial-the-story-of-the-memorial/

https://gbt01.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/hello-world/

Since these  first 2010/11 postings by Stephen Cocks and my research on this website, members of the Manchester and Salford Family History Forum  have furthered the research locally and produced a fascinating section of their website on Gorton Cemetery, its war graves and the Belle Vue war memorial staff casualties and their families:

http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html

 

So who were these Belle Vue men?

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens  staff killed on active service 1915-1918

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1915 deaths

1. Private Henry Mulroy Served as Private 23516 in the 12th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed at Ypres on 16 August 1915, whilst his battalion were holding trenches to the south of Ypres.

Henry had only been in France for one month before he was killed. Another Manchester Regiment casualty from his 12th Battalion, Private 4970 J Mullen lies alongside Mulroy, killed on the same day.

Mulroy's grave lies among these at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. Image: cwgc.org

Mulroy’s grave lies among these at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
Image: cwgc.org

Mulroy was remembered in a blogpost on the centenary day of his death: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/remembering-h-mulroy-belle-vue-zoo-died-ypres-16-august-1915/

Mulroy is buried in an individual grave I.I.5 in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, to the South-west of Ypres, Belgium (Flanders). Ridge Wood was the name given to a wood standing on high ground between the Kemmel road and Dickebusch Lake. The cemetery lies in a hollow on the western side of the ridge and the position was chosen for a front line cemetery as early as May 1915. The cemetery, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, contains 619 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

Martin and Mary Middlebrook’s book on The Somme Battlefields (Penguin 1991) mentions that Mulroy’s battalion the 12th Manchesters have a special tall memorial stone near Contalmaison Chateau Cemetery, commemorating the 555 casulaties from 3rd – 6th July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme and overall the 1039 men such as Mulroy (a 1915 casualty) who died in the war. This number, Middlebrook says, is the “exact equivalent of the number of men who sailed from England with the original battalion in July 1915”  including Henry Mulroy. His Medal record card records this date of embarkation.

The 12th Manchester history website sets out Mulroy’s likely military journey from when the 12th (Service) Battalion formed at Ladysmith barracks, Ashton-under-Lyne in September 1914 of “Kitchener volunteers”. The battalion then moved south to Bovington camp, Wool in Dorset as part of 52nd Brigade, 17th Division, an invasion of Northern troops to rural Dorset. In January 1915 they moved to Wimborne in Dorset then in February 1915 back to hutments in the Wool area.

More on Mulroy’s 12th Manchester life in Bovington camp, Wool (now the site of the Bovington Tank Museum) can be read in  the downlodable pdf of Chapter II / 2 of G.E. Lanning’s Bovington Garrison By May 1915 they moved to Hursley Park, near Winchester where they stayed until embarkation from Folkestone on 15th July 1915.

On the morning of the 16th July 1915, 30 officers and 975 men of the 12th (Service) Battalion Manchester Regiment landed at Boulogne, moving on to be attached to the Liverpool Scottish for training in trench warfare at Ouderom around the 21st July 1915. The 12th Battalion first went into the line on the 24th July 1915 near Vierstaat and later SE of St Eloi. “For the rest of the year they were in and out of the frontline around Ypres”, the Manchester Regiment website notes of the period when Mulroy was killed. The 12th Battalion Manchester Regiment War Diary gives great detail of the Mulroy’s battalion movements and states around the period of Mulroy’s death a possible cause for his death:

15/8/1915 Quiet day; Some artillery activity in afternoon on both sides. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire during the night.

16/8/1915 Enemy fired rifle grenades on trench No 5.

17/8/1915 Very quiet day. Were relieved by the 9th Bn Duke of Wellington Regt. Relief commenced at 8.0pm but did not complete until 4.30am of the 18th inst owing to furious bombardment by the enemy.

Mulroy was in the 12th Manchester (Service) Battalion, so likely to have been one of Kitchener’s volunteers. On 7th Aug three days after war was declared, a recruiting poster and notices in the newspapers called for 100,000 men aged between 19 and 30 to the Army, serving for three years or the duration of the war. Within a few days the “First Hundred Thousand” had joined up. By the middle of September 1914, half a million men like Henry Mulroy had enlisted. Many of Mulroy’s battalion died in the Somme battles of 1916 where the New Army battalions suffered terrible losses.

Loos Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Loos Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

2. Private Frederick Lester  Reid,

Private Frederick Lester Reid served in the 1st Battalion of The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

This regular battalion was one of the first to land in France in August 1914 and had been present at The Battle of Mons. He was killed at the age of 31 on 25 September 1915.

The 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were part of The 1st Division which suffered heavily in the attack on the first day of the Battle of Loos. Initially caught in their own first British use of  gas, they moved forward as the gas cleared and finding that the German wire was uncut, suffered heavily as they attempted to cut through it in the face of German machine gun fire.

Private Reid has no known grave and is commemorated on The Loos Memorial to the Missing.

He was remembered on the centenary of his death in our Loos blogpost: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/gardeners-and-zoo-staff-lost-at-the-battle-of-loos-25-september-1915/

Private Reid was married to Jessie and lived at 256 Gorton Road, Reddich.

Reid's name is amongst the many on the Loos Memorial. Image: cwgc.org website

Reid’s name is amongst the many on the Loos Memorial. Image: cwgc.org website

As we approach the centenary of each casualty, we shall mark the day and research each casualty further on this blog. interesting information has emerged about William Morrey’s unusual service and death several days before the Battle of the Somme.

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1916 deaths

3. Private William Morrey, Several William Morreys from the Cheshire, Lancashire and Manchester area are listed on the cwgc.org site, obviously a local name.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme, it appears our William  was the one who worked as a water and gas fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

Pioneer 130519 William Morrey died aged 21 on the 27 June, 1916, serving originally with the Manchester Regiment but on his death with the 1st Battalion of the Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (a gas unit).

William Morrey is buried in the middle of the second to back row of these hospital related casualties, Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.

William Morrey is buried in the middle of the second to back row of these hospital related casualties, Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.

Morrey is buried at an individual grave B17 at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. The great majority of the burials were carried out from such hospitals as the 4th Casualty Clearing Station where Morrey died  at Beauval from June 1915 to October 1916.

image

Directly alongside Morrey in three other graves B 14-16 are three others of this  special Battalion killed on the same day, Pioneer 129027 Richard Brown, Pioneer 128027 James Duckett (also from Manchester) and Pioneer 128805 Walter Norman Welton.

CWGC lists Morrey as the son of William and Lydia Morrey, of Widnes. Mr A.E. Morrey of 13 Ollier Street, Widnes, Lancs appears to have chosen the family inscription on his CWGC headstone: “He gave his life for Freedom”

Morrey and comrades lie in the middle of the second to back row of Beauval Cemetery< France. Image: cwgc.org

Morrey and comrades lie in the middle of the second to back row of Beauval Cemetery, France. Image: cwgc.org

These Special Companies are described on the Long, Long Trail website http://www.1914-1918.net/specialcoyre.htm  and on their forum posts  #61 Royal Engineers Special Brigade: post #61 jones75 which gives the following information:

Pioneer  William Morrey, No.130519, 21st Section, 1st Bn, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers
Born : Widnes, Lancashire.
Enlisted : Manchester, 20th January, 1916.
Resided : The Lodge, Halton View, Widnes.
Died of wounds in France on 27th June, 1916, aged 21.
Buried at Beauval Communal Cemetery, Row B, Grave 17.
William Morrey is also commemorated at St Ambrose church in Halton View, the Belle Vue Zoo memorial and on the Widnes War Memorial in Victoria Park, Widnes in Cheshire.

William Morrey was the second son of William & Lydia Morrey and died in No.4 Casualty Clearing Station on the 27th June as result of gas poisoning on the previous day.

His sister, Mrs Dutton of Milton Road, Widnes, received a letter from an Army Chaplain, Reverend H.D.W. Dennison, CF, in it he wrote….”It is with deep regret that I have to tell you of the death of your brother, Pioneer W. Morrey. He was admitted into this hospital yesterday afternoon suffering severely from gas poisoning, and though everything possible was done for him, he died early this morning. I am burying him this afternoon with four of his comrades who suffered the same fate in Beauval Cemetery. May he rest in peace and, and may God comfort sad hearts that his loss will cause……”
An old boy of Simms Cross school, William Morrey also attended St Ambrose church and Sunday School and was a member of the Gymnasium at St Paul`s Parochial Rooms. On leaving school, he worked for five years as an apprentice gas & water fitter at the Corporation Gas Works in Widnes.

Before his enlistment under the Derby Scheme he worked as a fitter at the Zoological Gardens at Belle Vue, Manchester.

He joined up on 20th January, 1916 into the 14th Bn, The Manchester Regiment, regimental number 32486 and in March that same year was transferred to the Royal Engineers and sent to France.
He wrote his last letter home in mid June and in it he said he was in the best of health and expected to be moved nearer to the front line. (WWN 1916)
The Special Brigade, Royal Engineers was a unit formed to counter the German Gas threat, they were employed to dispense poison gas from the allied trenches towards the enemies lines, it is possible that William Morrey was gassed carrying out this task as accidents and the effect of shell-fire on the equipment caused leaks on a regular basis.

So Morrey died in the preparation for the Somme, which three months later would claim another Belle Vue Zoo colleague, Alfred Routledge.

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

4. Private Alfred Routledge

He died serving with the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment on The Somme aged 23 on 26 September 1916. He was killed in an attack on Mouquet Farm which was part of the final and successful British attempt to capture the village of Thiepval.

The village occupied high ground in the centre of the battlefield and had been a British objective on the first day of The Battle of The Somme on 1 July 1916.

Alfred Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme”  listed on the Thiepval memorial, having no known grave. Routledge was  killed in the  final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastrous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

CWGC lists him as the son of the late Alfred and Emily Barton Routledge of 504 Gorton Lane, Gorton. Married.

Routledge and fellow Belle Vue Zoo staff Sidney Turner and Ralph Stamp are remembered on the St. James Parish Church war memorial http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/st-james-church-gorton.html

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff  1917 deaths

5. Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison

James Leonard was the son of James Jennison, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue Zoo. His father James died later that year, possibly hastened by this family loss. His cousin Norman, son of Angelo Jennison, also died on active service in Italy.

Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison served in the 15th Battalion of The West Yorkshire Regiment, the Leeds Pals. He was killed at Arras on 3 May 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to The Missing.

2nd Lieutenant James Jennison and Private William Stamp of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester have no known grave are remembered on the Arras Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

2nd Lieutenant James Jennison and Private William Stamp of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester have no known grave are remembered on the Arras Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

6. Private Ralph William Stamp, 18th battalion, Manchester Regiment, died aged 23, on the 23rd April 1917, and has no known grave, listed on the Arras memorial, the same as J L Jennison.

Private Ralph William Stamp was the son of Robert and Jane Stamp of 36 Newton Street, Gorton. He was killed in The Battle of Arras aged 23 on 23 April 1917, serving as a member of the 18th Battalion of The Manchester Regiment. Stamp has no known grave, so is commemorated on The Arras Memorial to the Missing. He is also remembered on the St James Church Gorton war memorial.

He appears to have been on the gardens staff.

Sergeant Oliver is listed amongst the 35,000 names on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing. Image: cwgc.org

Sergeant Oliver is listed amongst the 35,000 names on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing. Image: cwgc.org

7. Sergeant John E. Oliver

John Oliver served with the 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment and he was killed on 24 October 1917 towards the end of the ‘Battle of Passchendaele’ (The Third Battle of Ypres) from July 31st to November 6th 1917.

By October during the last phases of the battle, the battlefield had become a sea of mud. It was in this fighting, finally achieving  the objective of capturing the village of Passchendaele itself, that Sergeant Oliver was killed.

John Oliver has no known grave and is commemorated on The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Sergeant John Oliver was the husband of Rose Oliver of 36 Darley Street, Gorton. He appears to have been a journeyman joiner by trade.

 

Thomas Tumbs' name on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Image Source: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo.

Thomas Tumbs’ name on Panel 22 of the WW1 section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Image Source: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, November 2015.

8. Stoker First Class T J Tumbs, AB

Died aged 40, killed on HMS Drake, 2 October, 1917, on convoy duty off coast of Ireland in U79 U-boat torpedo attack.

Remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Stoker First Class Tumbs was aged 40 and one of 19 sailors killed aboard the cruiser HMS Drake when it was torpedoed by German U Boat U79 on 2 October 1917.

Attacked while escorting an incoming Atlantic Convoy, the ship limped into Church Bay off the coast of Ireland where it sank and still provides a wreck popular with divers.

As he has no known grave, being lost at sea, his name is remembered on Panel 22 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, which I visited recently on a suitably wet and blustery day.

 

9. Private Harold?  Heathcote, 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), 19 October 1917, buried Baghdad war cemetery.

Private H. Heathcote is probably Private Harold Heathcote of Openshaw, who died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) on 19 October 1917 while fighting The Turks with The 5th Battalion of  The Wiltshire Regiment. Private Heathcote is buried in The Baghdad War Cemetery.

 

Belle Vue Zoo staff 1918 deaths

10. Sergeant J Fuller, Devonshire Regiment / Pioneer Corps, died 14 April 1918. Buried Amiens, France. Married.

On March 1918 The Germans launched the first of their offensives in a final bid to win the war. The British bore the brunt of these offensives in March and April and, although the British were forced to concede considerable ground, the line never broke.

Sergeant Fuller was married and lived at 9 Millen Street, West Gorton.

He was serving with the Labour Corps, having transferred from The Devonshire Regiment, possibly as a consequence of being wounded. He died on 14 April 1918 and is buried in St Pierre Cemetery, Amiens town was a key objective of the German offensive but never fell.

James Craythorne's grave lies just in front of the Cross of Sacrifice in this tiny French cemetery of 141 graves. Image: cwgc.org

Keeper James Craythorne’s grave lies just in front of the Cross of Sacrifice in this tiny French cemetery of 141 graves. Image: cwgc.org

11. Private James George Craythorne, 1/6 Manchester Regiment, killed 20 October 1918 ironically in the fighting for Belle Vue Farm, buried at Belle Vue (Farm) Cemetery, France.

Zoo Keeper James Craythorne is one of 66 1st /6th  or other Manchester Regiment casualties in the cemetery from the 20th October 1918. This ‘Belle Vue’ cemetery was named after a farm captured by The 42 East Lancashire Division, of which Private Craythorne was a member.

Three or four generations of the Craythorne family worked as small mammal and reptile keepers at Belle Vue Zoo, including James Craythorne who followed his own father into zoo work, was employed aged 12 from the 1880s  to retirement during another war in 1944, replaced then by his son Albert!

Gorton Cemetery's Cross of Sacrifice, a focus for the CWGC graves including William Turner's. Image: cwgc.org

Gorton Cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice, a focus for the CWGC graves including William Turner’s. Image: cwgc.org

12. Private Sidney Turner,

Sydney or Sidney Turner died in the UK aged 18, 3rd May 1917 serving as TR4/13456 in a reserve battalion (20th) of the Welsh Regiment, buried in Gorton Cemetery (near the site of the Belle Vue Zoo war memorial).

Several others who died after the war are also individually buried here in Gorton Cemetery.

The youngest soldier listed, he was the son of Thomas and Mary Turner of 58 Pinnington Road Gorton. His mother chose the headstone inscription: “Sadly Missed”.

image

Many of those buried in the cemeteries and churchyards of the city died in Manchester or nearby  hospitals. An intriguing note on the CWGC graves register sheet suggested his original ‘private grave / grass mound’ was ‘neglected’ and that he died at Kinmel Park Military Hospital at Kinmel Park Army Camp, Abergele, Wales. The crossed out ‘Rly’ note may refer to the Kinmel Camp Railway: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinmel_Camp_Railway

There are 69 First World War casualties  / burials scattered throughout the Gorton cemetery and a Screen Wall bears the names of 15 First World War casualties (including Turner?) whose graves could not be individually marked. The Manchester and Salford Family History Forum website has more about this memorial and casualties: http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com

Sidney / Sydney Turner's name can be glimpsed on the top of the plaque of this CWGC memorial in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester. (Image: CWGC)

Sidney / Sydney Turner’s name can be glimpsed on the top of the plaque of this CWGC memorial in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester. (Image: CWGC)

13. Captain Norman L Jennison, MC (Military Cross) , 6th Manchester Regiment (Territorials), died of flu, Genoa, Italy 30 October 1918

Norman Jennison was the son of Angelo Jennison, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo, and lived at 49 East Road Longsight.

Norman was a clerk and had joined the 6th Manchesters, a territorial battalion, before the war as a private.

Commissioned in 1916, he was attached to a trench mortar battery and served in Italy from October 1917, where he died of flu on 30 October 1918.

The Cross of Sacrifice and Row A & B in the terrace above Jennison's Row D grave, Staglieno Cemtery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

The Cross of Sacrifice and Row A & B in the terrace above Jennison’s Row D grave, Staglieno Cemtery, Genoa, Italy.
Image: cwgc.org

He is buried amongst the 230 First World War graves on the dramatically terraced Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa, Italy. His cousin James Leonard also died on active service.

Norman Jennison's grave lies in the middle of this second row (D) from the right amid dramatic mountain secenery, Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

Norman Jennison’s grave lies in the middle of this second row (D) from the right amid dramatic mountain scenery, Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy. Image: cwgc.org

The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918, and rest camps and medical units were established at various locations in northern Italy behind the front. Genoa was a base for commonwealth forces and the 11th General, 38th and 51st Stationary Hospitals, possibly where Jennison died.

 

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff “who died from the effect of war” after 1918.

Zoo owner Angelo Jennison unveiling in 1926 the Belle Vue memorial in Gorton Cemetery to his son, nephew and his zoo staff lost in the First World War. Image: manchesterhistory.net

This unusual addition or section of names gives a little glimpse of what must have happened to many zoo, aquarium and botanic garden staff who never recovered from the effects of active service in wartime.

14. Private WM Wheatcroft, 3rd Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment, died aged 28, 10 July 1919, buried in Gorton cemetery.

Private WM Wheatcroft served in The 3rd Battalion of The Kings(Liverpool) Regiment. He was the son of Sarah and Jessie Wheatcroft and died aged 28 on 10 July 1919. He is buried in Gorton Cemetery and at the time of his death his widowed mother had remarried and lived at 5 Bakewell Street Gorton.

Wheatcroft appears to have been on the Belle Vue gardening staff.

15. Sergeant Robert Hawthorne, died 24 June 1922, buried in Gorton cemetery alongside Belle Vue casualty Joseph Cummings.

16. Rifleman / Lance Corporal William Croasdale, Belle Vue’s baker, served Army Service Corps (bakery) and Kings Royal Rifle Corps, served overseas 1915 to 1919, aged 32, died 1922, (possibly Stephen Cocks suggests in a mental hospital, Prestwich).

William Croasdale is listed as having died from the effects of war and his history is far from uncommon for men who actually survived the fighting, but never the less still had their lives destroyed by the war.

His service record has survived and, as shown in Stephen Cocks’ Tommy at War blog, it gives a fascinating account of his life and army servive.

William Croasdale was living at 536 Gorton Road in Reddish when he enlisted into the army on 5 November 1914. He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, with blue eyes, fair hair and a fresh complexion. He was a baker at Belle Vue and his record actually includes a reference from James Jennison.

William was enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a baker and was posted abroad in May 1915 and, apart from 14 days leave in 1918, he served overseas until March 1919. William’s service was transformed dramatically in 1916 when he was compulsorily transferred to The Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

Apart from minor infringements of discipline, including being found in possession of dirty bombs (grenades) and returning a day late from leave, his record is a good one and he was promoted to lance corporal in 1918.

He returned from the war, but he died aged 32 in 1922 in Prestwich.

17. Private Joseph Cummings, died 9 May 1926.

Worked as a ball room attendant at Belle Vue (see also Robert Hawthorn with whom he is buried)

According to press reports, there were only 17 names on the original memorial when unveiled in 1926.

 

Walton's war at sea: Coronel and the Falklands are mentioned as the battle honours on this section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

Walton’s war at sea: Coronel and the Falklands are mentioned as the battle honours on this section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

18. First Class PO Matthew James Walton DSM, fought at the Battle of the Falklands naval action, 1914, died 1926 a few months before the memorial was unveiled.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/matthew-james-walton-dsm-of-belle-vue-zoo-and-the-battle-of-the-falklands-8-december-1914/

Petty Officer Walton DSM, who died in 1926 from the effects of war, had been present at The Battle of The Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914 at which The Royal Navy virtually destroyed a whole German squadron commanded by Admiral Von Spee.

According to the UKNIWM entry, Walton was the orchestrator of Belle Vue’s  famous firework spectaculars.

According to the press report, Bernard Hastain was present at the unveiling of the memorial. His own name must have been added as the  last Belle Vue staff name on the monument when he died in 1933.

The damaged Belle Vue memorial names section, thankfully carved in stone as the statue has been stolen. Image: manchester history.net photo

The damaged Belle Vue memorial names section, thankfully carved in stone as the statue has been stolen. Image: manchester history.net photo

19. Bernard Hastain

The last now almost unreadable name on the memorial is that of  Private Bernard A. Hastain  of the Rifle Brigade. Hastain was the scene painter of huge patriotic firework theatrical  specactles  at Belle Vue Zoo who died in the 1930s  from the effects of wounds.

Bernard Hastain was born in London in 1876, the son of an accountant’s clerk. After working in theatres in Drury Lane and at Covent Garden, he was employed by Belle Vue to paint the backdrops for the firework displays which were a major attraction at the zoo over many decades. The displays renacted major historical events, such as The Storming of Quebec and during The First World War included the renactment of battles, such as the capture of Vimy Ridge. Displays were on a spectacular scale, against a backdrop of up to 30,000 square feet of canvas, and watched by huge crowds from across a lake, many of whom were in a specially constructed grandstand.

During World War 1 Bernard Hastain served in the Rifle Brigade and later in the Machine Gun Corps. He was granted leave during 1917 to paint a backdrop for Belle Vue’s firework  reenactment of The Battle of The Ancre.

After working for the zoo for over 20 years, Bernard Hastain died in 1933 at the age of 56. His war service presumably contributed to his death and his name was the last to be placed on the memorial.

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net
Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, as they are often not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, as they are often not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

There are sadly probably many more names to add to  wartime casualty lists from zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums as our World War Zoo gardens research project continues.

We would be interested to hear of any more names or memorials that you know of and haven’t read about in the last 6 years of blogposts.

So buy a poppy (there’s a box in the Newquay Zoo office or shop if you’re visiting) and spare a thought for these men and their families on Remembrance Sunday, and also for the many people not listed who were affected by their war service, men and women not just from Britain but all over the world.

Posted November 2015 by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

More wartime garden in bloom pictures and a little Mr. Middleton

August 23, 2015

We have had some great positive responses from people who’d seen our photos from the World War Zoo Gardens Wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo.

Here as promised are some more photos, including more flowers for a bit of wartime colour.

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

middleton calender cover

Flowers in a wartime garden?

18th September 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the sudden death in 1945 of Mr. Middleton the celebrity wartime garden broadcaster and writer.

One of my favourite quotes from him is extra poignant in that sadly Mr Middleton never lived to fulfil or see this postwar return to flowering gardens:

In happier days we talked of rock gardens, herbaceous borders and verdant lawns; but with the advent of war and its grim demands, these pleasant features rapidly receded into the background to make way for the all important food crop … Presumably most of my old friends still listen when I hold forth on Leeks, Lettuces and Leatherjackets, instead of Lilac, Lilies and Lavender … These are critical times, but we shall get through them, and the harder we dig for victory, the sooner will the roses be with us again …

Quoted on the back of Duff Hart-Davis’ new book Our Land At War: A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-45 (William Collins, 2015) – review forthcoming on this blog soon.

More nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More edible nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

“Money spent on flowers, in moderation, is never wasted”

quoted in C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 26, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

“For the moment potatoes, onions, carrots and so on must receive our full attention: but we may look forward to the time when this nightmare will end, as end it must – and the morning will break with all our favourite flowers to greet us once more, and, who knows perhaps my next volume of talks will be of roses, mignonette, daffodils and lilies.” C.H.M, June 1941

C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 5, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

More pictures of colourful and often edible flowers in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015.

Perennial sweet peas - as the edible peas failed to germinate this year -  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Perennial sweet peas – as the edible peas failed to germinate this year –  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

The alternate baking and soaking weather this August has really brought out the strong colours in this veg such as this Ruby / Rhubarb Chard.

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Perennial sweet peas overlooking the emptying summer beds, produce harvested.

Proof of good eating! One of the Globe artichokes picked with our Junior Keepers this week at Newquay Zoo and thrown into the rare ‘Yaki’ Sulawesi Macaque Monkeys becomes enrichment – unusual food, plaything, must-have toy …

This is food for our animals so fresh it travels food metres, not miles, and is still almost growing when eaten, foods seconds or minutes from allotment ground to animal gourmets.

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

We hope Mr Middleton would approve of our edible garden with flowers and vegetables, even though not everything has gone well this year.

The harvest of a Macaque and Capuchin monkey favourite  – broad beans in fresh pods and on the stem / haulm – has been very poor this year. They were saved seed and seemed to show no better progress on the Growmore fertiliser side of the plot than the organic green manure side. These will soon be harvested, the haulms dug in and planting for next spring begun.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sulawesi macaque monkeys on our zoo graphics sign for the garden, tucking into broad beans.  Top photo: Jackie Noble. 

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens project August 2015

World War Zoo Gardens workshops for schools at Newquay Zoo

January 29, 2014

We’ve been busy recently at Newquay Zoo setting up for some primary school workshops about wartime life and what happened in zoos in WW2.

http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/learning-zone/world-war-zoo

This topic has survived into the new 2013/14 Primary History Curriculum in Year 6 as turning points in history, elsewhere as ‘local history’ and can be seen in the Inspire Curriculum (Cornwall Learning) as Year 6 Spring 2 Unit:  The Battle of Britain:  Bombs, Battles and Bravery. 

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

 

 

 

 

A colourful cross-Inspire Curriculum map for this topic can be downloaded via this link.

Schools visit Newquay Zoo from upcountry and around the county for many topics. One recent local school who usually go to a local museum visited to find out the answer to an unusual question. The children asked their teacher – “What happened to animals during the war?” so a trip to Newquay Zoo was the answer. Others book in as the start or finish of their wartime history classroom topic or alongside their more traditional animal studies of rainforest or habitats.

Our wartime zoo trail is quickly set up for visiting schoolchildren around the zoo, a trail that’s been shared with visitors during Armistice weekends and wartime garden weekends.

One of our temporary World War Zoo Gardens trail boards set up for schools workshops, World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

One of our temporary World War Zoo Gardens trail boards around the zoo set up for schools workshops, World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo
Our display case in the Tropical House houses a changing topical collection of wartime Home Front items from civilian and zoo life from WW1 and WW2. There’s an Eye-Spy list to encourage students to look out for and identify some of the more unusual items. They generate interesting history questions: What are they? Who used them and what were they used for?

The Battle Of Britain in miniature for a wartime boy! A beautiful wartime handmade wooden Spitfire toy, our other favourite suggestion for the wartime object collection on the BBC A History of The World.

The Battle Of Britain in miniature for a wartime boy! A beautiful wartime handmade wooden Spitfire toy in our display case  for the wartime object collection on the BBC A History of The World.

Some of my favourites are the handmade items like toy wooden Spitfires or puzzle games from scrap materials, our contribution featured in the BBC digital online museum accompanying the BBC’s “A History of The World in a Hundred Objects”.

The biggest effort is in unpacking and repacking our stored wartime artifacts. These range from large items like heavy wartime civil defence uniform jackets and land girl overcoats to smaller items like steel helmets that are interesting for students to try on and feel the weight. It’s not advisable to try on the different gas masks though, if they still have the filter sections intact or attached. Many of these are everyday wartime items that zoo keepers, their families or zoo visitors would have carried and been very familiar with.

It takes a while to pin up wartime posters and unpack ‘evacuee’ suitcases but the end result looks good so well worth the effort. Alongside our original Newquay War Weapons Week poster design by evacuee Benenden schoolgirls,  the other wartime posters (” weapons on the wall”) are battered old reproduction examples from the Imperial War Museum shop 

' Evacuee' suitcases with original handmade wartime toys, ARP advice and blue WAAF silks!  World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

‘ Evacuee’ suitcases with original handmade wartime toys, ARP advice and blue WAAF silks! World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

Different topics such as the outbreak of war and closure of places of entertainment like zoos, preparing and repairing the zoo from air raid damage, feeding the animals when they had no ration books and coping with the call up and casualties of staff are covered through enlarged photographs, newspaper headlines, adverts and posters from our collection to illustrate our talk or answer questions.

Through telling the story of how we are researching wartime zoos and showing the students many of these original source materials, we’re showing them an idea of the process of how history is written and researched, an important skill for future historians.

Rationing and Dig For Victory gardening items being laid out for our World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo  (Photo: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

Rationing and Dig For Victory gardening items being laid out for our World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo
(Photo: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

The tiniest items on display are original artefacts like shrapnel and incendiary bomb tail fins that did such damage to zoo and botanic garden glass roofs and hay stores. These small items, along with the bewildering variety of wartime cap badges and buttons, often survive as part of a wartime schoolboy’s souvenir collection of relics.

"What did you Do in the War, Granny?" is partly answered by these poster reproductions on the wall. World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

“What did you Do in the War, Granny?” is partly answered by these poster reproductions on the wall. World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

This schoolboy collecting bug often puzzles the female students – “what did girls do during the war?” they ask. This question we partly answer with a range of items from land girl greatcoats, women’s magazines, cookery books, knitted dolls and some highly desirable items such as WAAF issue silk stockings and bloomers. Most of the students know how stockings were faked using gravy browning, coffee and eyeliner pencils for the seams. Our other precious silk item, of course of animal origin, is a pilot’s silk escape map of S.E. Asian jungle islands where many of our  endangered animals come from today.

We try to cover all the senses such as the weight and roughness of uniforms, sandbags and helmets. Smell is not so easy to represent – what did wartime Britain smell like? – but we visit our recreated wartime allotment near the Lion House to harvest (in season) some fresh animal food and herbs.

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

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

Taste is a tricky sense to safely build into a workshop, what with modern concerns over food allergies (did they exist during rationing?) However our fabulous Cafe Lemur staff help introduce workshops in the quieter times of the year by cooking up batches of fresh and reasonably edible potato biscuits (recipe below) for students to try, taken from some wartime recipe sheets we have for visitors to take away. It’s always interesting to watch the facial expressions of students as they risk the first bite. Only a few aren’t eaten!

Primary history source material -  Keeper Billett of Whipsnade Zoo ZSL in tin hat and gas mask pictured in the shortlived 'Animal And Zoo magazine', November 1939 (magazine / photo from the World War Zoo archive, Newquay Zoo)

Primary history source material – Keeper Billett of Whipsnade Zoo ZSL in tin hat and gas mask pictured in the shortlived ‘Animal And Zoo magazine’, November 1939 (magazine / photo from the World War Zoo archive, Newquay Zoo)

Sound is an important part of the workshop ranging from learning the meaning of the sharp blasts of my ARP whistle to the different sound of air raid sirens – warning and all clear – keyed in from sound effects, as the real hand-cranked sirens are deafening in small spaces and we don’t want to accidentally evacuate the zoo. The gas warning rattle, beloved of football crowds in the past, is a popular and noisy thing to try at the workshop’s end.

Apart from looking at the display and trying on some of the headgear, another popular activity at the end of a workshop is a quick demonstration outside of ‘fire bomb drill’ that older children and zoo families would have learnt on firewatch or fire guard duty using our battered leaky but still working original stirrup pumps. Young arms soon tire from pumping these and thankfully there’s no fire involved but it’s a chance to soak your friends! Many gardeners made use of civil defence ‘war surplus’ stirrup pumps after the war as handy garden sprayers.

If we’re in luck, one of our older zoo volunteers pops in to answer questions about wartime childhood and even bring in their original ration books and identity cards. Sometimes our volunteers and our staff (including me!) dress up as characters using original and replica uniforms showing jobs that zoo staff would have done, often  after  a day’s work ranging from Fire Watch, Fire Service, Air Raid Precautions or Home Guard. There are a few of my family photographs of air raid shelters, harvest and garden work and stories from my evacuee parents that I retell in the talk too!

Paper pot maker in the wartime zoo garden, Newquay Zoo, 2010

Paper pot maker in the wartime zoo garden, Newquay Zoo, 2010

Wartime gardening and schools gardening

In summer we finish off our wartime zoo schools workshops with  making of newspaper pots and potting up of sunflower seeds (good source of animal food in wartime and very wildlife friendly today) for students to take home.  It’s good to hear from children and teachers that school gardens are thriving again as part of  Growing Schools Gardens, one practical follow-up to the ‘Dig For Victory’ history topic and zoo visit.

There is an excellent RHS / IWM Dig For Victory schools pack available online as a pdf   It’s good to see this growing area of the  Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto and network, something  which we’re proudly part of at Newquay Zoo as an accredited or quality learning venue since 2009.

Now that World War Two  is staying in modified form in the new ‘Gove’ 2014 primary school history national curriculum, we look forward to running many more schools WW2 workshops about this remarkable period in zoo and botanic garden history. I’m sure many teachers have enjoyed teaching the old Home Front primary history curriculum elements  and will adapt elements from units like the evacuees.

Each workshop throws up interesting new questions to answer or investigate. “What happened in zoos and associated botanic gardens in World War 1?” is one recent question we’ve been asked and are looking at, ahead of the 1914 centenary. We’ve already blogposted about the war memorials at Kew Gardens and London Zoo – see previous posts. We will be researching a WW1 version of the workshop in 2015.

The next big job is editing some of our research and collection of wartime diaries or letters into a resource pack, something we’re working on throughout 2014.  Some of our North-East wartime farmer’s diaries are on loan to Beamish museum for their new Wartime Farm.

We also run similar history sessions for secondary schools at Newquay Zoo and our sister Zoo Paignton Zoo in Devon. Herbert Whitley’s Paignton Zoo was operational in wartime as a camp site for D-Day US troops and had some strange wartime tales. Paignton also  hosted evacuee staff and animals from the bombed and blitzed Chessington Zoo.

You can find out more about the World War Zoo Gardens project, schools workshops and local offsite talks and our contact details on our schools webpage

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Wartime Savoury Potato Biscuit recipe – cooked up  on World War Zoo Gardens workshop days 

* N.B. Leave out cheese if you have dairy allergy, the pepper is enough to make the taste ‘interesting’.

Adapted from the original Recipe from Potatoes: Ministry of Food wartime leaflet No. 17 

Makes about 24 approx 3 inch biscuits

Ingredients

2  ounces margarine

3  ounces plain flour

3 ounces cooked mashed potato

6 tablespoons grated cheese*

1.5 teaspoons table salt

Pinch of cayenne or black pepper

Cooking instructions

1. Rub margarine into flour

2. Add potato, salt, pepper (and cheese if using*)

3. Work to a stiff dough

4. Roll out thinly and cut into shapes

5. Bake in a moderate oven, 15 to 20 minutes.

Not just zoo animals get adopted, even wartime allotments get Christmas presents …

December 14, 2013

oxfam unwrapped ecardChristmas is often a challenge to find the right gift, which is why we do lots of Christmas experience gifts and animal adoptions at Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. Many zoos do this gift scheme – you can find your local BIAZA zoo in Britian and Ireland on the BIAZA website.

Animal adoptions were one innovative wartime solution to shortage of funding to feed the animals especially when zoos closed at the outbreak of war for weeks or sometimes months in 1939. Both Chester Zoo and London Zoo claim to have first set this up in 1939/40, a scheme which was picked up by other zoos and has never stopped.

Our wartime allotment has just received another Christmas card this year again in 2013 – by email! It was a lively Oxfam Unwrapped allotment gift e-card with a little Christmas message: “This Xmas gift of an allotment is one way of linking the allotment and project work of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo with what is happening in troubled parts of the world today.” Maybe a new Oxfam  allotment in Afghanistan is our first informal twin.

It is very appropriate twinning as Oxfam itself was born out of a humanitarian response to wartime famine in Greece in the 1940s. You can find out more about the allotment gifts at Oxfam’s  website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped/gardeners/plant-an-allotment-ou7026ag

As the Oxfam e-card went on to say – “More budding UK gardeners are discovering the joys of growing their own. But for many poor women and men an allotment isn’t just a way of saving on the weekly shop, it’s how they feed their families and earn a bit extra to buy other essentials. And this gift will supply the tools, seeds and training to create working allotments that will produce a lot more.”

I was really pleased to hear that “As part of this project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Oxfam is helping women to establish kitchen gardens on their land to supplement their income and their family’s diet. Oxfam provides the training and distributes the seeds for the women to grow a variety of vegetables and crops. The extra produce that the family cannot eat is sold at local markets.”

Shirin Gul is one gardener who has been reaping the benefits after Oxfam distributed seeds in her village: “It’s very expensive to buy vegetables here in the mountains. I am lucky as I have a plot of land. Our family has always grown vegetables on this plot – but the Oxfam seeds mean the amount and variety of vegetables that I grow has increased. It used to just be potatoes, onions and egg-plants but now I have tomatoes, beans, squash, lettuce, cucumber – oh, everything.”

Zeinab, from the nearby village of Sah Dasht, is also a lady with green fingers. Her garden is full of produce. There are beans, potatoes, okra and tomatoes all ready to be picked. “I had never really done much farming before though I did grow potatoes but Oxfam gave me some training to help me grow the maximum amount of vegetables.”

I’m very pleased that one  Oxfam project area is Afghanistan. Each year at Newquay Zoo’s Christmas carol service (which ran for almost 20 years until this year),  the retiring collection was usually for our conservation projects at the zoo and overseas, some of them in former war-afflicted areas like Vietnam. Ten years or more ago in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001/2, I can remember asking visitors for contributions to the global zoo effort to support the recovery of  Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan which had suffered under the Taliban. There also can’t be many of us who don’t know a service family with relatives who have served there in the last ten years or are spending a wartime christmas away from home on active service.

In the next few days I will be posting about the 70th anniversary of the Mucks Mauler Liberator US aircraft crash on he Newquay coast on 28 December 1943. Relics of the plane were exhibited at Newquay Zoo’s wartime displays in the past.

It will soon be time to plan the spring planting to provide a small amount of fresh food for our zoo animals as they did in wartime. It’s time to flick through plant catalogues and plan planting schemes. You can also read through previous Wartime Christmas blog posts on this website.

2014 will be a busy year with the start of the commemoration of the Great or First World War http://www.1914.org We will continue posting about zoos, botanic gardens and allotment gardening in the First World War throughout the year.

I wish all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year 2014  to our blog readers, zoo visitors, zoo staff, their animals and gardeners everywhere.

Remembering lost wartime staff of ZSL London Zoo in WW1

November 4, 2013

 

Remembrance Sunday, poppies and Armistice Day

Updating our post (March 2014) “LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME” from November 2010/11

At London Zoo, at memorials and churches all over Britain and Europe, people will stop and gather, think and reflect on the extraordinary, almost incomprehensible loss of life in wartime which affected so many walks of life including zoos and botanic gardens.

 

Frustratingly few war memorial or roll of honour records for zoos survive in a publicly accessible form. I have been researching the wartime effects on a few typical British zoos operational in the First World War and what that generation learnt in preparation for surviving the Second world war (when our wartime dig for victory garden project at Newquay Zoo is set). The few staff casualty records I have found so far must stand in for a whole generation and zoos across the world.

Spare a thought for the keepers and zoo staff remembered on the ZSL war memorial at London Zoo. 12 names are listed from the staff  out of 54 or more (some accounts say 90) who served in the forces or munitions work in the First World War out of a staff of 150.

An exhibition at ZSL London Zoo  from 4 August to 30 September 2014 The Zoo at War tells the story of the men on the war memorial and their colleagues who survived http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo/whats-on/the-zoo-at-war

Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

Poppies are laid by ZSL staff and union members each Remembrance Sunday at the ZSL War Memorial, a Portland Stone memorial designed  by architect John James Joass in 1919, based on a medieval Lanterne des Morts memorial  to the dead at La Souterraine,  Creuse Valley, France. The memorial was moved from the main gate area in 1952 after the 1939-45 names were added and is now near to the Three Island Pond area. New metal panel engravings of the 12 staff names have been prepared in time to mark the http://www.1914.org centenary to replace the original ones (pictured here), as they were almost illegible in places.

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

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

Reading the names means these men are not forgotten.

Researching and reading a few of these background stories puts a more personal face on the scale of the losses, especially in the First World War, adding to what is on the www.cwgc.org site.  Many thanks to Kate Oliver at ZSL who photographed the very well polished brass name plates.

ZSL London Zoo is working on an exhibition about these men and ‘The Zoo’ in WW1 to mark the 1914-18 centenary.

ZSL London Zoo war memorial

 The Zoological Society of London

In memory of employees who were killed on active service in the Great War 1914-1919

Casualties are listed on the plaque in order of date of death and /or using the plaque details.

29.9.1915 Henry D Munro 4 Middlesex Regt   ZSL Keeper

The unnamed “Keeper with The King Penguin”.

On the CWGC site and UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 database (1921), ZSL Keeper Henry or Harry Munro is registered as born in the St. Pancras Middlesex area and enlisting in the Army in Camden Town, Middlesex (the area near Regent’s Park Zoo).

Quite old in military terms, he appears to have volunteered or enlisted most likely in the early months of the war in Autumn / Winter 1914; conscription was only introduced in 1916. Munro served as Private G/2197 with the local regiment, 4th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own).

Henry (Albert) Munro served in France and Flanders from 3rd January 1915 and was killed aged 39 in action on 29th September 1915. He has no known grave, being remembered on panel 49-51 amongst the 54,000 Commonwealth casualties of 1914 to 1917 on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Flanders, Belgium. His death occurred a few days after September 25th saw the British first use of poison gas during the Battle of Loos after the first German use in April. The Battle of Loos took place alongside the French and Allied offensive in Artois and Champagne, followed the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April to May 5th 1915 onwards).

 The Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). Image: CWGC website

The Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). Image: CWGC website

Henry Munro served from 31 August 1914 to 5 January 1915 in Britain, and then with the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) from the 6th January 1915 in France until his death on 29th September 1915 (Military History Sheet, Army Service Papers (“Burnt Documents”). This early service gained him the 1915 star, along with the standard Victory and British medal.

‘Harry’ Munro is listed in Golden Days, an old book of London Zoo photographs (ZSL image C-38771X?) as being involved in “the army, airships and anti-submarine patrols”. Nothing more appears on his service papers about this air and sea activity. I have little more information on this intriguing entry at present but the London Zoo typed staff lists of men of active service list him as ‘missing’ well into their 1917 Daily Occurence Book records. Many of the identifications of staff in the photographs in Golden Days will be from the memory of long retired staff.

Harry Munro is pictured with a King penguin but is listed on his staff record card as a keeper of sea lions. Intriguingly, several London Zoo histories list secret and unsuccessful attempts made early in the war to track submarines using trained seals or sealions. Airships were also used for U-boat spotting. I wonder if and how Harry was involved?

On the Mary Evans Picture blog “London Zoo at War” there features an interesting reprinted picture from the Mary Evans archive: “In March 1915, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News featured this picture, showing a zookeeper in khaki, returning to his place of work while on leave to visit the seals, and to feed them some fish in what would be a rather charming publicity photograph.” This soldier, according to Adrian Taylor at ZSL, who worked on the London Zoo WW1 centenary exhibition, is George Graves, one of Munro’s keeper colleagues in khaki who survived the war and returned to work at London Zoo.

henry munro

Henry Munro Panel section by Adrian Taylor from The Zoo At War exhibition at ZSL London Zoo, WW1 centenary 2014.

Henry Munro was born in Clerkenwell, in 1876, not far from Regent’s Park zoo (London 1891 census RG12/377) and may have worked initially as a Farrier / Smith, aged 15. His family of father William J Munro, a Southwark born Printer aged 42 and mother Eliza aged 43 (born Clerkenwell) were living in 3 Lucey Road, (Bermondsey, St James, Southwark?)

Private Henry or Harry Munro was 39 when he died, married with children. He had married (Ada) Florence Edge on 20th November 1899. They had three children, born or registered in Camden Town near the zoo) by the time he was killed on active service. Hilda was 13 (born 29th March 1901), Albert Charles was 9 (born 5th June 1906) and Elsie, 7 (born 17 August 1908), all living at 113 Huddleston Road, Tufnell Park to the north of the zoo in London in 1915. Interestingly, maps list Regent’s Park as having a barracks on Albany street (A4201).

We covered more of Munro’s story on the centenary of his death 29 September 2015:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/remembering-henry-munro-keeper-with-king-penguin-died-29-september-1915/

William Bodman is listed on the Loos Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Loos Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

18.03.1916  William Bodman 6th Btn, East Kent Regt, Private ZSL Helper.       

Helpers were the most junior in the keeper ranks, new or younger staff who had not attained full keeper rank.

Private L/7736 William Bodman 6th Btn, East Kent Regt (Buffs) ZSL Helper, aged 29 (born c. 1887)is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, panel 15 to 19, having no known grave, one of over 20,000 men recorded on this memorial to the missing in this area.

Currently no Army Service or Pension records have so far been found but his medal records show that in addition to the standard Victory and British war medal he earned a 1914 star, entering service / theatre of war 7th September 1914. Born in Clerkenwell (Middlesex, London ), William was normally resident in St. John’s Wood (Middlesex, London) not far from Regent’s Park. He enlisted in Stratford, (Essex, London) and may well have been a former soldier or Territorial Army to have entered overseas service so quickly.

Conscription, Lord Derby and Knowsley

In March 1916, conscription came into force in Britain. The first Military Service Bill was passed in Britain on January 25th , introducing conscription for single men between 18 to 41 with effect from March. On May 16th, the Second Military Service Bill was passed in Britain, extending conscription to married men over 18 to 41; this age range was later extended.

Previously volunteering in 1914 and 1915 had brought enough recruits. From 1915, Lord Derby’s scheme encouraged men to ‘attest’ their willingness to serve when the appropriate time came. Several of the London Zoo staff have these Derby Scheme papers in their National Archives entries. Lord Derby was part of the Stanley family, the owners of Knowsley Hall, home to a famous Victorian menagerie painted by Edward Lear as old as London Zoo itself. Knowsley has run the Knowsley Safari Park on its estate since 1971. Lord Derby encouraged his gardens staff to enlist and set up the Derby Scheme, becoming Secretary of State for War from 1916-18. But that is another story for a different blog post.

10.07.1916  Albert A Dermott  13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, Rifleman ZSL Messenger

Rifleman S/4504 Albert Arthur Dermott, 13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, (The Prince Consort’s Own) ZSL Messenger, aged 22, was killed on the Somme and has no known grave, being listed on the Thiepval Memorial.

Dermott is listed amongst the 72,000 names on the strangely shaped Thiepval memorial to the missing dead who have no known grave of the Somme battles of 1916-18. The memorial by Lutyens which sits high on a hill overlooking the killing fields of France is nicknamed by some the ‘elephant’, with its howdah or passengers on a zoo elephant ride.

Several ZSL staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

Several ZSL staff with no known grave are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

According to CWGC records, Albert Arthur Dermott was the son of Frederick John Dermott and (Margaret) Rachel Frances Dermott (nee Creswell) of 2 Queen’s Road, Dalston, Middlesex, London. After his mother Rachel’s death, Dermott’s father Frederick remarried a Louisa Archer.

Albert was born in Islington, Middlesex, London on 25th April 1894 and was resident and enlisted in Marylebone, Middlesex. According to his medal records, he entered service overseas on 29 July 1915 (earning a 1915 star) and was killed just under a year later. He would have been only just past 22 years old when he was killed in action.

Dermott is listed on the Thiepval project database The following biographical information was researched by Ken and Pam Linge for Dermott’s database entry, culled from Census information – Dermott was the youngest of five children. His siblings were Rachel Margaret Dermott (b.1883), Alice Louisa Dermott (b. 1885), Frederick John Dermott (b.1887), Edith Dermott (b. 1891). The young Albert was educated at Shap Street School, Hackney from 9th September 1901.

15.9.1916        Arthur G Whybrow      2547, 19 Bn. County of London Regt , ZSL Helper.

Whybrow joined up on 4 September 1914 and went to France on 8th March 1915. He was killed during the Somme battles, probably in the clearance of High Wood by 47th (London) Division, 15 September 1916.

Born around 1891, Arthur Whybrow worked first as a Domestic Gardener (like his father John) before joining London Zoo as a keeper (noted on his marriage certificate in July 1913). He married Daisy Sutliff and they had a child, Winifred Daisy Whybrow born 1913/14. Daisy remarried after Arthur’s death, a Mr Goodard in mid 1919.

Whybrow is one of the 101 men identified in an individual grave 1A.A.10” title=”A G Whybrow headstone picture” target=”_blank”> at London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval. High Wood was fiercely fought over during the Battle of the Somme until cleared by 47th (London) Division on 15 September 1916 when Whybrow was killed. The original ‘London’ Cemetery at High Wood was begun when 47 men of the 47th Division were buried in a large shell hole on 18 and 21 September 1916. Other burials were added later, mainly of officers and men of the 47th Division who died like Arthur Whybrow on 15 September 1916. His gravestone looks slightly more squeezed in next to others than normal as if this is a mass grave.

A G Whybrow lies buried with many others of his London Regiment who died on the same day. Source: CWGC

A G Whybrow lies buried with many others of his London Regiment who died on the same day. Source: CWGC

Whybrow's grave lies in a short row (I think) just behind the Special white central memorial stone near the entrance, London Cemetery , Longueval. Image: cwgc.org website

Whybrow’s grave lies in a short row (I think) just behind the Special white central memorial stone near the entrance, London Cemetery , Longueval. Image: cwgc.org website

At the Armistice Whybrow’s cemetery contained 101 graves. The cemetery was then greatly enlarged when remains were brought in from the surrounding battlefields, but the original battlefield cemetery of London Regiment soldiers where Whybrow is buried is preserved intact within the larger cemetery, now know as the London Cemetery and Extension. The cemetery, one of five in the immediate vicinity of Longueval which together contain more than 15,000 graves, is the third largest cemetery on the Somme with 3,873 First World War burials, 3,114 of them unidentified.

The flat landscape and scale of the Somme cemeteries around Longueval can clearly be seen here. Image: London Cemetery, Longueval cwgc.org website

The flat landscape and scale of the Somme cemeteries around Longueval can clearly be seen here. Image: London Cemetery, Longueval cwgc.org website

Listed on CWGC website as the son of John and Louisa Whybrow, of Hampstead, London and husband of Daisy Goodard (formerly Whybrow), of 193, Junction Rd., Highgate, London.

05.10.1916      Gerald P Patterson       19th County of London Regt     ZSL Helper

The 19 County of London Regiment may be an error or his first regiment. This is likely to be 43689 Private Gerald Phillips Patterson of the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment was killed on 5th October 1916 during the Somme fighting. He is buried in an individual grave XI. C. 4. in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. There is no family inscription on his headstone, pictured on the TWGPP website. .

The life of his battalion during the Somme battles is well set out in the Somme school visit site http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=2956

It is likely that Patterson went into action with the Norfolks on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Somme as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division as part of K2, Kitchener’s 2nd Army Group of New Army volunteers. Patterson was most likely killed during the attack and capture of the Schwaben Redoubt on the 5th October 1916. The next day his battalion went back for rest out of the line.

Many of Patterson’s 8th Norfolk battalion who were killed and whose bodies or graves were not found are remembered on the nearby Thiepval Memorial, alongside other ZSL staff like Albert Dermott.

ZSL Helper G.P. Patterson's grave lies amongst those to the right of the Cross of Sacrifice, Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme. Image: cwgc.org website

ZSL Helper G.P. Patterson’s grave lies amongst those to the right of the Cross of Sacrifice, Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme. Image: cwgc.org website

Patterson is listed on the ZSL memorial plaque as 19th County of London Regiment; along with several other ZSL staff he enlisted locally in Camden Town, Middlesex, close to the London Zoo. Later he must have transferred to his County regiment the Norfolks as he was born in Great Yarmouth like his parents and siblings. His father was a school attendance officer and Patterson was the youngest of 7 brothers and sisters, all born in Great Yarmouth. On leaving school, the 1911 census lists him as an Auctioneer’s Articled Pupil, before becoming a ZSL Helper (a junior or trainee keeper rank).

There are now 1,268 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the Connaught cemetery. The vast majority of the burials are those of officers and men who died in the summer and autumn of 1916 battles of the Somme. Half of the burials are unidentified, many brought in from smaller cemeteries around the Somme battlefields area.

23.10.1916      William Dexter  Kings Royal Rifles, Rifleman    ZSL Keeper 

Rifleman S/19841 William Dexter was a married keeper enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, The Prince  Consort’s Own, who died on or around 23 October 1916 aged 31. Dexter is buried in an individual grave XVIII. J. 5. at Bienvillers Cemetery, near Arras,and the Ancre, France.

Dexter is buried in the rows of graves to the left of the Cross of Sacrifice at Bienvillers Military Cemetery. Image www.cwgc.org

Dexter is buried in the rows of graves to the left of the Cross of Sacrifice at Bienvillers Military Cemetery. Image http://www.cwgc.org

According to his granddaughter Nova Jones whom I met at London Zoo in March 2014, William Dexter came from a zoo family of several generations. The daughter of William’s daughter Dora, Nova has found in time for ZSL’s wartime centenary exhibition a photograph of William Dexter in uniform with Rifles cap badge and has confirmed with the Royal Greenjackets Museum that “William as  a Rifleman (Service no. S/19841) served with the 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) during the First World War.” 

Burial details of how William Dexter was identified. Source: CWGC

Burial details of how William Dexter was identified from the regimental number on his boot . Source: CWGC

William Dexter was listed on his Army Medical Form as a “Keeper at Zoo”, 5 foot 5 ½ inches, Physical development ‘Good’. His father Robert Dexter had been employed at the zoo from the 1860s onwards. After working as a labourer and painter, William obtained employment ‘as worth keeping’ in 1908, rising to Junior Keeper of Ostriches in 1913 before joining up. The 31-year-old father of four children, enlisted in the Rifle Brigade in December 1915.

A portion of boot with his numbering appears to be all that helped identify William Dexter and prevent him being buried like all the others as

A portion of boot with his numbering appears to be all that helped identify William Dexter and prevent him being buried like all the others as “Unknown British Soldier”

Dexter's name amongst a row of Unknown British Soldiers. Source: CWGC

Dexter’s name amongst a row of Unknown British Soldiers. Source: CWGC

After barely one month serving in France he was listed as “Missing – accepted as having died on or since 23 October 1916”. Although war service and pension records are difficult sometimes to decipher, “A portion of boot” was seemingly all that was left to identify his missing body , along with posthumous medals and a pension, for official recognition and return by the authorities of Keeper Dexter to his wife and four children.

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1 (Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1
(Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

It is quite rare amongst the photographs in zoo archives such as ZSL London Zoo to find the name of the staff alongside the animal pictured. A photo exists in the ZSL archives of Keeper William Dexter with an Ostrich cart giving rides in 1913, pictured in John Edwards’ book of London Zoo in Old Photographs, now in a new larger 2nd edition.  I was lucky enough to meet Dexter’s  granddaughter Nova Jones at the London Zoo War memorial,  when she dropped of this photo of William Dexter in uniform for the  London Zoo’s WW1 exhibition.

Later in the ZSL photo archive, his own son Edward William appears as ‘Reptile Keeper Dexter’ in a 1930s photograph. Private William Dexter’s son, ‘Ted’ was born in 1914, the year that the First World War broke out. According to his granddaughter after serving in Civil Defence, training men as stretcher bearers at a St. Pancras ARP depot, he served in the Royal Fusiliers fighting in Italy in World War Two. After the war Ted became Head Reptile Keeper, only to die trying to save two contractors from a carbon dioxide filled pit at the zoo in a tragic accident at the zoo in December 1960. A posthumous award of gallantry was added to the other Dexter family medals.

According to Soldiers Died in the Great War listing, William Dexter was born and resident in Regent’s Park. According to his WW1 Descriptive Report on Enlistment (Army Service Papers / Army Pension records, Burnt Documents), William Dexter married Sarah Elizabeth Dexter (nee Snuggs) in South Hampstead on 9th September 1909.

CWGC listing: Son of Robert and Mary Ann Dexter; husband of Sarah Elizabeth Dexter, of 12, Manley St., Regent’s Park, London.

They had four children born in St. Pancras by the time William was killed in October 1916: Ena Mary, 6 (born 2nd October 1910), Dora Florence, aged 4 (born 20th March 1912), the future zoo keeper Edward William, aged 2 (born 12 February 1914) and Joan Elsie, aged 1 (born 5th October 1915).

The inscription chosen by Dexters wife and family. Source: CWGC

The inscription chosen by Dexters wife and family. Source: CWGC

The inscription on Dexter’s headstone reads: “Always living in the hearts of those who loved him” and the headstone can be seen on the TWGPP website.

09.04.1917      Robert Jones            9 Royal Fusiliers       ZSL Gardener

There are two current possibilities for this name,awaiting research:

Private GS/60595 Robert Jones, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was born in Islington or Highgate, Middlesex around 1881 and was married to Bertha Lewin of Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon around 1905 / 1906 in Camden / Highgate. He was formerly listed as 23358 6th Middlesex Regiment, having enlisted in Harringay and been resident in Highgate. On the 1901 census he is listed as a Gardener (not domestic) and in 1911 as a Nursery Gardener.

R Jones Faubourg

On the CWGC website he is listed as the husband of Bertha Jones of 22 Caxton Street, Little Bowden, Market Harborough. This Robert Jones died of wounds on 7 April 1917 (two days different from the ZSL dates on the war memorial plaque) and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery in Arras. His headstone (photographed on the TWGPP website) bears the family inscription from his wife reads: “Thou art not far from us who love thee well”

The other possibility with the same date as the ZSL war memorial plaque is 472712, 1st / 12th Btn. London Regiment (The Rangers), aged 31 buried in Individual grave A2 ,  Gouy-en Artois Cemetery, killed or died of wounds on the first day of the Battle of Arras 1917. The CWGC lists him as the brother of Mrs. Clara Shafer, of 37, Cornwallis Rd., Walthamstow, London. He was born in 1886 in Grays, Essex and enlisted in Plaistow. He appears on the 1911 census not to have been a gardener but a coal porter in a gas works.

This coal porter seems less likely to be the ‘Robert Jones ZSL gardener’ but without surviving service or pension papers for either one that I have found so far, even his ZSL staff record cards give few clues as to which one is the ZSL Gardener. Both deserve to be remembered.

472712 Private Robert Jones' gravestone is just behind the Cross of Sacrifice in this picture of the tiny Gouy en Artois Cemetery near Arras. Image: cwgc.org

472712 Private Robert Jones’ gravestone is just behind the Cross of Sacrifice in this picture of the tiny Gouy en Artois Cemetery near Arras. Image: cwgc.org

Gouy-en-Artois where one Robert Jones is buried is a village 15 kilometres south-west of Arras. The cemetery extension was made in April 1917 at the time of the Allied advance from Arras. It contains 44 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

ZSL librarian H G J Peavot is remembered on the Arras Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

ZSL librarian H G J Peavot is remembered on the Arras Memorial
(Image: CWGC website)

21.4.1917        Henry George Jesse Peavot      Honourable Artillery   Co       ZSL Librarian  

B Co. 1st Btn, aged 35.  Killed during Battle of Arras period, No known grave, listed on Arras Memorial. Married.

Henry George Jesse Peavot, a 35 year old ZSL Librarian  served in B Company, 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company and  died on  21st April 1917. He has no known grave and his name is listed amongst the 35,000 missing men listed on the Arras Memorial alone.

Like many of these zoo staff, Peavot was married; his widow Maud or Maude Pravot as far as I can discover never remarried and lived to mourn his loss for almost seven decades until 1985. They had one child. Previously a ZSL typist, Maude kept in touch with ZSL for many years, a file of personal correspondence in the ZSL Archive appears to continue from 1917 to about 1932 and is likely to be pension related. The legacy of absence and injury from both world wars is still ongoing or at least within our working and living memory, in families and professions such as zoo keeping across Europe.

A former colleague of Peavot from the ZSL Library, Edwin Ephraim Riseley was also killed a few months later in August 1917, commemorated at the Linnean Society Library where he worked after leaving London Zoo – see our Linnean Society Roll of Honour blog post.

ZSL gardener Albert Staniford would no doubt in life have appreciated the efforts of the Commonwealth War Graves gardeners in this beautifully maintained cemetery where he lies buried, Maroc Cemetery, Grenay, France. Image: cwgc.org website

ZSL gardener Albert Staniford would no doubt in life have appreciated the efforts of the Commonwealth War Graves gardeners in this beautifully maintained cemetery where he lies buried, Maroc Cemetery, Grenay, France. Image: cwgc.org website

23.9.1917        Albert Staniford            Royal Field / Garrison Artillery  ZSL Gardener 

174234 216 Siege Battery. RGA   Individual grave, Maroc British cemetery, Grenay, France.  Period of Third Battle of Ypres / Passchendaele, July to November 1917.

French and German burials lie amidst the British graves, Maroc Cemetery, Grenay, France. Image: cwgc.org.uk

French and German burials lie amidst the British graves, Maroc Cemetery, Grenay, France. Image: cwgc.org.uk

ZSL gardener Albert Staniford was born in 1893 in the Regent’s Park area, the son of Annie and Alfred, who was also a gardener. His medal record card states that he served in both the Royal Field Artillery as 17692 and 216 Siege Battery,Royal Garrison Artillery as 174234 Gunner Staniford. He embarked for France on 31 August 1915, entitling him to a 1915 star, alongside the Victory and British War Medals. He served in France for two years before his death in September 1917, only three months after his marriage in London on June 6 1917 to Esther Amelia Barrs (b. 1896).The CWGC listing has no family inscription on the headstone.

staniford

Staniford is buried in Maroc British Cemetery which is located in the village of Grenay, about 15 kilometres south-east of Bethune. During the greater part of the war it was a front-line cemetery used by fighting units and field ambulances. Plot II was begun in April 1917 by the 46th (North Midland) Division. Maroc British Cemetery now contains 1,379 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War.

03.10.1917      William Perkins      Royal Garrison Artillery     ZSL Keeper

115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery. Born in 1878 in Lifton in Devon to a gardener / labourer father Thomas and Cornish mother Emma Jane. Listed as a keeper on his wedding certificate, he married Lucy Elizabeth MacGregor in London in 23 August 1914 and lived in Eton Street, NW London (near other keepers).

ZSL Keeper William Perkins is buried in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery , Ypres, Belgium. Image: cwgc.org website

ZSL Keeper William Perkins is buried in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery , Ypres, Belgium. Image: cwgc.org website

Perkins is buried in an individual plot, Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium. This appropriately named cemetery for an artillery soldier occupies a site at a road junction where three batteries of Belgian artillery were positioned in 1915. The cemetery was begun by the 8th Division in June 1917 after the Battle of Messines and it was used until October 1918, largely for burials from a dressing station in a cottage near by. Almost half of the graves are of casualties who belonged, or were attached, to artillery units. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

19.1.1918      ?Alfred L? Day                2 Rifle Brigade                          ZSL Helper

Currently a bit of a mystery! The most likely casualty appears at first to be Alfred Lomas Day, S/20305 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, killed 29 November 1917 and buried at individual grave 1841, Rethel French National Cemetery, Ardennes, France. Rethel was in German hands from the early days of the First World War until 6 November 1918. Rethel French National Cemetery contains the graves of almost 3,000 French soldiers. The Commonwealth Plot, in the east part of the cemetery, contains 110 graves. The French National Cemetery also contains Russian and Rumanian graves. 19.1.1918 may be a wrong date transcribed on a well polished brass plate.

Searching through the ZSL staff records cards, there is mention of an R. Day or Richard Day who died as a POW in German Hands on 19 January 1918. I have not yet located service records for this R.Day. On electoral rolls, he lived in the same road as an Alfred Lomas Day. Maybe the two men have become confused, A Day looking a little like R Day in the handwritten staff listing in the Daily Occurences Book. Maybe thy re one and the same man. Again,another one for further research.

10.9.1918        Charles William Dare  County of London Regiment              ZSL Helper,

245116, London Regt (Royal Fusiliers),  remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial having no known grave.

Charles Dare has no known grave and is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial. Image: www.cwgc.org

Charles Dare has no known grave and is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial.
Image: http://www.cwgc.org

This Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. Britain lost more men in 1918 than it did in the whole of the Second World War.

10.9.1918        Charles William Dare    County of London Regt             ZSL  Helper,

originally enlisted as 2965 or 610564  19th London Regiment, he served also as Private 245116,  2nd (City of London) Battalion  (Royal Fusiliers). He  was killed on active service,  aged 20 and is listed on the  Vis-en-Artois memorial, one of 9580 killed in this area in the “Advance to Victory”  having no known grave.

Charles Dare was killed during period of the 100 days of the  “Advance to Victory”  (August to November / Armistice  1918). August 8th marked the beginning of the Battle of Amiens was known as the ‘Black Day’ of the German Army; on the 15th, British troops crossed the Ancre river and on the 30th, the Somme river. Advances carried on throughout September. The Armistice came two months after Charles Dare’s  death on the 11th November 1918.

Charles Dare was born and lived in St. Pancras between April and June 1898 and enlisted in Camden Town. He had an older sister, Lilian E Dare, two years older, also born in St. Pancras. His father Charles J Dare was a distiller’s clerk from Hereford, aged 38 in 1901 living at 16 Eton Street, St. Pancras parish / borough (London 1901 census RG 13/133). His mother Mary A Dare, 37,  was born in Lugwardine,  Hereford.

A Helper in ZSL staff terms is a junior or trainee member of staff before they become a Junior then Senior Keeper.

Interestingly ZSL keeper William Dexter lived nearby at 9 Eton Street, Regent’s Park on enlistment. Many of the staff lived nearby each other and the Zoo on the same roads in Camden and surrounding areas. By the time his pension was awarded to his widow, Mrs. Dexter had moved to 12 Manley Street, Regent’s Park with William’s parents and his four children.


“TILL THE RED WAR GLEAM LIKE A DIM RED ROSE /

LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME”

ZSL war memorial verse from James Elroy Flecker, “Burial In England”

Upadte on research March 2014

I have previously written about the WW2 casualties from London Zoo and Whipsnade on a separate blog post.

Throughout the WW1 centenary 2014 – 2019, I will be researching their backgrounds through the census, National Archives, military service records and ZSL London Zoo archive staff records. I have spoken to relatives engaged in family history research into some of these men such as William Dexter and Henry Peavot, along with former London Zoo keepers like Les Bird, who has visited many of the ZSL graves. There are still many questions to be answered.

There are in all possibility sadly many more names to add to the known wartime casualty lists from zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums worldwide as our World War Zoo gardens research project continues. I would be interested to hear of any more names or memorials you know of. I am  very interested in hearing from anyone who has further information about these men or of other wartime zoo, aquarium or botanic garden related gravestones or rolls of honour.

So buy a poppy (there’s usually a box in the Newquay Zoo office or shop if you’re visiting) and spare a thought for these men and their families on Remembrance Sunday, and also for the many people not listed who were affected by their war service, men and women not just from  Britain but all over the world.

2009 first autumn of the garden project. Afternoon autumn light on the poppies, plants and sandbags of the wartime zoo keeper’s garden at Newquay Zoo

And then enjoy the noisy peace of the zoo gardens or wherever you find yourself …

Not just zoo animals get adopted, even wartime allotments get Christmas presents …

December 18, 2012

oxfam unwrapped ecardChristmas is often a struggle to find the right gift, which is why we do lots of Christmas animal adoptions at Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. Many zoos do this gift scheme – you can find your local BIAZA zoo in Britian and Ireland on the BIAZA website.

Animal adoptions were one innovative wartime solution to shortage of funding to feed the animals especially when zoos closed at the outbreak of war for weeks or sometimes months in 1939. Both Chester Zoo and London Zoo claim to have first set this up in 1939/40, a scheme which was picked up by other zoos and has never stopped.

Our wartime allotment has just received another Christmas card this year again in 2013 – by email! It was a lively Oxfam Unwrapped allotment gift e-card with a little Christmas message: “This Xmas gift of an allotment is one way of linking the allotment and project work of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo with what is happening in troubled parts of the world today.” Maybe this new allotment in Afghanistan or Africa is our first informal twin …

It is very appropriate twinning as Oxfam itself was born out of a humanitarian response to wartime famine in Greece in the 1940s. You can find out more about the allotment gifts at Oxfam’s  website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped/gardeners/plant-an-allotment-ou7026ag

As the Oxfam e-card went on to say – “More budding UK gardeners are discovering the joys of growing their own. But for many poor women and men an allotment isn’t just a way of saving on the weekly shop, it’s how they feed their families and earn a bit extra to buy other essentials. And this gift will supply the tools, seeds and training to create working allotments that will produce a lot more.”

I was really pleased to hear that “As part of this project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Oxfam is helping women to establish kitchen gardens on their land to supplement their income and their family’s diet. Oxfam provides the training and distributes the seeds for the women to grow a variety of vegetables and crops. The extra produce that the family cannot eat is sold at local markets.”

Shirin Gul is one gardener who has been reaping the benefits after Oxfam distributed seeds in her village: “It’s very expensive to buy vegetables here in the mountains. I am lucky as I have a plot of land. Our family has always grown vegetables on this plot – but the Oxfam seeds mean the amount and variety of vegetables that I grow has increased. It used to just be potatoes, onions and egg-plants but now I have tomatoes, beans, squash, lettuce, cucumber – oh, everything.”

Zeinab, from the nearby village of Sah Dasht, is also a lady with green fingers. Her garden is full of produce. There are beans, potatoes, okra and tomatoes all ready to be picked. “I had never really done much farming before though I did grow potatoes but Oxfam gave me some training to help me grow the maximum amount of vegetables.”

I’m very pleased that one  Oxfam project area is Afghanistan. Each year at Newquay Zoo’s Christmas carol service (which ran for almost 20 years until this year),  the retiring collection was usually for our conservation projects at the zoo and overseas, some of them in former war-afflicted areas like Vietnam. Ten years or more ago in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001/2, I can remember asking visitors for contributions to the global zoo effort to support the recovery of  Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan which had suffered under the Taliban. There also can’t be many of us who don’t know a service family with relatives who have served there in the last ten years or are spending a wartime christmas away from home on active service.

In the next few days I will be posting about the 70th anniversary of the Mucks Mauler Liberator US aircraft crash on he Newquay coast on 28 December 1943. Relics of the plane were exhibited at Newquay Zoo’s wartime displays in the past.

It will soon be time to plan the spring planting to provide a small amount of fresh food for our zoo animals as they did in wartime. It’s time to flick through plant catalogues and plan planting schemes. You can also read through previous blog posts on this website.

I wish all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year 2014  to our blog readers, zoo visitors, zoo staff, their animals and gardeners everywhere.

War Horse, War Elephant, War Ferret? The wartime role of zoo and other animals from Tommy’s Ark and the World War Zoo gardens?

January 15, 2012

 With all the publicity surrounding the film of War Horse this week, I was interested over Christmas to be given and read Richard Van Emden’s book on soldiers and their animals in the Great war, called Tommy’s Ark (Paperback, Bloomsbury), the animal equivalent of Kenneth Helphand’s Defiant Gardens book.


 Last week at Cornwall College Newquay, I delivered one of their varied programme of  research seminars by outside speakers, talking  about my research  into the role of zoos, zoologists, (botanic) gardens and nature in wartime.


Throughout the talk and questions, the value of nature and the natural world in extreme times kept cropping up. Peter McGregor the Professor who organises the seminars mentioned he had been surprised when he traced the famous research into Blue tits pecking cream through  tops milk bottles was published in and dates back to 1940, when he thought minds would be more  focussed on the Battle of Britain and threat of invasion.


The respect for and value (or lack of value) of wildlife in the midst of the strange life and death world of the trenches and wartime came up in conversation after the seminar too.  I was busy answering questions and  chatting whilst students looked through a small display afterwards of wartime memorabilia, wartime gardening and wildlife books and magazines from our collection. During this and other sessions, I’m often asked by students what they ‘could or should be reading and so I mentioned this new book by Richard van Emden to several students, alongside the older, more wide ranging books Jilly Cooper’s Animals in War (recently reprinted in paperback) and Juliet Gardiner’s The Animal’s War (IWM). Jilly’s book helped fundraise for a memorail to these animals in London.





Whipsnade elephants ploughing for victory (Animal and Zoo magazine Sept.1940) . In WW1, German zoo elephants did similar farming and forestry work. 

We had talked in the seminar about the known cases of keepers killed from London and Belle Vue Zoo (Manchester), many of them serving in the artillery either as hardy physical labour or more probably for their large animal handling skills of the horses and mules with the guns.


Alongside the War Horse type material of the suffering of horses and mules, Tommy’s Ark is full of unusual details about the mascots, pets and wildlife spotting, even the occasional spot of hunting and angling that officers and soldiers in the trenches recorded in diaries, letters home and in the oral history archive that Richard Van Emden and the Imperial War Museum have collected. Lieutenant Philip Gosse, RAMC, the son of a famous naturalist family, toured the trenches on the lookout for local small mammal specimens to be sent (stuffed) to the Natural History Museum in London. There is a roll of honour / war memorial of their staff killed in action near the NHM entrance.  Newquay’s doctor / director of health (or his relative?) Major AGP Hardwick RAMC crops up in the book, from an account in the IWM archives, of his smuggling ferrets back to the trenches for ratting duties. 


Tommy’s Ark  is a rich, rewarding, sometimes unsettling and well organised book by Richard Van Emden, http://www.richardvanemden.co.uk/ one to match his oral history The Last Fighting Tommy about Harry Patch  whose medals can be seen on display not far from our base in Newquay Zoo at Bodmin’s DCLI Museum   http://cornwalls-regimentalmuseum.org/specialfeatures.html


Why do the troops on both sides  notice animals, befriend them, make mascots of them? Several of these more unlikely or unruly mascots ended up in zoos, including the role model for Winnipeg the bear at London Zoo, better known as Winnie the Pooh in AA Milne’s books. The answer is probably the same as why the students I was talking to had staked their time and money (especially when tuition fees increase next year) in a course and career that will likely not make them rich. Probably not famous  either, except for some  budding wildlife film makers, photographers, potential presenters and journalists on the Wildlife Education and Media course.


It’s perhaps something in the blood, a vocation, a passion, a different view or value of the world that makes a professional or  amateur naturalist,  zookeeper, or aquarist  of one person, but seem a strange career choice to another. E.O. Wilson calls it biophilia, a love of living things. Richard Mabey has written very movingly about this, especially in his darkest days battling depression. Kenneth Helphand’s recent book Defiant Gardens, much mentioned in our wartime zoo gardens blog, covers much the same from a planting and gardening angle.  


The wartime pages of Animal and Zoo Magazine (1936-41) are full of articles that would not be out-of-place in today’s peacetime BBC Wildlife magazine – nature notes, photographs, zoo news – with the occasional snippet about how the war was affecting wildlife. There was an obvious  tension in the magazine letters page between those who would like to see no mention of the war at all (Dublin Zoo’s description as ‘a place of peaceful resort’ in war and peace comes into mind from Catherine De Courcy’s excellent recent history of that zoo) alongside those readers and naturalists who observed how the role, value  and lives of wild and domestic animals are changed by war.


The same generation that observed wildlife in the trenches went on to run zoos and observe wildlife in the Second World War where a whole new generation of naturalists were called up.  In this later war, the death of Chester Zoo’s aquarist Peter Fallwasser from wounds from the 1942 North Africa fighting (below) is made more poignant through his excitement about wildlife spotting in letters home from Egypt and the Nile, reproduced (below) in Chester Zoo News newsletters at the time. Copies of these newsletters 1930s – 1980s are available scanned on a CD Rom from Chester Zoo Archive.

 

Looking around the room at Cornwall College Newquay, many of the young men and women there were of an age where two or three generations before, they would have been called up on active service and war work and extraordinary things required of them. In an age where looming environmental problems and challenges are the modern equivalent of Churchill’s ‘gathering storm‘ in the 1930s, extraordinary things may well be required of this generation coming through.  

 

More from The World War Zoo Gardens project blog next month … until then, enjoy a peaceful few moments in the garden.

 




Chester Zoo Archive Zoo News, 1942/3

1942 ‘the end of the beginning’ 70 years on in the World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo

January 1, 2012

Thursday 1st January 1942      Very dark morning. Saw the New Year in with a drop of Don’s special port …

Friday 2nd January 1942            Not so bad a day. On Fire Watch in evening. Got permission and went down the Palais for a couple of hours. Had quite a nice time. (from Eileen’s Diary, 1942 – see below)

Happy New Year? 1941 was reckoned the ‘grimmest year of the war’ for Britain and the Allies by some historians (see our January 2011 blog post). 1942 didn’t start much better with the collapse of Empire outposts like Hong King, Singapore, Burma and Malaya and American bases like the Philippines before the unstoppable Bamboo Blitzkreig of the Japanese Imperial Army, Air Force and Navy.

Clays Fertiliser advert from 1940s Britain

By the end of 1941, despite the Enigma codebreaking successes at Bletchley Park http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/  (where several zoo staff and future conservationists were working, no doubt their ‘Zoo German’ being useful),  the war at sea against the U-boats was going badly for the convoys of Merchant ships supplying Britain, along with several large Royal Navy ships sunk in December 1941 by  the Japanese.   1942 would see large naval battles at Midway and Coral Sea.

Limited successes against the Italians in the Desert War of North Africa in late 1941 and early 1942 might have brought a ready crop of Italian prisoners into POW camps in Britain, soon to be working in the market gardens and fields of Britain. However January 1942 saw the arrival of a new German general for the Afrika Korps Rommel the Desert Fox who would soon see his troops besieging Tobruk (falling 21 June) and threatening Egypt. Only the victory by Montgomery on 4 November 1942 at El Alamein would reverse this long retreat and uncertainty.

The German advance at Stalingrad was stifled by another harsh winter and stubborn Russian resistance; German forces would collapse early in 1943. The church bells (a warning of invasion) were rung in Britain in celebration of North African victories for the first time since 1939. It was as Churchill observed, at a low point in his wartime leadership, the ‘end of the beginning’.  

From a World War Zoo Gardens perspective, one wonders how many keepers and staff from zoos and botanic gardens across Britain, the Empire, Europe, Germany, Russia and now America and Japan were now pitched on opposing sides into this now worldwide conflict.

Already by 1942 the shortages of ‘manpower’ in zoos were being plugged on a  by female staff and old veterans of the Great War.  By 1942, many Japanese zoo keepers and vets had been drafted into the army. The Japanese mainland was raided by Jimmy Doolittle’s US bomber squadron on April 18 1942. The official response to this raid on Tokyo was quite devastating, with many large zoo animals being euthanased on order of  the Japanese authorities and army, a sorry and unpleasant tale told in Mayumi Itoh’s book Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy.   

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper

Already one of the unwilling guests of the Japanese Army, ZSL Whipsnade Keeper Percy Murray Adams was likely to have become  a Japanese POW during early 1942, dying on 28th July  1943  (see our November 2011 armistice blog post). One of his ZSL staff colleagues at London Zoo , ZSL Clerk Lieutenat Henry Peris Davies  RA was already dead ‘Killed in Action’ against the Japanese on 21 December 1941 aged 27 (listed on the CWGC Singapore Memorial, having no known grave). London Zoo staff, many of whom served and suffered through the Great War and the loss of 12 colleagues, were seeing it happen all over again. Almost exactly a year earlier on 18th December 1940 another ZSL Clerk Leonard Peachey had been killed in flying training with the RAF. 

By the end of 1942, quiet and gentle Peter Fallwasser the aquarist from Chester Zoo had died of wounds in North Africa on 22 December 1942, aged only 26, recorded in the Chester Zoo Our Zoo News and June Mottershead and Janice Batten’s book, Reared in Chester Zoo. By 1942, the war was taking its toll on zoo keepers and botanic gardens staff across the world.

Oh, and the American GIs arrived … in increasingly large numbers, in Britain on 26 January 1942, and on 8 November 1942 in North Africa an Allied landing  Operation Torch. Quickly, America, still reeling from the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 went onto a war footing. Rationing of food, sugar and later coffee began in 1941 in the USA.

Victory Gardens sprang up across America again. (Again? They had briefly flourished in America as in Britain in the First World War). See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden for many great links and the PBS US TV gardening series http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/victorygarden/watch/video_3301_wm.html 

So 1942. It’s all dates and history book stuff – but what did it feel like to people there? Sadly December  2011 saw the passing of Fred Thornhill, aged 92, one of Newquay  Zoo’s oldest volunteers well into his eighties. Fred had been a medic and stretcher bearer in the British Army in the 1941/2 Western Desert Campaign and didn’t talk about it often, but from the rare comments, his experiences dealing with the human debris of the desert war had left a strong impression on this big man. He occasionally produced the odd tiny photo snapshot of his family or army travels. Once for a display of horns, antlers and other ‘animal weapons’ , Fred brought in his bayonet for us to borrow and mount on the wall. He’d somehow acquired or swapped it with a Free French  Foreign Legionnaire, he said, as I weighed it in my hands. Despite its current polish, it had been used in action, he added quietly. I handed it quietly back for him to keep with a slight shudder thinking where it had been.  Strange how objects can be ‘haunted’ or suddenly change in your estimation – another grisly candidate object for the BBC’s excellent series History of The World In 100 Objects?

Another personal touch or view of 1942 has been in the pocket diaries of Eileen K. and of Peggy Skinner that I have been editing for publication, the first hopefully in 2012.  Eileen,  a young Post Office clerk in London is passing a more peaceful year on Fire Watch several times a week after the Blitz of 1940/41 (recorded in her 1941 diary). Recently engaged, her fiance is a war worker also on regular exercises with The Home Guard.  

10 Monday August 1942      Wynne came round first thing. Joins the WAAF on Wednesday week. Cold morning. On Fire Watch tonight. Warning during night but did not have to get up.

Her friends steadily leave for work as nurses, WAAFs. There’s regular cinema trips, dancing at the Palais and getting a trousseau and bottom drawer ready for a wartime marriage against a backdrop of rationing of food, scarce household items  and clothes. The clothes rationing she records as introduced in June 1941 (Utility, Civilian Clothing  1941 or CC41 label ) soon extends to furniture and further restrictions in summer 1942 on clothing and the amount of material used.  It’s obviously a struggle to stay presentable and well fed with all the shortages.

With fuel restrictions. Eileen also ‘Holidayed at Home’ with nearby country relatives in Surrey, an anticipation of the Staycation holidays of our New Austerity since 2007. Allegedly zoos near cities have had a better year 2011 than ones like ourselves at the seaside. (In wartime, seaside was often too far, hotels requisitioned for the forces or evacuees, the beaches of which in wartime were in many cases off-limits or on ‘Invasion coasts’). 

The music that Eileen would have listened to included Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover. Films released in 1942 included classics such as CasablancaIn Which We Serve and Mrs. Miniver.

Thurs 8   October 1942   “Not seeing Don as he’s on Home Guard all night. Went to the  Chelsea Place with Mum. Max Miller up there. Did not think much of the show.”

Fri 9  October 1942       “Met Don outside the Forum. Our film quite good. Humphrey Bogart gone good.”  [Is this film Casablanca?]

Peggy Skinner an 18 year old  London born student at Glasgow University saw these films in 1943  and records in her diary on  Saturday 9th  January 1943:      Very uninteresting day for my last Saturday of holiday.  I would have liked to have gone with mum and dad to see Noel Coward In Which We Serve but I did not like to ask and anyway I’d made up my mind that next term I must work harder (what a hope but I must try) and must try also to enjoy myself more, but how I could do that without going to dances which is impossible, I don’t know.”

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

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

We’ll feature a little more about Peggy Skinner’s diaries 1940, 1943 and 46-49 in later blogposts; eventaully she will be added to the Glasgow University Story website and  blog  http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/ww2-background/

Like Churchill with his view that the end of 1942 was the ‘end of the beginning’, Peggy’s  1943 diary entries start on a more optimnistic note than her (missing) 1942 diary would have done:

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

Eileen  or Peggy mention little by 1942/3 in the way of actual bombing (though still many air raid warnings) but the Baedeker raids of 1942 saw several historic and largely undefended British cathedral cities such as  nearby Exeter (23 and 24 April; 3 May 1942), Bath , York and Canterbury badly damaged in surprise air raids.

This was no doubt retaliation for the steady increase of bombing raids on Germany by Bomber Harris’ RAF Bomber Command  , including Lubeck and the first RAF 1000 bomber raid on Cologne in May 1942 followed by other German cities. These raids accidentally took a heavy toll on the German city zoos, many of which historically had been built in cities partly as green parks and gardens.

2012 sees the 70th anniversary of the daring commando raid Operation Chariot at St Nazaire  (commemorated nearby our Newquay Zoo  in the departure port of Falmouth 28 March 1942 ) and the disastrous Dieppe Raid  on August 19th. This was a forerunner of the 1944 D-Day landings which saw the Southwest countryside and towns around ourselves in Cornwall and our sister Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust sites at Paignton Zoo and Slapton Ley occupied by huge numbers of Americans arriving for the Second Front which was being discussed throughout 1942.

So many anniversaries throughout 2012 which we shall document from the unusual perspective of how they affected zoos and botanic gardens and their staff.

We’re also widening our World War Zoo Gardens research to include the Great War and how this affected zoos and their staff, as well as mnay animals as the 100th anniversary of the Great War is not far off in 2014. This will be much in the news with the relaese of the film of Micheal Morpurgo’s book War Horse in mid January. (Morpurgo has also written about the German zoo animals of the Second World War in An Elephant in the Garden).  The lessons learnt from the First World War was of some use to a generation of zoo keepers, often veterans themselves,  preparing to survive another potentially very different war.   What can we learn from them for our own future?

It’s now raining in Newquay, great start to 2012! 2011 was on the whole a good year for the World War Zoo Gardens, with reasonbly good crops (some almost sweetcorn!) and the BIAZA Zoo award for planting in November 2011. Off to go through the wartime advice books and today’s seed catalogues to plan the next year’s planting in the wartime zoo garden … then there’s the website due soon … some time needed to wade through a few more gardening and history books that friends and family have kindly given at Christmas. Busy few months ahead. I’ll share the pick of these books in future posts …

Panda Tourism and Pearl Harbor – a wartime perspective from World War Zoo Gardens

December 4, 2011

 

LR Brightwell’s wartime panda poster for London Zoo 1942

What colour are Giant pandas? Black, white … and in wartime, grey, blue or possibly green?

Pandas were amongst some of the larger and famous London Zoo animals which were evacuated to or kept safe at rural Whipsnade as war loomed in 1939, with bamboo shipped regularly by the train load from the West Country at several points in the 1940s (and 1960s) to feed them (according to many local stories from zoo visitors, railway buffs and former boy scouts in Cornwall).

After the 1940/1 Blitz,  the surviving panda(s) returned to the comparative safety and quiet of London Zoo in 1942 alongside the Off The Rations exhibition as witnessed in the morale boosting wartime publicity poster by L.R. Brightwell. It is reproduced in his 1952 The Zoo Story London Zoo history book.

It’s a beautifully detailed cartoon, reminiscent of the First World War troops off to the trenches where Brightwell and other London Zoo staff served,   but with  the modern 1940s touches of  bamboo food ration book, identity card, keeper’s ARP steel helmet and gas mask box. Some animals may have had gas masks, but generally animals had no ration books, hence the victory gardens dug in many British  zoos to feed animals, which our award-winning World War Zoo Gardens project recreates at Newquay Zoo.

Britain’s wartime Pandas helped to draw the crowds back to London Zoo and so glimpse the “Off The Rations” exhibition and ‘dig for victory’ model allotment gardens.

Pandas are on the move and in the news again, from China to Edinburgh Zoo – and best of luck to all involved http://www.rzsspanda.org.uk Whatever the arguments for and against ‘Panda tourism’ that will be rehearsed as a ‘conservation con-troversy’ in the media,  hopefully these iconic animals will draw many people through the gates to visit RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and find out about all the other endangered animals, both native (at the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park) and exotic species at the zoo and its many conservation projects, including overseas projects such as the Falkland Islands.

Red panda conservation poster, Newquay Zoo, 2011 (designed by Cornwall College students)

Bill Conway, a major American zoo figure, argued that good zoos are ‘a place to turn recreation dollars into conservation dollars’. Here at Newquay Zoo we don’t have Giant pandas, but we do have their rare cousin the Red or Lesser panda, with its own conservation problems of habitat loss and hunting for its vivid red fur. In the same tradition as Brightwell’s cartoon panda poster, a contemporary student banner from our partner college CornwallCollege sums up one problem that zoos can highlight for action to its visitors: “Conservation not deforestation”.

Panda ‘Peace Ambassadors’  Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the Giant Pandas from China arrived at  Edinburgh Zoo today on 4th December 2011. They will be on show to the public from 16th December 2011. For details of how to get Panda Viewing tickets, visit http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk .

It’s been almost twenty years since Pandas have been seen in British zoos. I’m told I saw them as a 1970s child but have no memory of this.  I was lucky enough to see several pairs of panda ambassadors  in American Zoos, including a pair at San Diego Zoo in California c. 2002. These were part of a long-running relationship between American zoos and China stretching back to the 1930s.

The Roosevelt family played an important role in making  Pandas – dead or alive –  more well known in the West.

Two pandas were caught in transit when the events of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took place, on 7th  December 1941,  a “date which will live in infamy”, according to President Roosevelt.

Another strangely comic wartime story about pandas cropped up recently on the email network of the Bartlett Society www.zoohistory.co.uk. Richard Reynolds recalls:

“Before there was any national TV in USA, there was a national Sunday radio broadcast from the Bronx Zoo. I recall hearing several episodes on our radio here in Atlanta in the fall of 1942.

“One of them dealt with the struggles to get the two giant pandas to the zoo just as war was breaking out in the Pacific. The animals had to be  flown over Japanese occupied China to the Philippines. They were on the high seas  en route to California from the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor …”

“While at sea (after War broke out) the ship had to be painted in camouflage. The pandas were on deck for exercise and one of them got into the paint.  I can recall that as vividly as though it were it were yesterday though 68 years have elapsed” (with thanks to  Richard Reynolds, Atlanta, GA, 2009 for his memories).”

So pandas are indeed black, white and  grey (or  blue and green) whatever disruptive coloration was in emergency use on US naval ships in 1941.

Camouflage is one useful contribution of zoologists in wartime, and HMS Belfast still bears the ‘Western Approaches’ colour scheme invented by Sir Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust but then a well known wildlife artist and young naval commander. Peter Scott helped set up the international World Wildlife Fund in the 1960s (Patron: another young wartime Naval commander, the Duke of Edinburgh). WWF has of course  as its logo the  iconic Giant panda.

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

The sad anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war by the Japanese on Allied countries 70 years ago will be marked  with many events this Wednesday. Within a month, many British, American and Allied outposts were captured by a triumphant Japanese Army and Navy. As we pointed out in our January 2011 blogpost, 1941 was seen by some as the “grimmest year of the war” forBritain and the Allies.

The rubber plantations, zoos and botanic gardens of Singapore and other colonies of the British Empire were quickly overrun. Rubber became a scarce and salvageable commodity. Zoo keeper’s wellington boots and rubber hoses became difficult to replace. In Britain the ladies of the WVS and WI dragged village ponds for scrap rubber tyres. In America, zoo animals patriotically gave up their rubber tyre swings for the war effort in publicity salvage drives.

Eleanor Roosevelt the President’s wife ordered a Dig for Victory garden to be dug in the White House lawns as an example to her nation to save , make do and mend and give their all for the war effort. (A modern organic version of the victory garden has been recreated by President  Obama’s family).

American zoos, especially on the coast, would have gone rapidly onto a war footing as British zoos had done in 1939; some closed, never to reopen.  One sad consequence of the declaration of war and very real fear of an invasion of Americaby the Japanese was the internment of ‘enemy aliens’ including Japanese-American families in harsh and remote places. Several generations of Issei, Nissei, Sansei and Yonsei responded by transforming their prisons and barrack blocks with beautiful stone gardens, a story told in Kenneth Helphand’s book Defiant Gardens.

Some of the ‘ghost marks’ of these ephemeral gardens at Manzanar CA are now national memorials, whilst many Japanese gardens erected after the war became peace gardens of reconciliation after the horrors of war ended at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I sometimes take Kenneth Helphand’s book down to our quiet Oriental gardens here at Newquay Zoo to read on quiet or difficult days.  Defiant Gardens is at times a difficult but ultimately inspiring book to read about this little known chapter of the war– a real argument for the peaceful urge to garden and plant, create rather than destroy. It would make a good present for the Christmas stocking for the quiet indoor months for your gardening friends.  http://defiantgardens.com/ Defiant  Gardens  flourished in the most unlikely places including ghettoes and POW camps.

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper (from Animal and Zoo Magazine)

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper (from pre-war Animal and Zoo Magazine)

Three  of London Zoo and Whipsnade’s keepers, Henry Peris Davies (d. 21.12.1941, listed Singapore memorial)  and Albert Henry Wells (d. 25.01.1945, Burma)   perished through the long and bloody years of fighting in the Far East or in Japanese POW camps Percy Murray Adams (died in Japanese POW camp, 28.07.1943)  – Many of these keepers would have known or worked with the Giant pandas at London Zoo and Whipsnade. Read our November 2010 and 2011 blog post about ZSL London Zoo’s staff war memorial for more details.  I used to meet many old sweats of the the Burma Star Association and POWs on their visits to Newquay Zoo on their West Country reunions, a peaceful place  they said, despite the unnnerving  and evocative jungle scent in our Tropical House.

A Bamboo memorial garden to Far East POWs has been created through http://www.captivememories.org.uk/ with local schools at Ness Botanic Gardens near Liverpool http://www.bgen.org.uk/index.php/who/22/345-ness

No doubt many US, Indian and Australian zoo staff also died, were wounded or served in the Far East, as did members of my own family who held the Burma Star. Part of our World War Zoo Gardens research involves tracking down the effects of wartime on zoos, their staff and animals so any details of memorials or casualties are very helpful.

Mayumi Itoh’s recently published book Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy puts the other side of the story, describing the difficulties experienced by Japanese zoo animals and staff in wartime. Many Japanese zoo vets were called up to serve in the veterinary corps, keeping healthy that vital machine of war, the mule.

Not far from where Percy Murray Adams is buried, Sasanuma Tadashi, Ueno Zoo Tokyo keeper was killed. Despite the language differences, I’m sure these two keepers, like the two soldiers in Wilfred Owen’s First World War poem Strange Meeting,  would have had much common ground.

Mayumi Itoh comes out strongly to the conclusion that zoos need peace to flourish, whether in wartime, during the 1960s Panda and chess games of Cold War diplomacy or in today’s recessionary and uncertain world where zoos and wildlife are engulfed or sidelined by conflict in places likeLibya, Africa and the Middle East.

The sheltered woods and quarries of Paignton Zoo (our sister zoo in Devon), our nature reserve at Slapton Ley and much of the area of Cornwall around Newquay Zoo (where the World War Zoo Gardens is based) were once temporary home and training ground to thousands of young GIs from all over America who shipped out to D-Day from our now peaceful West Country beaches.

Some of them returned home to America, with many a Cornish or Devon ‘GI bride’ on their arm. Others never returned as they perished on the beaches of Slapton in Devon (remembered by Ken Small’s Sherman tank memorial), Normandy or the Pacific.  Our own World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo is a peaceful and productive memorial garden to the men, women, children and animals of all nationalities who have been affected by war around the world.

So maybe we should celebrate the peace, ‘sweetness’ and ‘sunshine’ that Tian Tian and Yang Guang (in translation) the Giant Pandas will hopefully bring (despite the crowds) to Edinburgh Zoo and the world. If you can’t make it toEdinburgh, you could visit your local zoo or spend a few quiet hours in the garden.

We’ll be busy getting ready for our Christmas weekend on 10 and 11th December 2011, and carol service on the 11th – see http://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk – and closed only on Christmas Day. We’ll be busy fundraising for the conservation of rare South-east Asian birds from those Far-East jungles in our Gems of The Jungle aviary project throughout next year.

So finally, a peaceful Happy Christmas and (Chinese) New Year (or Happy Panda Hogmanay) to all our blog readers over the next few weeks!

Stuck for presents or stressed by Christmas, you can read our  last December 2010 blog post (much pingbacked)  where we reflected on ‘make do and mend’ wartime Christmas presents and a few modern ideas for presents. Panda adoptions for Christmas presents maybe?

Remembering zoo staff killed on active service: Poppy days are here again in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo

November 8, 2011

Updating our post “LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME” originally posted November 2010

Two poppy crosses again planted in memory of zoo staff of all nations lost or injured worldwide in 1914-18 and 1939-45 amongst the growing food plants of the World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

NOVEMBER  is always a bit of a solemn month for me in the garden with the darker days earlier, the lost hour of summer time, leaves fallen; it is also Remembrance Sunday, poppies and Armistice Day.

One of many overwhelming lists of names in stone. Arras Memorial to the missing with no known graves from the Arras offensive of 1917 and (foreground) CWGC individual graves Image: cwgc.org

Update note: an updated blog post on ZSL London Zoo’s WW1 casualties was posted in November 2013 and updated with further research in March 2014

At Newquay Zoo, there is one of the noisier two minutes silence in the nation if the maroon bangs go off at 11 o’clock in Newquay, as this sets off all the zoo animals calling out.

At London Zoo, at memorials and churches all over Britain and Europe, people will stop and gather, think and reflect on the extraordinary, almost incomprehensible loss of life in wartime which affected so many walks of life including zoos and botanic gardens.

 

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Heligan Gardens http://www.heligan.com/  Mevagissey in Cornwall, only about twenty miles from Newquay Zoo, is a garden restoration unlike many others I have visited, as it is haunted by the loss of the generation of garden and estate staff. They left their names under the penciled graffiti “Come not here to sleep nor slumber” in the “Thunderbox”, the primitive bothy toilet for estate staff. Many of these staff did not survive their service in the First World War in mind or body. The estate and garden without its usual labour force, as the Heligan staff today simply describe it, “quietly went to sleep” until the story was uncovered along with the overgrown gardens in the early 1990s. A beautiful little book tracing the staff named and signed in pencil on that wall and on the estate books has recently been published The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Heligan History: Lost Gardens, Lost Gardeners, being a Commemorative Album of Heligan through the Twentieth Century, featuring the Tremayne archive and the stories of staff who were lost in the Great War (published by Heligan Gardens Ltd and available on their online shop for about £3.95) 

 

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens suffered similar losses of staff, as poignant as the effect on estates like Heligan or large organisations like the Great Western Railway (West country stations like Exeter still have the long list of the dead on their platform walls).  

Few records survive for zoos, I have so far frustratingly found.  I have been researching the wartime effects on a few typical British zoos operational in the First world war and what that generation learnt in preparation for surviving the Second world war (when our wartime dig for victory garden project at Newquay Zoo is set) for a forthcoming article in The Bartlett Society Journal www.zoohistory.co.uk  The few records so far can stand in for a whole generation and zoos across the world.

On Armistice Day Friday 11th and on Remembrance Sunday 13th, spare a thought for the fallen staff of the Natural History Museum London. Every year staff gather at the war memorial plaque there to remember the fallen zoologists, scientists and musuem staff lost in both world wars. I met some of their current and retired staff at the WAZA / SHNH / Bartlett Society Zoo history conference in May this year. They had many tales of bravery including fire watching for and disposing of incendiaries on the museum roof.  Without whom …

Spare a thought for ‘gentle’ Peter Falwasser,  26 year old aquarist at Chester Zoo, buried at Helipolis in Egypt, died 22 December 1942 of wounds received in Middle East desert fighting, Gunner 952126, 1st Regt, Royal Horse Artillery.

 Spare a thought for the fallen staff of Belle Vue Zoo Gardens in Manchester (now closed), their names listed on a vandalised war memorial in Gorton Cemetery.  

Spare a thought for the keepers and zoo staff remembered on the ZSL war memorial at London Zoo. 12 names are listed from the staff  out of 54 who served in the forces or munitions work in the First World War out of a staff of 150.

Poppies will be laid at the ZSL War Memorial, a Portland Stone memorial designed  by architect John James Joass in 1919, based on a medieval Lanterne des Morts memorial  to the dead at La Souterraine,  Creuse Valley, France. The memorial was moved from the main gate area in 1952 after the 1939-45 names were added and is now near to the Three Island Pond area.  

Reading the names means these men are not forgotten.

Read the names and spare a thought for these lost zoo staff from both wars.

Researching and reading a few of these background stories puts a more personal face on the scale of the losses, especially in the First World War. I shall feature a few more of these stories over the next year as information is discovered. The impatient reader can check the www.cwgc.org site.  Many thanks to Kate Oliver at ZSL who transcribed or guessed the names on the very well polished brass name plates.

ZSL London Zoo war memorial

 The Zoological Society of London

In memory of employees who were killed on active service in the Great War 1914-1919

29.9.1915        Henry D Munro            4 Middlesex Regt                ZSL Keeper (Transcribed details on this need to be checked)

18.03.1916      William Bodman           (Buffs) 6th Btn, East Kent Regt, Private            ZSL Helper. Age unknown. Commemorated on the Loos Memorial, no known grave.

10.07.1916      Albert A Dermott         13th Btn. Rifle Brigade, Rifleman   ZSL Messenger, aged 22, killed on Somme, no known grave, listed on Thiepval Memorial 

15.9.1916        Arthur G Whybrow      2547, 19 Bn. County of London Regt , ZSL Helper. Killed aged 23 during Somme battles, probably in the clearance of High Wood by 47 (London) Division, 15 September 1916. Individual grave at London cemetery, Longueval. Married.

05.10.1916      Gerald P Patterson       19 County of London Regt                   ZSL Helper (Transcribed Regiment details on this need to be checked)Probably Private G P Patterson of the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment was killed on 5th October 1916, no age given, during the Somme fighting. Individual grave. Buried in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France.  

23.10.1916      William Dexter  Kings Royal Rifles, Riflemen       ZSL Keeper2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own). Aged 31.  Individual grave at Bienvillers Cemetery. Married.

09.04.1917      Robert Jones            9 Royal Fusiliers       ZSL Gardener
Two possibilities for this casualty, firstly Private GS/60595 Robert Jones, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was born in Islington or Highgate, Middlesex around 1881 and was married to Bertha Lewin of Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon around 1905 / 1906 in Camden / Highgate. He was formerly listed as 23358 6 Middlesex Regiment, having enlisted in Harringay and been resident in Highgate. On the 1901 census he is listed as a Gardener (not domestic) and in 1911 as a Nursery Gardener. On the CWGC website he is listed as the husband of Bertha Jones of 22 Caxton Street, Little Bowden, Market Harborough. This Robert Jones died of wounds on 7 April 1917 (two days different from the ZSL dates on the war memorial plaque) and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery in Arras.

The second possibility is
472712, 1st / 12th Btn. London Regiment (The Rangers), aged 31. Individual grave,  Gouy-en Artois Cemetery, killed first day of the Battle of Arras 1917. Listed on the 1911 census as a coal porter gas works, rather than a gardener. Hopefully the ZSL staff records will help to determine the correct Robert Jones. Both casualties deserve to be remembered.

21.4.1917        Henry George Jesse Peavot      Honourable Artillery     Co       ZSL Librarian    B Co. 1st Btn, aged 35.  Killed during Battle of Arras period, No known grave, listed on Arras Memorial. Married.

23.9.1917        Albert Staniford            Royal Field / Garrison Artillery  ZSL Gardener  174234 216 Siege Battery. RGA   Individual grave, Maroc British cemetery, Greany, France.  Period of Third Battle of Ypres / Passchendaele, July to November 1917

03.10.1917      William Perkins      Royal Garrison Artillery     ZSL Keeper 115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery.  Buried in individual plot, Belagin Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium. Aged 39. Married. 

29.11.1917      Alfred? L? Day     2 Rifle Brigade                       ZSL Helper
19.1.1918 appears at first a wrong date transcribed on a well polished brass plate; the most likely casualty of this name appears to be Alfred Lomas Day, S/20305 2nd Bn, Rifle Brigade, killed 29 November 1917 and buried individual grave (1841) Rethel French National Cemetery, Ardennes, France. However my research in March 2014 on ZSL staff records found an R. Day or Richard Day as having died as a German POW on 19 January 1918. These might be two confused records for two men or they may be one and the same man. further research required!

10.9.1918        Charles William Dare    County of London Regt                        Helper, 245116, London Regt (Royal Fusiliers),  Vis-en-Artois memorial, no known grave. Killed during period of the “Adavnce to Victory” (August to November Armistice  1918)

“TILL THE RED WAR GLEAM LIKE A DIM RED ROSE / LOST IN THE GARDEN OF THE SONS OF TIME” memorial verse

Zoological Society of London

In memory of employees killed by enemy action during the war 1939-45

Regent’s Park

Davies. Henry Peris (Lieutenant RA)    ZSL Clerk: Killed in action Far East 21.12.1941   164971, Royal Artillery, 5th Field Regt, died aged 27. Listed on the Singapore memorial.

Leney. William Walter Thomas      ZSL  Overseer: Killed by flying bomb 25.11.1944

Peachey. Leonard James (Sergeant RAF)    ZSL Clerk: Killed in air crash Lincs 18.12.1940

Wells.  Albert Henry (Gunner RA)         ZSL Keeper: Killed in action, Burma 25.01.1945 Gunner 1755068, Royal Artillery, 70 H.A.A Regiment

Whipsnade Park 

Adams. Percy Murray (Gunner RA)              ZSL Keeper: Died in Japan POW         28.07.1943  Gunner 922398, Royal Artillery, 148 (Bedfordhsire Yeomanry) Field Regt, died aged 26.

Percy Adams, ZSL Whipsnade keeper who died as a Japanese POW is buried here at THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY, Image: http://www.cwgc.org

Checking with the excellent Commonwealth War Graves Commission records site http://www.cwgc.org under ‘search for a casualty’ shows that Albert Henry Wells is buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Myanmar (Burma). Percy Adams in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Myanmar / Thai border. The CWGC website notes of this cemetery: “The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery was created [postwar] by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the northern section of the railway, between Moulmein and Nieke.”

ZSL Clerk Leonard Peachey,  RAF Volunteer Reserve,  died aged 32 as Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in an air training crash serving with 22 Squadron in Lincolnshire at RAF North Coates / Cotes. He is buried in North Cotes (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincs alongside what are presumably his crew from 22 Squadron, killed on the same day:  Sergeant Pilot Dennis George How RAFVR (aged 23) and Sergeant Observer Paul Victor Renai (aged 22, from Wellington, New Zealand) and Sergeant Wireless Operator / W.E. Mechanic Ralph  Gerald Hart (22). 22 Squadron brought the Bristol Beaufort into operational service http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/collections/aircraft/bristol-beaufort.cfm; receiving the first aircraft in November 1939 and, after an intense work up at North Coates in Lincolnshire, the Squadron resumed operations in April 1940, beginning with mine-laying sorties. It moved to RAF Thorney Island where torpedo operations were resumed in August. In order to cover a wider area of sea the Squadron sent out detachments, to RAF Abbotsinch  then to St Eval, Newquay in Cornwall  being the most regular posting. 22 Squadron was re-formed at Thorney Island in 1955 as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Squadron. Information from http://www.22squadronassociation.org.uk/Hist1546.html

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

William Leney at 65,  old enough to have served in the First World war, was killed alongside his wife Kate Jane Leney (also 65) at 59 King Henry’s Road (Hampstead, Metropolitan Borough) by flying bomb. Several flying bombs are recorded as having fallen around the London Zoo area, close neighbour of RAF Regent’s Park. 

Kate Oliver of   ZSL London Zoo’s current education team kindly transcribed the well polished names. She thinks that Helpers were young staff who had not attained keeper rank, something I will be following up in researching their backgrounds through the census, National Archives, London Zoo archive and National Archives. .

March 2014 update: Since 2009 I have spoken to relatives of some of these men and ex London Zoo keepers like Les Bird, who has visited many of the ZSL graves. ZSL is preparing an exhibition to link with the http://www.1914.org centenary.

I am still very interested in hearing from anyone who has further information about these men or of other wartime zoo, aquarium or botanic garden related gravestones or rolls of honour. I can be contacted at mark (dot) norris via my email @newquayzoo.org.uk

 

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester, war memorial stories

Belle Vue’s war memorial, Gorton Cemetery, Manchester on its unveiling 1926. Image: manchesterhistory.net

The only other well documented zoo one is for Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester at Gorton cemetery in Manchester, now sadly much vandalized.  Much has been written about this early zoo and leisure gardens collection, which survived from the 1830s to 1977/8. 

Spare a thought for the men listed on the monument, and their families. To read more of their stories, Stephen and Susan Cocks have follwed up information in the book The Belle Vue Monument (or Memorial)- with information on the cwgc.org website and others for  the blog entry at http://blog.guidedbattlefieldtours.co.uk/2010/01/15/hello-world

More about the memorial, press articles from its dedication in 1926 and its current vandalized state can be found at http://manchesterhistory.net/bellevue/warmemorial.html and more from Stephen Cocks at http://blog.guidedbattlefieldtours.co.uk/2010/02/04/the-belle-vue-memorial-the-story-of-the-memorial

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens  staff killed on active service 1915-1918

1915 deaths

Private Henry Mulroy, 12th Battalion. Manchester Regiment, killed Ypres, 16 August 1915. Buried Ridge Wood Military cemetery.  

Private Frederick Lester  Reid, 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancs Regt, died aged 31, 25 September 1915, battle of Loos, no known grave, listed Loos Memorial. Married.

1916 deaths

Private William Morrey, died 27 June, 1916, Manchester Regiment / 1st Battalion, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers (probably a gas unit), buried Beauval cemetery, France. (Several William Morreys from the Cheshire, Lancashire and Manchester area are listed on the cwgc.org site, obviously a local name).

Private Alfred Routledge, 11th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed on The Somme, aged 23, 26 September 1916. Married. Listed on the Thiepval memorial, no known grave.

Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme” (in Geoff Dyer’s words),  killed in the  final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastreous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

1917 deaths

Second Lieutenant James Leonard Jennison, 15th, Battalion West Yorks Regt (Leeds Pals) killed Arras, 3 May 1917 – no known grave, listed Arras Memorial. Son of James, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo. His father James died later that year, possibly as a result of this loss. His cousin Norman, son of Angelo Jennison, also died on active service. 

Private Ralph William Stamp, 18th battalion, Manchester Regiment, died aged 23, 23 April 1917, no known grave, listed on the Arras memorial, the same as J L Jennison. 

Sergeant John E Oliver, 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment, killed 24 October 1917, Passchendaele battles, no known grave, listed Tyne Cot memorial. Married.   

Stoker First Class T J Tumbs, aged 40, killed HMS Drake, 2 October, 1917, convoy duty off coast of Ireland in U79 U-boat torpedo attack.

Private Harold?  Heathcote, 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment died in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), 19 October 1917, buried Baghdad war cemetery.

1918 deaths

Sergeant J Fuller, Devonshire Regiment / Pioneer Corps, died 14 April 1918. Buried Amiens, France. Married

 Private James G Craythorne, 1/6 Manchester Regiment, killed 20 October 1918 ironically in the fighting for Belle Vue Farm, buried at Belle Vue (Farm) Cemetery, France.  (Three or four generations of the Craythorne family worked as small mammal and reptile keepers at Belle Vue, including James Craythorne who follwed his own father into zoo work, was employed aged 12 from the 1880s  to retirement in 1944, replaced then by his son Albert!

Private Sidney Turner, Welsh Regiment, died aged 18, Welsh Regiment, buried in Gorton Cemetery (site of the Belle Vue Zoo war memorial). Several others who died after the war are also individually buried here.  

Captain Norman L Jennison, MC (Military Cross) , 6th Manchester Regt (territorials), died of flu, Genoa, Italy 30 October 1918 serving with a trench mortar battery. Son of Angelo, one of the two Jennison brothers who owned Belle Vue zoo. His cousin James Leonard also died on active service.  

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens staff died from the effect of war after 1918.

Zoo owner Angelo Jennison unveiling in 1926 the Belle Vue memorial in Gorton Cemetery to his son, nephew and zoo staff lost in the First World War. Image: manchesterhistory.net

This unusual addition gives a little glimpse of what must have happened to many zoo, aquarium and botanic garden staff who never recovered from the effects of active service in wartime. 

Private WM Wheatcroft, 3rd Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment, died aged 28, 10 July 1919, buried in Gorton cemetery.   

Sergeant Robert Hawthorne, died 24 June 1922, buried in Gorton cemetery.

Rifleman / Lance Corporal William Croasdale, Belle Vue’s baker, served Army Service Corps (bakery) and Kings Royal Rifle Corps, served overseas 1915 to 1919, aged 32, died 1922, (possibly Stephen Cocks suggests in a mental hospital, Prestwich).

Private Joseph Cummings, died 9 May 1926.

First Class PO Matthew James Walton DSM, fought Battle of the Falklands naval action, 1914, died 1926.

Update: Since 2010 we have found the details of the last ‘unreadable’ name on the memorial, Private Bernard A Hastain  of the Rifle Brigade, scene painter of patriotic firework specactles  at Belle Vue Zoo who died in the 1930s from the effects of wounds.

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Tracing service men who died after service is more difficult, not registered on the CWGC site and one for future research in the National Archives medal and pensions records (the ‘burnt documents’) if they have survived.

There are probably many more names to uncover, to add to these known wartime casualty lists from zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums as our World War Zoo gardens research project continues. We would be interested to hear of any more names or memorials you know of.

So buy a poppy (there’s a box in the Newquay Zoo office if you’re visiting) and spare a thought for these men and their families on Remembrance Sunday, and also for the many people not listed who were affected by their war service, men and women not just from  Britain but all over the world.

Afternoon autumn light on the poppies, plants and sandbags of the wartime zoo keeper’s garden at Newquay Zoo

And then enjoy the noisy peace of the zoo gardens or wherever you find yourself …


%d bloggers like this: