Posts Tagged ‘ZSL war memorial’

Remembering Albert Stanford, ZSL London Zoo gardener died WW1 23 September 1917

September 23, 2017

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

Albert Staniford, gardener at ZSL London Zoo, died 100 years ago today on 23rd September 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele.

23rd September 1917 Albert Staniford ZSL London Zoo Gardener
Served as 174234 216 Siege Battery, Royal Field / Garrison Artillery RGA


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

Albert Staniford is buried in an Individual grave, II. M. 3. at Maroc British cemetery, Grenay, France, a casualty of the  Period of Third Battle of Ypres / Passchendaele, July to November 1917.




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.

Albert Staniford served in France for two years before his death in September 1917, dying 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.

Albert is remembered on the ZSL London Zoo war memorial, garlanded with poppy wreaths each year on Armistice Sunday.

A fellow London Zoo  gardener Robert Jones was killed earlier in 1917 at the Battle of Arras on 9th April 2017.


Remembering Albert Dermott ZSL Somme 10 July 1916

July 10, 2016


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

Remembering those killed on the Somme 10 July 1916 including:

Albert A. Dermott of London Zoo staff, ZSL Messenger

T. Percy Peed  nurseryman, S.Staffs Regiment

Geoffrey Watkins Smith, FLS

Printed in the Proceedings of The Linnean Society for 1918/9 is a short roll of honour listing eight fellows or employees who died in the First World War. Amongst them Geoffrey Watkins Smith, is described as “one of the most brilliant of the younger generation of Zoologists” (proceedings, 1916-17, page 64-65).

Remembered all at:

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

December 18, 2015

From Zoo Clerk to Air Gunner …

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


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


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

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

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

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

Peachey’s headstone can be seen at

Leonard Peachey in the London Zoo staff records

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 Squadron was re-formed at RAF Thorney Island in 1955 as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Squadron and was finally stood down from Search and Rescue duties with the Bristow privatisation in October 2015. Further squadron information from

Peachey’s airfield is now home to the North Cotes Flying Club but the main concrete runways that Peachey’s 22 Squadron have now been removed for agriculture. Photos of the now discontinued airfield can be found on various sites including

These photos are amongst  others on the informative Airfield Information Exchange website:

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

The circumstances around his air crash 18 December 1940

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

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

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

The caption for one IWM photo  (CH 1851) offers some interesting additional information: :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Harry and Billy or Napoleon the penguin remembered in our most popular blogpost so far

November 5, 2015

Harry Munro, the now named 'Keeper with King Penguin 1914' (as described on a recent London Zoo postcard I was given) Copyright ZSL / London Zoo/ F.W. Bond

Harry Munro, the now named ‘Keeper with King Penguin 1914’ (as described on a recent London Zoo postcard I was given) Copyright ZSL / London Zoo/ F.W. Bond

The poignant story of Harry Munro ZSL London Zoo keeper killed or missing in action on 29 September 1915 and the King Penguin (nicknamed ‘Billy’ in the press) has touched many people and received over 1500 hits or readers over  its first few days  around the world.

Thanks to all of you who read it or passed it on to others. Harry Munro is definitely not forgotten 100 years after his death.

This has become our new highest most read story in the shortest time since Armistice in November each year.

Since posting on the 29 September (the centenary anniversary) I have been tracing the penguin’s story, starting with  an interesting picture of Princess Mary with a King Penguin was taken in 1911 by the photographer (possibly Lewis Medland) of this image from Queen Mary’s Album in the Royal Collection. It has also,  like Harry Munro the Keeper With King Penguin, been used as a postcard by ZSL London Zoo.

This Princess Mary and Penguin photo is published on page 246 in London Zoo from old photographs  1852-1914 (2nd edition) by Bartlett Society member  and zoo historian John Edwards. This fascinating 2012 book is still available from ZSL London Zoo’s online shop on and other booksellers, well worth buying.

Interestingly the picture of Harry Munro and Penguin doesn’t feature in John Edward’s book as his book is designed to complement the historic photos already published in  Golden Days (Duckworth 1976) the photographic history of London Zoo covering 1914 to 1939 (also still available second hand via Amazon and others)

The photo (possibly from Queen Mary’s Album) shows King George V and Queen Mary on a Royal  Visit with Princess Mary on 4 June 1911, greeting London Zoo’s only King Penguin.

This King Penguin appears to be named and identified by John Edwards as “Napoleon”, a grander name than the news picture of Keeper Munro with “Billy the famous Zoo Penguin” shown in the 16/11/1915 Daily Graphic reprinted picture of the missing Keeper Munro.

The ZSL London Zoo postcard of Harry Munro that started this story off for me. On display in our Tropical House display case for the World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, below a short panel about Harry Munro's life.

The ZSL London Zoo postcard of Harry Munro that started this story off for me. On display in our Tropical House display case for the World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, below a short panel about Harry Munro’s life.

henry munro

John Edwards notes on p.246 of London Zoo from Old Photographs:

“the King Penguin known as Napoleon was the only one in the Zoo at that time, having been presented on 11 February 1911 by Dr Clemente Onelli, the very capable director of Buenos Aires Zoo (1904-24). He died on 15 September 1914.”

So this seems to be the same King penguin pictured with Harry Munro.

Was the King Penguin called Napoleon or Billy?

Is this a press invention or keeper nickname, different from his official house name?

The naming of animals goes back traditionally  as far as Genesis and Adam, and No-ah doubt it went on in the Ark too.

I know from long working in zoos that this is still very common, what a keeper nicknames an animal can be quite different from what the official record keeper, previous zoo or enterprising press and marketing department have christened this same animal. Its name in the Crib Room or keeper’s staff room may vary quietly from that used in the Marketing Office.

Princess  Mary (1897- 1965) shown in the photograph with ‘Napoleon’ was well known in WW1 for her interest in nursing, women’s services and the comforts of soldiers.

There is a short Wikipedia biography:,_Princess_Royal_and_Countess_of_Harewood

This was expressed most famously through the Princess Mary’s Christmas Boxes sent in December 1914  to each serving sailor, airman or soldier like Harry Munro.

Wikipedia / Simon Speed picture of a Princess Mary 1914 box.

Wikipedia / Simon Speed picture of a Princess Mary 1914 box.

So hopefully Harry enjoyed the smokes and chocolate out of his Christmas tin in the last year and Christmas of his life, away from home  a week or so before he embarked for France

Napoleon or Billy was sadly dead by then, reputedly on the 15th September 1915, around the time of Harry’s enlistment and absence from the zoo.

Harry Munro would be missing or dead just over a year later.

Harry’s  name stayed – hopefully? – as ‘missing’ on the typed list that  I saw pasted into the London Zoo Daily Occurrences Book (now in the ZSL archive). It remained as ‘missing’ well into the 1916 typed list of staff on active service.

Reactions to the  photograph

I have been interested in how different people react to this photograph from amongst zoo staff and animal management students, so have been dropping the picture into conversations and teaching recently. The equality of eye level and ease or affection between them are often what are commented on, unprompted.

I put it up on screen between talks at a recent bird keepers meeting at Newquay Zoo, so Harry Munro and his penguin were there in spirit 100 years on. Sadly on a busy day I didn’t get a chance to ask the bird keepers from other zoos what they thought of it.

You can use the comments form to contact us with your thoughts on the photograph, we’d love to hear from you.

Suitable Memorials

If I named a rose, it would be for Walter Morland of Kew Gardens and RBGE Edinburgh, lost at Gallipoli (1915), mentioned in this previous 2013 WW1 blogpost:

If I had the price of a zoo statue, it would probably be of Harry Munro with his King Penguin (pictured on the postcard) or on the Daily Graphic photo watering his Penguin.

Something along the lines of the Winnie Statue, now relocated near the ZSL War Memorial.

Along with the Animals in War memorial statue in London has no human figures, just a wartime ark if different companion animals large and small.

A similar lovely statue of Man and animal can be found in the Wojtek the WW2 Soldier Bear statue near Edinburgh Zoo

ZSL London Statue of Winnie the Bear donated as a WW1 Regimental Mascot (inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) and his Canadian handler. Image: Mark Norris, 2014.

ZSL London Statue of Winnie the Bear donated as a WW1 Regimental Mascot (inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) and his Canadian handler. Image: Mark Norris, 2014.

Harry Munro and Billy or Napoleon, Remembered.

London Zoo staff will be remembering Harry Munro and other  lost colleagues of WW1 and WW2 during the Armistice / Remembrance silences this November:

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

Remembering Henry Munro London Zoo Penguin Keeper missing 29 September 1915

September 29, 2015

Remembering Billy and Harry.

The Zoological Society of London war memorial bears the inscription:

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

Staff casualties are listed on the plaque in order of date of death. The first of these is:

29.9.1915 Henry Munro 4 Middlesex Regt ZSL Keeper

I first saw Henry  pictured on a postcard from London Zoo given to me by a zoo colleague and I became intrigued by the unnamed “King Penguin with Keeper 1914”.

Harry Munro, the now named 'Keeper with King Penguin 1914' (as described on a recent London Zoo postcard I was given) Copyright ZSL / London Zoo/ F.W. Bond

Harry Munro, the now named ‘Keeper with King Penguin 1914’ (as described on a recent London Zoo postcard I was given) Copyright ZSL / London Zoo/ F.W. Bond

The Photograph

Look at the photograph again. Really look at it. Look at it carefully in detail. What attracts your attention?

It would be fascinating to know how different people react to this photo – a photographer from a technical point of view or that of another zoo keeper?

On a recent Twitter #ThrowbackThursday @zsllondonzoo 30 January 1914 release of this picture by ZSL, there were a few brief comments including someone who misread the caption: “King Penguin with keeper Harry Munro (1914), who was sadly lost in action during WWI” to reply (hopefully tongue in cheek) that “He was a brave penguin who fought valiantly for his country” !!!

Maybe  you can use the comments box at the end of the blogpost to tell me your view of this picture, I’d be interested to hear.

To me this is a fantastic photograph, considering the photographic technology of the time. It’s one of my favourite zoo archive photos.

Having myself spent around 20 years working with zoo animals, having on many occasions sitting with them and other keepers to keep the animal still enough to be photographed, I know how difficult this is today, let alone with the cameras of 1914.

I have looked at this photograph many, many times since I first started the World War Zoo Gardens research project. What do I find so fascinating about it?

It is beautifully framed, the keeper at the same height as the penguin, so somehow equal. Many photographs emphasise the height or short size of penguins measured against a keeper bending down to it. Height implies dominance or mastery. It is a species photo of a penguin, but with the photographer’s choice to include the keeper. This photo can be read as being about equality or friendliness.

The Penguin

We should not forget that in 1914 this is almost certainly a wild caught King Penguin, one of few that would have been around in European zoos at the time. These were usually brought back from Salvesen whaling or from polar expeditions, such as the famous penguin groups established at this time at Edinburgh Zoo in its first year.

In  1914, the year that this was taken, Ernest Shackleton was still on his Antarctic expedition, Captain Scott was only a year or two dead from the race to the Pole in 1912, and the extreme journey of Apsley Cherry Garrard to retrieve Emperor Penguin Eggs from the South Polar sea ice nesting grounds nearly cost him has life, recounted in his book The Worst Journey in the World.

This was a box office animal, a very topical and popular unusual bird, worthy of a photograph. A King Penguin (possibly the same one?) is pictured on another London Zoo postcard meeting royalty and Princess Mary around this date.

Getting down to penguin level holds some risks. Putting your shiny eyes near or at penguin beak height is unwise. Many press photographers have asked myself  or other zoo colleagues to hold penguins or other injured seabirds at our face height to get a better cropped head shot. This is something we have to warn them against, if we value our eyes against that powerfully muscled head and neck with fish-hook of a beak.

The Keeper’s hand is blurred with movement, perhaps caught in the act of either stroking the Penguin to reassure it in this unfamiliar setting, or to keep it in place for the photograph and at a safe distance.

Is it a portrait of the Keeper as well as the Penguin? It is to me a very purposeful gaze – the Keeper’s attention is fully focussed on this bird, rather than smiling to the camera. Difficult to tell what mood the keeper is in – has he been kept too long doing this by the photographer, as sometimes happens? Is the penguin being cooperative? What mood is the penguin in? It’s also difficult to judge the keeper’s character from the photograph, but F.W. Bond as London Zoo’s  photographer and staff member would have known the other staff reasonably well.

The clothes

I like the slightly naval look to the informal uniform, not the usual keeper double breasted suit and peaked cap that London Zoo staff were pictured in at the time, but a much more relaxed waistcoat, scarf, and the oddly modern looking boots.  Was it a hot day the picture was taken?

I have seen these boots  advertised in garden magazines of the period, very similar to the clogs worn by working gardeners and no doubt good in the wet slippery conditions a penguin or sea lion keeper would work in. They are pretty much the Edwardian / Georgian equivalent to today’s steel toe-capped keeper safety boots.

It is also resonant as a picture of a youngish man in uniform in 1914. Soon many such photographs would be taken in different circumstances, once war was declared in August. Their jobs in many workplaces, including London Zoo, would increasingly be taken by women until the war ended (see the Mary Evans picture blog below for an early WW1 female keeper).

The background

Looking into the background, unlike in many zoo photos of the time, there are no crowds of visitors around in the background. Nobody is  sitting on the ornate metal bench, the path is swept clear of litter. Is this photograph taken before the zoo day begins, the end of a long day or a quiet Sunday when the zoo was mostly the preserve of ZSL fellows rather than public?

Another photograph

I was excited looking at London Zoo’s Zoo at War 2014 exhibition in their old elephant tunnel under the road (put together by Adrain Taylor) to see another photograph of Harry and his favourite penguin.

henry munro

The Daily Graphic coverage of a “Missing Soldier-Keeper”, 16 November 1915 mentions more about this keeper – penguin relationship. It reads:

“Billy” the famous King Penguin at the Zoo died shortly after his keeper, Munro, enlisted at the beginning of the war. Munro is now reported missing from his regiment. It is hoped he may be a prisoner.

So we have a name for the King penguin as well as the keeper too.

The Keeper

But who was this  ‘unnamed’ Keeper with King Penguin?

Henry Munro was the first of the London Zoo staff to be killed on active service, 29 September 1915.

On the CWGC site and UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 database (1921), ZSL Keeper Henry Albert 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, Harry appears to have volunteered or enlisted most likely in 31 August 1914; conscription for such older men 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 died  aged 39 in action on or around 29th September 1915.


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

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

Harry 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.,%20HENRY

His death occurred a few days after September 25th 2015 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, following the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April to May 5th 1915 onwards).

Henry Munro served from 31 August 1914 to 5 January 1915 in Britain, and then with the 5th and then 4th Middlesex Regiment as part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) from the 6th January 1915 in France until his death on 29th September 1915

Much of the detail for this story comes from his Military History Sheet, and WW1 Army Service Papers (“Burnt Documents”) that fortunately have survived. Here he is listed as a “Zoological Attendant” This early service gained him the 1915 star, along with the standard Victory and British medal.

According to his service record, Henry enlisted at Camden Town on 31 August 1914. Posted as a Private, 5th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment GS (General Service) on 2 October 1914, by the 6 January 1915, Henry was posted to the 4th Battalion with whom he fought and was posted missing 29 September 1915.

Land, air and sea 

I first came across the keeper’s name as ‘Harry’ Munro as it is listed in Golden Days, a 1976 book of London Zoo photographs (ZSL image C-38771X?) This same book also lists Harry as intriguingly being involved in “the army, airships and anti-submarine patrols”. Airships from coastal bases were used for anti submarine patrols because of their longer range and stamina than the flimsy aircraft of the time.

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 were from the memory of long retired staff.

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

Harry Munro’s name is the first of the names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

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, working on their 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.

Family background

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 three children. He had married (Ada) Florence Edge on 20th November 1899. His service papers record along the top clearly written that half his pay was to be allotted to his wife.

They had three children, born or registered in Camden Town (near the zoo) by the time he was killed on active service. Hilda was 14 (born 29th March 1901), Albert Charles was 9 (born 5th June 1906, died 1989) and Elsie, 7 (born 17 August 1908, died 1977), all living at 113 Huddleston Road, Tufnell Park to the north of the zoo in London in 1915. 2 other children died in infancy according to the 1911 Census.

Interestingly, maps list Regent’s Park as having a barracks on Albany street (A4201).

Sadly Ada Florence his wife died in 1919, his later medal slips amongst his service papers being signed for by Hilda, his oldest daughter. Hilda was then around 19 in 1920 and no doubt responsible for her younger brother Albert Charles by then around 14 and of school leaving age and much younger sister Elsie, by then 12.

Staff record card information

I was lucky enough in 2014 in the ZSL Archive to look through the 1914 Daily Occurrence Book that recorded daily life and works in London Zoo, handwritten in a huge ledger each day. After many mentions thought preceding years, Munro’s name disappear from the keeper’s list in August 1914.

Even more revealing and intimate was his staff record card, an index card listing his career:

Henry Munro. Married. Born February 18 1876.

January 18 1898 Helper at 15 shillings per week.

February 21 1899 Helper at 17 shillings and 6 pence a week.

February 6 1900 Helper at 21 shillings per week.

February 6 1903 Helper at 24 shillings and 6 pence per week.

May 19 1906 Helper at 25 shillings per week.

August 15 1909 Junior Keeper on staff Antelopes at  £6 per month.

December 15 1913 Senior Keeper on staff Sea Lions at £6 10 shillings per month.

Entered Army September 15th 1914.

Missing 29 September 1915.

Enlisted for war 1914, balance of pay given to wife.

Addresses listed include 177 Gloucester Road, Regent’s Park, NW (crossed out) 113 Huddlestone Road,Tufnell Park, N. (Date stamped April 23 1913)

A Helper is the lowest or youngest  rank of Keeper, this phrase crops up on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial for young staff.

(Many thanks to Michael Palmer the archivist and library team at ZSL for their help during my visit.)




Middlesex Regimental War Diary

On 29 / 30 September 1915, the number of officers and other ranks killed, wounded and missing is listed after an account of the preceding few days of battle. Harry Munro would have been amongst these missing.

Remembering Billy and Harry, 100 years on.

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


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