Kew & CWGC Re-unite for Somme 100

Article Courtesy of James Wearn

Kew’s First World War Centenary project this year focuses on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Reinvigorating an historic collaboration, three Kew staff (Dr James Wearn, Andrew Budden and Sarah Veniard) accompanied by photographer Paul Little, re-visited the battlefields accompanied by Commonwealth War Graves Commission Director of Horticulture, David Richardson, and Head of Horticulture for Western Europe, Gareth Hardware.

There were three components to their activities: (1) commemoration of three former Kew staff who lost their lives on that battlefield, two of whom remain ‘missing’; (2) assessment of the post-war regeneration of the flora; and (3) consideration of Kew’s longstanding collaboration with the CWGC, which began even before the Somme battles, as well as looking forward to modern opportunities and challenges in commemorative horticulture.

IMG_3532 Divers MIA (James Wearn)

The last resting place of Kewite John Divers, MIA in fields near Les Boeufs. Image Courtesy of James Wearn, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

On 6 July a special event was held at Kew to engage WWI partners and the public, which was attended by more than 150 people, representing a broad cross-section of enthusiast interests and professional bodies.  Please read our blog about the field trip and article about Kewite John Divers’ plant collections. More articles are in the pipeline. If you would like to find out more please contact James, Kew’s project manager.