In my role as Sutton’s Councillor Tree Champion for the Woodland Trust I have received a request to help find some historic trees that might still exist within the London Borough of Sutton.
The request is for Sutton’s help in tracking down the “Verdun Oaks”. The Battle of Verdun was the longest single battle of the First World War, claiming the lives of more than 400,000 men. Although the British never fought at Verdun, unlikely reminders of the conflict adorn our towns. Acorns collected from the devastated battlefields were shipped to Britain, where this smallest of gestures created the grandest of tributes – mighty oaks growing tall and proud as a lasting memorial to those who fought and died on the Western Front.
Now, a century on, the Woodland Trust is searching for these Verdun Oaks so they can collect their acorns and grow a second generation of Verdun Oaks in their four First World War Centenary Woods. They have already discovered some of these living memorials, still growing strong, in Herefordshire, London, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey and the West Midlands. More details of the oaks they have identified can be found at woodlandtrust.org.uk/fww.
I would really appreciate your help tracking down any Verdun Oaks in Sutton and your support in the collection of acorns from any verified trees this autumn.
You can get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Woodland Trust at email@example.com if you are aware of any Verdun oaks or related stories in our area.