Today at 11am on Armistice Day a few of us gravitated to the Cross of Sacrifice in the cemetery and observed the 2 minute silence. We were joined a little later by this gentleman who stood, at salute, for a full 2 minutes. Afterwards he exchanged a few words with several of us at the cross and explained that he had done his National Service in the 50’s and that he was also wearing his fathers medals. It made the moment very meaningful.
November 2020 is the 100th Anniversary of the repatriation and burial of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.
“Where did you lay to rest the body of my son?” For many thousands, there was no answer to give.
This poignant question, often the first posed by grieving families upon publication of First World War casualty lists, left a strong impression on the Reverend David Railton, MC, a chaplain to the 2nd Battalion of the Hon. Artillery Company on the Western Front during the 1914-1918 war.
In 1916, in a back garden at Erkingham near Armentières in France, he had noticed a grave with a rough cross on which were pencilled the words ‘An Unknown British Soldier’.
In August 1920, now vicar of Margate in Kent, he wrote to Herbert Ryle, Dean of Westminster, suggesting just one of these unknown soldiers should be entombed among the kings in Westminster Abbey, a symbol of the country’s gratitude and a permanent memorial to the fallen of the Great War who had no known grave.
King George V and the government, rather reluctantly at first, supported the idea and on 11th November 1920, the second anniversary of the Armistice, David Railton saw his dream become reality. After a service with hymns in the Abbey The Unknown Warrior was buried at the west end of the nave and the grave filled with soil brought from the battlefields of France.
The Union flag which covered the coffin had been used by Reverend Railton during the war to drape over his makeshift altars and over the bodies of soldiers killed in action. Since 1921 ‘the Padre’s Flag’, as it is known, has hung in St George’s Chapel close to the Warrior’s grave.
IT IS WITH REGRET THAT THE FRIENDS OF BRANDWOOD END HAVE DECIDED TO CANCEL THE USUAL SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE IN BRANDWOOD END. WE HAD HOPED TO HOLD A SMALLER EVENT BEHIND LOCKED GATES BUT FOLLOWING ADVICE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH FOR BIRMINGHAM, DR JUSTIN VARNEY, WE HAVE DECIDED NOT TO ENCOURAGE A GATHERING OF ANY DESCRIPTION.
OVER THE NEXT WEEK, EACH OF OUR WREATH LAYERS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO VISIT INDEPENDENTLY AND PLACE THEIR WREATHS AT THE CROSS OF SACRIFICE SO BY 8th NOVEMBER THEY WILL ALL BE IN PLACE. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT ON THAT DAY TO OBSERVE THE 2 MINUTES SILENCE WHERE EVER YOU ARE.
WE WILL BE POSTING PHOTOGRAPHS OF EACH WREATH BEING LAID ON OUR WEB SITE www.fbec.org.uk
IT WAS WITH HEAVY HEARTS THAT WE MADE THIS DECISION, BUT WE ALL FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO TRY AND ADHERE TO LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS AND THE ADVICE WE HAVE RECEIVED. WE HOPE WE CAN WELCOME YOU ALL BACK IN 2021.
Can we confirm that this entrance should always be open at the same time as the main gate. Please advise Bereavement staff at Kings Norton if you find it locked. FBEC have a notice board on the right as you enter and we would ask, that if you predominantly use this entrance, you check this board for any important notices. Our main notice board is facing the Lodge near the main entrance.
Our thanks to Bereavement Service staff who have produced a lovely plaque to mark the first grave following the opening of Brandwood End in 1899. The Friends had marked this spot with a temporary interpretation notice but it now has a lovely official plaque.
When the Friends and volunteers are working in the cemetery we usually display our ‘A’ Frame so you know that the people in High Viz are us, and not Council workers.
Yesterday we began our Poppy Cross placing project and used a new poster on our ‘A’ Frame. We have Gary Staples to thank for the marvellous shot of the chapels and we thought his photo deserved to be seen more often!
Please watch out for us over the next week or two as we place the 352 poppy crosses on the graves of those lost in conflicts and buried, or remembered in family grave, in Brandwood End.
Saturday’s efforts were undertaken by the Colmey Family, Kerry Tinkler, Lisa Fair, Julia Griffin and myself. Very theraputic, enjoyable and rewarding! Sunday’s team include Coral and Andrew Howard and Monday we are assisted by Damian Tierney, Gail Pittaway, Carmel Fitzpatrick and Philip Brown.
Thank you to everyone else that asked if they could help but this year we had lots of offers of assistance, which makes this project all the easier to complete. So far everyone who has helped has wanted to come back the following year, so we are trying to introduce a few new volunteers every year to develop a team we can call on for the future. Thank you all again.
Please read the whole of this post as it is a reminder that in these strange times we need to support the work of the Royal British Legion. Poppy sales in some venues will possibly be limited due to social distancing.
Why are they selling poppies, mother? Selling poppies in town today?
The Poppy, my child, is the flower of love for the men, who marched away.
Why did they choose a poppy, mother? Why not a beautiful rose?
Because, my child, men fought and died in the fields, where the poppy grows.
But why is the poppy so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child, the blood that our soldiers shed.
The heart of the poppy is black mother. Why does it have to be black?
Black is the symbol of grief, my child, for the men, who never came back.
But why, mother dear, are you crying so? Your tears are like winter rain.
My tears are my fears for you, my child, for the world is forgetting again.
The Somme, Dunkirk, Malaya, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan . . . . .
Wherever the conflict is, our service men and women and their families, deserve our support via the Royal British Legion Poppy Collecting Tins?
Please pass this information to anyone who would normally attend our annual Remembrance event.
The Friends deeply regret that in these strange times we are not able to hold our usual Remembrance event as we often have in excess of 100 attendees, which under Covid restrictions would not be allowed.
An alternative arrangement has been agreed, details of which are listed below.
All Brandwood End cemetery gates will remain closed to the public till 11.30am, to allow for a service and the private laying of wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice. All the usual organisations will be invited. The cemetery gates will then be open to the public from 11.30am (after the service) till-5pm, for anyone wishing to visit family graves or pay their respects at the Cross of Sacrifice.
These arrangements follow discussions with Bereavement Service staff and we agreed on a compromise. We need to protect the public but also acknowledge the importance of the day.
Can we thank you for your understanding and trust that you will all return in 2021, when we hope things will have returned to some normality.
Spare a thought for all our friends and supporters in the Jewish Community as this weekend will be a very unusual Rosh Hashanah for them all ! Literally meaning “head of the year” Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and the two-day celebration will take place from sundown on Friday September 18 to nightfall on Sunday September 20.
This festival marks the start of the High Holy Days also known as the ‘Days of Awe’- a time for family, friends and personal reflection. Usual celebrations will see families and friends spend time together, pray, listen to the sound of the Shofar (the ram’s horn) and eat special food such as eating apples dipped in honey to mark a sweet and fruitful new year. Pomegranates, honey cake and round challah bread are also eaten.
We recognise that this year Covid 19 restrictions will have a considerable impact on household celebrations and how families will be able to mark this important occasion. However we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Jewish friends, colleagues and neighbours a ‘shanah tovah u’metukah’ – “a good and sweet new year”.
Amazing to watch the love and care that went into the preparation of this carriage and pair, ready for a local funeral. This isn’t normally done roadside but access to a cemetery was not available before funeral time! I happen to live in a nearby cul-de-sac. Imagine the scene in Brandwood End during Victorian and Edwardian times when this was the norm!