Category: Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery

Decembers Litter Pick.

Just a reminder that we will be holding our quarterly Litter Pick on Sunday the 6th December.

10-11.30am Meet at the Lodge. We will provide litter bags and we do have some spare pickers, but under Covid restrictions we do ask that you wear gloves and bring your own litter pickers if you have them. Stout footwear will also be required. We have a limited number of High Viz vests as well, so if you have your own, please wear it.

Can we remind everyone that the cemetery falls within a Tier 3 Covid area so please adhere to any of the restrictions which are applicable. As we are a 53 acre site there will be no reason for anyone to be close to anyone else, all though we will ask people to remain in sight line of at least one other person, for safety reasons.

This will be our last litter pick in 2020 and our December event always finds litter exposed by the bare appearance of shrubbery !


Cemetery opening times

Can we just remind everyone that the cemetery opening times are subject to change at short notice, so please consult the Birmingham City Council web site below to confirm that your information is up to date.

Brandwood End cemetery | Birmingham City Council

To confirm, as we write (21.11.20), the times below are in operation.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday- 10-4pm

Wednesday 8.30- 4pm

Saturday and Sunday  10-4pm

19th November 1940 saw heavy bombing in Birmingham

After losing the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe pounded England’s industrial cities almost nightly on an eight-month-long bombing campaign. In Brandwood End we have many civilian graves as a result of bombing raids that attest to the devastating loss of life that Birmingham suffered.

Eighty years ago  (Tuesday 19th November 1940) the first major aerial raid was launched on Birmingham as part of a campaign by the German Luftwaffe designed to break the Brummie spirit.   Coming five days after the destruction of Coventry Birmingham fell prey to the most severe attack during the course of the Second World War.   Lasting nearly all night the nine hours’ of intense bombing by 440 bombers killed 450 people and badly injured 540 others. Around 400 tonnes of high explosives were dropped during the raid – Hitler’s retaliation for British raids on Hamburg, Bremen and Kiel.

Factories damaged in the raid included Lucas Industries and GEC works and the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) factory was also badly damaged – 53 employees were killed as they took shelter behind blast walls, 89 were injured, 30 of them seriously, and rifle production was said to have been halted for three months as a result.

Including lighter attacks on other nights, the casualties for the period from 19th to 28th November 1940 was 796 dead and 2345 injured.   About 20,000 people were made homeless.   A fearsome new weapon, the landmine, was being used.   It was virtually a sea mine on a parachute and it was extremely powerful.   But this was to be just the start.  The Birmingham Blitz spanned 3 years.

The longest raid lasting 13 hours came on 11 December 1940 when 278 bombers targeted the city once more killing 263 people and badly wounding 243 after explosives and 25,000 incendiaries  were dropped.

In total 1,852 tons of bombs were dropped on Birmingham making it the third most heavily bombed city in the United Kingdom behind only London and Liverpool. 2,241 Brummies were killed, 3,010 were seriously injured and 3,682 harmed.

Prolonged and powerful attacks destroyed 12,391 houses, 303 factories, 34 churches, halls and cinemas, 205 other buildings and thousands of other properties were damaged.   A graphic illustration of sacrifices made at home, as well as abroad.    

The last air raid siren sounded in Birmingham on 15th May 1944.

Can you support the Friends?

In a strange way this year we have seen more interest in ‘Remembrance’ than ever before! Individuals and families have been walking in the cemetery more frequently during lockdown, and reading the information displayed on noticeboards.

The Friends work hard throughout the year to make sure that notice boards, and our social media are kept current, interesting and informative. We are so pleased that many visitors have expressed interest in supporting us in our work, either by becoming members of the Friends or supporting events. You can download a membership application from this site. Please consider joining our ranks.


Gallipoli campaign.

Can we thank one of our contacts, Ian Binnie, as he also visited the cemetery on the 8th to lay a wreath on the grave to one of the soldiers, Private Horace George Turner , who lost his life during the Gallipoli campaign. Ian is Education Co-ordinator for the Gallipoli Association and was laying the wreath on behalf of the Gallipoli Association and the Warwickshire Yeomanry.


Old Soldier pays his respects on Armistice Day

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.