Category: Remembrance

Commonwealth War Grave area progresses.

Those of you that follow our posts will know that several months ago the Commonwealth War Graves Commission  re laid new turf in a small War Grave area adjacent to the main drive. This area is home to 8 of our 352 War Graves. Why these 8 are here together no one seems to know. Bereavements are mystified and so are the CWGC. The refreshing of this area has continued with the grass now lush and  the addition of new perennial flowers at the foot of each stone. Looking good.

!00 years of the Poppy

5 June 1922 – 5 June 2022

Over 100 years the Poppy has evolved but remains an enduring symbol of Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.

Red poppies have been worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces community since the formation of The Poppy Factory in 1922.  The Charity was founded by Major George Howson MC, a British Army officer who was awarded the Military Cross in 1917. George Howson’s vision was to provide employment for veterans injured during the First World War.:

The Royal British Legion wanted to buy Remembrance poppies made in Britain and George Howson proposed that the poppies should be made by disabled war veterans in the United Kingdom.   The Legion agreed and in May 1922 it gave Howson £2,000 to establish a poppy making factory.

The first poppy factory opened on 5th June 1922 in two rooms at Mitchell’s collar factory near Old Kent Road, South London.

In a normal year, 40,000 collectors with tins sell more than 35million poppies and raise around £50million for the British Legion charity.


100 years of history – The Poppy Factory it

Gallipoli Campaign Remembered

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’ Kohima Epitaph
24 APRIL 2022
This morning, in beautiful April sunshine and in partnership with the Gallipoli Association, FBEC supported a small gathering to remember all those lost as a result of the ill-fated WW1 Gallipoli Campaign.

This marks the second occasion when a Brandwood End Cemetery Gallipoli/ANZAC Commemoration has taken place and we were particularly delighted to be joined by Councillor Mike Leddy, representing Birmingham City Council.
Councillor Mike Leddy (Birmingham City Council), FBEC Chairman Julia Griffin and Vice Chairman Coral Howard joined John Bartlett (Royal Regiment of Fusiliers), Richard Millington (Warwickshire Yeomanry Association) and Ian Binnie (Gallipoli Association) to lay wreaths at the family grave of Private Horace Turner of 1st Warwickshire Yeomanry who died aged 22 on 30 August 1915 at Suvla Bay. Following the playing of the Last Post a 2 minute silence was observed.
As today was also Orthodox Easter day for both Ukraine and Russia we additionally remembered all those Ukrainians fighting for their freedom and the many thousands who have become casualties.
We will remember them.

Anzac Day 25th April 2022

The 25th April is Anzac Day. This is not a widely commemorated date in the UK but highly valued in many other countries.  If you would like to know more about what Anzac day means to many people then please follow the link below to a short video.

Our thanks to The Gallipoli Association who have invited the Friends to join them at a short Commemorative event on Sunday the 24th April in Brandwood End.

Commonwealth War Grave area

Regular visitors to Brandwood End are aware that we have a large number of Commonwealth War Graves but for some unknown reason a small number are placed together in an area in Section 33. We have tried, as have Bereavement Services staff, to find the reason why these flyers have been buried together, when all the other  CWGC recognised graves are scattered throughout the cemetery. We are all unable to find any tie between them.

Following a recent visit from a representative of CWGC it was decided that the site needed to be refreshed, and we reported on the start of this work. This is an update and the turf is now in place. We suspect that not much will happen now until this turf has bedded in, but perennial planting should follow and continued maintenance by CWGC gardening staff.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 is this week.


Holocaust Memorial Day 2022

There will be a commemoration event at Millennium Point on Sunday 20th.


Birmingham’s annual civic commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day will be hosted at Millennium Point next week.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Muhammad Afzal, will lead the event on Sunday (30 January 2022) which this year has the theme of One Day. The event is free, open to all and starts at 2pm.

Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecutions, as well as other genocides around the world.

One Day is the theme for this year’s event, in the hope there may be one day in the future with no genocide. It is also an opportunity to learn more about the past, empathise with others today and take action for a better future.

This year’s programme will feature a candle-lighting ceremony as well as testimony from Mindu Hornick MBE, who will talk about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, plus performances from violinist Simone Schehtman, Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate Fatma Mohiuddin and the city council’s choir.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Muhammad Afzal, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity for everyone to pause, reflect and learn lessons from the past and apply them to the present day, to create a safer, better future.

“This year we will be able to come together to light a candle and remember victims of atrocities and genocides around the world, as well as those who are still sadly losing their lives through war, conflict and hate crime. I hope as many people as possible will join us Millennium Point on 30 January.”

Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, will be hosting the event and give a short speech.

This event will also be recorded and shared via the city council’s social media accounts afterwards.

A Stonemason’s story

We have reproduced below a short piece by Carola Klein, a member of the Friends committee since inception.

‘One day in the Cemetery I came upon a figure crouched intently at one of the World War I memorial screens. Mike Witham was engraving the letters of a newly identified name onto a remaining space on the wall. We chatted, and I arranged to return over the next few days to take photographs. I took these as he worked, but do not think I distracted him as he was so focussed on the inscription.

Mike has been with the Commonwealth Memorial War Graves Commission for 37 years, his official role is Chargehand Stonemason and his work takes him from Penzance to the Orkneys, and sometimes Scandinavia, or even further.

Mike’s skill Is in carving Italic letters, using a tungsten tipped chisel and a mallet called a ‘steel lettering dummy’. He told me that the type of stone used for memorials varies according to the geology of the location, limestone, sandstone or granite. The Brandwood End screens and Cross of Sacrifice are made from a type of sandstone’.



Latest addition to the Screen Wall.

Early in December a member of our committee was lucky enough to be in the cemetery when a new name was added to the screen wall, adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice on the main drive.

The work was undertaken by Chargehand Stonemason –  Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Mike Witham.

Mike has undertaken work for the CWWGC all over the world in various cemeteries and on December 1st he found himself in Brandwood End.

The names of those who lost their lives during the Wars, and are buried in the communal grassed areas either side of the main drive, are remembered on the  screen walls. They were either without family or family were unable to afford to finance a grave at that time, but they are individually named on the two screen walls that lie either side of the main drive adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice.

Our understanding is that family recently followed up his records and approached the CWWGC to have his name added. The Friends would love to talk to the family, so if one of them is reading this or if you know who they are, could you put us in touch? Please e mail us on

The work undertaken by Mike and other  CWWGC Stonemasons must be admired as its longevity enables families  to see a lasting record of their relatives and a recognition of their sacrifice.

CWWGC remember those lost in the longest air raid.

Since its opening in 1899 Brandwood End Cemetery has been a place of burial and remembrance for over 350 souls lost as a result of enemy action. Many are remembered under the ‘Commonwealth War Graves’ umbrella but many lie in family graves. During the Blitz hundreds of civilians lost their lives in the City and Brandwood End is the resting place of many of those. Our Civilian Garden of Remembrance is a peaceful place dedicated especially to those civilians. We have reproduced below a ‘post’ that the CWWGC featured on their site as a record of the event.
On the 11th December, 1940, the residents of Birmingham appeared from their air raid shelters after suffering the longest raid of the Blitz.
For 13 hours the city was pounded by hundreds of German bombers, with over 150 civilians killed. They are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London.
Can we also refer you to the web site of Birmingham Air Raid Association.