Category: Remembrance

R I P Barrie Simpson.

It is with regret that we have to announce the sudden passing of our deeply respected long term friend and colleague, Barrie Simpson, whom we all held in great regard.  

He was such an integral member of FBEC that his loss will be very keenly felt, but he will continue to live on in our thoughts especially when working in the cemetery.

Of late we have observed Barrie’s decline, but his ability to find ways of communicating at committee meetings revealed his continuing perseverance and determination to be engaged in what he held dear. The photograph above is how we will all remember Barrie !

As this wonderful man passes from our lives to being indelibly marked on our minds and in our hearts, we are all reminded of the massive hole he leaves in FBEC.


Passchendaele and Brandwood End

Many men fell at the Battle of Passchendaele, which is especially remembered this week for it is 100 years since that bloody conflict. As a small part of this, The Friends of Brandwood End have been encouraged to research graves to highlight at least one of those Soldiers. We were looking for a casualty who was returned to England wounded, but subsequently died and was buried in Brandwood End.  Research by Doug Smith and Julia Griffin found us William Shakespeare (Obviously not the one of normal fame).

William was born in Birmingham in 1882.   His mother and father both worked for Parkinson Cowan and were gas meter makers.   He left Mary Street Board School when he was 12 in 1894 and went into the trade as well.

William married in December 1903 when he was 23 to Elizabeth Chambers who was just 18.   They lived in a back to back in Wrentham Street.

William and Elizabeth had several children. William and Nellie in 1906 – twins!   Unfortunately William was sickly and died. Next came Alice and then George, in 1912.  The family then moved to Lime Grove, Walter Street, Nechells.

The news from the Front was bad so William enlisted in June 1915 and was accepted in the 16th Warwickshire Regiment, or the 3rd Birmingham Pals.

He fought in the many battles in 1917 but was hit by a shell burst at the Third Ypres battle, or Passchendaele.   His Battalion were ordered to take the Polderhoek Chateau with the 2nd Norfolk’s and began the attack on 9th October 1917.   Many men were lost.

William was brought back on a stretcher having been injured by a shell burst as they retreated.    When we got back to England he was sent to Dewsbury in Yorkshire but never recovered from his wounds. Elizabeth was nearly full term with their final baby, John, who was born the week after William died, aged 35 on 6th November 1917.

His father paid for him to be buried in Brandwood End – He is buried in Grave B.2 ‘C’ 883.

Thank you to all those that stopped to hear about William as they passed through the Cemetery today and also those who remained behind after our Remembrance Service to hear about his life and others who fought at Passchendaele. The information will remain on display in our Notice Boards.

Proudly supported by the Passchendaele at Home project. #Passchendaele100


A Living Memorial for the ‘Unremembered’ of the Labour Corps

Today, on Remembrance Sunday, The Friends took part in a ‘Living Memorial’ to highlight those groups of people who have often been forgotten for the service they provided during conflicts. In highlighting the Labour Corps we wanted to remind people of the work done by this group, especially in WWI.  We have 9 members of the Labour Corps either buried or remembered on the screen walls in Brandwood End.

Their names and information about each individual can be seen above but also displayed on a large poster that members of the public were invited to read. We also included a short story of how the Labour Corps came to be formed and how it was made up from various regiments and initially staffed by those who had been wounded but deemed unfit to return to the front line. This information will remain on display on our notice boards and also is available for local schools and individuals with an interest.

Attendance grows at every Remembrance Day Event

Attendance was up again at this mornings Remembrance Event. Our thanks as usual go to Deacon David for a very thought provoking few words and also to Bereavement Services staff, who made sure the area of the Cross of Sacrifice was leaf free. Every year wreaths are laid on behalf of the Royal British Legion, local Councillors, The Masons, The Order of Buffaloes, Selly Oak Royal British Legion and ourselves but this year we were joined by our Local Neighbourhood Policing Officers who try to attend all their local events.

Part of the ‘Unremembered Project’.

The Department of communities and Local Government (DCLG), have funded an inclusive and thought-provoking programme to invite communities to commemorate the sacrifices of the Labour Corps and their contribution to the First World War.

On July 14th between 9.20am and 10.40am pupils from Swanshurst School will be in Brandwood End Cemetery, where they will recite monologues to highlight Labour Corps members commemorated on the screen walls at the Cross of Sacrifice on the main drive.

This event will be filmed for the School’s Youtube channel. Members of FBEC Committee will also be attending.

Cyclists place wreath at Brandwood End Cross of Sacrifice.

Every May, cyclist travel from all over the UK to visit the National Cyclists Memorial  in the village of Meriden. This year a small contingent decided that, as they were unable to visit Meriden, they would lay a wreath in Brandwood End.

Built to honour the memory of those members of the cyclists battalions of the Army Cyclists Corps who died in World War One, the Meriden Memorial was erected in 1921 and on 21st May over 20,000 people turned up for its inauguration.

Following Morning Service at The Cotteridge Church Centre on Sunday 21st May 2017, Rev. Loraine Dixon and Rev Michael Claridge, accompanied by Joy Anibaba from the Joyful Bellas and Fellas Community Cycling Group, cycled from Kings Norton Recreation Ground to Brandwood End Cemetery to mark our own commemoration.

After a short prayer service, a wreath in the style of the original laid at the 1921 inauguration service at Meriden, was laid at the Brandwood Cross of Sacrifice.  Four Standard Bearer Members of the Federation of Birmingham Ex-Service Associations performed Tribute during the Last Post, a two minute silence was observed and Reveille played at the cessation.

The Cemetery trees in full spring foliage and the bird song during 2 minute silence added to the simple beauty of the occasion. All those who attended the event left in the knowledge that a fitting tribute had been paid to preserve the memory of The Fallen, and also took away with them a very good impression of what the Friends of Brandwood End continue to achieve in the cemetery.

Update-From Brownhills to Brandwood: Thomas William James and the Pity of War

Some of you may remember that our committee member, Barrie Simpson, and others were making efforts to get official recognition for Thomas William James.

We have included a link to the Official site which details, at length, the history behind these efforts. It is a long but extremely interesting  story……but everyone’s efforts have been rewarded!

Second Lieutenant F C Alabaster, commemorated at this years Remembrance Service

FBEC felt they would like to share with you an article prepared by Edwina Rees, for the Moseley History Society newsletter. It sums up our recent Remembrance Day Event. Thank you Edwina.


The centenary year of the Battle of the Somme was very much in everyone’s thoughts, in this year’s commemorative service held at the Cross of Sacrifice at Brandwood End Cemetery.  Before the laying of wreaths, the last post rang out and during the two minutes silence, instead of poppies, the last golden leaves of autumn fell on the heads of those reflecting on the loss of the many young men who fell that fell during the course of the war in 1916.

Second Lieutenant F C Alabaster was one of those who lost their lives that year. Clifford, as he preferred to be known, was wounded in the head by shrapnel, just before the Battle of the Somme, but the protection afforded by the new ‘Brodie’ helmets lessened the impact and he was expected to survive. Unfortunately, this was not the case and he died in the Empire Hospital for Officers, London just over a month later. His great niece Wendy Alabaster represented the family on the day

His grave and those of others buried here who served in WW1, are now recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission thanks to the campaigning endeavors of the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery. He is also commemorated at St Mary’s Church, Moseley on their WW1 memorial.



Second Lieutenant F C Alabaster was highlighted at the request of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission as part of their ‘Living  Memories’ project, but in remembering him we must also remember all those who are buried here or on foreign soil who gave their lives for their country and those killed locally as a result of enemy air raids.

U3A, Local History Group Members enjoy Brandwood End.

FBEC member, Pat Franklin, gave up her time to lead a group of U3A (Local History Group) members on a walk through Brandwood End Cemetery.  During  Heritage Open Week, in September 2014, the Friends devised a Grave Walk highlighting a small number of War Graves in the cemetery and providing a short background to each of them.

img_4282u3aOur thanks to Alison Gove-Humphries for taking some lovely photographs at the event.

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The tour itself consisted of an introduction and overview, the formation and role of the Friends and then to the CWGC, their policy and philosophy. Next came a brief summary of the First World War, the burials elsewhere [unless stated] and the commemoration on family headstones on the walk.   Then on to the Cross of Sacrifice and the recent Commemoration. Thence, the Screen Walls and a walk to the more recent Tree Island Memorial, with tablet and benches. The group were particularly taken with the Poppy Cross  Field and its significance.

Our thanks again to Pat for leading this walk. We do occasionally get requests from individuals to attend a walk but unless Pat can get a group of 8 to 12 together it isn’t really worth while. With this in mind, if you would like to take our Grave Walk (Probably not until Spring 2017) can you e mail us on   and we will add you to this list then contact you with proposed dates when we have enough prospective participants.

Remembrance Day record turnout.

Our thanks to everyone that turned out today to our Annual Remembrance Service in Brandwood End. This year saw close to 100 participants come to hear a short thought provoking address by Deacon David Fairbotham of St Dunstans Church prior to the laying of wreaths by Kings Heath and Selly Oak Royal British Legions, Local Councillors (on behalf of BCC), The Freemasons, The Royal Order of Buffaloes and the Friends.


Yet again we must thank our magnificent buglers, Ludo and Oliver, for helping to create such a poignant atmosphere with their amazing rendition of the Last Post and Reveille. If they desert us for University next year they will be sadly missed!



‘Alabaster’ Grave.

As part of the CWGC ‘Living Memory’ project we agreed to highlight the grave of one Service Member who lost his life as a result of the actions at the Battle of the Somme. Our choice was Frederic Clifford Alabaster, and we were pleased to welcome one of his relatives, Wendy Alabaster, to the Remembrance Service.

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Wendy also joined many people who took the time to view the information on display and visit ‘Clifford’s’ grave. Information about this grave will remain on display for the next two weeks, at the grave site and also on the main drive near the poppy cross grid and Cross of Sacrifice.