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.
Our thanks to Alison Gove-Humphries for taking some lovely photographs at the event.
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 email@example.com and we will add you to this list then contact you with proposed dates when we have enough prospective participants.
Every year, in the run up to Armistice Day, the Friends place over 300 poppy crosses on graves of those lost to conflicts. Many are members of the armed forces but many are also civilians killed in air raids locally, as shown in the grave below where 3 members of a family all lost their lives.
We also create a ‘Poppy Cross Cemetery’ grid, near the Cross of Sacrifice on the main drive, to show the vastness of the numbers involved just within Brandwood End Cemetery.
Please walk through the cemetery if you are passing and give a moment of your time to remember those who lost their lives either at home or abroad.
SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE- SUNDAY 13th NOVEMBER 10.45am .
This years Service of Remembrance will take place at Brandwood End Cemetery on Sunday 13th November. 10.50am at the Cross of Sacrifice on the Main Drive.
As I am sure we have mentioned before, The Friends have been accepted as entrants into Heart of England in Bloom and will get a judges visit towards the end of this month. Whilst we are not able to affect much of the horticulture or upkeep of the cemetery we feel sure that Bereavement Service staff will be supporting our efforts.
There are a few things we can do, so the hard work in those areas has begun. Our thanks to one of our committee members, Sarah, who has started washing down some of the rain/mud spattered Section Markers. What a difference a bit of ‘Fairy’ makes!!
Before….and after !!
Our thanks also to Julia who has been popping in and out weeding under hedges and Barrie- who’s shears have been working overtime! All of these jobs and many more are undertaken continually by volunteer members of FBEC and the community, and happen as if by magic…..but we are making just a little bit of extra effort for this, our first, RHS entry!!
We hope you have noticed the difference we have made over the last 11 years and we thank all those that have offered their help.
The Friends offer lots of opportunities for members to take part in projects that inspire them, be it gardening ,war graves, social history, or trees, birds and wildlife. We are always keen to involve anyone with a skill they would like to share. Please e mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can we make a special appeal for someone to be responsible for keeping a digital archive of our activities. We know most of our activities are recorded on our Facebook page and within this blog but we would like to have everything kept in one place, and free time restricts the existing committee members from taking this on. Please can you help?
Our thanks to everyone that supported this annual event organised by FBEC. This year close to 70 people turned out in windy and damp conditions to remember those that have given their lives in battle.
Our thanks to Rev David Fairbotham, local Councillors and all the organisations that laid wreaths but our special thanks to the Standard Bearer from The British Legion (Kings Heath Branch), our brilliant Buglers (Ludo and Oliver) who always do us proud, and of course local residents and supporters. This year our numbers were close to 70 !
Our thanks as well to Bereavement Services staff who come along on their day off to make sure cars don’t drive through the event !
This years SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE will take place on SUNDAY 8TH NOVEMBER at the Cross of Sacrifice on the Main Drive (10.50am for 11.00am start)
Please try and support this annual event to remember those that have been lost in the name of Peace. We will be supported by the Flag Bearer and Chairman of the West Midlands British Legion, Local Councillors and local Organisations.
If you happen to pass through Brandwood End Cemetery this week, you may well see members of the Friends and volunteers placing some 350 + poppy crosses. Each War Grave in Brandwood End is marked every year by the placing of a poppy cross on it. A large grid ‘poppy cross cemetery’ is also formed on the grassland adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice on the Main Drive- to give an impression of the large numbers of those buried within Brandwood End who have lost their lives in wars around the globe.
Please pause for a moment after Remembrance Sunday to read the information placed near the ‘poppy cemetery’.
Remembrance Sunday information is to follow this article.
One of our members pointed out that the hedge surrounding the Civilian Garden of Remembrance had suddenly shot up….despite being cut well back in June so three of the Friends took the shears to the top on Saturday morning! It looks a little better now. We hope to do its final cut just before the Remembrance Day event, so it looks spick and span that day so we will be appealing for assistance nearer that time.
Whilst on site we gave the new hedge, surrounding the adjacent War Graves, a quick cut as well but it hasn’t started to thicken up yet. We are still always looking for people who visit the cemetery and have spare time to weed under the hedge on both sites. What needs doing is fairly obvious!
The Great War memorial bench has now been re sited close to the new memorial (on the old Oak Tree Island). It has been joined by an interpretation lectern explaining the part that Birmingham played during the Great war.
The bench is now clear of over hanging trees and less likely to be damaged by bird droppings.
The small area of Commonwealth War Graves, recently hedged by FBEC and St Albans pupils, has been planted with Primula Vulgaris and is looking especially good.
Those of you that follow our blog may remember some time ago that Barrie Simpson (FBEC Committee member) was assisting Paul Ford from Wyrleyblog to try and trace the grave of a WW1 servicemen, Thomas James. After a long search Barrie was able to inform Paul that a grave had been located!
With Paul’s permission The Friends contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Barrie, as well as being a member of The Friends committee, is also a CWGC Volunteer and, under the ‘Adopt a Grave’ scheme , he has adopted all 200+ CWGC graves and was most anxious to assist Paul’s splendid research. It was hoped that the end result might be the erection of a CWGC headstone for this Coal Miner from Great Wryley.
The evidence was duly submitted, by Barrie, to the Ministry of Defence for consideration by the ‘War Grave Adjudication Team’. The response below has now been received.
‘Dear Mr Simpson,
We have recently been instructed by the relevant Service Authority that Private Thomas William James qualifies for commemoration as a Commonwealth war casualty.’
Barrie adds that:
‘Now, I move on to the next phase of pestering the City Bereavements Department to provide with me the letter that there is no known owner of the grave so I can begin the final phase to get a CWGC headstone erected on Thomas’ grave before November 2015.’ His grave will be recognised, along with 200+ others, by the Friends and the placing of a Poppy Cross in November 2015.
Both Paul Ford (Wyrleyblog) and Barrie Simpson (FBEC) spent many hours of work on this search and there is a very interesting article detailing this- to be found via this link