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.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
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.