Every year Barrie Simpson goes beyond the call of duty and as well as organising the placing of a poppy cross on every war grave within Brandwood End he also creates a ‘poppy cross cemetery’. Every War Grave is represented by a cross in a grid pattern laid out on the grass of the Public Grave area adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice.
Every year we encourage pupils from the two schools that lie on either side of the cemetery to come and read the information that is posted nearby and it hopefully becomes a discussion point- especially in this significant year.
Our thanks go to the staff of Wates Construction for helping with the placing of crosses on graves and S. Gascoigne and Sons for their kind donation to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal on our behalf.
Today, during our litter pick, FBEC removed all 300+ poppy crosses laid out in our annually created ‘poppy cross cemetery’.
Following a request from Bereavements we have removed the crosses in the Public Grave area in readiness for grass cutting to start in the spring.
Every year our Vice Chairman, Barrie Simpson, and helpers create a grid of poppy crosses in the hope that it will help people to understand the large numbers of war graves within Brandwood End Cemetery. They also place poppy crosses on every war grave and these will remain in place until November 2015 unless removed by next of kin.
FBEC and Chris Gascoigne of S.Gascoine and Sons sponsored our crosses by donation to the British Legion.
You are invited to join Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery in a short Act of Remembrance in Brandwood End Cemetery on Sunday 10th November 2013.
Please meet at the Cross of Sacrifice on the main drive at 10.45am for a brief address by David Fairbotham, Deacon of St Dunstans Church, Kings Heath followed by 2 minutes silence at 11am and the laying of wreaths by Councillor Barry Henley and other local organisations.
Please note that there will be no access along the main drive from the Chapels to the Broad Lane gate from 10.45 to 11.15 whilst the Service is taking place. All other roads within the cemetery remain open. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
On Sunday, 13th November, 2011, a short wreath laying service and two minutes silence for the fallen of the two world wars and conflicts since 1945, will take place at the Cross of Sacrifice at 11.00.a.m. Please join us at 10.50am.
‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.’
Once again Wates have shown true ‘community spirit’.
On a cold, wet and windy day, members of Wates volunteered to turn out to support the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery in their small act of remembrance in placing a Poppy Cross on every war related grave.
Appropriately, this year we undertook the task on Armistice Day itself, and we actually began work at 11 am – it was on the 11th day, of 11th month, at the 11th hour, when the guns on the ‘Western Front’ finally fell silent.
This is no mean effort, as there are in excess of 350 graves to visit, all scattered throughout this large cemetery some difficult to locate; and all carried out in inclement weather conditions, with cheerfulness and a real sense of dedication to those we are remembering.
Not only did they place the Poppy Crosses, their keenness to support the project while in the cemetery resulted in the discovery of further war related graves, and thereby extended my research.
This is not the first time that they have assisted us and we are extremely grateful for their kind assistance.
On behalf of the Friends, may I yet again express our sincere thanks to Wates in general for being such a ‘community minded’ organisation, and to everyone who took part in particular, for giving up their time.
Barrie Simpson, Vice Chairman, Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery
There will be a short Memorial Service today in Brandwood End Cemetery starting at 1pm. It will take place at the Cross of Sacrifice Island on the Main Drive towards the Broad Lane entrance. There will be a short service, followed by laying of wreaths in remembrance of the fallen. Everyone is welcome to join us to remember our war dead, and pray for those in current conflicts.
We are often asked why we spend time walking the rows of graves in the Cemetery. One of our first projects was to place a Poppy Cross, each November, on all the war graves within the cemetery to mark Remembrance Day. A simple task, as we knew the names of the service personel from the two World Wars by simply looking at the list held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and then looking for their distinctive headstones within the cemetery.
However, what we found was that many servicemen who had died on active service abroad, although they were buried abroad, near to where they fell in battle, and remembered by memorials provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in one of their well cared for cemteries, the family here in Birmingham often also placed their loved one’s name on the family memorial.
This was so that they could too visit and honour the fallen.
This was a time when international travel was financially impossible for many Brummies. Many relatives have never had the opportunity to visit the any of the War Cemeteries which lie in many many countries around the World.
So what we found, and continue to find, are more and more graves where the memory of the fallen of both World Wars is honoured on the family’s grave stone.
Many families who came to these graves no longer attend the cemetery – perhaps the family has moved away, or the generation that cared for the grave has passed away.
In these cases The Friends will continue, at least once a year, to remember these servicemen and women on behalf of the local community.
And we do not forget those in civilian life – World War II was fought at home and abroad and we members of the National Fire Service; Fire Watchers and Air Raid Wardens together with victims of the Blitz Raids on Birmingham, all buried here.
They too are remembered by a simple Poppy Cross.
So we do this firstly to honour the fallen, but it is more than this, as each grave tells a story about ordinary Brummies – people just like you and who came from the local districts served by the cemetery.
This is the story of just one Brummie family which we obtained from a single headstone – nobody famous; just a family from Birmingham and probably just like your own.
During August 1918, Ester, and we will leave the family surname out of this story out of respect, receives a telegram to say that her husband Samuel, 49 years of age, had been killed in action on 21st August 1918, in France.
Just a few days later, Ester receives another telegram to say that on 27 August 1918, her eldest son, also called Samuel, 25 years of age, had been killed in action in France.
So the First World War left a lasting mark on this family but the story extends in to the Second World War.
On the night of 19th November 1940, the Luftwaffe carried out an Air Raid on Birmingham, during which the family home, not too far from the cemetery, was hit by a bomb killing Ester’s two remaining sons, James, aged 33 years, and Albert, aged 50 years.
Ester survived and died in 1950, aged 78 years, and it is obvious from the grave that this was her place of pilgrimage. Now that she has passed on no one attends this family memorial as often as she clearly did.
Just one story from one grave.
This is not the only story arising from our War Graves Project – we have memorials of 16 year olds who lied about their age, name and address to join the Armed Forces; Air Raid Wardens, Home Guard, Search Light Teams and Fire Fighters who died in the line of duty during the Blitz; we have sailors who died at sea; many air crew, including two brothers who became pilots and who died fighting the air war; and, sadly even children of serving soldiers who were victims of the Blitz while their father was away fighting in the war.
We also have graves of soldiers from Australia; Canada and Poland – and we feel that we have a responsibility to care for the graves of those buried far from their homes.
Every grave tells a story of an ordinary and brave Brummie, whether a Soldier, Sailor or Airman, British or Commonwealth, or one of our former Allies – they all deserve to be remembered.
Certainly, we will do all we can to remember them.
In the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday we will again be placing the Poppy Crosses around the cemetery, and the Cross of Sacrifice in the main drive; there will also be a short Wreath laying ceremony at the Cross of Sacrifice on Remembrance Sunday, when wreaths will be laid by the City Council, the Royal British legion and the Friends.