Extract from Birmingham City Battalions Book of Honour, page 1
” …. When the history of the Great War is read by succeeding generations few passages will be more inspiring than that which will tell of the readiness with which the young men of our country responded to the call of duty on the outbreak of hostilities. It was not their fault that they were not already trained, because they had been taught that to prepare for war was wrong, and responsible statesmen had failed to anticipate the need. As soon as the Germans invaded Belgium. Before it was generally realised that the vital interests of the British Empire were at stake in the European conflict, the recruiting offices were besieged with young men eager to play their part in resisting the aggressor.
In Birmingham three Territorial battalions were mobilised on August 4th, and their numbers were immediately brought up to full strength. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham at that time was Colonel Ernest Martineau, C.M.G., the Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and he left the city with his battalion. Consequently it devolved upon the Editor of this record, as Deputy Mayor, to co-operate with the military authorities in organising new methods of recruiting to meet an unprecedented emergency. The Town Hall, the Municipal Technical School and, Curzon Hall were placed at the disposal of the military authorities to receive the overflow from the regular recruiting offices.
When 8,000 men of all classes had been enlisted in the city it was suggested that special battalions should be formed of non-manual workers. The kindred idea of “pals” battalions appears to have occurred simultaneously to those engaged in recruiting in Liverpool and Manchester. In Birmingham, as in the two great towns of Lancashire, City Battalions were offered to the War Office during the last week of August. The scheme was introduced to the citizens by the (‘ Birmingham Daily Post” in a leading article on August 28th, and on the following morning a telegram was sent from the Lord Mayor’s Parlour to the Secretary of State for War as follows :-
Lord Kitchener of Khartoum,
War Office, Whitehall, London.
In the absence of the Lord Mayor, who is on military duty, I offer, on behalf of the City of Birmingham, to raise and equip a battalion of young business men for service in His Majesty’s army, to be called the Birmingham Battalion. This is in addition to the ordinary recruits who have been enlisted in this city to the number of nearly 8,000.
W. H. BOWATER, Deputy Mayor.
The following reply was received on August 30th, 1914 :-
Deputy Mayor, Birmingham.
The battalion you offer would be most acceptable, and a valuable addition to His Majesty’s forces. I presume you mean a regular battalion on the usual terms of service. If so, it might form a battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment to be designated the Birmingham Battalion, with a number. KITCHENER.