Training

Extract from Birmingham City Battalion Book of Honour, page 5
“Until he War Office was prepared to take over the battalions they were under the direction of temporary commanding officers. As soon as Colonel Sir John Barnsley had finished recruiting the first battalion he took command of it at the request of the War Office, and by the beginning of October he had his men temporarily billeted at Sutton Coldfield, thanks to the help given by the Town Clerk of that ancient borough, Mr. R. A. Reay Nadin. The second battalion soon followed to the neighbourhood of Boldmere, under the command of Captain (now Major) George H. Smith, a Birmingham Territorial officer, who had served in the South African War. The third battalion was afterwards organised by a retired officer who had distinguished himself in the Soudan Campaign and elsewhere, Colonel D. F. Lewis, C.B., of Salford Priors.

Pending the delivery of the first consignment of kit, which included a navy blue uniform, owing to the shortage of khaki, the battalions drilled in civilian clothes, their only distinguishing mark during the first month or two being a buttonhole badge.

The distribution of these badges by the Lord Mayor was the occasion of a notable gathering in the Drill Hall, Thorp Street. In the course of his speech, the Lord Mayor described the City Battalions as “the pets of the city,” and told them that Birmingham expected great things of them while undergoing training, and especially when they went, in due course, to the Front, Colonel Sir ’John Barnsley also addressed stirring words to the recruits, and gave them important information about their pay, billets and duties. Church Parades followed, at which suitable exhortations were given by Bishop Diggle and others.

On arrival at Sutton Coldfield, the 1st and 2nd City Battalions, which then became known as the 14th and 15th Service Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, were warmly welcomed by the townspeople. Various entertainments were provided for them when their daily drills were done, and they also had the exclusive use of Y.M.C.A. Huts, erected in the Park at the expense of Mrs. John Feeney and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and under the direction of Mr. F. W. Coffey, General Secretary of the Birmingham Y.M.C.A. The ‘I Crystal Palace” was used as the headquarters of the 14th Battalion, and hutments for the men were erected on  the adjoining land. The 15th Battalion had their quarters in the neighbourhood of Powell’s Pool.

Soon after the commissioned and non-commissioned officers had been appointed, Colonel G. White Lewis took over the command of the 14th and Colonel L. J. Andrews the 15th. Colonel D. F. Lewis, C.B., continued to command the 16th Battalion at Moseley until these men were ready to go into camp at Malvern, when Colonel T. Driver took them in hand.