Soldiers

In this section we want to add the stories of soldiers who served in the Birmingham Battalions. If you would like to submit a story for inclusion on these pages, please let us know.

132 Responses to Soldiers

  1. Ruby and Dylan Dicks says:

    Hi Pauline,
    Many thanks for your research it is very much appreciated. That is definately him. We have talked to our great great uncle Ron his son, who it has army form B2067 and B2079 for Walter Westley Peers, (sorry, should have perhaps asked him in the first place…)

    He was in the Royal Warwickshire Regt,
    No. 1625
    Private,
    Specialist qualification – Bomber
    Chevrons Blue -Four,
    Wound Stripes -Two
    1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
    Enlisted in Birmingham on 6th August 1914
    Served – Four Years 232 Days with the Colours and One Year 133 Days with the Reserve.
    Date of Discharge 5th August 1920
    Faint Scar on forehead,
    Character has Been Very Good

    The signatures seem to be Lieut. Colonel Reeves Infantry Records Officer Warwick on the discharge certificate and Lieut. Colonel J Cheadle on the good conduct one.

    Sadly there is no mention of which battalion he was in on the forms. Would 6th August 1914 been too early for him to have been in the Pals. There are no photographs of Walter anywhere, so we had been hoping his company might have been photographed in the Birmingham Post, if he was in the Pals.
    Betty Macdonald (nee Peers) our great great Aunt, who has sadly just passed away remembers her mother saying that Walter was gassed and buried and had to be dug out by his comrades.
    We will contact the http://www.warwickfusilers.co.uk and see if they CAN HELP.
    Thank you very much again,
    Best Wishes Ruby and Dylan Dicks

    • Ruby and Dylan Dicks says:

      On his medal card index it states that he landed in France 1 on the 9-2-15

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Ruby & Dylan,

      Good to see all the info you have now got. Its good of you to let me know. People don’t normally let me know how they get on, quite rightly they can’t spend their time
      necessarily, but it’s nice to know about one of the men I looked for information for. You do feel an interest in the men.

      Best of luck with your further researches,
      Pauline

  2. josephine truelove says:

    hi pauline
    two of my great uncles died in WWI they where both in the royal warwickshire regiment
    charles concannen died 26th nov 1916 he was in the 1/6 battalion his no is 1773 he is buried in france (flanders )
    francis gorden betts was a serjeant in ” c” coy 1st battalion he died 25 nov 1918 and is buried in torquay cemetery can you tell me if there are any group photos of the said battalions and if the two men would have been in the birmingham pals would be gratful for any information josie

  3. josephine truelove says:

    sorry didnt put francis gorden service no it is 9473

  4. brummiegem says:

    hi all i am currently researching my family history and have a few members of the Warwicks . i am currently looking at my great grandfather Frank T Jackson . who served as a private regimental no 121. born 1885 in aston and lived most of his life in upper highgate street working as a coachbuilder where is the best place to look many thanks brummiegem

    • Pauline says:

      Dear brummiegem,

      I haven’t been able to find Frank in my list of Birmingham Pals, although there are some men who joined the battalions later. However, because of the date he was in France I think ot more likely that he was in one of the regular regiments. I suggest you see if they have any information in the museum. http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

      Best wishes,
      Pauline

      • brummigem says:

        hi paline thanks for reply i will look there ,i think he was in france 1915 on . i also have a relative joseph william harwood 1/6 terrotorial royal warwicks killed in action 1917 aged 19 buried epehy wood farm [i believe the somme] regards nick

  5. Norman Bartlam says:

    I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has details of any ‘ under age’ or teenager soldiers from the Birmingham area that served in the Great War, casualities or survivors.
    Norman Bartlam Ladywood History Group.

  6. BAEF says:

    Hi Pauline,
    Pte. Alfred William BRIGGS was born in Birmingham in 1897. Alfred’s Medal Card states that he was with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (no mention of a battalion). It gives his Regimental number as 1647. The award of Victory and British War Medals, and not the 1914/15 Star, indicates that he entered a theatre of war sometime after January 1916.

    It has been passed down through the family that while serving in Northern France, Alfred was captured by the German Army and became prisoner of war at Arras in 1916. He escaped twice before the end of the war. The second time he was free at the time of the Armistice. He was repatriated earlier than most (because he was free) and was returned home on a Danish ship. He was en route home on Christmas Day, 1918.

    Some years ago a researcher examined the relevant roll (WO 329/738) for the Victory and British Medal, which I guess, is what is described as the Roll (L/104B5) and Page (943) and found that Alfred “only served in one battalion of the Warwickshire Regiment, the 15th”.

    The CD titled “Birmingham City Battalions Book of Honour, 1920” and has been unsuccessfully searched for Alfred’s Battalion. Alfred’s service papers are not available on Ancestry indicating that they did not survive the 1940 fire. As well as this website, I have been greatly been enjoying reading Terry Carters book, titled “Birmingham PALS”.

    Even though the Medal Card itself does not give any indication of which Battalion a soldier might have belonged to, according to the researcher, the Medal Rolls themselves do? Could this be correct?

    • Pauline says:

      Hello BAEF,

      You seem to know a great deal about Alfred, much more than most of us ever know. I have looked at hi smedal index card on Ancestry & have also checked the Birmingham Battalions Book, just to make sure. His name is not in that book, but from his medal card you can see that he wasn’t awarded the 14 or 15 star, so he joined later than that which would account for him not being in those lists. He must have been transd=ferred in as they lost men in the fighting. I can’t say whether his entry on the medal roll would say that he was in the 15th. The information in the medal rolls often doesn’t tell you any more than you knew in the first place. The index cards don’t tell you the battalion, just the regiment. There is no reason to assume that your researcher got his information wrong when he said that the rolls state that he was in the 15th, but the only way to be absolutely sure would be for you or someone else were able to check the roll themselves. If you did go to the National Archives it might be worth looking at the relevant war diary. I think there might be mention of Alfred if he was taken prisoner. It would depend on whether the commander knew at that time, & how many were taken at the same time.

      Hope this helps,
      Best wishes,
      Pauline

  7. brummiegem says:

    Hi i am researching my family ancestry my great grandfather was Frank t jackson serving with the warwicks in france , i dont know which regiment he served i believe his service no was 121 and i think i have found his medal card, he was born in aston around 1885 and lived mainly in the upper highgate street area and worked as a coach builder , his father charles being a stonemason who worked at aston cemetery, i do have a picture of him where you can make out the warwicks badge ,can anyone advise the best way of finding anything about his service time, many thanks regards nick

  8. darcyrice says:

    I am tracing any information about my Grandfathers war record and would appreciate guidance as where to best source information. William George Leonard Rice, born in 1895. His medal card (which I have downloaded from the National Archives) indicates he was a Serjeant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Regt number 836), and he was subsequently commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment in August 1917. He also served in WW2 so I believe I am not able to get access to his officer records yet?

    I do have some of his brass cap and shoulder badges with 1 Birmingham Battalion, R Warwickshire so I presume this was the 14th (Service) Battalion (1st Birmingham), and I believe he was wounded at some stage in France during that period, but would like to find out where he actually served, and which company or battalion/battles (if any).

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I have just bought the Birmingham Pals book by Terry Carter as an initial reference point.

    Many thanks

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Darcy,
      have received your email with address & will try to get the info to you in the next week,

      Best wishes,
      Pauline

  9. caroline gee says:

    Hello, great website. I am looking for any information or a photo of my grand uncle. His details are as follows:

    2nd Lieutenant Alan Edward Palfrey Joseph (will be under either palfrey or joseph)
    14th battalion royal warwickshire regiment
    Died of wounds in battle in France 10th May 1917.

    Is there any information you may be able to give me or point me in the right direction.

    Kindest regards and thank you for your time.

    Caroline x

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Caroline,

      I have looked up the medal index card for A E P Joseph on Ancestry. I have never seen a medal index card with so much information on it. Apart from his father’s address, it has the 2 regiments he was in, & the date of his commissioning. He was originally in the 19th regiment of fusiliers. Have you seen the following website? It says that this regiment was formed by men from public schools. http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/royalfusiliers19-gw.php

      Alan would have been transferred to the RWR when he was commissioned. I dopn’t have him in my list of Pals, but that will be because he was transferred into the regiment later. I wonder if the regimental museum has photos of commissioned men? This is their web address. http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

      Hope this helps ypou get further,
      Best wishes,
      Pauline

  10. Leo Donkersley says:

    Re: Private Walter J Rowan – 14 Battalion RWR No. 14/1414. Killed in action, 23rd July 1916.

    Hello,

    Firstly…what a great site!

    I wonder if you could confirm whether Walter Rowan was a soldier in the Pals Regiment? If so, would there be any way of finding out what date he enlisted, or is it safe to assume he would be one of the soldiers following the training and deployment detailed in your write-up?

    Finally, do you know where his battalion were fighting on the fateful day? The story in the family goes that he was killed by incoming artillery.

    Kind regards,

    Leo

  11. Brian says:

    Hello ,
    I hope you can shed light on my query,I am trying to find any reference to Clarence Smith 16th Royal Warwichshires number 16/1555. (my uncle).
    He is listed as being in B coy Royal Warwickshires during the 1st World War.
    I am trying to find what Platoon he was In.I have been to the regiments museum at Warwick and have photocopies of platoons 5-6-7-8 but he is not there.His father was Company Sergeant Major Alfred Smith (my grandad)who is on all the photographs but his son is not.
    Did they have different Photo’s at different times?
    Clarence was Killed In Action on the 27/07/1916 but was never found.
    P.s.
    I do have some Information on a comment on here ‘in confidence’ via private email if you are Interested,just a Family story passed down.

  12. Gill says:

    Hello

    I am looking for information on my Grandfather, Frederick Howard Clark, born July 1882, Sergeant in the 14th Warwicks injured at the Somme. Lived in Villa Road Aston and later Clifton Road, Balsall Heath

  13. Mary says:

    Dear Pauline,
    My Great Uncle was in the Royal Warwickshire regiment in WW1.

    He was KIA 27/09/1918 and is commemorated on panel 3 at the Vis En Artois Memorial.
    He was:

    34951 Private Sydney Morris
    Formerly 286469 Q.O Oxford Hussars.

    His medal card does not show the Theatre of war first served in. (nor any mention of the Oxford Hussars).

    I have him on the 1911 census (spelt Sidney) in Wolverton, Bucks, aged 12 with his parents and siblings. He was born in Stratfor, Bucks in 1898.

    Is there possibly anything else you can tell me about him? And why he would have gone from the Hussars to the R.W.R?

    Thanks in advance!

    MaryMc

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Mary,
      I have looked at the medal index card for Sydney Morris. He wasn’t awarded the Star which means that he didn’t serve overseas until at least 1916. Do you have his medals? How do you know about the Hussars? It isn’t mentioned on the War Grave site either. Unfortunately Sydney must have joined the Warwicks quite late on, particularly if he was in the Hussars first, & didn’t enter service overseas until after 1916. Men did transfer or get transferred between regiments. Losses were so great sometimes they had to draft men in from elsewhere.

      I checked to see if there was anyone surnamed Morris with the hussar regimental number, & then without the number, but putting Oxford Hussars instead, & again drew a blank.
      I have looked to see if his military records survive, but it seems they didn’t.

      I looked up the Oxford Hussars to see if there was anything there & found the following:

      Did Your Ancestors Serve in the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars?
      The Oxfordshire Yeomanry Trust (Registered Charity 106827) have just launched their web site to promote the activities of the Trust and the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Association.

      In addition the web site contains highlights from the history of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry (Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars) and details of its antecedent unit, 5 (QOOH) Signal Squadron.

      In order to build on its archives, the Trust is keen to hear from anyone whose ancestors served in the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), particularly the during the Boer War (40th & 59th Companies of the Imperial Yeomanry), The Great War and WW2.

      We would also be keen to hear from anyone wishing to donate artefacts or photographs to the Trust to form part of their mobile museum exhibition.

      They may be able to help you on the Hussar front. I am sorry but I have no information related to the Warwicks. He was obviously in the 14th when he died & I have a copy of a book about the 14th, & a copy of Terry Carter’s book about the Pals Regiment. If you send me you postal address to me at [email protected] I will send you a copy of the information relating to the time that he was killed.

      Best wishes,
      Pauline

  14. steve grizzell says:

    Hi Pauline

    I’m hoping to find some information about my Grandfather, Oliver Tomlins, I know he was in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Was a Sergeant spelt Sarjeant on his medal card listing in some archives, and that his number was 200500 but this is all I have found.
    I’d love to hear from you if you have anything on him.

    Best Wishes
    Steve Grizzell

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Steve,

      You have found the RWR regimental number for Oliver as 200500. This is not a number associated with the Birmingham Pals who signed up early on in the war, & because of that I don’t have any information as to battalion, photo etc.

      Do you have any other information yourself on Oliver, apart from that on the medal card? I ask this because Oliver’s medal card shows that he didn’t receive the star, & was therefore not in a theatre of war before 1916.

      There is another medal card, for a private O Tomlins in the RWR. This man had the regimental number 2471. He was first in a theatre of war on 22 March 1915, in France, & he only received the star. On his medal card are the letters Dis, which I presume mean dismissed. Dismissal could be for all sorts of reasons, not necessarily bad ones. Men frequently signed up again if they had been dismissed on health grounds, for example. I have looked up to see which RWR battalion(s) were deployed to France on that date & as far as I can see there was only one, & that was the 1/8 Battalion. This was a Territorial Battalion, which means that this man was in the Territorials either before the war, or having joined the Territorials after war was declared.

      I may be completely wrong but I wonder whether these 2 men are in fact the same Oliver Tomlins, who went out to France in 1915, went out of service & rejoined later, possibly without saying that he had been in service before. He would not be the only man to do this. He would in that instance be given a new number.

      I have also checked the 1911 census for the Birmingham area and there is only one person on there named Oliver Tomlin. I have also checked to see if there were any with just an initial, but there weren’t. This isn’t conclusive because men didn’t necessarily join the regiment in the area they lived in, particularly later on in the war when men were sent to those regiments which had the most need of men at the time. However I think it is worth a thought that they may be the same person.

      Unfortunately there are no records surviving for any O, or Oliver Tomlins. However, especially since the man of the O Tomlins medal card was in the Territorials, there may be some information in the RWR regimental museum. Their web address is http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

      Hope this proves to be of some help.
      Pauline

  15. Cameron Rodgers says:

    Hi Pauline
    I was hoping you coulld help me sort out a mystery I have with regards to a Officer of the 16th Battalion (3rd Birmingham).
    His name was Bernard Gossell Holt….I found in the London Gazette 17th March 1915 where he is to be a temporary Second Lieutenant but that is about it. I located his MIC but it states that he was A/Captain and that theatre of war first seerved was India?
    I was hoping you may have a bit of information that could clear this up.
    Kind Regards
    Cam

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Cam,
      My apologies for the time it has taken me to reply. B G Holt was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 16th RWR when the Pals Regiments were newly formed. I have a book called the Birmingham Battalions book of honour which was a tribute to the men & was put together by subscription. The ordinary soldiers in there all have very low regimental numbers so this does indicate that at least at that time he was a 2nd Lt. There is a list of him with his fellow officers & will see if I can copy this & email it to you. There is a photo as well but unfortunately he wasn’t present when it was taken.
      His medal index card says he was a Lt., & then acting Captain. I don’t understand a lot of what it says on that card, but he has no apparent medals for WWI, but definitely has the India general service medal & clasp, & as you say his first theatre of war was India. It also appears he was in an Afghan war. Have you contacted the British Army in India Society? http://www.fibis.org/tag/british-army
      I have tried other military records online to no avail, & then did a google search which gave me the following web address http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1079003 This is for a record held by the National Archives (TNA) in Kew, but as the record isn’t digitised you have to send for it.
      I was also going to suggest that if you could, it might be worth your going to the TNA to look at the medal records themselves. These are what the numbers refer to on the medal index card. In most cases these don’t tell you anything you don’t already know but I think that in your case they might, & in any case there may be someone there with some expertise in this area.
      The following site shows where the different RWR regiments were during the war http://www.1914-1918.net/warwicks.htm The 16th certainly never went to India but it might be possible to find out from this site which RWR regiments did. His transfer could have happened at about the time you see the reference to him being temporary Lt, as he could at first have been standing in for someone. I wonder if he was born, or had served in India before, for them to transfer him out there.
      Hope this helps,
      Pauline

  16. Adam says:

    Hi Pauline,

    I’m hoping to find some information about my great great Grandfather, David Willis, I know he was in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 15/1903. He was a private and born in West Bromwich.

    I’d love to hear from you if you have anything on him.

    Thank you,
    Adam

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Adam,
      I presume you got the above information from David’s WWI medal index card. I confess I don’t understand the significance of the double regimental number, but this wasn’t a number that would have been given to a man in one of the Pals Regiments. The museum might be able to tell you which recruits had this type of number. http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

      The card shows that for some reason David was medically unfit for military service. The Kings Regulations under which he was discharged relate to this. I haven’t seen them myself but an online forum states that King’s Regulations Para 392(III)cc AO/29/19 refer to:
      A]Recruits with more than three months’ service considered medically unfit for further military service.
      B]men with between three and six months’ service who in the opinion of the deputy director of medical services, an assistant director of medical services, or a medical inspector of recruits, are unlikely to
      become efficient soldiers may be discharged.

      David was discharged after 7mths but there was probably some leeway there. The card also states that he was awarded a badge but no medals. This will be the Silver War Badge which was given to men who had served, even if not overseas, so that people wouldn’t harass them, thinking them cowards. There is some information online about Silver War Badges.

      It is impossible to know what sort of medical issues caused him to be unfit for service. A lot of men were found to be unfit, the government was appalled at the poor condition of many people, obviously not aware of the toll that hard working conditions for poor wages was having on people. One man in our family who had the SWB had had polio as a child and although they accepted him as a recruit in spite of the fact that he had one leg shorter than the other, but the training made him so unwell he ended up on hospital. Men wouldn’t have wanted to admit they couldn’t manage and pushed themselves beyond the limit I expect. I have looked on the military records online but David’s wasn’t one of those to survive.

      In all the queries I have looked up for people, & our own research, yours is only the second occasion that an address has been given on a card. Have you tried to find him on the 1911 census, it is likely he was at that address then, & his occupation might give an idea as to why he might be unfit.

      Best wishes,
      Pauline

  17. Dave Bramwell says:

    Good evening!

    Thank you for the site.

    I’m trying to find information about my father’s maternal grandfather, William Lane, born 1861 in Aston Manor, died 1951 in Birmingham. I used to have his WW 1 medals (3 of them) but they seem to have gone AWOL….. I remember he was listed as a Private Royal Warwicks, sadly I don’t remember his number.

    I’d also like to trace my Great Uncle David Bramwell, born 1884, died in 1941, both in Birmingham. I have his “Peace” watch with all the Allied flags on it, so I suppose he was involved, but I have no more information than that.

    Look forward to hearing any ideas you may have!

    Regards

    Dave

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Dave,
      Sorry for the delay. I have looked up William Lane on my list of Birmingham Pals but he isn’t there. I have also looked him up on the WWI medal index cards. There is one William Lane, 2 Wm A Lanes, 1 Wm Albert, & 1 Wm Josiah. Oddly, none of these was awarded the three medals, & 2 of them were discharged due to sickness. I have tried the military records but non of them survive for a William Lane, so no clue there. I also looked him up on the 1911 census to see if there was a clue there. I think he must be the one whose wife is Annie. Do you know if this is correct? If it is there is no clue there. William would have been 53 when the war started, & he must have joined up early on if he had 3 medal as the 14-15 star was only awarded to these people. He would have been at least 57 when discharged. This was old for someone who hadn’t been in the military before. Do you have any relatives who might have any more clues? My only other suggestion would be to contact the museum & see if they can help. http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/

      There is a David Bramwell in the Royal Warwicks, he was awarded 3 medals. If you think this might be your man let me know & I will send you a copy of his medal index card. There is also a David Bramwell who was in the Notts & Derby Regiment & one in the RAMC/2AT. None of these men has a surviving military record. There isn’t a David Bramwell in my list of Birmingham Pals although sometimes men were transferred into these regiments later on. If you contact the museum you could ask about him as well as there was definitely one David Bramwell in the RWR.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help
      Best wishes,
      Pauline

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