Council remembers its war heroes ahead of Armed Forces Day

Birmingham City Council is proud to accommodate 2,147 Commonwealth War Graves in its cemeteries, the city playing a key role in both world wars.

To commemorate Armed Forces Day on 26 June Councillor Sharon Thompson, whose portfolio includes bereavement, delves into their history.

Birmingham hosted military hospitals in both the First and Second World Wars. The First World War saw four major hospitals based in the city - the 1st Southern General with 3,500 beds was in the university and other buildings, with a section at Stourbridge; the 2nd/1st Southern General with 1,800 beds was in the Dudley Road Infirmary and in billets; the 1st Birmingham War Hospital with 1,000 beds was at Rubery Hill Asylum and the 2nd Birmingham War Hospital with 900 beds was at Hollymoor Asylum.

During the Second World War Birmingham and Coventry were among the chief manufacturing areas producing materials for the war effort and were subjected to many devastating air raids during the Blitz of 1940-41. Military hospitals based in Birmingham then included the No 7 Canadian Hospital base at Marston Green.

Birmingham’s Lodge Hill Cemetery contains 499 First World War burials, most of them in a war graves plot in Section B10. The names of those buried in the plot, or in graves elsewhere in the cemetery which could not be individually marked, are inscribed on a Screen Wall. Second World War burials number 125, most of them scattered throughout the cemetery, although there is a small plot in Section 2E. Within the cemetery is Birmingham Municipal Crematorium (known as Lodge Hill Crematorium). In the chapel, there is a bronze plaque commemorating 48 servicemen of the Second World War whose remains were cremated there.

Birmingham’s Witton Cemetery contains 459 First World War burials, more than 200 of which form three denominational war plots marked by Screen Walls bearing the names of those buried there and in graves elsewhere in the cemetery which could not be individually marked. The small plot in Sections 55 and 56 contains only 31 of the 224 Second World War burials, the rest being scattered throughout the cemetery. Twelve names were added to the Screen Walls in the First World War plots to commemorate those Second World War casualties buried in graves that could not be marked individually.

Birmingham’s Handsworth Cemetery contains 104 scattered burials of the First World War and 99 of the Second World War. A Screen Wall commemorates those whose graves could not be individually marked.

Birmingham’s Yardley Cemetery contains 262 First World War burials. 62 of these First World War burials are in a war graves plot and are commemorated on the Screen Wall at the head of this plot. In addition, a Screen Wall commemorates those buried in graves elsewhere in the cemetery not marked by headstones. Second World War burials number 250, 31 of them forming a small plot towards the centre of the cemetery, the rest scattered. The names of six men buried in graves not marked by headstones have been added to the existing Screen Wall.

At Birmingham Warstone Lane Cemetery and the nearby Birmingham Key Hill Cemetery the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates over 110 Commonwealth servicemen of the World Wars, most on screen wall memorials.

Find more information about visiting the cemeteries.

Find more information about those buried there.

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