The Birmingham Pals

Posted on: 24, November, 2019
Birmingham Pals

I’ve been adding photographs from the Birmingham City Battalions Book of Honour. Published in 1919, the book features photos taken at platoon level of officers and men of the 14th, 15th and 16th Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment; also known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd City Battalions or, more colloquially, the Birmingham Pals.

As well as the platoon photos there are also photos, by battalion, of officers, NCOs, bandsmen, stretcher bearers, and machine gun sections. Better still, next to each photo are details of the men: their regimental numbers, first name initials, rank, and whether they were present or absent when the photo was taken.

In fact, as a record of the time, the photos are almost perfect: named group photos of the Birmingham Pals taken at platoon level. The only problem is that the men’s position in the photos is not clear. So whilst you may know that H V Drinkwater is in this photo of men of II Platoon, A Company, 15th (2nd City) Battalion, knowing precisely where he stands is another matter altogether. The best that we can say for the majority of these men is that we know they are on there – somewhere.

In actual fact, as far as Pte Drinkwater is concerned, I think he’s the man in the second row from the back, fifth from the right; but I only think that because I have seen another photo of him taken later in life and that photo bears a resemblance to the man in the group photo.

At the time of writing I have uploaded photos of all men in the 14th Battalion (1st Birmingham Pals) and all men from A Company of the 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham Pals). All being well, it will all be over by Christmas, to coin a phrase that was very much in vogue this time 105 years ago.

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