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World War I Family Day

The fun and entertaining event will take place in the garden and continue inside the building.

Meet World War I re-enactors, including soldiers from the Birmingham Pals Living History Association, a group of dedicated military and social history enthusiasts whose aim is to educate the public about different aspects of the Great War. The group represent the 14th, 15th and 16th Battalions, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who were formed in Birmingham during the conflict. Find out from the re-enactors what it was like to be a British and German soldier during the conflict. The re-enactors will communicate their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for the topic.

There is also a chance to browse World War I themed displays from local community groups in the West Midlands. Find out from local history groups about the stories of soldiers from various places, like Berkswell, Leek Wootton, Stoneleigh, and Rugby. Hear about the war dead of Sutton Coldfield from the enthusiastic cadets (ACF) who researched their local war graves as part of the national initiative Op Reflect.

The date of the event ties in with the 100th anniversary of the fateful land offensive by British troops in Gallipoli. The disastrous campaign is more widely remembered in New Zealand and Australia, as it was the first area where their troops fought during the Great War. On the 9th August 1915 the 9th (Service) Battalion, the only battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment to take part in the Gallipoli campaign, was attacking Chunuk Bair.

When Turkey entered the War Britain decided to launch an attack on the Dardanelles. The Russians asked the Allies for help when they felt threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus. The plan was for the Allies to go through the Gallipoli Peninsula and then on to take Constantinople which would enable them to link up with the Russians. It would also weaken the German forces in other theatres of the War as they would have to divert troops to support the Turkish Army.

By April and May 1915 it was clear that more troops were needed. Reinforcements included the 9th Battalion, which arrived in the area on the 9th July 1915. The battalion was in the trenches, when, unfortunately, on the 25th July, their commanding officer, Colonel Palmer, was killed by a sniper. As he had raised and trained the Battalion, the men owed much of their fighting spirit and efficiency to his enthusiasm and ability.

The battalion then moved to Anzac Cove in preparation for the major offensive on the ridge of mountains called Sari Bair. They landed on the 4th August and whilst in Reserve for the next two days they advanced up Aghyl Dere, a water course below Rhododendron Ridge which leads up to Koja Chemen (or Hill 971), the highest point of the mountain range. On the 8th August they were heading to relieve the 9th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment at the top of Aghyl Dere. The next day they proceeded and reached the crest. However, they were forced back down the slopes when the Turks counter-attacked. One Company held on until they were surrounded and probably all killed. Early on the 10th August the Turks attacked. The men came under heavy machine-gun fire, ran out of food and water, were unable to hold their position without reinforcements and all the officers were killed. The Battalion was withdrawn that night; only 248 men were left, 57 were killed, 227 wounded and 117 missing. Having been decimated additional men were sent from England to bring the unit up to fighting strength again.

British troops were finally withdrawn in early 1916 from the ill-fated campaign. On the 19th January the battalion left Lemnos bound for Mesopotamia. For them one chapter of history closed and another opened.

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