Our Autumn 2014 Gazette covered the story of the 3rd Birmingham Pals and the time they spent at Spring Hill College training for their part in World War 1. Private Frank Brazier, C Company, 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, father of former Moseley pupil John Brazier (MGS 1941-46), was one of them and passed on to John several pieces of memorabilia, not least are items relating to the battalion’s unfruitful deployment to the River Piave in Northern Italy, where they were deployed in February 1918. These include the Op Order relating to the crossing of the River Piave (which in the event was not pursued) as mentioned in the Birmingham Pals book.
Like many soldiers, Frank didn’t talk much about his war experiences but did tell his son John about this particular operation. The Italians were surprised at the Battalions arrival at the river. Apparently, the situation with the Italians on one side of the river and the Germans on the other suited both sides and the Italians didn’t want noisy guns or any fighting to disturb the status quo. The battalion were however tasked to cross the wide shallow river to take on the opposition (hence the Op Order – the format of which remains pretty much the same to this day). However, overnight heavy rain caused the river to flood making foot crossing impossible so the operation was called off. Eventually, the battalion simply returned to France. John also has several reconnaissance photos relating to the op, one or two marked Top Secret!
For a number of years after the War the battalion held an annual reunion in Malvern where they moved from Moseley to the British Camp for further training.
After contacting The Royal Warwickshire Regiment Museum and the Imperial War Museum, who wanted to split these items up the Moseleians Association is delighted that John Brazier has offered these items for our archives to expand our Birmingham Pals collection.
Click HERE to read the 1918 Piave Operation Order for the river crossing.
Opens as PDF
Click on the Photograph to the left for a full panoramic view of the River Piave, taken in 1918 from the trenches. The purpose of the photograph was to help new soldiers familiarise themselves with the lay of the land.