Close relatives of Birmingham WW1 veterans, on 8th November 2014, planted trees in their memory at Moseley School, Birmingham, the barracks where volunteers who fought as the 16th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment were trained in 1914.
It was the first time Jean Perks from Harborne, had seen inside the building where her father Pte Frank Price and 1,100 other recruits also known as the 3rd Birmingham Pals battalion were drilled and billeted in preparation for active service.
Wearing in his lapel an original uniform brass button with the battalion crest, John Bradshaw, from Southam, Warwickshire whose ancestor Pte Alfred Steadman, was killed at Passchendaele in 1917 described the ceremony as “a haunting discovery” of the place where his great uncle went on his first parades and was equipped to fight.
Invited to their annual remembrance ceremony by the Moseleians Association of former pupils, Mrs Perks, accompanied by her son, Jonathan, from Worcester, said she was thrilled to be able to experience the setting in which her father trained.
She wore a locket with her father’s picture on one side and the badge with which the Pals were issued to show a public critical of their civilian clothes that though not yet in uniform they had enlisted.
She, Mr Bradshaw, and John Brazier, whose father Pte Frank Brazier was in the 3rd Pals, are giving the Association archive copies of the memorabilia of their relatives kept in their families for nearly a century.
Mr Brazier, a former pupil at the school and living in Falmouth, Cornwall, was unable to travel to the ceremony and a tree was dedicated on his behalf.
A fourth sapling, a Norwegian spruce, was planted recalling the war’s first Christmas when a truce was called on some fronts for enemies to sing carols together and play football.
Moseleians Association chairman Richard Cobb said it was hoped the dedication of the trees in the presence of representatives of school staff and pupils, and an exhibition mounted to illustrate the Pals occupation of the Moseley building will help sharpen the focus of today’s pupils in their study of WW1.