An attractive and unusual war memorial commemorates the role played by the 1/5th and the 2/5th as well as the 1/6th and the 2/6th battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the First World War 1914-18.
These battalions of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment had their headquarters in Thorp Street, Birmingham. They had only just departed for their summer camp when war broke out in August 1914 and they were recalled immediately. By the second week of August they were mobilised for war service and commenced training. They went from Southampton to Le Havre in France on the 22nd of March 1915.
In 1916 they were in action at the Battle of the Somme and suffered heavy casualties. They were also in action at The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, capturing Ovillers, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights and The Battle of the Ancre. In 1917 the Division occupied Peronne during the The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line and were in action in the Third Battles of Ypres. On the 21st of November 1917 they entrained for Italy. In 1918 they were involved in fighting on the Asiago Plateau and The Battle of the Vittoria Veneto in the Val d’Assa area. At the Armistice the Division had withdrawn and was at Granezza. Demobilisation began in early 1919.
During the course of the war the Royal Warwickshire Regiment raised 30 battalions of soldiers. Many of them came from Birmingham. They served in France, Belgium and Italy as well as Gallipoli (Turkey) and Mespotamia (modern day Iraq). Many gallantry medals were awarded to men serving in the regiment including six Victoria Crosses.
This memorial was installed in 1920 and was designed by a leading local arts and crafts architect Arthur Stansfield Dixon. He was the architect behind the Guild of Handicrafts in Great Charles Street, Birmingham. The guild published a booklet entitled “Memorials: The Work of the Architect in the Design and Execution of War Memorials.” As one might expect the memorial in the cathedral is an unusual design with four diamonds to represent each battalion made from white and green marble. It incorporates delicate floral and leaf motifs in a border painted red and green as well an Indian antelope, the regimental badge of the Royal Warwickshire.
Memorials were often placed in places of worship. It is recorded that the armistice service at the cathedral was so well attended in November 1918 that it had be conducted on three separate occasions.