Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee – MS 4261

View of the Hall of Memory from Broad Street, Birmingham

View of the Hall of Memory from Broad Street, Birmingham. 1931. [MS 2724/2/B/4611]

Most people would associate the sale of red poppies in Birmingham with the Royal British Legion.  However, the Legion was not the only organisation involved in this charitable work.  In 1921 at the behest of Birmingham’s Lord Mayor, William Adlington Cadbury, a new organisation was formed to promote, coordinate and administer the sale of red poppies in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee worked in collaboration with the Legion to organise the Poppy Appeal as well as to distribute grants to other ex-services organisations including the Lord Kitchener Memorial Home, the Regular Forces Employment Association, the South African War Veterans Association, the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) and the Royal British Legion.

For over eighty years The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee played a major role in the Birmingham Poppy Appeal until 2004/2005 when its functions were absorbed by the Legion.  The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee was formally deregistered by the Charity Commission on 09 August 2011 bringing an end to its valuable, and often overlooked, contribution to charity in Birmingham.

The records of the Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee were kindly deposited with Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography in 2012.  They can now be viewed in the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research at the Library of Birmingham.

 Kevin Roberts, Archivist


One response to “Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee – MS 4261

  1. Today I shall be remembering my first ever girlfriend and Birmingham University Alumnus in Law from 1979, Alexandra Victoria Hollis’s Dad George Hollis of 200 Floyer Road, Small Heath in Birmingham.

    George Hollis fought in the Burma Campaign during the Second World War at the battles of Kohima and Imphal fighting with ‘Brummie General’ William ‘Bill’ Slim’s ‘Forgotten Army’ of Birmingham soldiers and Indian and British Army troops.

    When George Hollis was on leave in Bangkok he met and married a young Siamese woman, Maria Seidel in Bangkok in 1945.George brought his young wife Maria back to Birmingham in 1946.Maria would tell me of the awful racism she suffered from the ‘Fishwives’ on the doorsteps of Floyer Road in Small Heath in the 1940’s.

    George was a real hero to me when I was going out with his daughter Vicky Hollis when we were at Birmingham University together in the 1970’s.

    George fought with ‘Brummie General’ William ‘Bill’ Slim in the Burma campaign.

    Slim was a prominent member of the Birmingham University Officer Training Corps in Edwardian Birmingham.

    Slim was a contemporary of and attended King Edward’s School in New Street in Birmingham before The Great War with Birmingham literary ‘hero’ John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

    Both Slim and Tolkien as ‘Old Edwardians’ served on the Western Front in The Great War as young Subalterns until Second Lieutenant Tolkien was invalided out of the British Army following being wounded in 1915.

    It is often thought that Tolkien’s experiences in The Great War, informed his writing of the battle scenes in his Lord of the Rings Trilogy, filmed by Peter Jackson, whose battles scenes in his films and visceral.

    It is often thought that General Slim’s achievements in the Burma Campaign outstripped those of General Montgomery, but Slim was a typical self-effacing Brummie and did not seek fame like ‘Monty’I hail from Bearwood to the West of Birmingham near to Birmingham University in Edgbaston as does General William Slim, who was born in the next road to me on the Poplars Estate in Bearwood: Poplar Avenue.

    Another ‘Bearwood Hero’ Major Herbert James VC also lived in Poplar Avenue, Bearwood.Both war heroes have blue Birmingham Civic Society plaques in their honour on their homes in Poplar Avenue Bearwood.Both Bearwood and Brummie Heroes.

    The photograph below is of JRR Tolkien as a young Subaltern in the British Army serving on the Western Front in The Great War

    We shall remember them

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