Sixty years after the end of World War II, Birmingham is to get a memorial to remember those killed during bombing raids on the city.
Tree of Life
|Sculptor Lorenzo Quinn|
The memorial, the Tree of Life by Lorenzo Quinn, will take pride of place in Edgbaston Street, adjacent to Saint Martin’s Church in the Bullring.
The unveiling by the Lord Mayor, Councillor John Hood will take place on Saturday 8th October at 12 noon.
The sculpture, twelve and a half feet in height, includes the names of all those who died and whose names are known.
The tree itself emerges from the ground, and is surmounted by two hands signifying people coming together.
Birmingham in the Blitz
The bombing raids on Birmingham took place between 8th August 1940 and 23rd April 1944 – resulting in 9,000 casualties and 2,241 dead.
|Erdington House after a bombing raid|
Birmingham was the second most heavily bombed city in the country and prolonged and powerful attacks destroyed many houses, factories, churches, and other buildings.
At the time government censorship meant such raids were not to be highlighted by the media.
The editor of the city's Evening Mail explained to his readers that: 'the experts, time and again have assured us that the publication of detailed particulars regarding air damage would be slipping a useful card into the enemy's hands'.
The effectiveness of the censors may have resulted from their understanding of Birmingham's importance to the nation's war effort.
Birmingham’s industrial effort
The fact that the Luftwaffe was unable to knock out the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain owed much to the workers of the Spitfire factory in Castle Bromwich.
|Bomb destruction in Green Lane|
By the end of the war, they were producing 320 Spitfires and 20 Lancasters a month - more aircraft than any other factory in the UK.
The array of war work in Birmingham was staggering, and if the factories had been destroyed, the air force would have suffered a mortal blow.
When the BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) was hit badly in November 1940, Churchill himself was alarmed at the consequent national fall in the making of rifles.
Birmingham firms were making everything from tools to radio components, and by 1944, 400,000 Brummies were involved in the war in different capacities.
A fitting memorial
The Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association (BARRA) has campaigned for a memorial for many years.
|Alistair Cave with the new standard|
The Tree of Life sculpture will be a focal point where they, and many others can finally pay their respects.
The unveiling of the sculpture by the Lord Mayor will take place at 12 noon.
As part of the event, Alistair Cave who was the General Manager of Birmingham Small Arms during the war, will present BARRA with a new standard to remember the 53 people killed at the Small Health factory during the war.
There will also be a church service at St Martins and a wreath laying ceremony with a speech made by Professor Carl Chinn MBE, president of BARRA.
(Information kindly supplied by Professor Carl Chinn MBE and BARRA. Birmingham bomb pictures courtesy of Carl Chinn's Brummagem Magazine October 2005. Piece edited by Jill Ella)