King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Brearley, Norman Blackburn

Second Lieutenant ▪ 12th Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Norman Blackburn Brearley, born on 17th September 1893, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1910. He was the youngest son of Harry, a clerk, and Annie, of 225, Charles Road, Small Heath. His oldest brother, Arthur, also an Old Edwardian, was killed on Messines Ridge in 1917. Norman’s twin, Selwyn, also served although he did not attend KES.

Norman was a keen tennis player in his youth, and according to a local newspaper biography published on his death, was an enthusiastic athlete. However, once he transferred to KES, it seems that he gave up these athletic pursuits as he is not mentioned in any School magazine. On leaving School, Norman joined the Birmingham Electrical Supply Department as an electrical engineer, where “his many qualities gained him lasting popularity, and the news of his death cast a gloom over the whole department.”

Norman enlisted in the 12th Royal Warwickshire Regiment in November 1914 as a Second Lieutenant. He was killed in Mesopotamia on 17th April 1916. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, and on the same memorial as his brother, Arthur, in St Cyprian’s Church, Hay Mills.

Norman’s parents received many letters of condolence on the death of their son, including telegrams from Buckingham Palace and from Lord Kitchener. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Neville Chamberlain, wrote in a letter: “I have learned with very great regret of the death of your son…and trust you will accept the sincere sympathy of the Lady Mayoress and myself in your sorrow. On behalf of the city I can say with confidence that your son’s memory will be honoured by the fellow citizens as one who gave his life in the performance of his highest duty, and I hope that this thought may bring you some measure of consolation.”