4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade

This site commemorates the 4th South Midland (Howitzer) - later the 243 Brigade - of the Royal Field Artillery - which was composed of the 4th Warwickshire Howitzer Battery (Coventry), the 5th Warwickshire Howitzer Battery (Rugby) and its ammunition column. It is based on the war papers of Frank West which were preserved by his widow.

He left diaries of his command, letters home, the diary of his friend Reginald Pridmore, and various unidentified photographs together with lists of the 4th Battery and 5th Battery with some dependents providing their home addresses for purposes of welfare and support. The publication of these names was intended to help people trying to discover what their relatives did and where they served in the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War.

Any information about men who served in the 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade would be gratefully received.

The men and horses of the 4th South Midland Brigade from Rugby and Coventry, Warwickshire, trained together in the Territorial Force prior to 1914 and after the outbreak of war in August 1914 they served together until their Brigade was dispersed in the British artillery reorganisation of 18 May 1916. They were led by my grandfather, Francis West (right), whose field diary is among the personal papers on this site.

In February 1916 the 4th South Midland Brigade was enlarged to three batteries with the addition of the D Howitzer Battery of 126 Brigade, part of Kitchener's New Army of volunteers.

In May 1916 Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered. The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade. But its men were scattered. The Howitzer Brigades in the British Field Artillery were split up, and their guns, officers, men and support staff redistributed to Brigades previously armed with 18 pounder guns.

The 4th Howitzer Battery from the 4th South Midland Brigade was allocated to 240 Brigade (previously 1st South Midland, Gloucester). Its 5th Battery went to 241 Brigade (previously 2nd South Midland, Worcester) and the new D Battery went to 242 Brigade (previously 3rd South Midland, Warwickshire).

243 Brigade was in effect a new unit, made up of three 18 pounder D batteries only recently recruited and now transferred from the other three South Midlands brigades to make way for the incoming Howitzers. 243's A Battery came from 240 Brigade, its B Battery from 241 Brigade and its C Battery from 242 Brigade.

The artillery Brigades were then grouped in preparation for the Somme battle. Francis West commanded a Group of 243 Brigade and 240 Brigade. All four South Midland Brigades fought in the Battle of the Somme.

243 Brigade existed for only five months. Once the battle of the Somme was over, artillery Batteries were enlarged from four to six guns and on 18 October 1916 the survivors of 243 Brigade were distributed back to 240 and 241 Brigades.

My grandfather was not among them. Like many of his friends and men, he fought and was killed in a unit which went out of existence and became a footnote in the histories of successor units.

The 240 (Gloucester) and 241 (Worcester) Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery to which officers and men from 4th South Midland Brigade were transferred in May 1916 are well chronicled by other researchers. Their records include some members of the 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade, like Reginald Pridmore, 1887-1918, who is featured on this site.

Site for 1st South Midland (Gloucestershire) / 240 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery

researched by Derek J. Driscoll. Please note that this valuable site is now archived. You will be redirected and there is no link back to this site.

Site for 2nd South Midlands (Worcestershire) / 241 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery

researched by Dennis Corbett.

However, back in the U.K. the 4th South Midland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery was still in existence.

After the first line left Warwickshire in August 1914, the 4th South Midland Brigade continued locally as a second line territorial force and in 1917 service numbers beginning 840*** were allocated to men who trained in it, just as they were to those already serving at the front. When posted to the front most of the later recruits with 840*** numbers served with other artillery units. See medal roll list and note on possible units in The People section.

Please contact EandCW@aol.com

A full explanation of a British Artillery brigade in World War One is provided by Chris Baker on his extensive First World War website, The Long Long Trail.

site and images copyright

Evelyn Wilcock