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History of the Brigade

The origins of the present 143 (West Midlands) Brigade date back to 1908 when the Warwickshire Brigade of the South Midland Division was formed with its Headquarters at Warwick. It consisted of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions of the Warwickshire Regiment.

In 1915, the formations were designated 143 Warwickshire Brigade of the 48th South Midland Division. They served in France and Flanders, taking part in the battles of Ypres and the Somme between 1914 - 1917. In the final year of the war, the whole Division fought in Italy on the Asiago and Piave front before returning to the United Kingdom to become part of Churchill’s newly formed Territorial Army.

The TA camped annually by Brigades, mainly on Salisbury Plain, between the wars, with 143 Brigade Headquarters in Birmingham. In 1940, when 48 Division moved to France, 143 Brigade consisted of 7th and 8th Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. The Divisional sign, which had previously consisted of a white diamond, changed to a blue macaw on a red diamond.

48 Division was under command of 1st British Corps for the period of hostilities ending with the withdrawal to and evacuation from Dunkirk before returning to England, serving as a home defence and later a reinforcement training Division in Western District, Devon, Cornwall and Lincolnshire. It was disbanded in October 1945 and re-raised between 1961 and 1966 with its headquarters in Shrewsbury but without 143 Brigade.

On 1 January 1984, 143 Infantry Brigade was again raised, as a Kitson training Brigade HQ, and took the 48 Divisional sign as its own. Up until 1985, the Brigade Commander had no dedicated staff but used the District HQ staff with whom he was co-located. He was also Deputy District Commander. In early 1986 he relinquished this latter appointment and began to set up his own Headquarters, which in October 1986 moved to Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury.

As a result of the UKLF reorganisation, the Brigade became 143 (West Midlands) Brigade on 15 July 1991 and continues in that role to this day.

About the Brigade Emblem – the Blue Macaw

Prior to deploying to France as part of the BEF the 48 Division Headquarters was at Littlecot House, Chilton Foliat, the home of Sir Ernest Wills. As General Thorne entered the house, a macaw which was in the hall called what sounded to him like, “Good luck, good luck!”. Thinking this was a good omen he adopted the Blue Macaw as the new Divisional emblem. On the reformation of 143 Infantry Brigade in 1984, the old 48 Division emblem was selected to represent the new headquarters.