12049 PTE. R. BRIERLEY. BORD.R.
Richard Brierley was born in the second quarter of 1892 in Preston, Lancashire. His father was John Brierley (b. 1853 in Preston), a blacksmith. His mother was Margaret Ellen Barton (b. 1853 in Preston). John and Margaret Ellen were married in Preston in 1874 and they had 10 children, Richard being the youngest. His older siblings were: Eliza (b. 1875), Henry (b. 1877), Thomas (b. 1878), Joseph (b. 1880), John (b. 1882), Edward (b. 1883), Mary Ellen (b. 1885), Elizabeth (b. 1887) and Sarah Ann (b. 1889). In 1901, the family lived at 282 New Hall Lane in Preston. Margaret Ellen died in 1907, and in 1911, John was retired and living with his son, Thomas, who was landlord of the Stag’s Head at Goosnargh. At this time, Richard was living with his brother Edward at 5 Guy’s Row (off Percy Street), Preston, where Edward as a fitter at Black and White Smiths and Richard was apprenticed with the same firm.
Richard enlisted at Blackpool with the Border Regiment and was assigned service number 12049. His Medal Roll record says he was posted first to 3Bn (Reserve), then to 10Bn, then 6Bn and finally 7Bn. He landed in France sometime in 1916 and his Division (51st Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division) fought in the Battle of the Somme (the capture of Fricourt) and also the Battle of Delville Wood.
In March 1917, casualties in the Battalion were very light, for the whole month the War Diary records no officers or men killed or wounded in action, but three men were reported accidentally wounded (the accident is not specified). However, 2 officers and 26 men were ‘wasted’ due to sickness. In April, the Battalion was in training before moving to Arras, where it began preparations for a major attack. By 14 April they were in the line near Monchy-Le-Preux when a heavy artillery barrage was laid down on enemy lines. They remained in and out of the line under ‘desultory shelling’ for the next 5 days before being relieved and returning to Arras. They were then again in action on 23 April when the British launched an attack along the whole front south of Arras, this being the second phase of the Battle of the Scarpe. 51st Division attacked along the north side of the Scarpe at Roeux. The attack was successful and the War Diary is exceptionally detailed in its list of casualties except that most of the missing would later be confirmed as dead. The Bn was relieved and returned to Arras on 25 April. CWGC records 177 officers and men from 7Bn Border Regiment killed on 23 April. A further 14 died, presumably of their wounds, in the following 7 days. Only Richard made it back to Étaples, and this may indicate that he was in fact wounded in earlier action, or died as a result of accident or illness. He was 25 years old.
Service No: 12049
Date of Death: 27/04/1917
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 7th Bn.
Grave Reference: XIX. L. 10.
Cemetery: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John and
Margaret Ellen Brierley, of Preston, Lancs.