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Some parts of this biography are rather speculative…


We know from CWGC that Lance Corporal Alfred Brierley served in 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, that he died on 2 October 1915, aged 24 (and was therefore born in 1891), and that his parents were James and Mary Annie, at least one of whom was deceased.  We know from SDGW that he enlisted in London, but unusually this source does not give his birth place.  We know from the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects that his next of kin and sole legatee was his sister Florence.


I have traced a brother and sister, Florence and Alfred Brierley, to a workhouse in Southwark in 1898 and 1901, and a Mary Jane (not Annie) Brierley who died in Southwark in 1897, and a James (b. 1855 in Clapham and a leather cutter by trade) and Mary Jane Brierley (b. 1859 in Scotland) living in Newington in 1891 with their daughter Florence, who was 1 year old.  So I think these may be the right family.  Florence’s baptismal records also confirm her mother’s name was Mary Ann.  So in 1898, either James was also dead or could not cope with the children and so they were placed in the workhouse.  If this is right, Florence and Alfred were taken into the workhouse (aged 8 and 6) in January 1898.  The workhouse was the Westmorland Road Workhouse, Newington, in the borough of Southwark.  By 1901 they had moved to the Poor Law School for Pauper Children, in Hanwell.  In 1911, Florence is found working as a housemaid in Kensington, but I have no record of Alfred.


2Bn Northum. Fus. was in India before the War but was brought back to England and then sent to France in January 1915.  Since Alfred was a Lance Corporal he had presumably seen previous service.  In any case, the Battalion saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres (April 1915) and the Battle of Loos. The Battle of Loos took place at the end of September 1915. It was the biggest British attack of 1915, the first time that the British used poison gas and the first mass engagement of New Army units. The Allies tried to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment, the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies, except for local losses of ground. British casualties at Loos were about twice as high as German losses.  2Bn had about 80 officers and men killed in follow-up fighting on 1-2 October, including Alfred Brierley, who was 24 years old.


Rank:  Lance Corporal

Service No:  1257

Date of Death:  02/10/1915

Age:  24

Regiment/Service:  Northumberland Fusiliers, 2nd Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 20 to 22.



20952 PVT. ERNEST BRIERLEY served in the same battalion and was killed on the same day.

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