1415 PTE. T.H. BRIERLEY. K.L.R.
Thomas Henry Brierley was born in September 1894 in West Derby and baptised on 16 September at St Mary’s, Walton-on-the-Hill. His father was Thomas Henry Brierley, (b. 1865 in Liverpool), who was a sailor. His mother was Eleanor Abram (b. 1869 in Liverpool). Thomas and Eleanor were married in 1892 and they had 6 children, 5 of whom survived infancy: Richard (b. 1893), Thomas Henry, then William (b. 1895), Alfred (1896-99), Ernest (b. 1898) and Eleanor (b. 1902).
In 1911, Thomas was working as a ship’s rigger for the White Star line. Richard had moved out but the other children were living with their parents at Falkner Street, Liverpool. Tom (jnr.) was a painter and decorator.
On 13 March 1912, Tom (jnr.) enlisted with the Territorials. He joined the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and was assigned service number 1415 and posted to 5th Battalion. He was 17yrs 6mths old, 5’ 5” tall and had a 35½” chest. He is listed as serving from 5 August 1914 in 1/5 Battalion. Tom spent most of 1915 at Canterbury, where he has a very poor disciplinary record: he is constantly absent from parade and is also dirty on parade (unshaven), gambling in his billet, not obeying an order and using insulting language to a Warrant Officer. There are no fewer than 21 offences during the year.
Tom finally left Southampton on 16 January 1916, arriving in Rouen the following day, and joined his Bn in the field on 27 January. By the time Tom joined them, 1/5Bn had become part of 165th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. He was briefly in hospital in the field from 15-17 March 1916. By March 1916, Tom had served 4 years and he applied in February to be discharged (his letter is in his file but not the reply). Obviously his request was declined.
He was killed in action near Wailly on 19 May 1916. This was a relatively quiet period on the Western Front as the Division prepared for its part in the Battle of the Somme. Tom was the only man from his Battalion to be killed that day. He was 21 years old. Tom was originally buried at Wailly along with other men from the 55th Division, but after the War these bodies were removed to a new cemetery at Douchy-lès-Ayette.
Eleanor later received Tom’s belongings including some postcards, photos and his ID disc, which she promised “to wear around my neck to remember my dear boy, that we shall always miss but hope to meet again where their (sic) will be no more parting”.
Service No: 1415
Date of Death: 19/05/1916
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 1st/5th Bn.
Grave Reference: III. B. 1.
Cemetery: DOUCHY-LES-AYETTE BRITISH CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Thomas H. and Eleanor Brierley, of 115 Farnworth Street, Kensington, Liverpool.
Thomas Henry (snr.) had been in the Navy and during the War he served in the merchant navy, for which he received a campaign medal, but I have no further information about his service. Before the War, Tom was working for the White Star Line and during the War many commercial vessels were requisitioned as troop or hospital ships, so it is possible Tom was on one of these. He died in 1938.
Ernest Brierley signed up aged 18 in 1917 but was discharged after 6 months as not physically fit for War service.
Tom’s other brother is 1177 PTE. R. BRIERLEY, AIF, who was killed at Gallipoli on 2 May 1915.