143278 DVR. S. BRIERLEY. R.F.A.
Stephen Brierley was born in Oxenhope, West Yorkshire, in the first quarter of 1889. His father was James Brierley (b. 1849 in Oxenhope), a stone quarryman. His mother was Elizabeth Ann Smith (b. 1853 in Haworth). James and Elizabeth were married in 1870 and they had 8 children: Smith (b. 1872), Bland (b. 1877), Sarah Elizabeth (b. 1879), Joseph (b. 1881), David (b. 1882), Ada (b. 1886), then Stephen, and finally Lily (b. 1891). James died between 1901 and 1911, and according to the 1911 Census, Elizabeth Ann was living at Heights Farm, Oxenhope, with 6 of her children. Stephen was working on the farm. Smith was a scavenger, working for Oxenhope District Council. The rest of the siblings were woollen mill workers.
Stephen enlisted at Keighley, probably in 1915. He joined the Royal Field Artillery and was assigned service number 143278. He was posted to “C” Bty of 298 Brigade. This Brigade was originally a howitzer brigade. They landed in France on 4 April 1917. At some stage, Stephen was transferred to the Divisional Ammunition Column. In March 1918, when the German’s launched their Spring Offensive, 298 Brigade were in support of 14th (Light) Division, near Montescourt, south of St Quentin. The Division suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat. They stood their ground at the Battle of the Avre (4-5 April), some 50km from where they had been when the attack began. This was the closest the Germans got to Amiens and when they failed in this final attempt to break through, the Spring Offensive was abandoned.
In the above two actions the Division suffered very severe casualties, losing almost 6,000 troops. Two RFA Brigades lost all their guns. The Division was withdrawn from the line and placed on the construction of a new defensive line in the rear. On 26 April, the infantry battalions were reduced to a training cadre. Various units were temporarily attached before the Division was moved to England for re-establishment on 17 June 1918.
Stephen was wounded during this action and died in hospital at Le Havre on 16 May 1918, as he was being evacuated back to England. He was 29 years old.
Service No: 143278
Date of Death: 16 May 1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, 298th Div. Ammunition Col.
Grave Reference: Div. 62. III. H. 4.
Cemetery: STE. MARIE CEMETERY, LE HAVRE
Additional Information: Son of James and Elizabeth Ann Brierley, of Manywells Top, Cullingworth, Yorks. Native of Oxenhope, Yorks.