14706 SGT. F. BRIERLEY. R.SCOTS.FUS.
Fred Brierley was born on 14 November 1881 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. His father was Josiah Brierley (b. 1856 in Oldham). In the 1880s and 1890s, Josiah was an iron moulder, but in 1901 and 1911 he was working in a cotton spinning mill as a cotton twister. Fred’s mother was Sophia Spencer (b. 1857 in Saddleworth). Josiah and Sophia married in 1877 and shortly afterwards they went to the States. Their first child, William Peter was born in 1880 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, and Fred was born the following year in Massachusetts. The family moved back to Oldham soon afterwards, though, as their next child Florence was born there in 1884. Sophia died two years later in 1886, and in 1887 Josiah married again (still only 30) to Mary Emma Keating (b. 1856 in Manchester). Josiah and Emma then had two children, Annie (b. 1888) and Amelia (b. 1890).
Josiah makes a bit of a hash of completing the 1911 Census as he includes the details of William, Fred and Annie although they have all moved out. He also includes a granddaughter, Amy, but it’s not clear who her parents are. He gives his occupation as ‘disengaged twineminder’, and they live at 13 Neath Street, Oldham. In the Censuses both William and Fred give their birthplace variously as USA or Oldham. As they only lived in the States for 2 or 3 years as infants, I consider them Oldhamites. Josiah’s travels were not over though, as in 1912 he and Emma, with granddaughter Amy, emigrated to Canada, first to Quebec then to Wentworth, Ontario, where Josiah died in 1920. Fred’s two younger step-sisters Annie and Amelia, after marrying in Oldham, had also emigrated to Canada (Annie in 1909 and Amelia in 1912).
Fred was still single in 1911 but I haven’t found him in the Census, although we know from his Soldiers’ Effects records that he was married to Bertha (maiden name not known), sometime between 1911 and 1914. In 1920, Bertha was recorded as living at Tydraw Road, Roath Park, Cardiff, so she may be originally from South Wales. As Fred was a sergeant in 1915 he must have been in the Army before the War.
Fred enlisted with the Royal Scots Fusiliers and was assigned service number 14706 and posted to 6th Battalion, which came under command of 27th (Lowland) Brigade in 9th (Scottish) Division. The Division came into existence as a result of Army Order No. 324, issued on 21 August 1914, which authorised the formation of the six new Divisions of Kitchener’s New Army. It was formed of volunteers, under the administration of Scottish Command. Having been in training at home since late August 1914, and despite the fact that arms and equipment were obtained only gradually, the recruits were judged to be ready for war by May 1915. The units of the Division crossed to France 9-12 May 1915, and Fred arrived on 11 May. It appears he went to France as Corporal and was promoted in the field. The Division’s first major engagement was at the Battle of Loos in September.
See here for an account of the battle.
On 25-26 September, the Royal Scots Fusiliers had 360 officers and men killed. Of these 151, including Fred Brierley, were from 6th Battalion. Fred was 33 years old.
Service No: 14706
Date of Death: 26/09/1915
Regiment/Service: Royal Scots Fusiliers, 6th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 46 to 49.
Memorial: LOOS MEMORIAL
Additional Information: Son of J. Brierley, of Oldham, Lancs.; husband of Bertha Brierley, of 29, Tydraw Rd., Roath Park, Cardiff.
Fred’s older brother, William Peter, also served in the Army and his attestation form survives, though it doesn’t contain much information. William was married in 1903 to Ellen Mahon (b. 1883 in Ashton-under-Lyne) and they had two children, one of whom died. In 1911, the surviving child is not shown as living with them so plausibly their child is Amy who is living with her grandparents. William and Ellen live at Winton Street, Ashton-under-Lyne and William is a spindle and fly maker in a cotton mill. William joined the Territorials on 20 January 1914 as 1576 in 9th Bn Manchester Regiment, having previously served with 5th Bn in the same regiment. He was 5’ 5” tall and had a 37” chest. His Medal Index Card shows that he was promoted to Sergeant and that he was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) with a new service number, GS/97764. He was sent to War Theatre no. 3 (Egypt), landing on 4 November 1914. In 1914 he was with 9th Bn Manchester Regiment (renamed 1/9) and they landed in Egypt before moving on to Gallipoli where they landed on 10 May. If that is correct and he survived the fighting there, he would have been evacuated in late December and that may have been when he was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers. I don’t know which Battalion he joined so there is no more information about where he spent the rest of the War, but he was disembodied on 6 April 1919. He died in Ashton in 1955.