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Joseph Brierley was born in the last quarter of 1896 in Rochdale.  His father was James Brierley (b. 1859 in Rochdale), a coal miner.  His mother was Sarah Ramsbottom (b. 1861 in Rochdale).  James and Sarah were married in 1884 and they had seven children, though they lost 3 in infancy.  The four survivors were: James Herbert (b. 1886), Hannah (b. 1889), then Joseph, and finally May (b. 1898).  In 1911, the family was living at 113 Peel Street, Rochdale, and Joseph (then aged 14) was working in the mill as a doffer.  So Joseph would have been only 17 at the outbreak of War and would therefore have lied about his age to enlist.


Joseph enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment and was assigned service number 15340 and posted to 9th Battalion.  9th (Service) Battalion was formed at Exeter on 15 September 1914 as part of K2 and attached as Divisional Troops to 20th (Light) Division.  The Battalion landed at Le Havre on 28 July 1915 and on 8 August 1915 they came under orders of 20th Brigade, 7th Division.  Joseph landed in France on 6 October 1915 and joined the Battalion in the field near Cambrin, along with a draft of 300 NCOs and men, on 9 October.  By this time he would have turned 18.  The Battalion had been engaged in heavy fighting near Festubert at the end of September, but October and November were spent in and out of the trenches, in billets and in training around Béthune and Givenchy.  Throughout December, training intensified and the Battalion was reinforced by a number of new drafts.  By the end of January, the Battalion was back up to full strength: 32 officers and 966 other ranks.  In February, the Battalion moved south to Méaulte, where they were engaged in mining duties.  There is some fighting in retaliation for German shelling, but most of their time in February and March is spent on fatigues.  There is a little more fighting in April but it is intermittent and light.  On 26 April, the Battalion was in the trenches near Mametz when they were bombarded by enemy shells.



Joseph was wounded in this action and transferred to no. 5 Casualty Clearing Station at La Neuville, near Corbie on the Somme.  He died of his wounds on 2 May 1915.  He was 19 years old.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  15340

Date of Death:  02/05/1916

Regiment/Service:  Devonshire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Grave Reference:  Plot I. Row F. Grave 8.


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