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17160 PTE. J. BRIERLEY. K.O.S.B.


John Brierley was born on 18 July 1897 in Pendleton, near Salford.  He was baptised at Pendleton, St Thomas 3 days later.  His father was John Robert Brierley (1869-1908), a general labourer, from Pendleton.  His mother was Clara Downie (b. 1874 in Pendleton).  John Robert and Clara were married in 1893 and had 7 children, 5 of whom survived infancy: Mary Ellen (b. 1896), John, Clara (b. 1900), Georgina (b. 1902) and Walter (b. 1904).


John Robert died in 1908.  In 1911, Clara was living as a lodger at Rockley Street, Pendleton, with her five children, and working as a laundry/washerwoman.  John was still at school.  John must have enlisted in 1914 or early 1915 and in order to do so must have lied abut his age as he didn’t turn 18 until July 1915, by which time he was already in France.


He enlisted with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and was assigned service number 17160 and was posted to 8 Battalion.  8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Berwick-on-Tweed in September 1914 as part of K2 and came under orders of 46th Brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division. They landed at Boulogne 10 July 1915.  The Division took part in the Battle of Loos.


25 September was the opening day of the battle – 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 battle was preceded by an artillery bombardment but this was insufficient due to lack of ammunition.  In many places the artillery had failed to cut the German wire in advance of the attack.  Advancing over open fields, within range of German machine guns and artillery, British losses were devastating. The British were able to break through the weaker German defences and capture the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, mainly due to numerical superiority.  However, supply and communications problems, combined with the late arrival of reserves, meant that the breakthrough could not be exploited.


CWGC records 10,270 men killed on 25 September 1915.


The King’s Own Scottish Borderers (6, 7 and 8 Battalions) had 629 men killed that day, including John Brierley who is listed as 19 years old, but in fact he had only just turned 18.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  17160

Date of Death:  25/09/1915

Age:  18

Regiment/Service:  King's Own Scottish Borderers, 8th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 53 to 56.


Additional Information:  Son of Mrs. Clara Brierley, of 75 Ariel Street, Weaste, Manchester.

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