18691 LCPL. A. BRIERLEY. DCM. SHER.FOR.
Arthur Brierley (sometimes Robert Arthur in civilian records) was born on 27 March 1893. His father was Arthur Brierley (b. 1862 in Arnold), a brewery labourer. His mother was Sarah Ann Reynolds (b. 1866 in Wellow, Notts.). Arthur and Sarah Ann were married in 1887 and they had four sons: Josiah Frederick (b. 1889), William Henry (b. 1891), Robert Arthur and finally then Jesse (b. 1894). Arthur snr died in 1898 and the following year Sarah Ann remarried. Her second husband was Charles Blackman (b. 1848 in Portsmouth) and together they had a daughter, Violet Emily (b. 1905). In 1911, Arthur and Jesse were living with their mother and step-father at 88 Sherwood Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire. Both brothers were working as pony drivers in a coal mine.
[Jesse joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry and was killed at sea on 1 January 1915.]
Arthur joined the army soon after War broke out. He enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), was assigned service number 18691 and posted to 2nd Battalion. 2Bn came under orders of 71st Brigade in 6th Division. Arthur went to France to join his Battalion on 18 May 1915. In the summer of 1915, the Division was engaged in the actions at Hooge.
At the end of the year, Arthur was allowed some home leave and at that time he married Harriet Ann Claydon (b. 1893 in Mansfield).
During 1916, on the Somme, the Division was engaged at Flers-Courcelette, Morval, and Le Transloy. In 1917, they were engaged in The Battle of Hill 70 (at same time as the Battles of Arras 1917), and in the Cambrai operations in November and December. At some stage, Arthur was promoted to Lance Corporal. Theur engagements in the War so far had been comparatively light, but that would change in 1918.
In 1918, they were engaged in both the opening phases of the German Spring Offensives, at St Quentin in March, and at Bailleul and the Kemmel Ridge in April and May. They were then heavily involved in the final advance in Flanders, at various battles of the Hindenburg Line (at Épehy, the St Quentin Canal, Beaurevoir and Cambrai). It was during this phase of the fighting that Arthur’s bravery won him the Distinguished Conduct Medal:
18691 L./Cpl. A. Brierley, 2nd Bn., Notts.
& Derby. R. (Mansfield Woodhouse).
On the morning of the 18th September,
1918, in front of St. Quentin, during the
attack on the Quadrilateral, he did splendid
work while acting as company stretcher-bearer.
He did not cease from tending and
bringing in the wounded till he had been
wounded three times. All day long he continued
to carry out his duties under a very
heavy fire from both machine guns and
artillery, often exposing himself to great
risk in order to reach some badly wounded
men near the enemy's wire. By his great
gallantry he undoubtedly saved many lives.
Once the Hindenburg Line had been broken, the Division was engaged
in the pursuit to the Selle, and the Battle of the Selle.
The Division was billeted around Bohain at the Armistice on 11 November
1918. It was selected to march into Germany as part of the occupation
force and began to move 14-18 November to Solre-le-Château to
assemble. The Division crossed the German border on 13 December and
reached its destination at Bruehl on 23 December.
From the records it appears that rather than be demobilised, Arthur signed
up again, this time with the York and Lancaster Regiment, on 1 September 1
919, with service number 53377. I don’t know how long Arthur remained in the Army, but his records show that he was awarded a further medal for service with the York and Lancaster Regiment (service number 4737116) in north-west Persia in 1924.
The next record I have for him is in 1939, by which time he was back working down the mines in Sutton-in-Ashfield (not far from Mansfield), employed as an underground colliery deputy. He died on 28 March 1953 – the day after his 60th birthday.