19937 CPL. A. BRIERLEY. BEDS. REG.
Archie Brierley was born at Habergham-Eaves, just south of Burnley, in the second quarter of 1896 and baptised in the local church. His father was Isaac Brierley (b. 1869 in Burnley) a carter by trade. His mother was Mary Riley (b. 1867 in Burnley), a cotton weaver. Isaac and Mary were married at Habergham-Eaves on 20 April 1889. Later that year they had their first child, Joseph Henry, who sadly died in 1894. They also had another child who died, but also three children who survived: William (b. 1891), then Archie, and finally Florrie (b. 1901). In 1911, the family lived at Garstang Street, Burnley, where Isaac was a carter, Mary and the two boys were working as weavers in a cotton mill (aged 14 Archie was now full-time), and Florrie was still at school.
Archie enlisted with the Bedfordshire Regiment, though I don’t know what the connection is between this regiment and Burnley where he enlisted. He was given service number 19937 and posted to 8th Battalion. 8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Bedford in October 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third Army and came under orders of 71st Brigade, 24th Division. On 11 October 1915 it was transferred with the Brigade to 6th Division. On 17 November 1915 it was transferred to 16th Brigade in the same Division. From his Medal Index Card we know that Archie landed in France on 30 August 1915. In 1915 6th Division was engaged in the action at Hooge where the British exploded a massive mine in July. The Germans retaliated, making first use during the War of flamethrowers. In 1916, the Division was involved in the Battle of the Somme, at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15-22 September), where tanks were used for the first time, the Battle of Morval (25-28 September), and the Battle of Le Transloy (1-20 October). Le Transloy was the last major offensive of the Battle of the Somme, before the onset of winter made more fighting impossible. Archie was killed on 19 October, right at the end of the offensive.
Looking at the pattern of deaths in 8th Battalion (22 officers and men killed between 13 and 19 October 3-5 men killed each day), it would appear that they were in the trenches but not engaged in any significant attack, but consolidating their position under shelling and machine-gun fire. In fact, only three men from Archie’s Battalion were killed on 19 October. His body was never recovered but his two comrades were recovered and are buried in different cemeteries. So it would appear they were killed in separate incidents of shelling or sniper fire. Archie was 20 years old.
Service No: 19937
Date of Death: 19/10/1916
Regiment/Service: Bedfordshire Regiment, 8th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 2 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL