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William Brierley was born in February 1878 at Pilkington, near Farnworth, just south of Bolton, and baptised at Prestolee, Holy Trinity on 21 February.  His father was Thomas Brierley (b. 1844 in Ringley), a coal miner.  His mother was Elizabeth Siddall (b. 1843 in Farnworth).  Elizabeth had a son out of wedlock – he was Thomas Siddall (b. 1863 in Kearsley).  Thomas and Elizabeth were married in 1867 and together they had 5 children: James (b. 1870), John (b. 1872), Harriet (b. 1875), then William, and finally Mary (b. 1883).


William was a coal miner, like his father.  In 1898, he married Jane Watson (b. 1880 in Kearsley) and the couple had 5 children: Elizabeth (b. 1899), Thomas (b. 1901), Betsy (b. 1902), Joseph (b. 1905) and Annie (b. 1907).  They also had an adopted son, Harry Moss (b. 1898 in Burnley) [see below for information about Harry].  In 1911, the family was living at 134 Cemetery Road, Kearsley.  


William attested that he was willing to serve on 11 December 1915 and was initially assigned service number 7311 with 4Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.  At that time, the family was living at 16 Alpine Terrace, Farnworth. 


On his attestation form, William declares his trade as a carter, not a collier.  In his medical records he states that he had to give up work as a miner 18 months previously, due to rheumatism.  Had he still been working down the mines he presumably would not have been required to join the army.  He nevertheless passed his medical and is recorded as 5’ 11” tall, weighing 111lb and with a 36½” chest.  He was called up on 8 January 1917 and posted to France on 20 June 1917 and he joined 8Bn in the field on 8 July 1917.  He was listed as missing in action less than a month later, on 6 August 1917.


8th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was formed in September 1915, and came under orders of 7th Brigade in 25th Division.  On 8 July 1917, Divisional HQ was established at Busseboom and came under orders of II Corps for the opening of the Third Ypres offensive. When the attack began on 31 July, 25th Division was in Corps Reserve, behind 24th, 30th and 8th Divisions which were in the front line. 7th and 75th Brigades, in place at Belgian Chateau, received orders to reinforce the attacking units as early as 8.30am but were not called upon to take up the advance as expected, due to the attack being held up. 7th and 75th Brigades relieved the tired units of 8th Division in the front line of the Westhoek and Bellewaarde ridges on 1 August.  The War Diary states: “1 August. The relief of 2 East Lancs was successfully carried out but was very difficult owing to the lack of definite information about the position held by that regiment and the fact that the relief was carried out in daylight in full view of the enemy who still had GLENCORSE WOOD. 2-5 August. The battalion remained in this position from 1-5 inst.  The conditions were very bad owing to the weather and the difficulties of getting up materials and supplies of all kinds.  Our casualties during this tour were severe and amounted to 7 officers and 147 OR (total casualties, killed, wounded and missing)”.  When the final reckoning was made, 8Bn had had one officer and 45 men killed.  The battalion was relieved on the night of 5 August and spent 6-9 August in Winnipeg Camp.  6 August was recorded as William’s date of death.  He was 39 years old (CWGC incorrectly says 40).  This was his first experience of the trenches.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  203532

Date of Death:  06/08/1917

Age:  39

Regiment/Service:  The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Addenda Panel 60.


Additional Information:  Husband of Jane Brierley, of Kearsley, Lancs.


William Brierley was the uncle of 6867 PTE. T. LONGWORTH and 17838 PTE. W. LONGWORTH.  Their stories are told here.

24682 LCPL. H. MOSS. R.W.FUS.


Harry Moss was William Brierley's adopted son.  He was born in Burnley in the final quarter of 1897.  His biological parents were William Moss (b. 1870 in Droylsden), a cloth dyer, and Sarah Jane Dixon (b. 1874 in Bradford).  William and Sarah Jane were married in 1893 and they had 5 children: John (b. 1894), Annie (b. 1895), then Harry, Gertrude (b. 1899) and finally William (b. 1902).  Sarah Jane died at the end of 1904 and in 1910 William remarried.  His new wife was Teresa Cullen (b. 1880 in Cleator Moor, Cumberland) and they went on to have 4 more children.  By 1911 though Harry had been adopted by the Brierleys and was living with them at 134 Cemetery Road, Kearsley, and aged 13 he had started work as a warp reacher-in in a cotton mill.


His adoptive father William signed up in December 1915 so it’s possible Harry signed up at the same time (he would just have turned 18).  He was assigned service number 24682 and posted to 1Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers and later promoted to Lance Corporal.  1Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers came under the orders of 22nd Brigade in 7th Division.  7th Division is one of the Divisions who feature prominently in the contemporary war documentary filmed on The Somme by Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell.  The Royal Welsh Fusiliers feature in some early footage in the film as they prepare for the battle at Bray-sur-Somme.


On 1 July, 7th Division participated in the capture of the village of Mametz.  The British were unable to capitalise on this early success, however, and fighting ground to a halt and became especially murderous at Delville Wood in July and August.  From 27-29 August, in fierce hand-to-hand fighting, 1Bn had 60 Other Ranks killed, including Harry Moss, who was still only 18 years old.


Rank:  Lance Corporal

Service No:  24682

Date of Death:  27/08/1916

Regiment/Service:  Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 1st Bn.

Panel Reference:  Pier and Face 4 A.


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