204077 PTE. G. H. BRIERLEY. HANTS.R.

 

George Henry Brierley was born in the fourth quarter of 1885 in Southampton.  His father was James Brierley, b. 1847 in Haslingden, in Lancashire.  James is listed in the 1871 Census as still living with his parents in Haslingden, and working as a weaver in a cotton mill.  But he was obviously improving himself as by 1881 he had moved to Southampton and is shown in the Census as a Public Analytical Chemist and Teacher of Science.  In 1876 he married Frances Harriet Stevens (b. 1852 in Southampton) and they had 5 children, George being the youngest.  His older siblings were: Francis James (b. 1877), Thomas Stevens (b. 1878), John Robert (b. 1879) and Lucy Margaret (b. 1881).

 

In 1911, George’s occupation was ‘ledger and forwarding clerk’ though it appears he was unemployed at the time.  In July 1914, just before the outbreak of War, George married Harriet Minnie Chinnock (b. 1880 in Southampton).

 

George enlisted in the 1/5 Hampshire Regiment, probably in 1914, and was assigned service number 2453.  When the new style service numbers were introduced in 1917 he was given number 204077.  1/4  and 1/5 Hants.R. were both raised in Hampshire in late 1914 and formed part of the Wessex Division, and both battalions sailed together to India landing at Karachi on 11 November 1914.  1/5Bn then remained in India for the duration of the War, but 1/4Bn went to Basra in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), landing on 18 March 1915, where it joined 33 Indian Brigade, and the Bn remained in Mesopotamia for the remainder of the War.  The Battalion HQ and one Company were captured at Kut-el-Amara on 29 April 1916. The remainder formed a Composite Bn with the 1/5th Bn, the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), and - attached to 35th Indian Brigade -transferred to 14th Indian Division. Then in November 1916, they transferred to 36th Indian Brigade.

 

The surrender of Kut in 1916 was one of the most humiliating defeats suffered by the British Army in the whole of the First World War.  Townshend had surrendered and the man who had been sent to relieve the garrison, Gorringe, was also replaced.  The new man in charge was Sir Frederick Maude, who would eventually be recognised as the most effective military leader in the region.  Maude was appointed to command the Tigris Corps in July 1916 and immediately set about reorganising and resupplying the British and Indian troops in Mesopotamia.  The campaign to retake Kut began in December 1916 but progress was painfully slow and it wasn’t until February that a final push managed to dislodge the Turkish forces.  It was at the very end of this campaign, on 24 February 1917, that George lost his life.  He was 31 years old.  During this campaign, from the beginning of December 1916 to the end of February 1917, 1/4Bn Hampshire Regiment had 178 officers and men killed.  Of these 104 were killed on 23-24 February.

 

Buoyed by his success in retaking Kut, Maude pushed on to take Baghdad, which fell the following month.

 

Rank:  Private

Service No:  204077

Date of Death:  24/02/1917

Age:  31

Regiment/Service:  Hampshire Regiment, "A" Coy. 1st/5th Bn. attd. 1st/4th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 21 and 63.

Memorial:  BASRA MEMORIAL

Additional Information:  Son of James Brierley (Borough Analyst, Southampton), and Harriet Frances Brierley; husband of Harriet Minnie Brierley, of 13 Chapel Road, Southampton. Educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Southampton.

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