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204188 PTE. H. BRIERLEY. W.R.R.


Hiram Brierley was born on 16 March 1882 at Lepton, near Huddersfiled, West Yorkshire.  He was baptised there on 30 June 1889.  His father was William Morgan Brierley (b. 1855 in Lepton), a woollen mill hand.  His mother was Lavinia Thewlis (b. 1856 in Kirkheaton).  Morgan and Lavinia were married in 1879 and they had two children: Hiram and his sister Sarah (b. 1890).  Morgan died in 1896.  By 1901, Lavinia had gone back to work as a woollen weaver, and Hiram had also joined her working in the woollen mills.  Hiram married the following year; his wife was Clara Blackburn (b. 1883 in Lepton).  They had three children: Jesse (b. 1902), Alice (b. 1904) and Ernest (b. 1907).  In 1911, they were living at Botany Bay, Lepton, and Hiram was working as a worsted twister in a woollen mill.


In May 1916, the Military Service Bill was extended to include conscription of married men, so it seems likely that Hiram enlisted then or sometime later that year.  He was assigned service number 204188 and posted to 1/4 Bn the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).  1/4 Bn came under orders of 147thBrigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.


In 1917, 49th Division had participated in Operation Hush, the attempt to advance along the Flanders coast and take the strategically important ports of Oostende and Zeebrugge.  The operation ended in failure in July.  After that, the Division fought at Poelcapelle (9 October) during the Third Battle of Ypres.

In 1918, the Division was engaged in the Battle of the Lys, or the second phase of the German Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette (7 – 29 April).  The Germans launched a massive attack along the whole front from north of Ypres to Festubert.  1/7Bn were in the same brigade as 1/4Bn and I have used their war diary to piece together the action.  When the attack began, 49th Division were in camp near Poperinghe but they were quickly moved to bolster defences to the south arriving near Nieppe (north-west of Armentières) on 11 April.  In the face of the German onslaught they were forced to withdraw towards Bailleul.  From 10-14 April, 147thBrigade (incorporating 1/4, 1/6 and 1/7 Battalions) had 227 officers and men killed.  Hiram was killed on 11 April, he was 36 years old.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  204188

Date of Death:  11/04/1918

Regiment/Service:  Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), 1st/4th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 82 to 85 and 162A.


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