216724 PTE. R. BRIERLEY. CANADIAN PIONEERS
Rushworth Brierley was born on 28 August 1880 in Failsworth, between Manchester and Oldham. His father was James Brierley (b. 1839 in Failsworth), an iron moulder by trade. His mother was Emma Rushworth (b. 1844 in Failsworth). James and Emma were married in 1864 and they had 11 children, 8 of whom survived infancy: William (b. 1865), Mary (b. 1869), Hannah (b. 1870), Alice (b. 1872), Joseph (b. 1874), Robert (b. 1877), then Rushworth and finally Emma (b. 1882).
In 1902, Rushworth, aged 21, was living with his parents, older sister Mary and younger sister Emma at 85 Wickentree Lane, Failsworth. He was working as a carter and general labourer. In 1908 he married Elsie Rebecca Phipps (b. 1886 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire). Rebecca had come to the Failsworth area with her family in the late 1890s. Rushworth and Rebecca had a son, Joseph, in 1909 and in 1912 they emigrated to Canada, settling in 1913 in Manitoba where they had two more children: Harold (b. 1913) and Elsie (b. 1916). In the 1916 Canadian Census they are registered as living at Sewel, Winnipeg, Manitoba and Rushworth is a farm labourer. That same year however, on 16 March, Rushworth signed his attestation to join the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, giving his home as Lake Francis, Manitoba, and his occupation as a farmer. He says he has previously served 3 years in the 13th Field Battery (Canada) and that he currently serves with 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers. He was 35 years old, 5’ 7” tall, had a 37” chest, dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was assigned service number 216724 and posted to 107th Infantry Battalion. 107Bn left for Britain on 19 September 1916 and when it arrived in France it was converted to a Pioneer Battalion. Pioneer battalions worked in conjunction with the Engineers, and continually in the Forward Area: the work in the back area being left to Labour units and Entrenching battalions. The work was varied but consisted of consolidating positions captured by the infantry, tunnelling, mining, wiring, railroad work, deep dugout work and laying out, building and keeping trenches in repair. Although trained to fight, fighting was not their main occupation. They were nevertheless on the front line and exposed to enemy shelling and counterattacks.
The Battalion was very active in the first half of 1917, seeing action at Arras, Vimy (9-14 April), Arleux (28-29 April) and the Scarpe (3-4 May). During June 1917, 1161 officers and men from the Canadian Forces were killed, mainly between Arras and Vimy. This included 17 Pioneers. 6 men from 107Bn were killed that month, including Rushworth and two other men who were killed on 11 June near Farbus, about 2 miles from Vimy. Rushworth was 36 years old, leaving a wife and three children back in Canada.
Service No: 216724
Date of Death: 11/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Canadian Pioneers, 107th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. C. 1.
Cemetery: LA TARGETTE BRITISH CEMETERY, NEUVILLE-ST. VAAST