232 CQMS. T. BRIERLEY. LANCS.FUS
It has taken some guesswork to piece together this biography but I believe it to be correct. I am grateful to Bill Ashton for input regarding Tom’s parents.
Thomas Brierley was born in Hulme, Manchester, on 12 April 1868, and baptised at Hulme, St Michael on 21 June that year. His father was William Henry Brierley (1847-1912), an auctioneer’s clerk and warehouse porter from Hulme. His mother was Mary Stillie (b. 1850 in Hulme). William Henry and Mary were married in 1867 and had at least 8 children: Tom, George (b. 1871), Marion (b. 1874), Hugh (b. 1878), Willie (b. 1880), Elizabeth (b. 1883), Georgina (b. 1889) and May (b. 1891)
In 1895, Thomas married Elizabeth Rochford (b. 1875 in Colchester, Essex). The Rochford family were originally from Ireland but Elizabeth moved to Salford with her parents and siblings in 1876. Thomas and Elizabeth had 6 children: Edward Ernest (b. 1897), Mary (b. 1899), Thomas (b. 1904), William (b. 1906), Ellen (b. 1908) and Margaret (b. 1910).
Thomas is not shown in the 1901 Census as living with his wife and family, most likely because he was in the army and possible fighting in the Boer War. In 1911, he is back with the family, living at 6 Hyde Street, Salford, and working as a machine moulder. Tom was clearly an experienced soldier as we find him in 1915 as Company Quarter Master Sergeant in 1/8 Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers. When he signed up in Salford in 1914 he was 46 years old and over the maximum service age.
1/8Bn were formed in Salford in August 1914 and formed part of the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division. The 42nd was the first Division of the new Territorials to be sent abroad. They went to Egypt in September 1914, where they were initially involved in the defence of the Suez Canal, and thence to Gallipoli, where they landed on 5 May 1915. The East Lancashire Division began to embark at Alexandria on 1 May 1915. The first transports left next day, and the last on 6 May. 14,224 men of the Division landed at Cape Helles. The Division was involved in three notable attempts to break out of the Helles bridgehead to capture the dominating heights around the village of Krithia. These attacks took place on 6-8 May (in which only the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade of the Division took part), 4 June and 6-13 August. Whether Tom was wounded or fell sick during this campaign is not clear, but he was evacuated and died in Alexandria on 31 August 1915. He was 47 years old. By August, through battle casualties and sickness, the 42nd Division had been reduced to one third of its normal establishment.
Rank: Company Quartermaster Serjeant
Service No: 232
Date of Death: 31/08/1915
Regiment/Service: Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st/8th Bn.
Grave Reference: F. 198.
Cemetery: ALEXANDRIA (CHATBY) MILITARY AND WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY
Tom’s son, Edward Ernest, joined up at the same time and served in the same regiment and battalion as his father. He was initially given service number 1531 and in 1917 was assigned a new-style number, 305106. He was clearly a capable soldier as he was promoted to Corporal then to Sergeant. Edward survived the Gallipoli campaign and continued to serve with 1/8 Bn. They were evacuated from Gallipoli at the end of December 1915 and stationed in Egypt until February 1917 when they were moved to the Western Front. Edward survived the War and was demobilised in 1919. He married on his return to England but he remained in the Territorials and was called up again at the start of WW2 and evacuated at Dunkirk. He was demobilised a second time in 1942, and died in 1968.
Tom’s cousin is 88281 PTE. G. B. BRIERLEY, who served in the Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action on 14 June 1917.