240199 LCPL. C. A. BRIERLEY. Y&L. R.
Charles Ashley Brierley was born in Oldham in April 1892 and baptised there on 13 April. His father was Richard Brierley (b. 1866 in Newton Heath, Manchester), a fishmonger and later laundryman. His mother was Margaret Ann Robson (b. 1866 at Wilton Park, Durham). Richard and Margaret were married in Oldham in 1891 and they had two children: Charles was first then John William (b. 1894). Richard died in 1902 and Margaret remarried two years later to Abel Durnan (b. 1855 in Worsborough, Yorkshire). Abel had also been previously married and had 6 children from his first marriage so in 1911 Abel and Margaret were living at 107 Race Common Road, Barnsley, with Margaret’s sons Charles and John and one of Abel’s children, John Walter Jarvis Durnan. Charles was a ‘cutter out’ in a shirt making factory.
Charles signed his attestation form at Barnsley. The form is badly damaged but he was 21 years old and gives his occupation as a bleacher. He was initially assigned service number 1757 and posted to 5Bn York and Lancaster Regiment. 1/5Bn of the York and Lancaster Regiment was formed at Rotherham in August 1914 and came under orders of 148th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division. Charles landed with his Battalion at Boulogne on 14 April 1915. In 1915 they were engaged at Aubers Ridge (9 May) and later suffered the first phosgene gas attack (19 December). They fought through several phases of the Battle of the Somme, at Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Pozières Ridge and Flers-Courcelette. At some stage, Charles was promoted to Lance Corporal and in 1917 issued with a new-style service number, 240199.
In 1917, 49th Division were engaged in Operation Hush on the Belgian coast. 1/5 Bn arrived at Coxyde on 15 July to find that the Germans had successfully resisted the Allied attacks. On 21 July they were shelled with mustard gas and from 21-24 July 1/4 Bn (in the same Brigade) lost 20 other ranks. On 31 July, 1/5 Bn moved to take over coastal defence at Coxyde. From 2-11 August, 1/5Bn were not engaged in fighting but in tunnelling work under 257 Tunnelling Coy R.E. Throughout this period, however, they suffered constant gas attacks and according to the War Diary were losing 10 men a day, killed, wounded or gassed (in all 10 men were killed, 18 wounded and 144 gassed). 9 August was a particularly bad day for 1/5 Bn as they had 2 Lance Corporals and 5 other men killed that day, including Charles. He was 25 years old.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 240199
Date of Death: 09/08/1917
Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment, 1st/5th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. F. 5.
Cemetery: COXYDE MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Richard and Margaret Ann Brierley, of 36 Shaw Street, Barnsley. Native of Oldham.
Charles’ brother, John William, also served in the Army as M/428215 PTE. J. W. BRIERLEY. According to his attestation form, he was ‘deemed to be enlisted’ on 2 March 1916 and assigned service number 38849. He was called up on 16 November and posted to 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment on 18 November. He joined 8th Battalion Y&L in the field on 10 February 1917. He may have been wounded as he was back at the Depot later that year from 20 April – 11 December, to be posted back to France with 12th Bn on 12 December 1917, then he was attached to 2/4 then 2/5 Bns before returning to England on 30 January 1918 and transferring to Southern Command Depot in July 1918. After the end of the War he was attached briefly to Royal Army Service Corps (1124 Motorised Transport Coy.) at Bulford, and he was discharged on 15 January 1920 with a 20% disability pension.
Two of their step-brothers from the Durnan family also served.
2148 PTE. J. W. J. DURNAN is John Walter Jarvis Durnan who enlisted at Rotherham on 9 August 1914 in 1/5 Bn York and Lancaster Regiment, like his step-brother Charles, though Charles enlisted at Barnsley around the same time. He served initially alongside Charles but shortly after Charles’ death, from 30 July 1917, John was attached to 148 Infantry Brigade as a Brigade Runner. In 1917, after Operation Hush where Charles was killed, 148th Brigade were engaged at the Battle of Poelcappelle (9 October), during the Third Battle of Ypres. John now had a new-style service number, 240372, and was appointed Lance Corporal on 17 April 1918. At that time, 148th Brigade were engaged in the Battle of the Lys (7-29 April). At the Neuve Église that month (part of the Battle of Bailleul), 1/5Bn War Diary reports more than 100 officers and men killed and more than 450 wounded. For his part in this action John Durnan was awarded the Military Medal (confirmed LG 26.8.18). He was disembodied on 2o March 1919. John’s father Abel Durnan died in 1921 and the flowing year he married Edith Crossley. They had two sons, John Durnan (1923-1944) and Ernest Abel Durnan (1928-2013). John Durnan (jnr) also gave his life for his country. He was Private John Durnan, serving with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and he was killed in Normandy on 8 August 1944. John Walter died in 1973.
Another of the Durnans, Thomas Owen, served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Thomas was born in 1883 and he enlisted on 8 December 1915, aged 32 and married with 5 children. He was 99480 GNR T. O. DURNAN. He was called up on 13 June 1916 and posted to France in 1917 where on 20 April he joined 1st (aka 49th) West Riding Heavy Battery. This Battery is part of the Divisional artillery that supported 148th Brigade so he would have been close to brother John and step-brothers Charles and John Brierley. Thomas survived the War, being discharged in Opladen, in Germany, in August 1919. He died in 1953.