24886 PTE. M. BRIERLEY. MM. M.G.C.
The award of the Military Medal to Mark Brierley was announced in the London Gazette on 25 May 1917. Unfortunately, the Gazette does not detail where Mark came from. ‘Mark’ is an uncommon first name among the Brierleys and there are just two Mark Brierleys in the army medal records: Mark in the MGC and another Mark who served in the Royal Garrison Artillery. Likewise, there are few possible matches in the Censuses: one is Mark Brierley (b. 9 April 1895 in Atherstone), a coal miner, who died in 1961; the other is Mark Brierley (b. 11 January 1882 in Heywood, near Bury) who was a rope spinner and died in 1944. One of these is probably the man who was awarded the MM but I can’t be certain which.
The military records tell us that Mark enlisted first with the Border Regiment and was assigned service number 20563. He was not awarded the 1915 Star, so he first served abroad in 1916 or later. [It might seem odd that men born in Warwickshire or Lancashire might enlist in the Border Regiment, but in fact, the Regiment had experienced difficulty recruiting from its ‘traditional’ area (Cumberland and Westmorland) before the War and had started recruiting more actively across England.]
Mark was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, but again, sadly, we don’t know which Company he served in. We know only that he was demobilised on 16 January 1919.