2785 PTE. W. BRIERLEY. K.O.R.L.R.
William Brierley was born on 16 March 1885 in Manchester, and baptised at Manchester St John’s on 6 October that year. His father was John Brierley (b. 1851 in Manchester), a paper dealer. His mother was Ann McGrath (b. 1854 in Manchester). John and Ann were married in 1875 and they had four children: Mary Ann (b. 1875), James (b. 1876), Harriet (b. 1880) and then William. John died in 1897 and on Christmas Day 1899 Ann re-married. Her second husband was James Morrow (b. 1858 in Drumbeg, Co. Down, Ireland). James was also widowed and he had 3 children from his previous marriage. In 1911, William Brierley was living with his mother and stepfather and 3 step-siblings at 5 Grove Street, Deansgate, Manchester. William was a labourer in a brickworks.
William signed up at the outbreak of War with the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). He was assigned service number 2785 and posted to 1st Battalion. He landed in France on 27 December 1914. However, William was later transferred to 6th Battalion. 6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Lancaster in August 1914 as part of K1 and came under command of 38th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. They moved to Gallipoli where they landed at ANZAC Cove between 3-5 August 1915. The Division took part in the following actions on Gallipoli:
The Battle of Sari Bair, 6-10 August 1915
The Battle of Russell’s Top, 7 August
The Battle of Hill 60, ANZAC, 27-28 August
Soon afterwards the Division was transferred from ANZAC to Suvla Bay. It was evacuated from Suvla 19-20 December 1915, whereupon the infantry moved after a week’s rest to the Helles bridgehead.
The Division was among the last troops to be evacuated from the peninsula after resisting the last Turkish attacks at Helles, 7 January 1916. On 8-9 January 1916, the Division was evacuated from Helles and by 31 January was concentrated at Port Said. The Division held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences. On 12 February 1916 they began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Sa’ad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps. It then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. After these efforts failed and Kut fell, the British force in the theatre was built up and reorganised. The Division took part in the following, more successful, operations:
The Battle of Kut al Amara, December 1916-February 1917
The capture of the Hai Salient, 25 January – 5 February 1917
The capture of Dahra Bend, 9-16 February 1917
The passage of the Diyala, in the pursuit of the enemy towards Baghdad, 7-10 March 1917
At 10.30am on 11 March 1917, D Squadron, 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry and 6Bn, the King’s Own were the first British troops to enter Baghdad, which fell on this day.
During the rest of March and April 1917, operations were undertaken to consolidate the position won at Baghdad, by pushing north across Iraq. As part of “Marshall’s Column”, the Division fought at Delli ‘Abbas (27-28 March), Duqma (29 March), Nahr Kalis (9-15 April), crossed the ‘Adhaim (18 April) and at Shatt al ‘Adhaim (30 April). It also fought later in the year, in the Second and Third Actions of Jabal Hamrin (18-20 October and 3-6 December 1917), and finally at Tuz Khurmatli (29 April 1917).
By 28 May 1918, Divisional HQ had moved to Dawalib and it remained here until the end of the war. In this inhospitable place, men endured summer temperatures as high as 111 degrees F in the shade. Many working parties were supplied for work on maintaining roads.
William had fought through some of the most arduous conditions and most bitter fighting of the campaigns in Asia and at some stage he contracted tuberculosis from which he died at Bristol General Hospital on 16 July 1918. He was 33 years old.
Service No: 2785
Date of Death: 16 July 1918
Regiment/Service: King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), 6Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: J. Diss. 3743.
Cemetery: SALFORD (WEASTE) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John and Ann Brierley, of 5 Grove Street, Deansgate, Manchester.