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George Brierley was born in December 1887 in Oldham.  His father was James Brierley (b. 1849 in Oldham), a collier by trade.  His mother was Sarah (maiden name not known, b. 1857 in Oldham).  James and Sarah had 6 children: Mary (b. 1879), Maria (b. 1880), Eda (b. 1883), James (b. 1885), then George, and finally Emily (b. 1892).  I haven’t traced James and Sarah in the 1911 Census, but in 1901, James was a general collier and his children (except the youngest Emily) were all working in the cotton mill. George was working as a cotton piecer, although by 1915 he was working as a bath attendant.


George was married to Eliza Ann Smith on 5 April 1915.  He enlisted shortly afterwards with the Manchester Regiment at Oldham on 17 July 1915 and was assigned service number 28097.  On his attestation, George gives his address as 27 Fisher Street, Oldham, and his occupation as bath attendant.  He was 5’ 8” tall and weighed 117lbs and had a 34” chest.  He was posted to 24Bn, then briefly to 27Bn (Reserves) before returning to 24Bn with whom he landed in France on 8 November 1915.


24th (Service) Battalion (Oldham) was formed in Oldham on 24 October 1914 by the Mayor and Town.  They moved to Llanfairfechan in March 1915 and in April 1915 to Grantham where they were placed under command of 91st Brigade in 30th Division.  They moved to Larkhill in September 1915 and in early November 1915 they landed at Boulogne.  On 20 December 1915 the Brigade transferred to 7th Division and Bn transferred to 22nd Brigade in same Division.


George was admitted to 97 Field Ambulance at Bertrancourt from 7-12 December 1915, suffering from trench foot, and again from 15-20 December suffering from myalgia.


7th Division had been engaged in the fighting at Festubert, Givenchy and Loos in 1915, but this was over by the time George arrived.  During the winter there were no major operations, but regular minor engagements, shelling and sniper fire.  On 3 February 1916 the Bn moved to Morlancourt, south of Albert on the Somme and on 5 February they moved into the trenches near Méaulte.   On 7 February, at 3.45, the Germans opened up a bombardment, having been fairly quiet for the previous two days.  One of their shells landed on our dugout, killing 11 men and wounding 8.   George was among the dead.  He was 28 years old.  All the bodies were recovered and they are buried together at Point 110 New Military Cemetery at Fricourt.


George’s medals, personal effects and War Gratuity were sent to his wife who was then living at 70 Hobson Street, Oldham.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  28097

Date of Death:  07/02/1916

Age:  28

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 24th Bn.

Grave Reference:  B. 19.


Additional Information:  Husband of Mrs. Eliza Ann Brierley, of 70 Hobson Street, Oldham.


George’s brother-in-law, John William Royle (married to Eda) also served in the Army.  He enlisted in July 1915 with the Lancashire Fusiliers with service number 22111 but he was later transferred to the Labour Corps with service number 111671.

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