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William Brierley was born on 29 June 1896 at Ancoats, Manchester.  He was baptised at Ancoats All Souls on 15 July that year.  His father was Thomas William Brierley (b. 1866 in Ancoats), a machine minder in a woollen mill.  His mother was Alice Taylor (b. 1874 in Ancoats).  Tom’s first wife was Margaret Gordon (b. 1868 in Ancoats).  They were married in 1888 but Margaret died in 1892, they had no children.  Tom and Alice were married in 1894 and they had 6 children, four of whom survived infancy: William, Elizabeth Alice (b. 1898), Thomas (1900-1901), Margaret (b. 1904) and Edna (b. 1906).  In 1911, they were living at 13 Back Hadfield Street, Ancoats, and William aged 14 had started work as a messenger in the Telegraph Department.  Alice died in September 1911 and Tom married for a third time the following year.  His third wife was Mary Ann Hallworth (née Swann) who already had a family of her own – more of them in a moment.


William enlisted on 18 November 1915.  He was assigned service number 29389 and posted to 18th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots. In his attestation papers he gives his occupation as warehouseman.  He was 5’ 7¼” tall and weighed 126lbs.  His medical notes indicate that his left testicle had not descended but he was nevertheless deemed fit for service.  He was posted to “D” Coy, 11th Battalion, and embarked for France on 9 June 1916, joining the Bn in the field on 25 June.  On 26 December 1916, William was admitted to hospital suffering from a right inguinal hernia.  He was admitted to 37 Casualty Clearing Station, then transferred to hospital at Le Tréport on 1 January 1917.  He remained in hospital for the best part of three months and rejoined his unit in the field on 27 March 1917.  He was wounded in action on 3 May 1917 (a gunshot wound to his left eye) but he recovered and rejoined his unit on 27 May 1917.  He was sick, in a Field Ambulance, on 26 August, returning to duty on 25 September.  He then had 10 days’ leave in the UK from 2-12 October.  He was back in Field Ambulance on 2 and 18 December but with a minor complaint as he was swiftly back to his unit.


11th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) was formed in Edinburgh in 1914 and landed in France in May 1915.  They came under orders of 27th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division.  William joined them at the end of June 1916, and he fought with them in the Battle of the Somme, at Albert, Bazentin (and the capture of Longueval), Delville Wood and Le Transloy.  In the Spring of 1917, the Division was engaged in various phases of the Battle of the Scarpe (part of the Battle of Arras).  William was wounded on 3 May in the Third Battle of the Scarpe.  William was granted leave in October 1917 but when he returned he was plunged straight back into action as his Division was engaged in the First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October 1917).  The Battalion had moved from Courcelles to Poperinghe on 13 September 1917.  They were in trenches near Zonnebeke and came under heavy shellfire though they suffered relatively few casualties, nevertheless William would have been pleased to be allowed to take leave.  During the assault on 12 October, the war diary reports heavy casualties, including 5 officers, and the weather was so bad that men were bogged down, waist deep in mud, some dying of exposure.  They were withdrawn to billets at Wormhout on 25 October.  In December they moved south to Heudicourt, north-east of Péronne.  They spent January in and out of the trenches and in February they were in training at Vaux-sur-Somme and Sailly-le-Sec.


In 1918, his Bn was engaged in both phases of the German Spring Offensive.  At the beginning of March, the Bn returned from training to the trenches at Fins, not far from Heudicourt where they had left 4 months before.  They were here when the offensive was launched on 21 March.  By 25 March they had been forced to withdraw to Maricourt, and they were then pushed back to Albert, which the Germans took the following day, but that was as far as the enemy got.  When the fighting had stopped, the Bn was withdrawn and went into billets at Canaples.


At the beginning of April, the Bn was moved to Abeele, a few miles north-east of Armentières, where they were inspected by General Plumer.  They went into the trenches there on 9 April and were attacked the following day, though they repelled the first two attacks.  The war diary reports no specific action on 12 April, the day William was killed.  Ten officers and men from the Bn were killed on 10 April and a further 5 on the following two days.  William was 21 years old.


Service Number: 29389

Died: 12/04/1918

Aged: 21

Regiment/Service: Royal Scots, 11th Bn.

Panel Reference: 11 to 14 and 162

Memorial: Tyne Cot Memorial

Additional Information: Son of Thomas William Brierley, of 13 Back Hadfield Street, Ancoats, Manchester.



Tom Brierley (William’s father) married for a third time in 1912.  His third wife was Mary Ann Hallworth (née Swann) who already had a family of her own.  Mary Ann Swann was born in Manchester in 1864 and in 1881 she married Samuel Hallworth (b. 1858 in Manchester), a railway porter.  Samuel and Mary Ann had 6 children: Samuel (b. 1882), James (b. 1887), David (b. 1889), Sarah Ann (1890-1893), Martha (b. 1894), Hugh (b. 1896) and finally Charles Thomas (b. 1903).  Samuel died in 1903 so Mary Ann was left to bring up 6 children, aged between 1 and 21.  When she married Tom Brierley in 1912 she took on his younger family: her second youngest son (Hugh) was born in the same year as Tom’s oldest (William).  So Tom Brierley was step-father of Hugh Hallworth.  In 1911, Mary Ann was living at 2 Brief Street, Ancoats, working as a charwoman, and Hugh was a borer in an iron foundry.

Hugh Hallworth enlisted at the beginning of the War. He was assigned service number 14159 and posted to 8Bn, King’s Own Scottish Borderers.  8th (Service) Battalion came under orders of 46th Brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division.  They landed in France on 10 July 1915.  In May 1916, 8th Bn and 7th Bn were merged to form 7/8Bn.  At some stage, Hugh was promoted to Lance Corporal.

hugh hallworth.jpg

In 1916, the Division fought on the Somme, at Pozières and Flers-Courcelette, and also at Le Transloy, where step-brother William was also fighting.


In 1917, 8Bn fought in the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe – so Hugh was again in the same actions as his step-brother William.  After that, their paths diverged, as Hugh’s Division was sent to Ypres and they fought in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, and Hugh was killed in the Battle of Pilckem on the opening day, 31 July 1917.  He was 21 years old.


So in the War, Thomas Brierley and Mary Ann Hallworth Brierley each lost a son and a stepson: Hugh Hallworth on 31 July 1917 and William Brierley on 10 April 1918.


Service Number:  14159

Died:  31/07/1917

Aged:  21

Regiment/Service: King's Own Scottish Borderers, 7th/8th Bn.

Grave Reference:  Panel 22


Additional Information: Son of Mary Ann Brierley (formerly Hallworth), of 13 Back Hadfield Street, Ancoats, Manchester, and the late Samuel Hallworth.

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