2nd Lt. Roger Christian Brierley. CHESH.R
Roger Christian Brierley was born in December 1872 at Tattenhall in Cheshire, and baptised on 29 December. His father was Dr Thomas Booth Brierley (b. 1833 in Tattenhall), a surgeon by profession, and one of a long line of doctors serving the Tattenhall community. His mother was Mary Edwards (b. 1840 in Chester). Thomas and Mary were married in 1868 and had three children: Thomas Booth jnr. (b. 1868), Lillian Frances (b. 1870) and then Roger. Thomas Booth Brierley jnr was also a doctor, but he died aged only 26 in 1895. At the time he was working at a children’s hospital in Sheffield and was about to join his father in practice at Tattenhall when he contracted blood poisoning and died after a ten-day illness. More tragedy affected the family in 1909 as that year saw the deaths of both Mary and Frances. So in 1911, Roger was living with his widowed father and a maiden aunt at Tattenhall. He gives his occupation as estate agent.
Roger served initially with 5Bn Cheshire Regiment and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 13 November 1915. That month 5Bn became a Pioneer Battalion and Roger was posted to a Provisional Battalion and restored to the establishment on 11 September 1916 but this time with 6Bn. From the end of February 1916, 1/6 Battalion came under the orders of 118th Brigade in 39th Division and Roger was posted to France on 9 November 1916. In November 1916, the Battalion was near Thiepval and on 13 November they attacked and captured the village of St Pierre Divion, though at the cost of 3 officers and 29 other ranks killed, 9 other ranks missing and 4 officers and 123 other ranks wounded. This was 1/6 Battalion’s last engagement on the Somme and on 19 November they moved to Poperinghe, near Ypres. During December the Battalion was reinforced and engaged in training at Vlamertinghe and Roger was taken on the strength of the battalion on 19 December. For the rest of that month, the Bn was required to provide working parties to repair or dig new trenches. The early months of 1917 were spent by the Battalion in a tough cycle of front line defence, digging and repairing trenches and brief periods of rest. They are constantly being shelled by enemy artillery barrages. Around this time Roger would have received news of his father’s death, on 28 January. In mid April the Battalion move to Brandhoek. In June they begin ‘special training in open warfare’ as they prepare for the forthcoming offensive. On 5 July, a raiding party from the Battalion captured some enemy trenches, and during this operation Pte Thomas Wilson Brierley lost his life. The artillery exchanges continue during that month and the War Diary reports many attacks using gas and also aeroplane bombardments. The entry for 14 July, at Canal Bank, near Ypres, reports “Usual artillery activity on both sides. Working parties as previous day. 2nd Lt. R C Brierley killed in action” but with no further details. He was 44 years old. CWGC records his rank as Lieutenant but I have no record that he was promoted.
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Death: 14/07/1917
Regiment/Service: Cheshire Regiment, 6th Bn.
Grave Reference: I. M. 21.
Cemetery: BRANDHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of the late Dr. Thomas Booth Brierley and Mary Brierley, of Tattenhall, Cheshire.
Roger’s cousin was Cpt. Hugh Colley Brierley who was killed on 23 June 1917 at Ruyaulcourt, on the Somme. The cousins died 3 weeks apart.