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Thomas Eli Brierley was born in the second quarter of 1897 in Farnworth, near Bolton.  His father was James Stanley Brierley (b. 1870 in Farnworth), a cotton cloth warehouseman.  His mother was Emma Smith (b. 1866 in Farnworth).  James and Emma Married in 1890 and they had at least two children: Lily (b. 1895) and then Thomas.  I haven’t been able to locate the family in the 1911 Census but in 1901 they were living at 18 Spring Street, Farnworth.


Tom turned 18 in 1915.  I don’t know when he enlisted but he has a new-style service number, 302042, and he was first posted to 2/8 Battalion, the Manchester Regiment.  2/8th (Ardwick) Battalion came under orders of 199th Brigade in 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division.  2/8Bn was disbanded on 13 February 1918 and Tom was then posted to 2/5Bn (in the same 199th Brigade). 


66th Division landed in France in February and March 1917.  They took part in the following engagements:  the Operations on the Flanders Coast (Operation Hush) (26 June – 25 September 1917), and the Battle of Poelcapelle, a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres (6-10 October 1917).  In 1918, they were engaged in the Battle of St Quentin, (21-23 March), the Actions at the Somme Crossings, (24-25 March 1918) and the Battle of Rosières (26-27 March 1918) (phases of the German Spring Offensive).  As a result of the losses it had suffered in this fighting, the Division was reduced to a training cadre and reformed and reconstituted. The re-formed Division was then engaged in the Battle of Cambrai (8-9 October) and the Pursuit to the Selle (9-12 October) and the Battle of the Selle, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy (17-20 October).  On 20-21 October the Division was withdrawn and rested in the Serain area until 1 November. It advanced through Le Cateau from 2 November and had some sharp engagements over the next few days.  At the Armistice the advanced units of this Force were on the line Pont de République – Grandrieu – east of Sivry – Montbliart.  The Division was selected to march through Belgium as part of the British force for occupying the Rhine bridgeheads.  The move began on 18 November and took the Division through Philippeville, Dinant and Ciney. The units billeted in the area Dinant – Huy – Marche – Rochefort and halted there. Demobilisation began here and at midnight 24-25 March 1919 the 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, the “Clickety Clicks”, ceased to exist.


We don’t have Tom’s military records so we don’t know exactly when he was demobilised, but he returned to Farnworth to work as a linen salesman and he died there on 13 March 1920, aged 22.  He died of pneumonia.




Rank:  Private

Service No:  302042

Date of Death:  13/03/1920

Age:  22

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 2/5Bn

Cemetery/memorial reference:  N.C. 2134.



Tom is a cousin of 14886 Pte. Percy Brierley, L.N.LAN.R., who was killed at Étaples on 24 July 1918.

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