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William Brierley was born at Aston near Birmingham in 1893.  His father was Samuel Henry Brierley (b. 1857 in Birmingham) a brass foundry worker.  His mother was Jane Guinn (or Gueinn) (b. 1857 also in Birmingham).  Samuel and Jane were married at Bordesley, Holy Trinity, in 1885 and they had two children: Rose (b. 1886) and William.  I haven’t found the family in the 1911 Census, so I don’t know what William’s occupation was before he joined up.  Rose married Charles Mander in 1906 and he was a foundry worker, so possibly William also worked in the brass foundry like his father and brother-in-law.


William signed up in the early days of the War, probably February 1915, and was assigned service number 30673 and posted to C Company in 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.  4th Battalion was originally raised in August 1914 in Meiktila in Burma and had returned to England, landing at Avonmouth on 1 February 1915 when it came under orders of 88th Brigade in 29th Division and it then moved to Leamington Spa.  The Battalion had sailed from Avonmouth on 21 March 1915 for Gallipoli, going via Egypt, and landing at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915.  William joined the Battalion with reinforcements on 13 July 1915.


From 6-13 August, 88th Brigade of 29th Division were engaged in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard.  The 88th Brigade's attack managed to capture some Ottoman trenches, which were recaptured by the Ottoman 30th Regiment during a counter-attack. The British attacked again and once more captured some trenches, but the Ottomans counter-attacked again and drove them out. The British failed to hold any ground and the 88th Brigade was effectively destroyed as a fighting force.  The British casualties in the first 24 hours of fighting, covering the original attacks of the 88th Brigade and the two brigades of the 42nd Division, were 3,469.  4Bn alone had 361 officers and men killed on 6 August.  


Precisely what happened to William is not known.  We do know that he died of gangrene on 29 December 1915 at Moudros, on the Greek island of Limnos.  So in all likelihood, he was wounded in the sporadic fighting in the final days of the campaign and evacuated to a military hospital on the island.  Following the failed attempted landing at Suvla Bay in August, fighting on the peninsula reached a climax at Scimitar Hill on 21 August and after this also failed, British and Imperial Forces began to focus on how best to withdraw and evacuate the peninsula.  Conditions during the summer had been appalling because of heat, flies, and lack of sanitation. On 15 November there was a deluge of rain and again on 26/27 November a major rainstorm flooded trenches up to 4 feet deep. This was succeeded by a blizzard of snow and two nights of heavy frost. At Suvla, 220 men drowned or froze to death and there were 12,000 cases of frostbite or exposure. In surprising contrast to the campaign itself, the withdrawals from Gallipoli were well planned and executed, with many successful deceptions to prevent the Turks realising that withdrawals were taking place.  There were minimal losses, and many guns and other equipment were also taken off.  Nevertheless, many men would succumb to the effects of illness and exposure or, like William, die from their wounds.  He died on 29 December 1915, aged 22.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  30673

Date of Death:  29/12/1915

Age:  22

Regiment/Service:  Worcestershire Regiment, "C" Coy 4th Bn.

Grave Reference:  III. B. 296.


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