308196 PTE. W. H. BRIERLEY. K.L.R.
William Harold Brierley was born in the second quarter of 1889 in Burnley. His father was William Brierley (b. 1852 in Worsthorne) a painter and paperhanger. His mother was Mary Ann Barker (b. 1854 in Worsthorne). William and Mary Ann were married in 1873 and had 8 children, 6 of whom survived infancy: Benjamin (b. 1874), Wilfred (b. 1877), Margaret (b. 1879), Ernest (b. 1883), Elizabeth (b. 1887) and finally William Harold. In 1911, William Harold and Elizabeth were still living with their parents at 102 Padiham Road, Burnley and William Harold was working as a butcher.
In July 1914, just before the outbreak of War, William was married to Edith Harriet Robinson (b. 1890 in Habergham Eaves, near Burnley). It doesn’t appear that the couple had any children. Given his occupation as a butcher and his recent marriage it would not have been unreasonable for William to delay enlisting and he may have been conscripted in 1916. When he did enlist he was assigned service number 308196 and posted to 1/8 Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). 1/8th (Irish) Battalion had been in France since May 1915 and in January 1916 it came under orders of 165th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Division was engaged on The Somme in 1916, at Guillemont (4-6 September), Ginchy (9 September), Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). In October 1916 they received orders to move to the Ypres Salient where they remained throughout the following year.
The first half of 1917 was spent in the salient, which had a comparatively quiet time, if being surrounded by enemy on three sides and under constant artillery fire could be described as quiet. In May 1917, the Battalion was in training at Éperleques in France, but on 7 May they moved to a new camp near Poperinge, west of Ypres. They continued their training here and at Brandhoek until 15 May when they went into the trenches at St-Jean-Wieltje, north-east of Ypres. They were in the trenches for 5 days, then withdrawn to reserve. They continued training in Ypres and returned to the trenches at Wieltje on 26 May, relieving 2/5 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers. During this stretch in the trenches they were mainly engaged in digging a new jumping off trench behind the front line. On 30 May the War Diary reports “Enemy artillery replying more actively to our bombardment. Casualties: 2 other ranks killed, 3 wounded”. William Harold Brierley was one of the men killed. He was 28 years old.
His wife Edith did not re-marry after the War. She died in Burnley in 1947.
Service No: 308196
Date of Death: 30/05/1917
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 1st/8th Bn.
Grave Reference: VII. C. 24.
Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE MILITARY CEMETERY
William Harold Brierley is a first cousin of 13076 PTE. B. BRIERLEY. E.LANCS.R. who was killed on the Somme just a month earlier on 26 April 1917.