BRIERLEYS IN WW1
3193 PTE A. BROWN. K.O.R.L.R. (alias Harold Brierley)
I am grateful to Janet Davis for her detective work in discovering the alias under which Harold enlisted.
Harold Brierley was born first quarter of 1900 and baptised at Preston St Paul’s on 25 March 1900. His father was Samuel Brierley (b. 1870 in Preston), a cellar man by trade, having previously worked at the Railway Hotel on Butler Street. His mother was Jane Ellen Williams (b. 1870 in Dawley Salop, Shropshire). Samuel and Jane Ellen were married in Preston in 1893 and had 10 children, sadly 6 of whom died in infancy, leaving Harold and his three sisters, Alice (b. 1897), Daisy Doris (b. 1898), and Ellen (b. 1902). According to the standards of the time, daughters are not worth mentioning in newspaper articles…
In 1915, Harold was working as a grocer’s assistant, to a Mr Brewer on Friargate. He was living with his parents at 63 (not 64, as the article states) Ribblebank Street, Preston. On 17 March 1915, Harold tried to enlist with the Royal Field Artillery and was given service number 3449. He claimed to be 19 years and 1 month old. He was 5’ 4” tall and had a 34” chest. However, he must have been ‘rumbled’ as 4 days later, at Lytham, he was discharged. Undaunted, and clearly a very resourceful and persistent lad, a couple of weeks later he turned to the King’s (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and enlisted with them, using the alias Albert Brown. He was posted to 1/4Bn with service number 3193 and later attached to 164 Machine Gun Company.
1/4Bn KRLR was originally part of 154th Brigade in 51st (Highland) Division, but in January 1916 it was transferred to 164th Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. 164th Machine Gun Company was formed on 19 February 1916, so that is probably when Harold (alias Albert) was transferred from the infantry. During 1916, the Brigade was engaged in a number of raids on German lines and subject to the usual shelling (and appalling conditions) but had not taken part in any major battles, indeed they only transferred to the Somme area on 25 July 1916 and would take part later in the continuing attempts to capture Guillemont. Harold died in a bathing accident when he was swimming in the River Somme on 30 July 1916. He was still only 16. The precise circumstances of his death are not known but it proved impossible to recover his body for burial, so he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, under his assumed name.
Rank: Private (Albert Brown)
Service No: 3193
Date of Death: 30/07/1916
Regiment/Service: King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), 1st/4th Bn. attd. 164th Coy. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 5 D and 12 B.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL