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John William Brierley was born in Oldham in January 1877 and baptised on 21 January.  His father was George Brierley (b. 1827 in Oldham), an engine tenter in a cotton mill.  His mother was Harriet Ellen Harrison (b. 1837 in Oldham).  George and Ellen were married in 1855 at St Mary’s, Oldham, and they had at least 7 children: Thomas (1856-59), Ann (b.1858), Thomas Henry (b. 1863), Sarah (b. 1866), Harriet (b. 1869), George (b. 1871), and finally John William.  Ellen died in 1896 and George two years later.


John William was a spindle maker.  On 27 August 1898, he married Nellie Dawson at All Saints, Northmoor, Oldham.  They had five children, three of whom survived infancy: Mary (b. 1901), Roger (b. 1902) and Clara (b. 1904).  In 1911, the family was living at 107 Burnley Lane, Chadderton.


Early in the War, John enlisted at Oldham with the Manchester Regiment and was assigned service number 3262 and posted to 1/10th Battalion.  1/10Bn were raised in Oldham in August 1914 and formed part of the East Lancashire Brigade in the East Lancashire Division, later designated 126th Brigade in 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.  The Division landed at Gallipoli on 10 May 1915, but John did not join them until 23 October.  The Division was involved in three notable attempts to break out of the Helles bridgehead to capture the dominating heights around the village of Krithia. These attacks took place on 6-8 May (in which only the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade of the Division took part), 4 June and 6-13 August.  The Division suffered severe losses through out the campaign, and by August, through battle casualties and sickness, the 42nd Division was reduced to one third of its normal establishment.  John was therefore among the reinforcements sent out in the Autumn, but by the time he arrived much of the fighting was over and a decision would soon be made to evacuate the troops and abandon the campaign.  The winter conditions were appalling and sniper fire and shelling continued intermittently.  Records state that John was killed in action on 9 December 1915.  He was 38 years old (CWGC incorrectly states 39).  He was the only man from his Battalion killed that day.


After the War Nellie remarried.  On 13 June 1919, she married Albert Brooks (b. 1854 in Oldham).


Rank:  Private

Service No:  23262

Date of Death:  09/12/1915

Age:  39

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 1st/10th Bn.

Grave Reference:  Sp. Mem. 126.


Additional Information:  Son of George and Harriet Ellen Brierley, of Oldham; husband of Nellie Brierley, of 107 Burnley Lane, Chadderton, Oldham


John William had a nephew, also called John William, oldest son of George Brierley, born in 1896 in Oldham.  This nephew also served in 10 Bn.  He originally enlisted on 9 May 1912 at the age of 15.  He was assigned service number 1370.  He served throughout the Gallipoli campaign and in 1917 was sent to the Western Front.  There he received a gunshot wound to his right thigh and was invalided out of the Army.  However, in 1919, he reenlisted with the same Regiment (this time 2nd Battalion) and served another year.  He was given a new service number, 89349.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal and finally demobilised in 1920.

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