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William Brierley proved difficult to trace as his military records are very thin, however we know that he enlisted at South Kirkby (West Yorkshire) in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, on 28 October 1914.  He was assigned service number 3359 in 5th Battalion (more correctly 1/5Bn).  He was a miner and according to UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects he was married to May Clara and they had children.  Working from this information (in particular after finding records of his marriage) it has been possible to garner a little more information.


His full name was William Searle Brierley.  The middle name was common in his family and is not always used in Census records.  He was born in the first quarter of 1883 in West Bromwich.  His father was Henry Searle Brierley (b. 1851 in Birmingham), an engine fitter.  His mother was Sarah Loach (b. 1849 in West Bromwich).  Henry and Sarah were married in West Bromwich in 1870 and they had 11 children: Eleanor (b. 1872), Alice (b. 1874), Arthur (b. 1875), John (b. 1877), Henry (b. 1879), Rose (b. 1881), then William, Martha (b. 1885), Samuel (b. 1887), Albert (b. 1891) and Ernest (b. 1894).  In 1901, most of the Brierleys were living in West Bromwich but William is not with them.  There is, however, a William Brierley, born in Staffordshire, listed as being in a military hospital in Alverstoke in Hampshire, and serving with the King’s Royal Rifles.  This may be our man.


In 1902, there is a record for a William Searle Brierley marrying May Clara T Bushell in West Bromwich.  May was born in 1884 in West Bromwich.  I haven’t yet found a 1911 Census record for the family so I don’t know how many children they had.  But we know from the military records that they moved to Yorkshire where William worked as a miner.  William died at Moorthorpe on 10 November 1914 (CWGC incorrectly states 11th).  His death certificate states that he died from ‘asphyxia consequent on a retro-pharyngeal tubercular abscess’.   He had probably been suffering from this condition for some time before enlisting.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  3359

Date of Death:  10/11/1914

Regiment/Service:  King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 5th Bn.

Grave Reference:  D. "C". 221.


Additional Information:  Husband of May Clara Brierley, of 24 Second Avenue, Upton, Pontefract.

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