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James Brierley was born in the second quarter of 1878 in Heywood, Lancashire.  His father was Joseph Brierley (b. 1855 in Healey, Lancashire), a brewer and beer seller.  His mother was Margaret Fitton (b. 1856 in Birch, Lancashire).  Joseph and Margaret were married in Heywood in 1877 and James was born the following year.  Joseph and Margaret had another five children: Ada Alice (b. 1880), Levi (b. 1882), Herbert (b. 1885), Joseph (b. 1891) and finally Mary Hannah (b. 1894).  In 1901, James was working with his father in the brewing business, but Joseph died the following year.  In 1911, James was living at the Red Lion Hotel at Littleborough, where he was the barman.  His mother Margaret remarried in 1906; her second husband was James Hill (b. 1848 in Heywood).  James had six children from his previous marriage.  In 1911, Margaret and James were living with two of his children and one of hers at 25 Manchester Road, Heywood.


James Brierley was 36 when War broke out and he enlisted, probably in 1915, with the Border Regiment, with service number 24405.  He was judged fit to serve but not fit for front line service, so he was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment with a new service number, 39302.  He was posted to 19th (Labour) Battalion.  This Bn went to France in May 1916 and in April the following year it became 59th Labour Company of the Labour Corps.  Unfortunately, the Labour Corps did not keep War Diaries so it is not possible to know whereabouts James was serving.  The Labour Corps were responsible for the building and maintenance of  the huge network of roads, railways, canals, buildings, camps, stores, dumps, telegraph and telephone systems, and also for moving stores, on which the Army depended.  They were often deployed very close to the front line, but they were not armed and they were not expected to fight, nevertheless, they were often in range of enemy fire.  James died at no 12 Casualty Clearing Station on 18 June 1918, aged 40.  12CCS was at Longpré-les-Corps-Saints, on the Somme, north-west of Amiens.  James was originally buried at a small cemetery nearby at Rivière, but in October 1919 the burials in this cemetery were moved to the British Cemetery at Crouy-sur-Somme a few kilometres away.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  19L/39302

Date of Death:  18 June 1918

Age:  40

Regiment/Service:  Cheshire Regiment, 19Bn, transf. to (34881) 59th Coy. 
Labour Corps

Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. E. 24.


Additional Information:  Son of Joseph and Margaret Brierley, of Heywood, Lancs.


James’ younger brother Herbert also served in the Army.  He was 84943 Pvt. H. Brierley, R.G.A.  Herbert enlisted at Bury with the Royal Garrison Artillery on 9 December 1915.  He gives his occupation as upholsterer.  He was married in 1913 to Emily Griffiths (b. 1888 in Heywood).  He was mobilised on 23 May 1916 but he remained at home in training as a gunner and in reserve until he went to France on 8 January 1917.  He served there until 16 October 1917, when he returned home, suffering from gastritis.  He was in hospital for a month and he returned to France in January 1918 to serve out the War with 170 Siege Battery.   He was demobilised on 18 February 1919.  Herbert died in 1961.


James’ younger brother Joseph also served.  He was 24619 Pte. J. Brierley. R.F.A.  Joseph was a machine fitter by trade.  He signed up at Rochdale on 2 September 1914 with the Royal Field Artillery and he served with them as a driver and fitter throughout the War, initially with D Bty in 73Bde then on 8 June 1916 he transferred to D Bty in 72Bde. He was posted to France in September 1914, but in July 1915 he went with his brigade to Italy, where he served for 2 years, retuning to France in November 1917.  He was wounded with a gunshot wound to his right hand on 8 October 1918 but the wound was slight and he survived and was demobilised on 2 March 1919.  I don’t know when he died.

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