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William Brierley was born at Longwood near Huddersfield in 1892.  His father was Rowland Brierley (b. 1853 in Longwood), a woollen cloth weaver by trade.  His mother was Everelda Broome (b. 1855 in Linthwaite).  Rowland and Everelda were married in 1876 and had (at least) 7 children, 6 of whom survived infancy: Frances (b. 1876), Florence (b. 1881), Alice (b. 1882), Sarah (b. 1885), Thomas (b. 1887) and finally William.  Everelda died in 1895 and the following year Rowland remarried, his second wife being Eliza Ellis (b. 1856 in Huddersfield).  Rowland and Eliza then had two children but one died, the survivor being Charlotte (b. 1901).  In 1911 William was living with his parents and three siblings at Longwood Road, Huddersfield.  He was a cloth piecer.  Rowland died in 1915.


William enlisted in February 1909, aged 17, with the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), being assigned service number 394 and posted to 7th Battalion.  At the time he was out of work.  He was 5’ 6” tall and had a 34” chest.  He had his service extended and was still considered enlisted when the War broke out so he kept his original service number.  He was sent to France on 15 April 1915.  Throughout the remainder of the year he was in and out of field hospitals with various skin complaints but he was back fit for duty by January 1916.


7th Battalion was raised at Milnsbridge in 1914 as part of 2nd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. They were renumbered 1/7Bn and in 15 May 1915 the formation became 147th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.  This Division was engaged in 1915 in the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May, and in December in the defence against the first German phosgene attack. In 1916, on the Somme, they fought in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, the Battle of Pozières Ridge and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.  On the night of 2-3 September the Battalion was at Thiepval Wood and at 12.15am they had been ordered to prepare for an attack.  The attack began at 4.20am and German artillery began to reply at 5.20.  Shelling was heaviest between 6 and 7 in the morning but it continued until the afternoon.  Preparations were made for the attack but they were then countermanded.  William was killed on 3 September 1916 along with 24 other men from 1/7Bn.  He was 25 years old.


A wallet, photos, letters and a religious book were returned to his sister Alice.  His effects were distributed among his surviving siblings.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  394

Date of Death:  03/09/1916

Regiment/Service:  Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), 1st/7th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Pier and Face 6 A and 6 B.



His brother Thomas was also in the Army.  In Soldiers’ Effects, Tom is shown as 9546 PTE. T. BRIERLEY, in Northumberland Fusiliers, 2/4Bn.  But there are no medal records under these details.  However, William’s other war records show Tom as 27929 in Dragoon Guards, D Coy, 201(7?)Bn and serving in Ireland.

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