40901 BSM W. T. BRIERLEY. DCM. R.F.A.

 

William Thomas Brierley was born in January 1892 at Plumstead and baptised at Woolwich on 24 January.  His father was also William Thomas Brierley (b. 1859 in Prestwich, Manchester), a general labourer in the Royal Woolwich Arsenal.  William snr had obviously moved to Woolwich by 1886 as that is when he married Amy Lavinia Griffiths (b. 1867 in Greenwich).  The couple had four children: Amy (b. 1890), then William, then Jessie (b. 1894) and finally Clifford (b. 1896).  In 1911, William and Amy were living at 131 Ann Street, Plumstead, with their son Clifford.  By this time, however, William jnr had joined the Army and was living at Hilsea barracks in Portsmouth.  He was serving with 5th Battery, Royal Field Artillery and training as a gunner.

 

By the time War broke out, William had been promoted to Bombardier and he landed in France with “C” Battery of 29th Brigade on 23 August 1914.  29th Brigade came under command of 4th Division.

 

At some point, William was promoted to Battery Sergeant Major, and was transferred to “C” Battery of 91st Brigade.  This battery was formed as part of a reorganisation of artillery brigades in February 1915.  91st Bde formed part of the Divisional Artillery under orders of 20th (Light) Division. 

 

Information from The Long, Long Trail: 

The Division served on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, taking part in many of the significant actions:

 

1916
The Battle of Mount Sorrel, a local operation in which the Division recaptured the height with the Canadians
The Battle of Delville Wood*
The Battle of Guillemont*
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*
The Battle of Morval*
The Battle of Le Transloy*
The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

 

1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
The Battle of Langemarck**
The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge**
The Battle of Polygon Wood**
The battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres
The Cambrai Operations

 

1918
The Battle of St Quentin+
The actions at the Somme crossings+
The Battle of Rosières+
The battles marked + are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918

 

The Division was withdrawn after the heavy fighting of the Somme battles, moving on 20 April 1918 to an area south west of Amiens. During the summer months it received many new drafts of men.

 

The Battle of the Selle^^
The Battle of Valenciennes^^
The Battle of the Sambre^^ and the passage of the Grand Honelle
The battles marked ^^ are phases of the Final Advance in Picardy

 

The Division was in the area between Bavay and Maubeuge when the Armistice came into effect at 11am on 11 November. Late in the month the units moved to the Toutencourt-Marieux area.  Demobilisation began on 7 January 1919 and the final cadres crossed to England on 28 May.

 

In all the 20th (Light) Division had suffered the loss of 35470 killed, wounded and missing.

 

It was during the Final Advance in Picardy that William was recommended for the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which was announced in the London Gazette on 21 October 1918.

 

 

I don’t know what happened to William after the War.

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