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Robert Brierley was born in the first quarter of 1900.  His father was Robert Watkin Brierley (b. 1862 in Great Broughton, Cheshire), a general labourer in a gas works.  His mother was Margaret Jane Cowley (b. 1867 in Liverpool).  Robert and Margaret were married in 1892 and they had four children, though 2 died.  Their other surviving child was George Alfred (b. 1894).  In 1911, the family was living at 8 St John Street, Chester.  Robert was still at school.


Robert was obviously under age when he enlisted.  He signed up with the South Wales Borderers and was initially assigned service number 65627 and posted to the Training Reserve.  He was later assigned service number 42657 and posted to 2Bn, probably in late 1916 or early 1917.  2Bn came under orders of 87th Brigade in 29th Division.  They had fought at Gallipoli and on the Somme (29th Division was one of the divisions which featured in the 1916 film of the Battle of the Somme).  In 1917, they fought at the Battle of Arras in the Spring and my guess is that Robert was sent among the reinforcements during the Summer.  If so, he would have fought with the Division during the Third Battle of Ypres, at Langemark, Broodseinde and Poelcapelle, and in November at the Battle of Cambrai.


In 1918, the Division was engaged during the second phase of the German Spring Offensive – Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys.  They fought at Estaires, Messines, Hazebrouk and Bailleul.  The Division was then part of the 100 Days’ Offensive, launched on 8 August.  On 18 August they took part in the attack on Outersteen Ridge and then in the capture of Ploegsteert and Hill 63.  Here, in four days at the start of September, the British captured 16,000 prisoners and 100 guns.  


After a brief rest, the final push began again, at the Fifth Battle of Ypres (28 September – 1 October), concluding with the Battle of Courtrai (14-22 October).  It was in this advance from Ypres towards Courtrai that Robert Brierley was killed, on 15 October 1918, aged just 18.  In this action (13-16 October), 2Bn had 28 men killed.


Rank:  Private

Service Number:  42657

Date of Death:  15/10/1918

Age:  18

Regiment/Service:  South Wales Borderers, 2nd Bn.

Cemetery/memorial reference: I. B. 23.


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