BRIERLEYS IN WW1
50639 LCPL. A. BRIERLEY. M.G.C.(C)
Albert Brierley was born in 1890 in Birmingham. It has proved difficult to piece his family life together. From the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, we know that his mother was Sarah and his sister was Gertrude Cheshire. I have been unable to find the three of them together in a Census return. Gertrude Brierley (b. 1882 in Lady Wood, Birmingham) was married in 1907 to Alfred James Cheshire (b. 1858 in Aston, Birmingham), owner of a gold and silver jewellery manufacturer’s, and a wealthy man. She was 25 and he was 48. They had two children, Alfreda (b. 1908) and Alfred Edgar (b. 1910). I haven’t been able to trace any information about Sarah, or about Albert’s father.
In 1911, Albert was already in the Army and serving in India. He was a Private in the 1st (Royal) Dragoons with service number 3313. The Battalion was then stationed at Muttra (now Muthara), in Uttar Pradesh, but later in 1911 they moved to South Africa. They were at Potchefstroom in South Africa when the First World War started, and they returned to the UK and then landed at Oostende in October 1914 for service on the Western Front. Albert landed in Belgium on 18 October 1914. The Battalion came under orders of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division. It took part in the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914, the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, and the Battle of Loos in September 1915. The Division took part in no major engagements in 1916. In February 1916, the machine gun sections attached to the brigades of 3rdCavalry Division were reorganised: machine gun sections taken from 1st Dragoons, 3rd Dragoon Guards and North Somerset Yeomanry were merged to form 6 Squadron, Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) and on 27 June 1916, Albert was transferred to the new Squadron with a new service number: 50639. An MGC (Cavalry) Squadron, at full strength, consisted of 8 officers and 203 other ranks, equipped with 299 horses, 18 limbers, 1 GS wagon and 1 water cart. These were formed up into six two-gun sections each of a Subaltern, 33 men and 46 horses. The Squadron was commanded by a Captain or Major.
In April 1917, they saw action at Arras, in the First Battle of the Scarpe and the attack on Monchy Le Preux (9-12 April). In 1918, the Division was again engaged in the German Spring Offensive, from 21 March – 5 April. They then took part in the 100 Days’ Offensive, at Amiens on 8-11 August, then at Cambrai on 8-9 October. The map shows the position of the various British forces as they prepared to advance beyond Cambrai. 3rd Cavalry Division is part of Cavalry Corps in the 4th Army. Albert was killed on 9 October 1918, and is buried at Le Cateau. Albert was 28 years old. He had fought exactly 4 years on the Western Front and was killed just a month before the Armistice.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 50639
Date of Death: 09/10/1918
Regiment/Service: Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry), 6th Sqdn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: VI. D. 13.
Cemetery: HIGHLAND CEMETERY, LE CATEAU
Additional Information: Son of Mrs. S. Brierley, of 8 Belle Vue Terrace,
Edward Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham.