59689 PTE. J. BRIERLEY. MGC.
Jesse Brierley was born in the third quarter of 1892 in Failsworth. His father was John Brierley (b. 1867 in Oldham), a head mule overlooker in a cotton spinning shed. (A mule is a type of spinning machine.) His mother was Sarah Ann Woods (b. 1868 in Manchester). John and Sarah Ann were married in 1887 and they had 6 children, all of whom survived infancy: Harold (b. 1888), Thomas Edgar (b. 1890), then Jesse, Frank (b. 1894), Doris (b. 1899) and finally Edith (b. 1908). In 1911, the family were living at 406 Oldham Road, Failsworth. Jesse worked as a mule piecer.
Jesse enlisted originally with the Royal Field Artillery, with service number 142286, but was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, with service number 59689. He was posted to 67thCompany. 67th Machine Gun Company embarked at Devonport for Salonika on 5 July 1916 and joined 22nd Division on 14 July 1916. However, Jesse was not with them at this time, as on 19 August 1916, he was married to Alice Taylor (b. 1895 in Newton Heath). His Division was in action at the Battle of Horseshoe Hill (August 1916) and the Battle of Machukovo (September 1916). Jesse may have joined the Coy with reinforcements after these engagements. In 1917 they were in action during the Battles of Doiran (24-25 April and 8-9 May). These battles were an attempt by the British to break through the Bulgarian defences but they ended in failure at an enormous cost of life: more than 12,000 British soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. In the following months, apart from occasional skirmishes, the front was relatively quiet, both sides using the time to strengthen and consolidate their positions. The conditions were appalling and many men succumbed to illness and disease.
It’s not clear what were the circumstances of Jesse’s death. UK Soldiers Died in the Great War simply states that he ‘died’. The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects says he was at 31 Casualty Clearing Station and he is buried at Sarigol Military Cemetery. 31 CCS was actually a few miles from Sarigol and casualties from this CCS were originally buried at Janes Military Cemetery. The cemetery at Janes was on low ground, and under the normal conditions of this region it was found difficult to approach and almost impossible to maintain in good order so the graves there were moved to Sarigol in 1921.
Jesse died on 17 November 1917. He was 25 years old.
Service No: 59689
Date of Death: 17/11/1917
Regiment/Service: Machine Gun Corps, 67th Coy.
Grave Reference: D. 567.
Cemetery: SARIGOL MILITARY CEMETERY, KRISTON
Additional Information: Husband of Alice Brierley, of 15 Gregory Street, Newton Heath, Manchester.
It's possible that Jesse's brother Frank was 15248 CPL. F. BRIERLEY. MM. M.G.C.