62433 LCPL. J. W. BRIERLEY. MM. M.G.C.
We know from the announcement of the Military Medal award in the London Gazette (11 March 1919) that John W Brierley lived in Stalybridge. I have found a match in the 1911 Census with a John William Brierley who was born in Stalybridge on 30 April 1896. This seems a likely match. John’s father was Tom Brierley (b. 1869 in Stalybridge), a cotton lurryman (carter) in a cotton mill. His mother was Annie Eliza Ekin (b. 1879 in Misterton, Lincolnshire). Annie and Tom had three children: John, Mary Elizabeth (b. 1898) and Joseph (b. 1903). In 1911, the family lived at Heyrod Hall Cottage, Stalybridge, and John (aged 14) had started work as an iron planer in a foundry.
John was 18 when the War broke out so presumably enlisted then. He first joined the Manchester Regiment. He was assigned service number 2222 and posted to 2nd Battalion. He landed in France on 25 July 1915. 2Bn came under orders of 5th Division and in 1915 they took part in the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the capture of Hill 60, though much of the year was spent in reorganising army units to assimilate the volunteers and integrate them into the regular units.
Further reorganisation followed in 1916 and it may have been at this time that John was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps with service number 62433 and posted to 30th Company. 30Coy was attached to 10th (Irish) Division and was formed in May 1916 so that may be when the transfer was made. John was promoted to Lance Corporal. In 1916, 10th Division were in Salonika but in August 1917 they moved to Egypt and thereafter fought in the Palestine campaign. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the award of the Military Medal.
John was demobbed on 6 March 1919. In October that year he married Ellen McKenna (b. 1893 in Oldham) and the couple had three children: Hilda (b. 1922), James (b. 1924) and ANO. According to the 1939 electoral register, they lived at 142 Ridgehill Lane, Stalybridge and John was working as a cleaner in an electricity generating company. I don’t know what happened to the family after that.