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Charles George Brierley was born in the first quarter of 1885 at Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire.  His father was Henry Brierley (b. 1850 in Titchmarsh), a tailor by trade.  His mother was Catherine Bishop (b. 1851 in Titchmarsh).  Henry and Catherine were married in 1879.  They had 6 children, their daughter Eleanor Susanna (b. 1880) died in infancy, the rest were boys: William Bishop (b. 1882), Henry Richards (b. 1883), then Charles, Thomas Philip (b. 1886) and finally John Jacob (b. 1888).  Henry died in 1900.  In 1911, Catherine was living at 39 Whitworth Road, Northampton, with the four youngest boys, though they were all now in their 20s.  Henry (jnr) and Thomas were working in the boot and shoe factory, John was a tailor like his father, but Charles was a monumental stone mason.


Charles was already in the army when War broke out.  He had been assigned service number 7509 and was initially posted to 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment but was later transferred to 2nd Battalion.  Charles landed at Le Havre with 1st Bn on 13 August 1914.  1st Bn was under the command of 2nd Brigade in 1st Division.  1st Division were immediately involved in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, including the Rearguard Affair of Étreux (August), the Battle of the Marne (September), the Battle of the Aisne including participation in the Actions on the Aisne heights and the Action of Chivy (September) and the First Battle of Ypres (October-November). It seems likely that Charles was transferred to 2nd Battalion during the winter.  2Bn came under command of 24th Brigade in 8th Division.  This Division was engaged in the Battle of Neuve Chappelle (10-13 March 1915) and it was here on the opening day of the battle that Charles died.  In early March, 23rd, 24th and 25th Brigades were all involved in building and extending trenches in the area of La Bassée and in reconnoitring the enemy trenches, which in some cases were no more than 250 yards away.  The War Diary says they were averaging about 8 men killed or wounded each night.  At 5am on the morning of 10 March, the Bn was ordered to attack and they advanced over 1000 yards, digging in some 400 yards beyond the village of Neuve Chappelle.  CWGC records one officer, one corporal and 6 other ranks were killed in the action on 10 March, including Charles Brierley, who was 30 years old.  For the period of the battle, from 10-13 March, the War Diary records 10 officers killed, 7 wounded and one missing; and among rank and file, 102 killed, 203 wounded and 109 missing.  The German counter-attack on 12 March proved a costly failure but the British were unable to press forward, partly due to a shortage of artillery ammunition so the position was consolidated and both sides dug in again.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  7509

Date of Death:  10/03/1915

Age:  30

Regiment/Service:  Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 28 to 30.


Additional Information:  Son of Mrs. Catherine Brierley, of 39 Whitworth Road, Northampton.


Charles’ brother Philip enlisted on 11 December 1915.  He had previously served 4 years with the Northamptonshire Territorials.  He was assigned service number 88192 and posted to Machine Gun Corps.  He was called up a year later and posted to France in May 1917.  He was later promoted to Lance Corporal and was discharged in 1919.

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