top of page



Frank Brierley was born in the first quarter of 1882 in Oldham.  His father was Alfred Brierley (b. 1849 in Oldham), a steam engine fitter/driver in a cotton mill.  His mother was Susannah Bowker (b. 1853 in Halifax).  Alfred and Susannah were married in 1872 and they had 9 children: Annie (b. 1874), Emma (b. 1876), Henry (b. 1878), Joseph (b. 1880), then Frank, Edward (b. 1885), Florence (b. 1887), Ada (b. 1889) and finally Ellen (b. 1892).  Alfred died in 1894; life must have been hard for Susannah, bringing up 9 children.  As the children grew older they all went to work in the cotton mill.  In 1901, Frank was working as a cotton piecer – a piecer mends cotton threads when they break during the spinning process.  In December 1907, Frank married Jane Buckley (b. 1882 in Oldham).  In 1911, they were living at 64 Greenwood Street, Oldham.  Frank was a self-actor minder in a cotton mill i.e. he operated a self-acting spinning mule.  Jane was also working, as a cotton slubber tenter.   (A slub is a bit sticking up from the surface of woven cloth; a slubber is a machine that removes said slubs; a tenter is a person who minds (tends) the machine).  They had no children.


Frank probably enlisted in 1915.  He joined the Manchester Regiment, was assigned service number 75202 and posted to 1/6th Battalion.  1/6Bn came under orders of 127th Brigade in 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.  They fought at Gallipoli in 1915, although Frank had not joined them by then.  They moved to the Western Front in March 1917, so that is probably when Frank joined them.


42nd Division were largely on the periphery of the main actions of 1917, but in 1918 they fought in the German Spring Offensive, during the first phase (Operation Michael) at Bapaume (24-25 March), Arras, and the Ancre (5 April).  Then when the Allied offensive began in August, they fought through several phases of the Second Battle of the Somme (21 August – 3 September).  At Albert (21-23 August) significant advances were made very quickly.  The map below shows the advance north of Péronne.  They fought at the Second Battle of Bapaume (31 August – 3 September).  They then engaged in the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September – 1 October).


The construction of the Canal du Nord had been begun in 1913 and suspended when War broke out and work was left in various stages of completion.  As the Germans retreated back behind the canal they deliberately dammed and flooded the whole area, making it virtually impassable.  Canadian combat engineers managed to build bridges across the Canal and the attack on the morning of 27 September took the Germans completely by surprise.  Once the crossing had been secured the path to Cambrai was now open.


Frank was killed on 27 September, aged 36.  1/6Bn had 33 Other Ranks killed in the advance.  The War Diary for the Bn also reports 6 officers and 131 other ranks wounded.


Rank: Private

Service Number: 75202

Date of Death:  27/09/1918

Aged: 36

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 1st/6th Bn. 

Cemetery/memorial reference: II. E. 1.

Additional Information:  Husband of Jane Brierley, of

64 Greenwood Street, Oldham.

canal du nord 1918.png
bottom of page