76452 PTE. J. H. V. BRIERLEY. SHER.FOR.
John Harold Vernon Brierley was born in the third quarter of 1887 in Hulme. His father was John Stamp Brierley (b. 1851 in Liverpool), a warehouseman. Although born in Liverpool, his family moved to Manchester shortly afterwards. Here he met his future wife, Janet Kate (Jeanette) Clark (b. 1858 in Manchester). She and John were married in Hulme in 1881 and they had 9 children: Walter (b. 1882), Amy (b. 1884), Harry (b. 1885), then John, Florence (b. 1889), Alfred (b. 1890), Arthur (b. 1894), Frank (b. 1898) and finally Dorothy (b. 1901).
John jnr was quite ill in his infancy, as the 1891 Census finds him (aged 4) as a patient in the Monsall Fever Hospital. I don’t know the precise nature of his condition but he obviously recovered. In 1901, the family was living at 20 Marple Street, Hulme. John snr is a warehouseman in the docks, as is his son Walter. John jnr is 13 and not yet working but he will soon join his father and brother on the docks. Unfortunately, I have not found the family in the 1911 Census, but from John’s Service Records we know that the family had moved by 1915 to 23 Warwick Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Initially John enlisted on 16 November 1915 with the Lancashire Fusiliers, with service number 35327 but when he was mobilised on 18 July 1916 he was assigned a new service number, 76452, and posted to the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment), 16th Battalion. 16th (Service) Battalion (Chatsworth Rifles) came under orders of 117th Brigade in 39th Division. John joined his Battalion as a rifleman in July 1916 and the Division was engaged in the closing phases of the Battle of the Somme.
Early May 1917 finds the Battalion at rest and then in training at Brandhoek, near Ypres. In the middle of the month they are occupied digging new trenches and on the 23rd they go into the trenches. Their snipers are active and they receive some shelling. On 28th the Germans carried out a raid on the Battalion’s lines, which is repelled. They were relieved on 30 May. For the first week of June, the Battalion was either at rest or supplying working parties to assist the Canadian tunnellers. On 8 June they went back into the line and opened up a bombardment of the German front line. The Germans retaliated and the Bn had 4 men killed and 5 wounded. The Bn remained in the trenches until relieved on 15 June. They return to the trenches on 24 June and the shelling continues. Very unusually (almost uniquely) this Battalion War Diarist records the names of all men killed or wounded each day. The entry for 29 June records: “The enemy heavily shelled HILL TOP with 5.9” shells. Battalion Headquarters also received attention with shells of similar calibre. The Lewis Gun Teams were relieved by the teams of the 1/1 Cambridgshire Regt.” There then follows a list of the 7 men wounded that day, including the name of 76452 Pte. Brierley. J. H. John died of his wounds the following day, aged 29, at a casualty clearing station close to Lijssenthoek, where he is buried.
Service No: 76452
Date of Death: 30/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), 16th Bn.
Grave Reference: XIV. C. 13A.
Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY
John’s younger brother Arthur also enlisted. He attested on 27 November 1914, was assigned service number 22109 and posted initially to 23Bn Manchester Regiment and then on 12 August 1915, transferred to 24Bn (Pioneers). However, he succumbed to some illness or other and on 8 Jan 1916 he was discharged under King’s Regulations as no longer medically fit to serve.