88281 PTE. G. B. BRIERLEY. M.G.C.
George Bateman Brierley was born in the second quarter of 1883 in Hulme. His father was George Gregson Brierley (b. 1853 in Hulme), a commercial clerk in a cotton mill. His mother was Frances Augusta (Fanny) Bateman (b. 1855 in Bradford, Manchester). George G. and Fanny were married at Manchester Cathedral in 1876 and had 6 children: Frederick (b. 1877), Florence (b. 1878), Frances (b. 1880), then George, Mabel (b. 1887) and finally Ethel (b. 1893). The reason for the gap between Mabel and Ethel is that George G. was in prison. In 1881, George was working as a commercial clerk in a cotton mill. He, his wife and 3 children were living at 43 Tamworth Street, Stretford. They were sharing the house with Frederick Bateman (Fanny’s brother, who was also a commercial clerk) and also two of her younger step-siblings. Two more children came along but then in 1887, at the Assizes held in Manchester on 21 April, George was found guilty of forgery and embezzlement (defrauding his employer) and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment followed by 5 years’ penal servitude, which he served at Portland in Dorset. On his release he returned to his wife and family, now living at Cheetham on the other side of Manchester. George B. was only 5 when his father was sent to prison. In 1911, the family was living at 40 Petworth Street, Cheetham and George gives his occupation as ‘out of work commercial clerk’ (as also does his son Fred). George B. is a cotton fabrics salesman.
George attested that he was willing to serve on 15 February 1916. He was then in the reserve until he was called up on 28 December. He was assigned service number 88218 and posted to the Machine Gun Corps on 11 March 1917 and he landed in France on 6 May and posted to 76 Company in the field on 15 May 1917. 76MGC was part of 76th Brigade in 3rd Division. 76 Brigade had spent every day of the first two weeks of May 1917 in the trenches east of Monchy, near Arras, suffering many casualties. George joined them the day they were relieved. They then spent the rest of the month first at Duisans then at Ambrines, in rest and recuperation then more training. They continued this programme at Arras until they returned to the trenches at Monchy on 12 June. The War Diarist of 8 King’s Own Lancaster Regiment reports that they and 1Bn Gordon Highlanders and 2Bn Suffolks (all infantry battalions in 76 Brigade) launched a successful attack on 14 June, achieving their objectives with very light casualties. However, German aeroplanes were bombing the British lines and artillery exchanges were heavy on both sides. 76MGC were in support of the infantry attack. The attack began at 7.20am on 14 July. 76MGC War Diary explains what happened later that day: “At 5.0pm, No. 3 Section in PICK TRENCH moved by way of GRAPE TRENCH to HILL TRENCH in order to be in a more favourable position to get to HOOK TRENCH at dusk. In GRAPE TRENCH they were caught in an enemy barrage – 5 men killed, 1 NCO and 3 men wounded. One gun was blown, nevertheless the Section pushed on and took up (their target) positions.” One of the men killed was George Bateman Brierley. He had been in France just a month and this was his very first experience of battle. He was 34 years old.
Service No: 88218
Date of Death: 14/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 76th Coy.
Panel Reference: Bay 10.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
George’s cousin is 232 CQMS. T. BRIERLEY who died on 31 August 1915 in Egypt, having served at Gallipoli with his son.
George’s brother Fred enlisted on 11 December 1915 with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He is 39655 PTE. F. H. BRIERLEY. He served with 15Bn. He was close to his 39th birthday when he enlisted. He was mobilised on 6 April 1916 and demobilised on 15 May 1919. 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Salford Pals) came under orders of 96th Brigade in 32nd Division.
Just an observation, neither Fred nor any of George’s 4 sisters married.