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John Bradbury Brierley was born in the third quarter of 1885 in Saddleworth, West Yorkshire.  His parents were Thomas Brierley (b. 1853) and Sarah Ann Bradbury (b. 1857, both parents born in Saddleworth).  John was given his mother’s maiden name as a middle name but seems not to have used it and it does not appear in his military records.  John and Sarah Ann were married in Saddleworth in 1878 and had 7 children, five of whom survived: Elsie (b. 1879), Eveline (b. 1881), William Shaw (b. 1883), John, and Joseph Henry (known in the family as Harry, b. 1889).  Tom was a plate-layer, later foreman, and in 1911, he and his wife, with Elsie, William and Harry, were living at Frenches, Greenfield, between Oldham and Saddleworth.  John had started work in the mill but had left to become a policeman and by 1911 he was lodging with Alfred and Florence Higgs at 9 Howard Avenue, Ardwick, Manchester.


On 25 July 1914 he married Annie Maguire at Ancoats, St. Jude.  Annie was born in 1890, though their marriage record shows neither her place of birth nor her father’s name.


Given his service number (9246) and his rise through the ranks (to Corporal and then Lance Sergeant), it is clear that John enlisted with 17th (Service) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment at the outbreak of War.  This was the 2nd City Pals’ Brigade about which more information can be found here.  The Battalion was posted to France in November 1915, but John’s Medal Record Index Card doesn’t give a date or indicate he was awarded the 1915 Star so he may have been posted a little later, but he joined the action soon after and was engaged in the opening days of the Battle of the Somme, which is where he lost his life at Trônes Wood on 10 July 1916.  A more detailed account appeared later in a local newspaper:


Mrs Annie Brierley of 39 Clayton Street, Bradford, Manchester has received news that her husband, L/Sgt 9246 John Brierley has been killed at Trônes Wood. His sister, Miss Brierley, of 6 Woodward Street, Ancoats, received postcards from two of his comrades on 22 November, stating that Sgt Brierley was hit in the head by shrapnel.  Pte 8797 Pearson said that he and Pte 9343 Gaskell dressed his wound, and all the time Sgt Brierley shouted encouragement to his men. After having his wound dressed, Sgt Brierley carried on towards Trônes Wood. Pte 8230 Alexander Mackie told us that Sgt Brierley was next to him when he was shot through the head and died instantly. Pte Mackie was later killed, on 11th October. Sgt Brierley was a policeman in the Manchester force. He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Brierley.  Source


John was 30 when he died, and his body was never recovered.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  His effects of £5 7s 2d and a War Gratuity of £7 were forwarded to his widow Annie. They had no children.  In 1925, Annie re-married, to William Slee.


Rank:  Lance Serjeant

Service No:  9246

Date of Death:  10/07/1916

Age:  30 (CWGC gives age as 32)

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, "E" Coy. 17th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Pier and Face 13 A and 14 C.


Additional Information:  Son of Sarah Ann Brierley, of 2 Wellington Terrace, Greenfield, Oldham, and the late Thomas Brierley; husband of Annie Slee (formerly Brierley), of 107 Vine Street, Gorton, Manchester.


John’s brothers both enlisted.  William Shaw Brierley joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and was given service number 88957.  He married Hannah Prince Hadfield (b. 1884 in Ashbourne, Derbyshire) in 1915 and they had a daughter, Elsie.  William returned from the War and died in 1948.


Joseph Henry was a pork butcher by trade and married Edith Gartside in 1914 and they had two children, Mary b. 1914 and Annie b. 1916.  He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1915 and was given service number 205026 and was posted to 29 Battery.  His medical records show that he contracted syphilis (in Oldham) and was admitted to Military Hospital, Portobello Barracks, Dublin on 16 March 1917 and after treatment certified as Medical Category B1/B2 (fit for Garrison or Labour Service Abroad) in August 1917. He spent a total of 97 days in hospital.  I have found no medal records or Silver Badge records for Joseph.  He returned to Saddleworth where he died in 1963.

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