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Harry Brierley was born in the first quarter of 1890 in Blackley, near Manchester.  His father was Joseph Brierley (b. 1865 in Oldham) a silk finisher by trade.  His mother was Martha Cooke (b. 1867 in Blackley).  Joe and Martha were married in 1884 and they had 9 children, 8 of whom survived infancy: Edith (b. 1886), Ethel (b. 1887), then Harry, Richard (b. 1893) John (b. 1896), Alice (b. 1900), Robert (b. 1905) and finally Kathleen (b. 1907).  In 1901, the family was living at Crab Lane, Blackley and Joe was working as a coal carter.   In 1911, the family were still in Blackley and Joe was working now as a tinman in a dyers.


Harry had married Emma George (b. 1890 in Harpurhey) in 1910 and in 1911 they were living at 110 Worsley Road, Winton; Harry was an overlooker in a twine factory.  Later that year they had a daughter, Ethel.  Harry’s attestation record has survived though it is badly damaged, however it tells us that he enlisted on 17 February 1915 and was assigned service number 9389 and posted to 17 Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (B Company).  At the time, he was living at 90 Worsley Road and he gives his occupation as electrical engineer.  He was 5’ 5½” tall, weighed 118lbs and had a 36” chest.  He joined the British Expeditionary Force in France on 8 November 1915.


17th (Service) Battalion (2nd City Pals) was formed in Manchester on 28 August 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City. Initially established at Heaton Park they moved in April 1915 to Belton Park, where they were placed under command of 90th Brigade in 30th Division. 30th Division’s first action was at the Battle of the Somme and Harry was killed on the first day of the battle in the attack on Montauban.  An account of the 17th Manchesters that day can be found here.  


On 1-2 July, the Manchester Regiments as a whole had 755 officers and men killed.  17th Battalion alone lost 124 officers and men, among whom was Harry Brierley.  He was 26 years old.


In 1917, Emma received a pension for herself and her daughter of 15/- per week, and as Harry’s death could not be confirmed, in the letter to her (dated 19 March 1917) ‘widow’ is crossed out and replaced by ‘wife’.  Emma then forwarded a letter from Major MacDonald which relates that Harry was hit by a shell and killed instantaneously, and she asks that his death can be confirmed.  In 1917, Emma moved to North Drive, St Annes-on-Sea and in 1920 she re-married, to Henry Rowland Stringer (b. 1894 in Runcorn who had served with the RFA).


Rank:  Private

Service No:  9389

Date of Death:  01/07/1916

Age:  26

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 17th Bn.

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


Additional Information:  Son of Joseph and Martha Brierley, of 2 Little Lane, Blackley, Manchester; husband of Emma Stringer (formerly Brierley), of 32 Nelson Drive, Cadishead, Manchester.

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