CPT. W. H. BRIERLEY. SHER.FOR.
Z/8160 ORD.SMN. J. J. H. BRIERLEY. R.N.V.R.
William Hunstone Brierley was born on 21 November 1896 in Tideswell, Derbyshire. His father was William Brierley (b. 1863 in Denton – between Manchester and Glossop). William was manager of a spar mine. (Calc-spar is a limestone deposit used for stucco and pebbledash and in common use from the late Victorian period up to the 1980s.) His mother was Mary Hunstone (b. 1865 in Tideswell). William and Mary were married at Tideswell in 1889 and they had three children: Adelaide (b. 1891), then William and finally John James Hubert (b. 1900).
William initially joined the Army as a Private, with service number 3571, and was posted to 6Bn Notts & Derby Reg. He was quickly promoted to Sergeant and then on 17 July 1915 from Sgt to 2nd Lt. 2/6Bn of the Sherwood Foresters had been sent to Ireland in April 1916 to deal with disturbances following the Eater Uprising but they came back to England in early February 1917 and landed in France on 25/26 February 1917. William was with them then and he was promoted to Adjutant and Acting Lt. on 1 April 1917. An Adjutant is an administrative officer who works for a senior officer. Some time after he was appointed Captain, but I have not yet found a record in the London Gazette. 2/6 Bn came under orders of 176th Brigade in the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division.
The Division fought in the Battle of Menin Road Ridge (23-25 September 1917) and then moved on to Polygon Wood (26-30 September). The Division attacked as part of the British force that made an assault early on 26 September. Using 177th and 178th Brigades in front, the Division captured all of its objectives and then held on against German counter attack. Divisional HQ had been established in a secure location by a canal but just in front of two 6-inch guns. Every time the guns fired the Divisional HQ dugouts were shaken, and equipment thrown to the ground. It was an anxious time for the Division until news came through that the Infantry Brigades had secured their objectives. Despite their success, the Brigades and HQ continued to endure heavy shelling. As Adjutant, William would have been at Divisional HQ and he was therefore probably killed in the shelling. He was still only 20 years of age. The Division suffered 2000 casualties while in the salient and was relieved on 29 September by the New Zealand Division.
Date of Death: 26/09/1917
Regiment/Service: Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), Adjt. 6th Bn.
Grave Reference: VII. E. 10.
Cemetery: NEW IRISH FARM CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William and Mary Brierley, of Beech House, Tideswell, Buxton, Derbyshire.
William’s brother was John James Hubert Brierley. John was born on 27 September 1900 (so William was killed the day before his brother’s 17th birthday). So John turned 18 and was old enough to enlist the following year. He was based at the Royal Naval Depot at Crystal Palace, Croydon, Surrey, when he died ‘from disease’ (presumably influenza) on 10 October 1918.
Rank: Ordinary Seaman
Service No: Bristol Z/8160
Date of Death: 10/10/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, R.N. Depot (Crystal Palace)
Grave Reference: Spec. Memorial.
Cemetery: TIDESWELL (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST) CHURCHYARD
Additional Information: William and Mary Brierley, of Beech House, Parke Road, Tideswell, Buxton.