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James Roger Ingham Brierley was born on 13 April 1896 in Bury.  His father was Walter Brierley (b. 1858 in Bury), an auctioneer by profession.  His mother was Elizabeth Ellen Holt (b. 1861 in Bury).  Walter and Elizabeth were married in 1887 and they had five children: Marian (b. 1888), Walter (b. 1890), Thomas (b. 1891), then James and finally Geoffrey (b. 1909).  The family moved to Manchester in 1910 and in 1911 they were living at 28 Hermitage Road, Crumpsall.  James was still at school – he attended Bury Grammar School.


James enlisted in the Royal Navy on 5 December 1914, at the age of 18.  He was appointed temporary midshipman – midshipman being a rank indicating officer potential.  He was appointed sub-lieutenant on 14 February 1917.  He served aboard HM Submarine J6.  The following information is taken largely from Wikipedia.


HMS J6 was a First World War J-class submarine built for the Royal Navy by HM Dockyard at Devonport in Plymouth.  J6 was launched on 9 September 1915 and commissioned on 25 January 1916.  She and the other Js were members of the 11th Submarine Flotilla.  She served in the North Sea chiefly in operations against German destroyers and U-boats. The closest she got to sinking the enemy was firing a torpedo at U-61, but it missed its target. In April 1918, the Commander of J6, Warburton, spotted the German High Seas Fleet which had put to sea in an attempt to hunt down an Allied convoy. Warburton did not identify the fleet as German and did not report his sighting to the Admiralty, had he done so it is possible that another full scale naval battle may have occurred

hmsm j6.png

HM S/M "J6"

On 15 October 1918 J6 was on patrol off the Northumberland coast when she was spotted by the Q-ship Cymric.  (Q-ships were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them.)The captain of the Cymric Lieutenant F Peterson RNR mistook the identity lettering on the conning tower of J6 for U6. Assuming U6 to indicate a German U-boat, Peterson raised the White ensign and opened fire on J6.  After a number of direct hits, J6 sank. It was only after the survivors were seen in the water that Peterson and the crew of Cymric realised their mistake and recovered the survivors. Of the crew of J6 (5 officers and 40 seamen) 15 were lost; a subsequent court of enquiry found that no action should be taken against Peterson.

James Brierley was among the dead. He was 22 years old.  His body was not recovered.  Divers discovered the wreck of the submarine off Seahouses in 2011.


Rank:  Sub-Lieutenant

Date of Death:  15/10/1918

Age:  22

Regiment/Service:  Royal Navy.  H.M. S/M. “J6”

Cemetery/Memorial Reference:  28


Additional Information:  Son of Walter and Elizabeth E. Brierley, of 7 Station Road, Merton Park, London. Native of Bury.

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