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Thomas Brierley was born in January 1894 at Astley Bridge in Bolton, and baptised at St Paul’s on 14 January. His father was Thomas Brierley (b. 1856 in Bolton), a cotton spinner. His mother was Jane Moore (b. 1856 in Manchester). Thomas and Jane were married in Astley Bridge in 1879, and they had 7 children, of whom Thomas was the youngest. His older siblings were: Joseph (b. 1879), John (b. 1881), Margaret (b. 1883), Harold (b. 1887), Annie (b. 1889), and Harry (b. 1894). In 1911, the family was living at 104 Belmont Road, Astley Bridge. Tom (jnr), then aged 17, was working as a rivetter.

Tom enlisted probably in late 1915 or early 1916 and was assigned service number 23629 and posted to 9Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. 9Bn came under orders of 74th Brigade in 25th Division. 25th Division fought in the early phases on the Battle of the Somme in 1916: at Albert (2-5 July), Bazentin (14-16 July) and Pozières (23 July – 10 August). They returned to action in the Battle of the Ancre Heights (October) and were then moved to the Ploegsteert sector. They spent the first quarter of 1917 here engaged in frequent raids and minor operations. It seems likely that this is when Tom joined the Battalion in the field.

In June 1917, 25th Division were among the Divisions providing the infantry attack after the explosion of mines at Messines, on 14-16 June. The map shows the position of the Division at the commencement of the attack.

At the end of June they were withdrawn and after a brief period of rest they moved to Ypres to begin training for the next great offensive.

At Pilkem (the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres), 25th Division was initially in reserve but on 10 August, 74th Brigade (Tom’s Brigade) took part in the renewal of the attack. In a successful action, Westhoek was captured, although at a severe cost to the Division: 47 officers and 1244 men killed, wounded or missing. In October that year, they moved to the Givenchy sector, holding the sector for seven weeks. In December they moved to Bullecourt and spent much of the winter maintaining trenches. In February, they moved closer to the front, at Fremicourt and Biefvillers, as rumours of an impending German offensive grew. The German Spring Offensive was launched on 21 March, causing chaos in the British position.

The map shows the positions of 74th and 75th Brigades on the opening day of the attack.

From the opening phases of the attack until the Division was withdrawn six days later, it fought continuously under strange commanders and staffs, and not as a Division. 74th Brigade was ordered to support 51st (Highland) Division on the Bapaume-Cambrai road. The defensive fight was continuous and confusing, as enemy units pushed forward on all sides. Carrying out a fighting withdrawal, by 26 March the Division found itself on the 1916 Somme battlefield. On that date, the Division was finally relieved and moved to Pommier and thence to Couin. It was on this day that Tom Brierley died from wounds received in action. He was 24 years old. The cemetery at Sains lès Marquion, where Tom lies, is some 20km east of where he was wounded and it was not opened until September 1918, so Tom’s body must have been moved from a previous burial place.

Rank: Private
Service No: 23629
Date of Death: 26/03/1918
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Grave Reference: IV. A. 1.
Cemetery: ONTARIO CEMETERY, SAINS-LES-MARQUION
Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Jane Brierley, of 104 Belmont Road, Bolton.

(Author’s Note: We know from CWGC that Thomas Brierley’s parents were Thomas and Jane Brierley, and that the family came from Bolton. It proved difficult to locate them in the 1911 Census, but that’s because the family name was mis-transcribed as Brickley; once that was resolved, the rest of the family history fell into place.)

73 officers and men from 9Bn lost their lives between 21 and 26 March 1918.

14631 PTE F BARNES 21-03-18
18482 PTE DANIEL BROWN 21-03-18
12787 PTE HENRY BRUNDRETT 21-03-18
34515 LCPL WILLIAM CALEB BURGESS 21-03-18
34241 LCPL D G BURNS 21-03-18
34268 PTE ROBERT CASWELL 21-03-18
260203 PTE ARTHUR CRADDOCK 21-03-18
201332 PTE J ECCLES 21-03-18
25329 CPL HENRY HARGREAVES 21-03-18
30277 PTE HAROLD HEWITT 21-03-18
15311 CPL THOMAS HORTON 21-03-18
34684 PTE ARTHUR HUDSON 21-03-18
17514 PTE JAMES MOSS 21-03-18
16435 PTE JOSEPH MUNCASTER 21-03-18
29945 LCPL ROBERT JOHN NELSON 21-03-18
28332 PTE C W TAWN 21-03-18
30023 PTE DANIEL THORNTON M M 21-03-18
12984 PTE HAROLD TINDALL 21-03-18
28337 SJT A J C TREVOR 21-03-18
14661 PTE W WILKS 21-03-18
9957 PTE ROBERT WOOD 21-03-18
25115 PTE A ALLEN 22-03-18
28324 PTE ERNEST ALTY 22-03-18
34869 PTE FRED BIGGERSTAFF 22-03-18
16791 CPL WILLIAM BRINDLE 22-03-18
27926 LCPL BERTRAM GEORGE BURGESS 22-03-18
17608 SJT H CHILTON 22-03-18
26985 PTE HAROLD COLLIN 22-03-18
CPT JOHN DRUMMOND CRICHTON 22-03-18
16419 LCPL G ELLISON 22-03-18
14569 LCPL DAVID GARDNER 22-03-18
19454 PTE J GREEN 22-03-18
23639 PTE H HADFIELD 22-03-18
30321 PTE H HAMNETT 22-03-18
27070 PTE HENRY HARDACRE 22-03-18
1896 LCPL JOSEPH HARTLEY 22-03-18
30234 PTE WALTER ROBERT HEARN 22-03-18
30303 PTE F J HEWITT 22-03-18
27074 PTE J HOLMES 22-03-18
2nd LT L A KEMP 22-03-18
29627 PTE ASHWORTH KIRKHAM 22-03-18
30049 LCPL THOMAS MARGERSON M M 22-03-18
28395 PTE F A MARSHALL 22-03-18
27884 PTE A MAY 22-03-18
3052 PTE BERNARD McKEOWN 22-03-18
25737 PTE JAMES McMENAMIN 22-03-18
15741 LCPL F A NICHOLLS 22-03-18
23996 PTE WILLIAM EDWARD NUTTALL 22-03-18
28322 PTE FRANK PARTIN 22-03-18
27164 LCPL J RAIN 22-03-18
34605 PTE JOHN FLEMING RAVEN 22-03-18
30246 PTE ARTHUR SANDERSON 22-03-18
14956 SJT LEWIS SHEPHERD M M 22-03-18
34612 PTE WILLIAM HENRY SHUGG 22-03-18
2nd LT ROBERT ANDREW TAIT 22-03-18
29520 CPL JOHN HENRY WRIGHT 22-03-18
25810 PTE ARTHUR YOUNG 22-03-18
260205 PTE ALBERT EDWARD CHANTLER 23-03-18
27948 PTE WILLIAM THOMAS ELMES 23-03-18
34226 SJT CHARLES GOSLING 23-03-18
2nd LT WILLIAM DAVID JAMES 23-03-18
14747 PTE WILLIAM MADDOCK 23-03-18
28365 PTE SAMUEL TYRELL FAULKNER 24-03-18
25011 PTE T WORSWICK 24-03-18
16651 SJT ERNEST HOLLAND 25-03-18
27872 PTE WILLIAM HENRY HUDSON 25-03-18
30311 PTE BENJAMIN PARRY 25-03-18
23856 PTE HARRY RUDD 25-03-18
33968 PTE ROBERT HENRY THOMAS 25-03-18
28390 CPL WILLIAM CHARLES WOOD 25-03-18
23629 PTE THOMAS BRIERLEY 26-03-18
24719 PTE ARTHUR WILLIAM MIDDLETON 26-03-18
LT ROBERT VERNON REID M C 26-03-18

Bill Brierley

Bill Brierley

Before taking early retirement in 2007 and returning to his native Lancashire in 2009, Bill Brierley was head of the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth.Bill has researched his own family history and has developed a further interest in World War 1 especially as it impacted on the villages of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, where his family originates from.Bill has also displayed his work at Lostock Hall library and contributed to other displays at Leyland Library and South Ribble Museum.
Bill Brierley

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