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Arthur Brierley was born in the first quarter of 1897, at Chadderton, Oldham, Lancashire. His parents were John Arthur Brierley, b. 1860 in Oldham, a stripper and grinder in a cotton mill, and Mary Ellen Newton, b. 1862 in Oldham. John Arthur and Mary Ellen were married at Werneth St. Thomas in 1884 and had 7 children, though they lost one in infancy. The 6 surviving children were: Sarah Hannah (b. 1885), John (b. 1887), Minnie (b. 1889), Ernest (b. 1892), Arthur, and finally Alice (b. 1903). John Arthur died in 1906 and in 1911 his widow and 4 of the children were living at 3 Drummer Street, Middleton Junction. John (jnr), Ernest and Arthur were all working as piecers in a cotton spinning mill, Alice was still at school. Sarah and Minnie had married by this time.

Arthur enlisted originally in the Manchester Regiment (16th Bn), with service number 28430. He was later transferred to the Loyals, with service number 27204, serving first in 8th Bn, and finally 2/4th Bn. The 8th Bn had suffered heavy losses throughout 1917 and by October it had already been decided to disband the Battalion and distribute the surviving soldiers to reinforce other battalions. On 4th October the Battalion was at Givenchy and it seems likely that this is the point at which Arthur was transferred to 2/4th Bn, which had recently moved to Boesinghe, just north of Ypres, where they went into the trenches on 24th October, as 57th Division prepared to make its contribution to the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

At 3.40 on the morning of 26th October 1917 the Battalion was formed up in its assembly position and moved off to attack at 5.40 and captured their immediate objectives (Mendling and Rubens farms) fairly quickly and with relatively light casualties. In the process, however, all four company commanders had become casualties. The centre of the attack was then held up by heavy fire from German pill boxes. The pill box was eventually taken and a more dominant position achieved, but further advance was impossible due to heavy German machine-gun fire from all sides. The Battalion captured 18 Germans and destroyed several enemy machine-guns. The ground advanced over was very bad, swampy and covered with shell holes. Arthur was killed during this action. He was just 20 years old. His body was never recovered. His mother had died during the summer of 1916 and his brother Ernest was killed on 13th November 1916 – he was 52523 Pte. Ernest Brierley, 1st Bn The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) – so his effects and War Gratuity of £10 were divided among his 4 remaining siblings, each receiving £3 7s 3d.

Rank: Private
Service No: 27204
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 102 to 104.

Paul McCormick
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