John Briggs

Born: 1898
Died: 3.7.1916
Service number: 6347
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: Manchester Regiment
Family information: Son of Joseph and Sarah Briggs

War Service

He joined the 1st Manchester Pals Battalion, which was formed by the Lord Mayor and City of Manchester, and initially established at Heaton Park. In April 1915, the 1st Manchester Pals, designated 16th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, moved to Belton Park and was placed under the command of 90th Brigade, 30th Division.

In November 1915, the 30th Division moved to France to join the British Expeditionary Force. John Briggs, along with the 16th Manchester Regiment, landed on 8 November and assembled a few days later with the rest of 90th Brigade, near Amiens.

The winter was spent in rotational tours in the front line, before commencing training and preparation for the forthcoming battle, during the spring of 1916. The 30th Division was to be involved in the Battle of the Somme, which was to begin on 1st July 1916.

The 30th Division was on the extreme right of the British line, with the 39th French Division on their right. The 90th Brigade was on the left of the Division line, with the 1st and 2nd Manchester Pals in the second wave of the assault, with orders to pass through the leading wave and attack Montauban. During the night of 30 June, the 1st Manchester Pals, on the left of the brigade assault, assembled in Cambridge Copse in preparation for the attack. At 08.30 hrs, one hour after the battle commenced, the 1st Manchester Pals advanced along the east side of Talus Boise.

The Battalion soon came under heavy machine gun fire from the old German lines, resulting in a number of casualties. Train Alley was reached and the machine gun cleared from the strong point. Though all company commanders had become casualties, the attack continued and at 10.05 hrs, Montauban was entered. On the 2 July, the 1st Manchester Pals (16th Battalion, Manchester Regiment) was relieved and withdrawn to Happy Valley.

John (Jack) Briggs was one of the casualties of this attack. Badly wounded, he was recovered from the battlefield and transported away from the front for treatment. However, on the 3 July 1916, he died from his wounds at one of the many hospitals situated on the southern outskirts of Rouen. He was buried in the city communal cemetery of St Sever, which now contains 3082 burials from the First World War.

Family Life

Born on the 16 February 1898, John Briggs was the second son of Joseph Briggs and his wife Sarah, formerly Jones. Joseph Briggs of Harpurhey, Manchester, had married Sarah Jones the daughter of John and Hannah Jones of Grandstand Road, Outwood, at Wakefield, in 1893. After their marriage, Joseph and Sarah lived in Manchester, where Joseph was employed as a printer’s compositor. Their eldest son, William Grierson Briggs was born in 1895 and, on 5 May 1897, was baptised at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. At the time of the birth of their third son, Harry, in 1900, the family was living at Alfred Street, Harpurhey.

On 7 April 1902, when the family was living at 38 Mitford Street, John Briggs was admitted to Harpurhey Church of England School. However, in 1905, his father died, at the age of 35 years. His widowed mother, Sarah Briggs, obtained employment as a housekeeper and at the time of the 1911 census was employed by Mr George Johnson and family, at Heaton Chapel, Stockport. Harry Briggs, the youngest son, accompanied his mother and lived at the same address. At this time, John Briggs was living with his mother’s sister, Rose Hannah, who had married John Dunn, one time compositor, but now an innkeeper, at Moston, Manchester.

John Briggs, also known as Jack, spent some considerable time with his grandparents and other relations, at Outwood. In addition he became a great friend of Freda Crosland of the Thornes district of Wakefield. However, when war was declared on 4 August 1914, he returned to Heaton Chapel and enlisted in the army.

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