PRIVATE EDGAR BRIERLEY
10TH NOVEMBER 1917 AGE 35
BURIED: PASSCHENDAELE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, BELGIUM
... He seems to me
Scarce other than my King's ideal knight,
The shadow of his loss drew like an eclipse,
Darkening the world. We have lost him: he is gone:
We know him now: ...
... and we see him as he moved,
How modest, kindly, all-accomplished, wise,
... through all this tract of years
Wearing the white flower of a blameless life,
This, much abbreviated, is an extract from Tennyson's dedication at the beginning of his Arthurian poem, 'Idylls of the King', which, as he said, "I consecrate with tears" to Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert. The words of the dedication resonated with Ellen Brierley, Edgar Brierley's wife, who quoted from it for her husband's inscription.
Brierley was born and brought up in Lancashire. He married there and his first son was born there in 1908. Sometime after this, the family moved to Canada where another son was born in 1915. This is the year Brierley joined up. He served with the 7th Battalion Canadian Infantry and died on 10 November 1917 when it took part in an attack towards Musselmarkt in the final stage of the Third Ypres campaign.
The Battalion war diary recorded the aftermath of the battle:
"It was impossible during the 10th to clear the wounded from the Regimental Aid Post, owing to exceptionally heavy shell-fire, with the result that the Post was crowded with stretcher cases during the night. These were cleared during the 11th by a brigade party of 300 Other Ranks which came up in the early morning, and by 8 p.m. (11th) all wounded of the Brigade had been cleared from Musselmarkt.
Owing to the exhaustion of the men and the constant shell-fire, it was impossible to bury many of the dead and no means were at hand for marking the graves of those that were buried."
Brierley's body was recovered from an unmarked grave in May 1920 and buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery.
The 7th Battalion's war diary narrative for the 10 November 1917 can be read here: page 59, page 60, page 61.