Orriel (Orrie) Briggs – briefly a Pal

Private 15/87, The Leeds Pals
Commissioned Yorks & Lancs Regiment, 4/06/15
Attached Somerset Light Infantry

1888: On 27th August Orriel was born in Headingley, Leeds, the first child of Charles William Briggs, who had married Sophia Cox in Leeds the previous year. They went on to have three more children, John in 1893, Lilian in 1896 and Frank in 1898. It is not clear where the name Orriel came from. (Free BMD website)

1891: On this census the family was living at 16 Norwood Terrace, Headingley, together with Charles’ widowed mother Elizabeth. Charles was listed as a commercial traveller. The 1911 Census specifies this as in the Chemical manufacturing. (Census Records)

1901: The family was now at 21 Chestnut Avenue, Headingley, without Elizabeth, who had presumably died at some point between the two censuses. Also between these two dates Orriel must have started primary school, because in 1901, at the age of 13, he started at Leeds Modern School, (Memorial Book) where he stayed until

1903: He was now 15, and joined his father’s business of Dyewares and Chemicals, later travelling for them. He was also a member of Leeds Yarnbury Rugby Union Football Club, and played in the Yorkshire League.

1911: This census shows the family at 19 Chestnut Avenue, Headingley, presumably just a move next door. Orriel was now listed as clerk to a fire appliance manufacturer. (Census Records)

1914: War was declared by Britain on 4th August, and one month later, on 4th September, Orriel enlisted in the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, The 1st Leeds Pals, as Private 15/87. He took his medical on the 10th September 1914, but was only a Pal for a relatively short time, (Find My Past website)

1915: as he was commissioned in the 10th Service Battalion, the Yorks and Lancs Regiment, on 4th June. He would have done his initial training at Colsterdale, but was not with the Pals long enough to go to Egypt. In September he was posted to France, and in December he was wounded. There is a letter extant written on Christmas Day by the sister at No.2 CCS, informing his mother that Orriel was in hospital suffering from shell-shock.

1916: On his recovery he was sent to Ripon to be adjutant at the Training Camp there. Beyond this his military career during this period is not known, as his records are missing.

On 20th August Orriel married Edith May Longfield, at St Michael’s Church, Headingley. (Free BMD website)

1917: In December Orriel was back in France, this time attached to the 8th Battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry, again as adjutant, but with the rank of acting captain.

1918: There are various letters written by him from France at different times during this year, the last being written to his father on 1st November. Three days later, on 4th November, he was killed in action, and the remaining letters are of condolence to his widow, now living in Great Yarmouth. (All letters listed on eBay)

Orriel was buried in Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, Romeries,
Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. He is also commemorated on the memorial in the Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cardigan Road, Headingley. (CWGC website)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.
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