He was the second son of Joe and Sarah Briggs. He was born in the Harpurhey district of Manchester and the family was living there, at 26 Alfred Street, when the 1901 Census was taken. Joe had a skilled job as a printer's compositor and this, no doubt, enabled them to later move to the more upmarket area of Heaton Chapel where they took up residence at 10 Langford Road. John was an original "Manchester Pal" and is thought to have enlisted on the first full day of recruitment. He was assigned to No. 4 Platoon on "A" Company. He went overseas in November 1915 and took part in the Battalion's first attack on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. The war diary states;
Left assembly trenches 8:30am information previously received practiced. Moved up as close as possible to our artillery barrage and halted about 09:20am. Maintained communication with the 17th Manchester Regt. on our right but were under heavy machine gun fire from our left rear, being unsupported by troops on our left.
At 09:55 on the artillery barrage lifting, no supporting troops still appearing on our left and the hostile machine gun fire still being very severe, the advance could not be continued. At 10:05am on the appearance of the leading troops attacking on our left, continued the advance and without a check passed through MONTAUBAN and seized and occupied MONTAUBAN ALLEY at 10:30am and immediately proceeded to consolidate as follows. A, B and C companies MONTAUBAN ALLEY D Company edge of the village, established H.Q in Valley trench.
About 9:30pm enemy attacked against our front and left, S.O.S sent, barrage placed on our right front (a few shells too short) attack held up by M.G. and rifle fire and eventually withdrawn under the cover of darkness.
John was badly injured during the attack, on 1 July, and will have been taken to a field hospital some miles behind the lines. His condition will have been stabilised and he will have then been further evacuated to the full facilities of the military hospital at Rouen. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save his life.
Cheshire Roll of Honour would like to thank John Hartley for this information on John.