King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Brearley, Arthur Joseph

Captain ▪ Royal Engineers

Arthur Joseph Brearley, born on 1st April 1890, transferred to King Edward’s School from Camp Hill Grammar School in September 1906 as a Foundation Scholar. He was the eldest son of Harry, a clerk, and Annie, of 225, Charles Road, Small Heath. His younger brother, Norman, also an Old Edwardian, was killed in Mesopotamia in 1917. Norman’s twin, Selwyn, also served although he did not attend KES.

There is very little in the School records concerning Arthur, but he did participate in the world of gymnastics in his final year. Arthur proceeded to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1909, where he was awarded a First Class in the Natural Sciences Tripos. During his university career he rowed and obtained his colours. Prior to the war, he was Science Master at Exeter School.

Arthur was granted a commission in April 1914, initially in the 1/6th Cyclists Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, and by June 1915 had been promoted to Captain. He transferred to the Royal Engineers in July 1916 and proceeded to the front in April 1917. He was killed on the 20th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines Ridge. The battalion war diary records: “Gas discharged on Jackdaw and Jam Avenue. Observations from the front line indicate that drum burst well and a good cloud was formed over enemy trenches. Considerable hostile artillery retaliation on front line. Whole operation including preparation: 3 killed, 11 wounded.” He is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery, Flanders, and has a memorial in St Cyprian’s Church, Hay Mills, upon which his brother Norman is also commemorated.