Whitby High School

Battlefields Tour 22nd-25th March 2013

Vermelles British Cemetery, France

Gunner William Brizell - Great-Great Grandfather of Connor Brizell

Vermelles British Cemetery

On our battlefield visits we try to visit the graves or memorials of ancestors of the students who are on the trip. The first of our visits was the Vermelles British Cemetery where we hoped to find Connor Brizell's great-great grandfather William Brizell. After consulting the cemetery index and plan, Connor found the grave stone near the front section of the cemetery.

Before we made the trip, Mr M. Royden had researched William Brizell and had put together his family tree, as well as information about his military service. This is summed up in the short article below.


Gunner William Brizell


75068 64th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery


William Brizell was born in Liverpool to an Irish carter, Archibald Brizell, and a Liverpool mother, Isabella Fraser, in 1882. They lived near Scotland Road in Kirkdale, to the north of Liverpool, a heavily populated Irish part of the town.

Whereas in 1891 Archibald’s brother and his family were living in his house, by 1901 it would seem Archibald had fallen on hard times and he and his family, including William, had moved into his nephew’s home. This was not uncommon in this poor area during this period. Archibald was still a carter and William, now 19, a dock labourer.

In 1906, William married Esther Fazakerley, a farm worker of Walton. Their son, William, was born the following year, although their daughter Esther had been born in 1904. William’s family was now living in the Everton part of Scotland Road. His father Archibald died in 1910. When war broke out William enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery, as Gunner 75068 in the 64 th Brigade. After 6 months training he was posted to France on 7 November 1915. The 64 th Brigade was relocated numerous times throughout the war, being sent to wherever there was a need for heavy artillery. They saw action near Vimy Ridge, the Somme and the Ypres Salient.

Gunner William Brizell was killed in action on 29 April 1916 in a battle to the north of Lens, and is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery.

The cemetery was begun in August 1915 during the Battle of Loos, when the Chateau was used as a dressing station.

There are now over 2134 First World War casualties commemorated in this cemetery. Of these, 198 are unidentified and special memorials are erected to six soldiers from the United Kingdom, known to be buried among them. This cemetery also contains the graves of 11 casualties of other nationalities.

Connor Brizell is the great-great grandson of

Gunner William Brizell.

Gunner William Brizell - Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

All Photographs by James Carrington (Year 10)

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Updated April 2013 by Mike Royden
The Whitby High School, Cheshire County Council.