6746 Sergeant Alfred Birley.

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1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

Awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette of 30 January 1920 under the terms of Army Order 193 of 5 May 1919.

Birley was a native of Burnley, Lancashire.

The Burnley Express of the 28 September 1915 reported, BURNLEY SERGEANT REGAINS HIS LIBERTY. A dramatic escape from a prisoner of war camp in Germany has been made by Sergeant Alfred Birley, of the Gloucestershire Regiment and a native of Burnley. On the escape Birley was accompanied by Private Sidney Haworth of 17, Hudson Street, Accrington and the fortunate pair were received at Buckingham Palace on Saturday by the King, who had a long conversation with them. His Majesty congratulated them on their pluck and good fortune. Interviewed, Sergeant Birley remarked upon the readiness with which His Majesty put him and his comrade at ease, adding, "It was just like chatting with a friend, the King congratulated us on the success of our venture, and showed by his conversation that he took a keen personal interest in the welfare of British prisoners in Germany".

Sergeant Birley is the son of the late Mr. James Birley, of New Hall Mill, Burnley, and Mrs. Birley of Blackpool. He attended Burnley Grammar School, and was apprenticed as a draughtsman at the Burnley Iron Works. He joined the army many years ago, and did well in gymnastics and sword work when with the colours. On leaving the forces as a reservist he became the gymnastics instructor at the Philanthropic Farm School, Redhill. He married a Bedford lady.

Sergeant Birley went to the front last August, and was captured by the Germans whilst attempting to retake a lost trench at the battle of Ypres, 29 October, 1914. He was leading a number of Gloucester's in taking the position. With the exception of the sergeant and a private the remainder with killed or wounded. Sergeant Birley made several escape attempts before being sent to the Munster Camp booked as a 'dare-devil'.

Military reasons prevent publication of details of his escape from Germany, but it may be said that Sergeant Birley and Private Haworth had many trying experiences before reaching England.

Sergeant Birley was given a commission and rose to the rank of Captain.