Sunday 28 October 2012

Sergeant Thomas Clifford Briscoe, MM

Born on 17 August 1895 in Northcote, Ontario - son of James A. and Alice Adeline Briscoe (nee Beach), Renfrew, Ontario - enlistment records note the following: trade as merchant, single, no current military service, previously served with the Renfrew Cadets, Presbyterian, height of 5 feet 5.5 inches, chest of 35.5 inches fully expanded, dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair.

Joined the 130th Canadian Infantry Battalion on 24 November 1915 (number 788520) - taken on the strength of the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion in France on 14 or 15 November 1916 - wounded on 5 April 1917 - rejoined the 38th Battalion on 9 May 1917 - killed in action on 27 June 1917 - buried in La Chaudière Military Cemetery (grave III.A.4), France.

Awarded the Military Medal - no citation - unit recommendation dated 3 April 1917: "For gallant conduct in rescuing and assisting in the resuscitation of others overcome by gas 26-3-17."

(Updated with a photo of Sgt Briscoe's headstone in La Chaudière Cemetery that I took in August 2012).

(sources: Library and Archives Canada (, online attestation papers; Canadian War Museum, 19740281-001, Manu 58F 2 3, 207th Canadian Infantry Battalion and 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Nominal Roll; The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum, A400-0007, Master Personnel List for the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Canadian War Museum, 19680229-001, Manu 58C 1 2.18, Honours and Awards, 38th Battalion (Records of recommendations for honours and awards and mentioned in dispatches 19161121 19190117))


David Edwards said...

Some notes on Sgt. Briscoe from the Perth Newspaper.
Sgt. T. I. Briscoe of Renfrew who spent considerable time in Perth with the 130th Battalion has been awarded the Military Medal. He went overseas as Sgt. Major in the 130th reverting to private to go to France. He was later advanced to sergeant and as reported, some time ago was wounded. (This does, indeed, refer to Thomas Clifford Briscoe despite the T.I. misprint)

21st August 1917

I was in the trenches when Sgt. Briscoe was killed. I was fortunate in not seeing him killed but did see him going out on the stretcher. He was my platoon sergeant and though only 21 was considered about the best in the battalion. He never knew what happened. Sometimes it makes me shudder when I think of the way the bullets and shrapnel whistled by me the morning we went over the top; I only wonder the casualties are not more numerous. I did not mind it at the time but afterwards my nerves suffered.

The above was in a letter home from Ernest Ferrier

This is the action in which Sgt. Briscoe took part and for which he was awarded the Military Medal: For conspicuous gallantry on early morning of 26th March 1917 near SOUCHEZ.
The enemy blew a camouflet at 5.20 a.m. and broke into one of our Mining Shafts. The force of the explosion burst in the sides of a dug-out near one of the Mine Galleries. Twenty men were in the dug-out when the explosion occurred.
Three of these managed to make their way out but the were unable to gain the surface. About a dozen men were standing in the trench near the dug-out entrance, amongst whom were CPL. RAINFORD, SGT. BRISCOE, PTES. EDWARDS AND CAREY. These men, without consideration of their own safety and also having seen the gas flame rush from the mouth of the dug-out, singeing the hair and burning the faces of some, entered the dug-out and succeeded in bringing 10 men to the surface. The remaining seven men were found to be killed. These men assisted in the work of resuscitation of those overcome by gas. The men rescued were badly affected by the gas.
These four men have been selected from the rescuers as being those who rendered the best services.
Their prompt and gallant action undoubtedly saved the loss of 10 of their comrades and it is considered that they are fully deserving of an Immediate Reward. (A.F.B. 3121 April 18th 1917).

Ken said...

Thank you for taking the time to write up this wonderful additional information on Sgt. Briscoe. This is part of the reason I'm doing this blog after all, to get even more information out there on a small group (if 4,000 soldiers can be called small) of "ordinary" Canadian heroes.