Private Arthur RILEY

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
([Formerly: Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)]
118th Company
Service Number:
[Formerly: 68218 Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)]
Date of Death:
19 August 1917 - Killed in Action
27 on CWGC Record (24 by d.o.b.)
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 158

Personal History:
Arthur was born in the June quarter 1893, the son of the Henry (Railway Steam Riser) and Sarah Anne Riley. He had an older brother and sister, Mary E. and Walter Sampson, and 5 younger siblings, Ethel, Lizzie, Gladys, Frank and Beatrice. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) they were living at 7 Heaton place, Fairfield, Buxton. [Henry's brother, William, lived next door at No. 8 with his wife, Frances. Their son, Arthur's cousin, William Henry, served with the 3/Hampshire Regiment and died at home on the 1st November 1918. - see Footnote below]
Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/21234) the family had moved to 73 King's Road, Fairfield, and Arthur had two more younger sisters, Beatrice and Ina. Arthur was working as an "Engine Cleaner".

In the June quarter 1912 Arthur married Jane Bennett Bingham of Litton Dale, Litton, Buxton. They had two children, William H. (June quarter 1913) and Reta (September quarter 1915).
[N.B. Sarah Anne Riley died in the June quarter 1918 and Henry Riley in the December quarter 1920, hence the CWGC notation on Arthur's entry.]

Military History:
According to his Medal Index Card, Arthur originally enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters, in Bakewell, presumably for "The Duration of The War",  but unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived so his enlistment date cannot be found. However, as no date for entry into France is shown on his Medal Card, and he is not eligible for the 1914-15 Star Medal, it was after 31st December 1915 that he was posted overseas.

At some stage he transferred to the 118th Company of the Machine Gun Corps, which was formed in the 39th Division at Wallon-Cappel on the 21st March 1916. At that time the 117th Brigade, 39th Division, contained both the 16th Battalion (Chatsworth Rifles) and the 17th Battalion (Welbeck Rangers) of the Sherwood Foresters. If Arthur was transferring from one of these Battalions, the 16th was the most likely - it had been formed at Derby on the 16th April 1915, by the Duke of Devonshire and the Derbyshire Territorial Force Association.

The Battalion moved to Buxton on the 4th May 1915 and then on to Redmires near Sheffield on the 8th June. On the 2nd September 1915 it moved again to Hursley near Winchester and at that time attached to 117th Brigade in 39th Division. Another move to Aldershot came on the 30th September, but soon moved to Witley. On the 6th March 1916 the Battalion landed at Le Havre. Shortly after this, on the 21st, the 118th Machine Gun Company was formed in the same Division. [The 17th (Service) Battalion (Welbeck Rangers) had a very similar development, landing at Le Havre at the same time.]

Alternatively - bearing in mind Arthur's Service Number in the Sherwood Foresters (68218) - The Notts and Derby medal rolls show very few (only 3) men with 68*** numbers which suggests something different going on within this range of numbers. The Silver War Badge numbers in this range were being issued later in 1916, so it could be that No. 68218, was issued to him at the Notts and Derby Depot upon his enlistment/mobilisation in late 1916 and soon after he was transferred to a Training Reserve Battalion and then to the Machine Gun Corps.

The Company War Diary for the 19th August 1917 shows that they were at "Bluff Trench", but only reports that "Weather good" and that the barrage was lifted at 9.00 a.m. Arthur was the only man from his 118th Company to be killed for a week either side of the date of his death; possibly he fell victim to a sniper. However, he now has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

· Arthur's cousin, Pt. 28151 William Henry RILEY, served with the 3rd Battalion,Hampshire Regiment, and died in Cosham Hospital, Kent on the
  1st November 1918. He is buried in Fairfield Churchyard, Buxton.

· "The Buxton Advertiser" 6 October 1917
· I am grateful to Colin Taylor for the War Diary extract
· ... and to Stuart, Mike and Steve (via The Great War Forum) for their comments on Arthur's Service History

Link to CWGC Record
The Tyne Cott Memorial
Arthur's name on the Memorial