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 at Heath Road, Fairfield, Buxton, in March/April 1893 (Baptised 26 April at St Peter's Church). He was 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". When he enlisted he was 5 ft. 6 ins. (1.69 m.) and weighed 10 st. 7 lbs. (66.7 kgs.).

On 22 June 1912 Arthur married Jane Bennett Bingham of Litton Dale, Buxton, in St John the Baptist Church, Tideswell, Derbyshire. They had two children, William Henry (19 May 1913) and Reta (30 August 1915). When Arthur enlisted in November 1915 the family was living at Sherwood Road, Tideswell. Also registered as a 'child' was Joseph Bingham, born 3 January 1905, presumably Jane's son by an earlier marriage.

After her husband's death, from 18 March 1918, Jane was awarded a Pension of 1 6s 3d [1.31] for herself and three children. Although the MoD. later question the eligibility of the oldest child to be included (This worth about 82 per week today - 2016) The family at that time was living at the Planatation Houses, Tideswell. She later received his total "effects" of 1 11s 0d [1.55] and in 1919 a "War Gratuity" of 3. (This total of 4.55 has an equivalent value of about 205 today - 2016.)

[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:
Arthur originally enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters, in Bakewell, for "The Duration of The War", on 22 November 1915. However, as no date for entry into France is shown on his Medal Card, but his Service Record shows he joined the BEF in France on 24 April 1917, sailing from Folkestone to Boulogne.

By then he had 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.

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.

Within a month of joining his unit Arthur was admitted to 18 General Hospital, via 30 Casulaty Clearing Station, suffering from "P.U.O." ("Pyroxia of Unknown Origin"). On his discharge, he was posted to 12th Battalion, Training Reserve, Sherwood Foresters, before Arthur finally joined the 118th Company, Machine Gun Corps, on 10 August 1917. Only 9 days later he was killed in action.

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
· Derbyshire, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1916
· Derbyshire, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932

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