Private William Henry RILEY

Hampshire Regiment
(Formerly: Army Veterinary Corps)
3rd Battalion
Service Number:
(Formerly: 25497 Army Veterinary Corps)
Date of Death:
1 November 1918 - Died (Cosham Hospital)
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
North-west part of Churchyard.

Personal History:

William was born at Eaton Place, Fairfield, Buxton, in May 1895 (baptised at St Pepter's Church on 5 June). He was the son of William (Railway Labourer) and Frances Fanny (née Buxton) Riley. He had an older brother, George H., a younger sister, Martha, and a younger brother, Alfred [see Footnote below]. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family were living with William's grandparents, Samson and Martha Riley, at 8 Heaton Place, Fairfield, Buxton. Two more sons, Percy and George, were added to the family in 1901 and 1903. (1911 Census RG 14/21234)

[Another of Samson and Martha's sons, Henry, lived next door at No. 7 with his wife, Sarah Anne. Their son, William's cousin, Arthur, was Killed in Action on the 19th August 1917. - see Footnote below]
Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/21234) William was working as a "Cow Man" for Arthur Slater at Fern House, Fairfield. The remainder of his family had moved to 11 Heaton Place, and William had gained two more younger brothers, Percy and George.

In the December quarter 1913 William married May Wardle. They had one son, William A., born a year later. In reporting his death on the 9th November 1918 "The Buxton Advertiser" stated he had been employed by 'Messrs. Bagshaw and Son, Builders and was well known and much respected.' In October 1919 May received William's "effects" of £10 6s 10d [£10.34], £10 of which was "War Gratuity". (This is equivalent to about £435 today - 2016.)

Military History:
William enlisted at Buxton and his Service Records do not appear to have survived. His Medal Index Card gives no date for his entry into overseas service, and as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star was not posted abroad until after the 31st December 1915.

His Medal Index Card indicates that before joining the Hampshire Regiment William was posted to the Army Veterinary Corps. Comparisons with similar Service Numbers of other men of the Hampshire Regiment suggest a transfer date of late November / early December 1915. "The Buxton Advertiser" stated that William had "served about three years overseas." when reporting William's death in November 1918. How long he served with the Army Veterinary Corps, however, is open to debate.

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, was formed in August 1914 in Winchester as a depot/training unit. It remained in the U.K. throughout the war. On mobilisation the Battalion moved to Parkhurst (Isle of Wight) and in January 1915 to Gosport for duty with the Portsmouth Garrison. However, this contrary to the "Advertiser" statement of him being overseas for three years.

At some time in 1918 William was taken ill, possibly with influenza, rife at the time, and died in Cosham Hospital, Portsmouth (now The Queen Alexandra Hospital). This location would fit him being based in the Portsmouth area with his Battalion. William's body was returned home and his funeral took place on Tuesday, 5th November, with the Rev. A. Urling-Smith, Priest-in-charge of St. Mary’s, Buxton, officiating. The volunteers provided the escort and firing party, and the Canadian Discharge Depot band played the cortege to the grave. William now lies in Fairfield Churchyard, Buxton, near to his family home.

· William's brother, Pt. 36134 Alfred RILEY, served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He survived the War, but died on the
  14th December 1920. He is also buried in Fairfield Churchyard.

· William's cousin, Pt. 87235 Arthur RILEY, served with the 118th Coy., Machine Gun Corps. He was Killed in Action on the 19th August 1917, and
   is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 9 November 1918

Link to CWGC Record
William Riley's grave