1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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Lance Corporal

James Edwin Riley

Killed in Action

20th December 1917

Aged 27

9th Battalion

The Cheshire Regiment

49 Ollershaw Lane

James Edwin Riley was the 10th Marston Lad to be killed in 1917, the 21st to be killed in total. James would be the last to die in 1917.

James Edwin Riley was born in 1891 to James and Mary Ann Riley. James Edwin's father had been married three times, with wives passing away in 1880 and 1885. There were twelve children born between the three marriages, with James Edwin being the 11th child born. Two children had sadly died by 1911.

In 1911, James Edwin was an engine cleaner and living with his parents at 49 Ollershaw Lane, he was also a member of the British Territorial Force which was formed in 1908.

James Edwin had volunteered for the 5th Battalion of The Cheshire Regiment aged 18 years in 1909, and at that point worked in the nearby salt mine as a miner. The part-time Territorial Force reached a peak of 268,000 men in 1909 when invasion scares prompted a surge in recruitment. James Edwin continued with the Territorial Force until he was discharged in 1913 after four years of service which he had signed up to do. He had attended all his annual courses with his last being in 1912, he was a model soldier.
His First World War records are missing and presumed destroyed during the 1940 Blitz on London. It's impossible to say exactly when he signed again for the army, but records show on the 19th July 1915 he was in France. Given James Edwin Riley was a Lance Corporal suggests he was part of the initial British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of August 1914, which The Cheshire Regiment was heavily involved.

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) August 1914

Given James Edwin Riley is buried at Ribecourt cemetery, it's highly likely he was killed following 'The Battle of Cambrai' (20 November to 4 December 1917) During December 1917, the British started to lose the ground they had previously taken.

Over 44,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers died in this battle, and 48,000 Germans also died. The Tank Corps provided 476 tanks (of which 350 were armed) to lead six infantry divisions into the field. The bombardment which accompanied the attack was carefully timed and took the Germans by surprise. The British also used Livens projectors to shower poison gas on various parts of the front.

James Edwin Riley was killed on the 20th December 1917 and buried at Ribecourt British Cemetery.

James was never married.

Download and view James Edwin Riley Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate.

Ribecourt British Cemetery, France.
Tony Hayes