1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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Samuel Riley

Killed in Action
19th July 1917

Aged 29

Army Service Corps

27 Marston Lane

Samuel Riley was born in Marston in 1888 and lived at 27 Marston Lane with parents Thomas and Ann Riley. Samuel was one of six siblings.

In 1911, all the Riley children had moved out, and Samuel now aged 23, was an Insurance Agent and a boarder in Stretford, Manchester.

Like a number of WW1 soldiers, no enlistment or war records can be found, this will be due to the National Archives being bombed during WW2 which destroyed a hign number of stored documentation.
I have been unable to find Samuel's enlistment date, but we do know in July 1917 he was stationed in Iraq with the Army Service Corps, the 300th Electrical and Mechanical Corps of the Royal Engineers. He would have been told that his father had sadly passed away at Marston, 28 March 1917, aged 65 years.
The Royal Engineers Iraq 1917
Samuel took part in the First Battle of Ramadi, Iraq, which was approx 60 miles from Bagdad which were fought between the forces of the British and Ottoman Empires (Turkey).

The town's strategic position on the road between Aleppo and Baghdad made it a key British target during the Mesopotamian campaign, but the hostile climatic conditions meant that it took two attacks over the course of three months for the town to fall.

The first battle in July 1917 resulted in a British defeat. This was caused by a combination of factors, including extreme heat that caused more casualties than enemy fire, bad weather, faulty British communications, and effective Turkish defence. The lessons learned were utilised in the second battle two months later: the British adopted different tactics and trapped the garrison against the Euphrates, cutting off their lines of escape. It was consequently captured almost in its entirety with large amounts of ammunition and supplies.

It was during this first battle that Samuel was killed on the 19th July 1917, his mother Ann Riley losing both her husband and son in 4 months. Samuel was never married.

On Samuel's war grave his mother added the following to the inscription:

'Sleep On Dear Son and Take Thy Rest
God Taketh Those Whom He Loves Best'

Ann Riley moved away from Marston after the death of her husband and lived in Knutsford, but peace would not follow her, as well as the death of son Samuel in 1917, in 1918 her son Arthur also died aged 37, and in 1923, her daughter Frances died aged 45 years. Ann Riley died in 1929, aged 75 years.
Samuel Riley is buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq. Which is the final resting place of 4,533 Britons, 2,614 Indians, 48 Australians and New Zealanders and a single South African, it has been off-limits to the commission for some years. Their final resting place defiled by neglect and vandalism, these men have had the misfortune to become the casualties of not one, but two wars. Maintenance of the cemetery became difficult during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s but continued until the onset of the Gulf War in 1990. "Between hostilities, visits were possible, as was a limited maintenance programme - but the effects of two wars and years of sanctions have left all the cemeteries in Iraq in need of attention."

For Samuel Riley, there appears to be no resting place and a long way from home. God Bless this Soldier.

Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.

Tony Hayes