Riley, Angus

Herbert Angus Riley, named as Angus on the Prestatyn memorial, was born in Liverpool in 1896, the son of Charles Herbert Riley and Elizabeth Iona Riley, nee Angus. Although Liverpool based, they were a family of means, and may well have had a second home in Prestatyn. In any case, they were well known in the town.

In 1901, the family are living in the Blundellsands district of Great Crosby.  Charles Herbert was 33, had been born in Liverpool, and was described as a fancy goods and cycle merchant. His wife Elizabeth was 31, and had been born in the Waterloo district of Liverpool, as also had their daughter Ethel age 8, and Herbert Angus, age 3.  There was also a housemaid.

By 1911, they were at St Anthony’s Road, Blundellsands.  Charles Herbert, 43, is described as a wholesale general merchant and employer. Also at home were Elizabeth, 41, and John, age 3, who had been born since the last census. Ethel and Angus cannot be found on this census.  The house had ten rooms, and there were also two servants, a nurse and a waitress. Elizabeth had given birth to three children, all living.

The next recorded detail found for Angus is in the London Gazette for 30th November 1915, when his promotion to 2nd lieutenant is noted.

From the Prestatyn Weekly May 27th, 1916.

Lieutenant A. Riley, son of Mr and Mrs H. Riley, till recently of Meliden Rd, Prestatyn, has this week been on leave from the front in France.  For some months he has been stationed in the neighbourhood of Arras, taking periodical duty in the trenches. His short holiday has been well earned.

From the Daily Post July 6th, 1916.

Blundellsands officer killed

 2nd Lt Herbert Angus Riley, son of Mr Charles Herbert Riley, partner in the firm of John Riley and Co. merchants of Victoria St. Liverpool has been killed in action. He joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment last November, and been in France since the beginning of the year.

From the Prestatyn Weekly July 8th 1916.

Mr and Mrs Riley , of Meliden Rd, Prestatyn, have lost their elder son in the recent fighting in France.  Only a few weeks ago he was in Prestatyn, having seven days leave from the front.

Angus service and enlistment records have not survived, and there is no card for him in the Hawarden Archives.  However, the Medal Index transcription at Find My Past has two service records for him.  The first is described as Service Record 1. ”soldier no 4158, rank private, Inns of Court Officer Training Corps.” Service record 2 states” Rank 2nd Lieutenant Corps Liverpool Regiment, Transport.”

Soldiers who died in the Great War website, available on Ancestry, confirms his regimental number and rank already noted, his regiment Kings (Liverpool Regiment) and his battalion as 9th Battalion (Territorial).

The Inns of Court Officers Training Corps was a long standing territorial unit, with responsibility for training thousands of British officers prior to their deployment on the front line.  This corps was nicknamed the “Devil’s Own”, it was based in Chancery lane, and had a long connection to the Legal profession and the Law Courts.  When war was declared, it was inundated with requests to join and over the next four years, thousands of solicitors and articled clerks passed through its ranks to become junior officers in various regiments. As Angus was in this Corps, it is likely he may have had connections with, or aspirations to, the legal profession. After being promoted, he would have immediately joined his regiment.

There is an article referring to Angus in the website “Yarm 1914 Commemorations”. Yarm is a small town in the Stockton on Tees district of North Yorkshire, and a series of events have been arranged from 2014 until 2018 to remember those who died in the Great War, and the affect this had on their families, and to bring this research to the current Yarm population. Angus is mentioned in an article about a local man 2nd Lt Robert Darling, who was in the same regiment as him, and the article describes the circumstances in which Robert Darling was awarded the Military Cross.

“2nd Lieutenant Robert Darling, Liverpool Regiment. For conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy’s trenches. He pushed through the enemy’s wire and entered his sap. 

He was one of the last to leave the enemy’s trench, and returning carrying a severely wounded man. Later he volunteered to attempt the rescue of a missing officer, and assisted by a private, brought in his body.  All this was under heavy shell and rifle fire.”

In the book “Visiting the Fallen – Arras south”, by Peter Hughes, he states that the raid took place on 28th June 1916, and that the missing officer was 2nd Lt Herbert Angus Riley, aged 19, of Waterloo in Lancashire, and buried in Wailley Orchard Cemetery.  The private mentioned was Frederick Winrow, who received the Military Medal and survived to receive it. Robert Darling died of wounds on 16th September, 1918.

Angus is also commemorated on

Merseyside Roll of Honour.

Crosby and Blundellsands Civic Memorial.

St Nicholas C of E Church Blundellsands.

Blundellsands Methodist Church.

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