Arthur Henry Riley
Enid Boesser’s Second Cousin
Arthur was born in 1893, the sixth of the eleven children of Arthur and Mary Riley of Twyford. Arthur Senior was an agricultural labourer and grazier. Arthur and his older brother Herbert worked as agricultural labourers. In 1911 they emigrated together to Australia in search of a better life. They sailed from London to Adelaide on 13th October 1911 on the Orient Line’s Otranto. They lived and worked in the State of Victoria, Arthur working as a timberman and Herbert as a timber orderman.
In July 1915 Arthur aged 22 and Herbert aged 30 enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. They were both appointed to C Company 29th/Battalion 8th Infantry Brigade, Arthur was a Gunner.
In December 2015 they embarked on HMAT Ascanius to disembark at Port Suez, Egypt, where the Battalion undertook defensive duties, to protect the Suez Canal from Ottoman forces. In June 1916 they embarked the troopship HMAT Tunisia in Alexandria, bound for France. In the meantime Arthur had been transferred to the 49th Battalion so on disembarkation in Marseilles their paths separated.
Herbert was seriously wounded in action in November 1916. He died from his injuries in Rouen Hospital in December, he was 31 years of age. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension Rouen.
Arthur was wounded in action on three occasions; in December 2016 he suffered gunshot wounds to his arm followed, in November 1917 and October 1918, by poisoning as the result of gas shelling. He was returned to hospital in England twice, before returning to his unit in France. There is record of Arthur being absent without leave in England in March 1918 for four weeks, it can only be surmised that this was the result of the trauma he had suffered, having been returned to his unit and action within days of each incident of being wounded in action.
Arthur was granted furlough (leave) on 25 December 1918 to return to England. Tragedy had struck at home, due to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. An article in the Melton Mowbray Times reports that five members of Arthur’s family had died in the flu epidemic during December; four of his brothers and a sister-in-law.
Arthur returned to France to be formally discharged from the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force on 12 February 1919 having completed 3 years 215 days of service. He never returned to Australia.
Arthur married Eveline Herriman in 1924; he farmed in Saxelbye until his death in 1957 aged 64. He was survived by one daughter Jean, having lost a daughter in infancy. Jean and her family continue the family tradition of farming to this day.
Like countless others who returned from the front in World War I, Arthur never talked about his war time experiences, so this information has been gleaned from public records.
|The original exhibition display: Arthur Henry Riley|