Richard RILEY was a soldier who served with the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers, the Scots Guards, the Loyal Lancashire Regiment, the Cheshire Regiment, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force.
Richard first served in a local Volunteer force but enlisted in the Scots Guards (Regt No 8911) on 5 Mar 1891 in Preston. He was 19 years old, 5 ft 6in, weighed 10 stone, and enjoyed "very good" physical development.
He spent the majority of his time with the Guards on duty 'at home' or in the Reserves, but saw 2 years active service in South Africa with the Scots Guards during the South African War (also known as the Second Boer War).
The early years of his time with the Guards were spent in Caterham, Windsor, London, Woolwich and St John's Wood, presumably engaged in ceremonial duties. He appears to have lived a colourful life during this period as evidenced by his questionable medical record, and a police record for assaulting a policeman in 1892 after which he was briefly imprisoned at Pentonville Prison. This was later commuted to military duty. He was transferred to the Reserve in 1894 having served for his three year term.
During this military hiatus he worked as a labourer, met and married Alice PARKES and they had two children.
He was recalled to active service to fight in the South African War (also known as the Second Boer War). On 26 Dec 1899, and as part of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, he sailed on the Britannic on 15 Mar 1900 arriving in Cape Town on 5 Apr 1900. The 2nd Scots Guards fought at Biddulphsberg on 29 May 1900 and were present at the capture of Johannesburg on 31 May 1900. They fought an action on 26 Oct 1900 on the road to Harrismith and four weeks later they took the Boer position at Tiger's Kloof after some 'sharp fighing'. Thereafter they spent time in the Orange River Colony, and built and manned blockhouses in the Western Transvaal and Natal. The bulk of the Scots Guards left South Africa in September 1902, but Richard had returned earlier, in March 1902, possibly for having served for 2 years overseas.
He was awarded the Queen's South African Medal with clasps for Wittebergen (for action in 1-29 Jul 1900), Cape Colony and Transvaal, and the Kings South African medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.
He again returned to civilian life, and had a further five children.
At the beginning of the First World War Richard re-enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (No 3368) when aged 41, and was posted to the British Expeditionary Force in France on 29 Nov 1914. He was recorded as wounded on Christmas Eve 1914 - the day before the famous Christmas Day truce - and returned to England on 29 Dec 1914. Its unclear what the injury was, but the unit had seen heavy action with many casualties on 18/19 Dec 1914. They were billeted in Sailly for a few days before returning to the trenches on 23 Dec.
He remained with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment until 1916 when he was then transferred to the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment (No 32158), and posted to Egypt. He was with the Cheshire Regiment in Egypt between 4 Mar 1916 and 1 Dec 1917, working on Lines of Communication.
On 2 Dec 1917 he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in Egypt, becoming a Air Mechanic 2nd class, and after the RFC became the Royal Air Force in April 1918, he was re-rated as 2nd Clerk. Most likely he was working at one of the 5 Training Depot Stations set up in Egypt in 1917.
He was transferred to the Reserve at the beginning of 1919, demobbed at Heaton Park and discharged in 1920 as a Storeman.
He was awarded the 1914/15 Star as well as the British War and Victory medals.
In later life he worked as a "Permanent Way labourer". By 1939 he had retired and was living with his wife, Alice, and their son, John.