Norman Riley (c.1898-1917)
Norman Riley is one of the twelve men remembered on the Kew Hill Chapel memorial plaque now kept in the East Street church. As his parents later lived in Elland so he may also be the "N Riley" on the war memorial in Hullenedge Park, Elland.
Norman was the son of Willie and Eliza Riley, who in 1901 lived in two rooms at 65 Lindley Moor Road. Willie worked at the Blackley brickworks as did many of the neighbours. One, Ben Brook, also lost a son, William, in the war that was to come.
Willie Riley and Eliza Shaw, both born about 1870, had married in January 1892 at Eliza's parish church, St. Andrew's, Stainland.
By 1901, the Rileys had four children: Ivy (aged 8), Annie (5), Norman (3) and little Elsie who was only one month old at the time of the census.
Ten years later Willie still worked at the brickworks and the family still lived on Lindley Moor, though now at number 100. This represented an improvement on their last house: it had three rooms. In these three rooms the Rileys were raising six children: Ivy, Annie and Norman were all old enough to be at work and all worked in the woollen industry. Norman was a cloth finisher. Elsie and Mary aged ten and five were at school. Willie, only a year old at the time of the census presumably spent all day with his mother. They had lost two other children in infancy.
Norman was too young to have enlisted in the army at the outbreak of war. He served first as Private 20332 in the 2nd Battalion, the West Riding Regiment, which suggests he volunteered rather than waiting to be conscripted, probably in early 1916. He enlisted in Milnsbridge, which means the 2/7th Battalion, which did not arrive in France until January 1917.
At some point, he and others in the battalion were first attached to, then transferred in to, the 23rd Battalion the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Tyneside Scottish) and he was given a new service number, 40838. He was later promoted Lance Corporal.
Norman did not die of wounds, It seems likely that he was taken ill and brought back to hospital in Britain and it is hoped that Willie and Eliza were able to visit him before he died on 14 May 1917.
Norman is buried in the graveyard at Blackley Baptist Chapel as well as being remembered on the Kew Hill and Elland memorials. It seems that Willie and Eliza had moved down into Elland by the time the Imperial War Graves Commission (as it was then) got in touch.
Willie died in February 1946 at the age of about 76, just over two years after Eliza.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Lance Corporal NORMAN RILEY
- regiment: Northumberland Fusiliers
- died: Monday, May 14, 1917
- age: 19 years
- record ID: 2751780
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission (ID #2751780)
- Imperial War Museums: Lives of the First World War (ID #3746688)