Herbert Lawson Riley

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Herbert Lawson Riley

Midshipman Herbert Lawson Riley

Ann Luxmoore came to one of our drop-in sessions at The Station to tell us about her Uncle, Herbert Lawson Riley. At the age of 15 years and 7 months, Herbert is not only probably the youngest serviceman from Richmond to die during the First World War, but he was also the first.

Herbert was the grandson of Sir John Lawson of Brough Hall. He initially attended the Royal Naval College at Osborne on the Isle of Wight before becoming a Cadet at Dartmouth Naval College. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Herbert was appointed to the patrol cruiser HMS Aboukir, becoming a Midshipman shortly afterwards. HMS Aboukir, along with sister-ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were sent to the Hook of Holland to patrol the North Sea coast. At 6.25am on 22nd September 1914 the Aboukir was hit by a German torpedo – while the cruiser was listing badly Herbert jumped into the sea and managed to make it to one of the lifeboats. Finding apparent safety on board the Cressy, Herbert and his surviving shipmates began to recover in the ship’s sickroom. Disaster struck a second time. HMS Cressy was hit twice by the same German submarine that had sunk the Aboukir. Herbert Lawson Riley was last seen clinging on to wooden wreckage along side one of his closest friends.

All three patrolling cruisers were sunk with the loss of more than 1400 lives.

 

Brass plaque to the memory of Midshipman Riley, formerly in St Francis Xavier Church, Richmond.

Edith Riley’s Headstone in the cemetery on Reeth Road includes a detailed inscription about her son’s sacrifice.

Return to the ribbon

Explore more memories from the ribbon

  • John Stoney

    Judith Farrar visited the museum to tell us about Rifleman John Stoney, the uncle of her husband, Don. John enlisted as R/41447 Private J Stoney,…

  • John Sweeney

    John Sweeny was 22 years of age when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment in late 1914. He was the son of John and Mary…

  • Thomas Outhwaite

    The Outhwaite family came to live in Stalling Busk in the Raydaleside area near Bainbridge in the 1730s to farm the land. Thomas’s father William…