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.
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Captain Thomas Ernest Dufty 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment Captain Dufty was born in on the 30th of June 1880. His father was Arthur Richard Sykes Dufty and his mother was called Katie. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the 5th Battalion in 1912 and became a lieutenant in June 1913. Prior to this his profession was as a banker and manager of the Bridlington branch of the London Joint Stock Bank. Dufty was promoted to Captain on the 18th of April 1915. He was reported as killed in action on or about the 19th of May 1915 (killed by a shell). His Battalion had been deployed to Sanctuary Wood (1.9 miles east of Ypres). He left a widow, Beatrice, and a 4-year-old son Arthur Richard. He is buried at the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated at the Manor Road Cemetery Scarborough.
Private Firby was born in 1883 and came from Richmond, living at 49 Newbiggin. He enlisted on 12th December 1914 at the age of 31. He was a ‘Commission Agent’. He was posted to the 6th battalion on 24th August 1915 and arrived in Gallipoli on 8th September. He was wounded by shrapnel on 25th October 1915 when, according to the Battalion War Diary, at 9.30 in the morning there was a ‘Fire display by the Turks along whole of the front. 8 men wounded by shrapnel.’ He returned home on 15th November 1915. He appears among the list of wounded in the December 1915 edition of The Green Howards Gazette. On recovering from his wounds, Private Firby was transferred to the Labour Corps on 22nd May 1917 and he saw out the remainder of the war with the Labour Corps. Private Firby was examined by a Medical Board on 9th March 1917 and was in The Royal Victoria Hospital, Edinburgh on 29th July 1918 when a copy of The New Testament was presented to him. Private Firby was discharged from military service on 4th April 1919. Private Firby was again examined in 1920 and 1921 and declared to have a 40% disability, the cause being listed as ‘Bronchitis’ and granted an award of 8 shillings per week.
Cradock was born at Hartforth, Richmond, North Yorkshire. After attending Richmond School, he entered the Royal Navy in 1875 he was promoted to rear-admiral in 1910. With the start of the First World War, in August 1914, Cradock, commanding the 4th Squadron of the Royal Navy and stationed at Stanley, had to deal with Admiral Maximilian von Spee’s East Asia Squadron. Cradock’s fleet was significantly weaker than Spee’s, consisting of mainly elderly vessels manned by largely inexperienced crews. The orders he received from the Admiralty were ambiguous, and Cradock interpreted them as instructing him to seek and engage the enemy forces; clarifying instructions were not issued until 3 November, by which time the battle had already been fought. Cradock found Spee’s force off Chile in the late afternoon of 1 November, and decided to engage, starting the Battle of Coronel. He tried to close the range to engage immediately, so that the enemy would have the setting sun in their eyes, but von Spee kept the range until dusk, when the British cruisers were silhouetted in the afterglow, while his ships were hidden by darkness. Cradock’s flagship HMS Good Hope and the HMS Monmouth were destroyed with the loss of all 1570 lives, including his own. A monument to Admiral Cradock was placed in York Minster. There is a monument and a stained glass window in Cradock’s memory in his parish church at Gilling West.