1891 May 14. born Chakrata, Bengal, India son of Arthur and Isabella Riley (his father was an army Sgt). The birth was also registered in Ireland
1911 census in Hampshire, Lance Corporal 2nd Bn Border Regiment. aged 19 born in Chakrata, India
1911 census - his parents appear to be at 3a Second St Gateshead
1914 Oct 5 Lands in France
1914 Oct 29. Wins DCM
Deeds that thrill the Empire. p205. HOW SERGEANT WILLIAM EDWARD RILEY, OF THE 2nd BATTALION BORDER REGIMENT, WON THE D.C.M. AT GHELUVELT. Very early in the morning of October 29th, 1914, the Germans began a cumulative attack upon the whole of the British line before Ypres . A particularly determined assault was delivered against the point of the bastion in front of Gheluvelt , with the result that the 1st Division was driven from its trenches,and the line swayed backwards and forward all the morning. The retirement of the 1st Division exposed the left of the 7th Division ; and the 2nd Border Regiment, which was in reserve, was ordered up to the support of the troops on the l\lenin side of Gheluvelt , who were being very heavily shelled. The battalion advanced in three lines over open country to the top of the ridge on which Gheluvelt stands. The machine-gun section was in the third line, and with it was a young Gateshead man, Sergeant William Edward Riley, who was carrying a tripod, with its two front leg over his shoulder and its rear leg behind his back. Captain Watson, the machine-gun officer, went into the village to speak to his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, and then signalled to Riley to bring up the machine-guns with all possible haste. Riley thereupon took the two machine-guns and their teams at the double up the ridge, and through the village, and took up a position on its outskirts about two hundred yards behind a line of our skirmishers, who had hastily entrenched themselves, but on higher ground. From here the enemy could be seen coming on in great force and in massed formation over the open plain below, and it was obvious that there was not a moment to be lost if their advance were to be checked. The two machine–guns at once opened fire, but unfortunately one of them soon broke down and had to be sent back to be repaired. Its team took cover in a ditch by the road ide, and Sergeant Riley continued to work the other gun . Captain Watson, an officer of th 2nd Gordon., with field-glasses, and a soldier with a Marindin range-finder observing for him while he fired. Three times was the position of the gun changed, so as to bring it to play in turn upon different sections of the advancing masses, and so accurate and deadly was Riley's aim, that the Germans were mowed down in swathes, and the attack held up and finally beaten back. Sergeant Riley, who four days later was wounded at Veldhoek in the right leg and left foot, was awarded the Di tinguished Conduct Medal, "for conspicuous gallantry and ability," and the Order of St. George (fourth Class) was subsequently conferred upon him by the Czar. He is twenty– five years of age.
1917 Mar 16. Seconded to MGC. Lt W E Riley, Border Regt.
1919 Mar 17. The undermentioned relinquish the actg. rank of Maj. on ceasing to be empld. as Instrs. : Lt. W..E . Riley (Bord . R)
1919 Apr 7. Lt. W. E. Riley (Bord.R.) relinquishes the actg. rank of Capt.on ceasing to be empld. as Asst. Instr. (Substituted for Gaz. notification, 2 June 1919.
1919 Sep 12. Bord. R.— Lt. W. E. Riley, D.C.M., retires receiving a gratuity , and is granted the rank of Major
1919 Oct 9. SWB eligible
1921 Jan 12. Joined the ADRIC with service no 1492. Posted to N Coy
1921 Jul 11. Resignation accepted after 6 months service.
1930 Mar 1. Died (on WO338)