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Martin Riseley

Martin Riseley


Martin was born on 20 February 1878 in Eltisley, and baptised in Eltisley Methodist Chapel on 5 May 1878, the youngest of 10 children born to Henry and Elizabeth Riseley.

On 6 April 1899, when he was 21 years old, Martin enlisted in the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards. He described his trade or calling as labourer on his enlistment form. From his Attestation Papers we are told he was 5ft 9in inches tall, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. Private 8015 Martin Riseley very soon travelled overseas with the Grenadier Guards, although his first period of overseas service only lasted seven weeks. He was in Gibraltar, where there was a British garrison, between 23 September 1899 and 10 November 1899, and he then returned to England, where he was based at the Wellington Barracks in London.

Martin married Mary Ann Smith at St Neots Register Office on 23 October 1900, when he was 22 and she was 26 years old. We do not know when Martin travelled to Canada, but we do know that his wife Mary Ann sailed from England to Canada on the ship the Royal Edward on 2 September 1911, and that the Royal Edward’s passenger list states that she was travelling to join her husband. Martin and his family were living at 1209 Queen Street West, Toronto when Martin enlisted in the 95th Battalion Canadian Infantry, ‘D’ Company, on 8 November 1915.

The 95th Battalion sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the ss Olympic on 31 May 1916, arriving in England on 8 June. The Olympic was sister-ship to the Titanic, built for the White Star Line in 1909/10; she was requisitioned by the Government during World War 1 and spent the war ferrying troops.

Back in England again after almost a six year absence, Martin was taken ‘on strength’ as a Lance Corporal at Folkestone (probably at Shorncliffe Camp, near Folkestone) on 15 July 1916. He was granted leave, and travelled to Croxton to visit his parents, and his elder sister, Mary. Martin was with a fellow soldier, returning by train to his Regiment on the evening of Saturday, 29 July, when the two men alighted from the train when it stopped at Hatfield Railway Station. Martin heard the guard’s whistle warning that the train was about to leave again, and turned back to return to the train; however it was already moving away when he reached it, and Martin tried to jump back onto the moving train. A witness saw him trying to grab at one of the door handles, but Martin fell and suffered serious injury to his right leg. He was taken to Bricket House Hospital in St Albans, where his right leg was amputated, but he died on Monday, 31 July.

Martin is buried in Eltisley Churchyard; the inscription on his gravestone reads:

For God, King and Country in ever loving memory of Corp. Martin Riseley of the 95th Canadian O.S. Battalion

The beloved husband of Mary Riseley and the youngest son of Henry and Elizabeth Riseley who died 31st July 1916 aged 39 years

‘Kind was his heart, in friendship true and sound, loyal and true, beloved by all around.

His trials now o’er, his battles forever done, a life of endless joy we hope he’s now begun.

The Lord knoweth best’


Martin Riseley
Lance Corporal 201890, 95th Battalion Canadian Infantry, ‘D’ Company

20 February 1878 – 30 July 1916
(aged 38)

  Martin is buried in Eltisley Churchyard

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