Nigel Stewart Riach in Lijssenthoek
Riach was my mothers maiden surname, so it seems appropriate to include another Riach in my rambles.
Born in Oxfordshire in 1899, Nigel was the son of Lt. Colonel Malcolm Stewart Riach and his wife Marion Alexandra Gertrude Hall.
Shortly after Nigel’s birth, the family had moved to Bandrum House, Saline in the County of Fife and it is here you will find them in the 1901 census. Malcolm aged 40 gives his occupation as Major in the Cameron Highlanders. Marion, his wife is aged 36. Malcolm A S Riach is aged 9, while Ronald is 7 and Nigel is 1. Bandrum House is quite a large property and now, heavily extended, is a nursing home, but back at the turn of the century 7 servants ran the house – including a 22-year-old Governess named Rosa Shelton; 47-year-old Cook, Harriet Bridges other domestic servants including a Domestic Nurse and finally a young man, aged 22, with the lovely name of William Heavens was the Coachman. The family could possibly have taken some of their staff with them as a few of their staff were born in England.
Ten years later, in 1911, Nigel is an 11-year-old student of Wellington College. The College founded in memory of Arthur, Duke of Wellington has always had strong military connections. Many Old Wellingtonians were already serving in the military but during the outbreak of what became known as The Great War, many more were to join their ranks – over 400m signing up within the first months of the war, with hundreds more signing up on completing their education. The College has a website to remember their former pupils who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Nigel, like old Wellingtonians, before him enlisted in the services. It is his medal card that gives a clue to when his enlistment took place. There are two medals attributed to Nigel – the British and Victory Medals, this means that he enlisted after 1915 in Taunton, Somerset, which ties in nicely with him being aged 11 in 1911. The card also informs that he served in the A & S H ((Princess Louise’s) Argyl and Sutherland Highlanders) regiment with the rank of Private and service number S/23725. He had initially served with the 14th Bn. A & S H but later became part of the 42nd Brigade.
Nigel and his fellow soldiers took part in the Battle of St Quentin Canal in 1918 and it is during this time on the 28th of September that he was wounded. He was taken to a CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) and it was here that he died of wounds on the 30th of the month aged 19.
St Mary’s Church, Steeple Barton has within the fabric of the building a memorial placed by his parents and reads “In ever loving memory of Nigel Stewart Riach, 14th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders youngest and dearest son of Colonel and Mrs Stewart Riach of The Grange, Charlcombe who died 30 September 1918 of wounds received in action at St Eloi near Ypres. His body rests in the cemetery of St Bartholomew at Poperinghe in Belgium”
Marion, his mother was, in 1919, to receive just over £10 from the Army, which included a £4 10s War Gratuity.
Nigel’s elder brother, Malcolm served in The Grear War as an officer in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, while Ronald served as a Lieutenant in the Motor Transport section of the Royal Army Service Corps after entering France in February 1916.