PRIVATE CYRIL WINTERTON RILEY
EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
15TH JUNE 1916 AGE 21
BURIED: ST SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN, FRANCE
Cyril Riley's 'devoted mother', Sarah Riley, had been a widow since before he was six. He was her only child. In both the 1901 and 1911 censuses she and Cyril are living with her parents in Hull. She earned her living as a dressmaker; in 1911 Cyril was a clerk.
On the outbreak of war Cyril joined the 7th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment and in December 1915 embarked for Egypt. Three months later the battalion returned to the Western Front. At midnight on the 3/4 June 1916 the British began a heavy bombardment of the enemy's trenches, which lasted until 1.20 am; the German retaliation lasted until 1.40 am. At 6 pm on the 4th the battalion was relieved, the war diary reporting two officers killed and two wounded, twenty other ranks killed and forty-seven wounded. Riley died ten days later in hospital in Rouen.
The 7th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment were known as the Hull Pals. Their website has a biography of Riley and a photograph of his mother standing by his grave with her hand resting on his headstone. She lived on until 1949.
I have a feeling that 'The summer days are ended' is the first line of a hymn but I haven't been able to find the words to it. I have found a poem by Frances Laughton Mace [1836-99], 'Only Waiting' that could be the source. The words aren't exactly the same but people didn't always have books to hand in which they could check the precise words. If it isn't the source I think it probably represents how Sarah Riley felt. This is the second verse:
Only waiting till the reapers
Have the last sheaf gathered home,
For the summer time is faded
And the autumn winds have come,
'Gather reapers, gather quickly,
The last ripe hours of my heart,
For the bloom of life is withered
And I hasten to depart.