James Riach was born in Nether Dallachy in the County of Banff on 4 December 1889. His parents were William Riach, a Forester’s Labourer and his mother, Isabella Palmer or Riach. He was the youngest child of the family. (I have taken his date of birth from that stated in his City of Glasgow Police record).
Although his place of birth is shown in Banffshire, according to the Census of 1891 when the family was still at Nether Dallachy, some entries show Nether Dallachy being in Banffshire and some show it Moray. Nether Dallachy is in the Parish of Bellie.
The 1891 Census shows William and Isabella living with their three children, William, (5), John, (3) and James (2). William is by now a Railway Surfaceman. He was born in ‘Rothes, Morayshire’ and Isabella and all the children were born in ‘Bellie, Banffshire’.
James was a Farm Servant and single when he joined the City of Glasgow Police on 4 October 1910 as a Probationary Constable Number H-115. After training, he was posted to H or Maryhill Division.
On 23 August 1913, he passed his Sergeant’s Certificate.
Like many officers in City of Glasgow Police, James Riach wanted to join the Army in WW1 and on 19 September 1915 he resigned to join the the Seaforth Highlanders.
On 31 December, 1915, at St Charles Chapel, Glasgow, after Banns according to the Forms of the Roman Catholic Church, James Riach, Police Constable and Private 6th Seaforth Highlanders, married Margaret Murray, a Housekeeper.
James’ Great niece, Connie Scott, has researched his family history and found that he went on to serve as part of a Seaforth & Cameron Brigade in the Highland Division. As part of which, he would have served in the first phases of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the Arras Offensive including the first and second Battles of Scarpe, the third phase of Ypres and the Battles of Pilkem Ridge and Menin Road Ridge in 1917, by which time he had reached the rank of Serjeant and acting Warrant Officer Class II (WOII).
On 4 March 1918, James Riach was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for an action in Cambrai in November, 1917.
The Citation for the DCM states:
“267621 Sjt. J. Riach (Fochabers)
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in command of a platoon in an attack. Under heavy fire he rushed along a trench at the head of his men and bayoneted the first three men he met. The remainder, about fifty, surrendered, and their machine guns were captured.
James Riach continued to serve in France and Flanders until he was demobbed and re-joined City of Glasgow Police on 28 February, 1919 when he returned to Maryhill (H) Division.
According to the Morayshire Roll of Honour:
“RIACH, James No. 267621 Sgt. 3/6th and 1/6th Seaforth Highlanders; born at Nether Dallachy, Spey Bay, 18th (sic) Dec., 1889; Joined at Elgin, 25th Sept., 1915; Served in France; slightly wounded in right leg, twice mentioned in dispatches and awarded D.C.M. Son of William Riach, Swiss Cottage, Fochabers and Isabella Palmer or Riach. Occupation, Police Constable.”
According to the resignations Register of City of Glasgow Police (SR/22/57/26), “James Riach, Constable F Division Resigned on Pension after 28 Years and 1 Day Service with a Character described as “Exemplary” on 4 October, 1938.
I believe James Riach died in Glasgow in 1967.
I am grateful to James Riach’s Great niece, Connie Scott for much of the information above. Thank you.