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RILEY, Lt Cdr Quintin Theodore Petroc Molesworth (1905-1980)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA Riley
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: RILEY, Lt Cdr Quintin Theodore Petroc Molesworth (1905-1980)
Date(s): Created 1940-1946, 1973, 1989
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 box or 0.01 cubic metres, and 1 vol
Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born 1905; educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge University; Polar explorer, 1931-1937; British Arctic Air Route Expedition, 1931-1932; Arctic expedition, led by Gino Watkins, Greenland, 1933; British Graham Land Expedition, led by John Rymill, Antarctica, 1934-1937; joined Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1938; served in World War Two, 1939-1945; temporary Lt, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1939; served on intelligence missions in Finland and Norway, 1939-1940; Instructor, Independent Companies (forerunners of the Commandos), UK, 1940-1941; Instructor, Winter Warfare School, Iceland, 1941-1942; service with Combined Operations Command, 1943; participated in Operation AVALANCHE, the Allied landings at Salerno, Italy, Sep 1943; Commanding Officer, 30 RN Commando, 1943, and 30 Assault Unit, 1943-1944; temporary acting Lt Cdr, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, [1944]; served in Intelligence Division, Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia (SACSEA), Ceylon, 1944; Staff Officer, G2 (Intelligence) Division, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), France, Germany and the Channel Islands, 1944-1945; service in Germany, 1945-1947; retired 1947; served on Essex County Council and Braintree Rural District Council; killed in road accident, 1980. Publications: With Richard Taylor, Discovery of the poles (Penguin, London, 1957).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to Riley's service in World War Two, 1939-1945, with a recent biography, 1989, mostly concerning the training of Commando forces, 1940-1943, including letter from acting Col Colin McVean Gubbins, War Office, dated 8 Jul 1940, thanking Riley for his work in Norway, 1940; correspondence, memoranda, directives and reports relating to the training of Independent Companies in seamanship for raiding purposes, UK, Aug-Oct 1940; correspondence, 1940-1945, including letter, dated Feb 1941, from Capt Kermit Roosevelt, son of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, serving with The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regt), relating to his service in the Western Desert, 1940. Papers relating to the Winter Warfare School, Iceland, 1941-1942, including typescript training notes and exercise memoranda, 1941-1942; typescript text of lecture by Riley entitled 'Arctic warfare', given at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, 13 Oct 1942. Papers relating to Commando training and Combined Operations Command, 1942-1943, including typescript memorandum entitled 'Outline of rations and equipment required for GUNHOUSE' (Operation GUNHOUSE, a small scale Commando raid on Banak airfield, northern Norway, Feb 1943); typescript 'Administrative instructions for special ration trials', relating to the testing of Arctic warfare ration packs, May 1943; typescript memorandum entitled 'The possibilities of wireless communication in small scale raiding' [1943]. Papers relating to 30 RN Commando and 30 Assault Unit, 1943-1945, including typescript memorandum by Riley entitled '30 Assault Unit. Visit to forward areas, Intelligence organisations and GHQ (General Headquarters)', Assam, India, 29 Aug 1944; typescript memorandum entitled 'History of 30 A U (Assault Unit)' [1945]; letter to Riley from Len Whittaker asking for information on 30 RN Commando and 30 Assault Unit for a proposed book on British Special Forces of World War Two, Jul 1973. Edition of The bulldozer. The magazine of Combined Operations, Oct 1942; printed pamphlet by Public Relations Section, International Military Tribunal, entitled 'International Military Tribunal, Nurnberg, Germany, 1945-1946', with brief biographies of defendants and offences committed [1946]. J P Riley: From Pole to Pole: the life of Quintin Riley, 1905-1980 (Anthony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, 1989, 2nd edition 1998), typescript of book, photographs and sketch maps used as illustrations in book, and obituaries of individuals mentioned in the volume.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The papers are arranged in sections as outlined above.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Finding aids:

Summary guide entry available on-line at and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Centre by the family in 1982, 1987 and 2003.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The History of 30 Assault Unit, 1942-1946 (Ref: History of 30 Assault Unit) contain papers relating to the research carried out by Sqn Ldr David C Nutting for Attain by surprise: the story of 30 Assault Unit Royal Navy/Royal Marine Commando and of intelligence by capture, edited by Nutting and Jim Glanville (David Colver, Chichester, West Sussex, 1997).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

J P Riley: From Pole to Pole: the life of Quintin Riley, 1905-1980 (Anthony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, 1989, 2nd edition 1998)

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Dec 1999

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