Mick Riley was the youngest of 10 children born to Robert William and Alice Riley, in 1916 at Stockwell, London.
He enlisted into the Royal Fusiliers on 3 April 1940 and transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers on 4 November 1942. He was later posted to 3rd Airlanding Light Aid Detachment, part of the 1st Airborne Division Workshops, in September 1943 while serving in North Africa.
Mick returned to the UK in January 1944 but was deployed to North West Europe with 3rd Airlanding LAD from 14 August to 2 October 1944 as part of 21 Army Group. It is believed that Mick's detachment supported the fighting units which liberated Brussels.
He was deployed again in May 1945 with 1st Airborne Division Workshops, this time to Norway for Operation Doomsday, and returned with the division in August. Mick remained with the workshop until 1st Airborne Division's disbandment later that year.
Mick briefly served with the British Army of the Rhine prior to his demobilisation and transfer to the Army reserve in May 1946.