James Redding Rives, II (b. 11 June 1889 - 25 February 1972) was a local businessman and Boy Scout leader in Greenville and Enfield, North Carolina. During World War I, he served as a private in the 318th Ambulance Company, 305th Sanitary Train, 80th Infantry Division (National Army), of the American Expeditionary Force in France. During his service, he kept a daily diary from the time when he was inducted into the Army at Camp Lee, Virginia (March 9, 1918) and ending on when he returned to the United States (May 31, 1919). Among the topics Rives discussed while at Camp Lee include his training as a bugler and camp activities such as drilling, hiking, gunnery and target practice, and digging trenches.
Rives's company left Newport News, Virginia, for France (May 25) aboard the U.S.S. SIBONEY and was convoyed part way across the Atlantic by the U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA. Enroute Rives voices his fears of German submarines and describes the routine of livesaving drills.
Upon arrival at Biscay Bay (June 7), Rives's company was transported to Bordeaux. The diary discusses reactions to American soldiers by French villagers, horrible camp conditions, cramped quarters for traveling to the front, billeting in French towns, and rumors that the U. S. had declared war on Mexico.
From Bordeaux, Rives's company moved to Beauville, headquarters of Maj. Gen. Adelbert Cronkhite, who commanded the 80th Division, American Expeditionary Force. There Rives describes nighttime artillery battles, dogfights and shooting down German planes, bombings of the camp, and experiences at the front as an ambulance driver. The 80th Division saw action in the First Battle of the Somme (1918), Meuse-Argonne, and the Battle of Saint-Mihiel (1918).
After a bout with pleurisy, Rives was sent to the front at Verdun (Sept. 27); his illness forced him to a Bordeaux hospital, where he remained until after the Armistice was signed. Before leaving for home, Rives enrolled in courses in French language and history, saw General John J. Pershing on an inspection visit to Rives's camp, was treated for lice, and saw a ship on which President Wilson was traveling. Rives left France on board the ROTTERDAM (May 21).
Before the war Rives worked at the Flanagan Buggy Company and organized one of the first Boy Scout troops in Eastern North Carolina. In 1920 he married Miss Novie Shippe, of Enfield and Tarboro, North Carolina. The couple had two children: James R. Rives, III and Jeannette Rives (later, Mrs. Calvin Johnson).
After his marriage, Mr. Rives engaged in mercantile businesses in various towns in including Greenville, Ahoskie, and Baltimore; in 1926, he returned to Enfield where he operated Rives and Company for twenty years. He later owned and operated Rives Paint and Upholstery Company, in Enfield. He died in 1972.