William Taylor (1878–1917)


Royal Engineers 61109 84th Field Coy

Photos courtesy Simon Johnson

William Taylor in WW1

With thanks to Simon Johnson
William Taylor was born at his mother’s native Ashover in 1878. He was the oldest of the eleven children of Samuel Taylor and Elizabeth Wilson.

William was raised at Plaistow Green on the outskirts of the parish of Crich, where his father plied his trade as a cattle dealer. William followed his father into this trade and spent most of his adult life working as a calf dealer. William never married, and had no children.

William Taylor

Samuel Taylor in 'civvies'

As a young man he was part of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, which was based at Chesterfield. Volunteer battalions were precursors of the modern-day Territorial Army. British losses suffered during the Second Boer War in South Africa in December 1899 led to a call for more troops. Accordingly, on 2nd January 1900, a special Army Order was issued calling upon the volunteers to furnish their contingent of trained men to reinforce the army in the field. William Taylor was one of the first men to be attested as part of the 1st Volunteer Company of the Sherwood Foresters. He arrived in South Africa on 23rd February 1900, where the service companies of the volunteer battalions took part in the campaign with great credit. William remained in South Africa until his honourable discharge on 29th April 1901. He received the Queen’s South Africa Medal, which was awarded to all military personnel who served in the Second Boer War in South Africa. This medal survives with William’s nephew in Derbyshire. Various clasps were added to the medal to indicate each action and campaign of the war. William’s medal has four clasps which indicate his service in Johannesburg, Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Diamond Hill.

Following his military service in South Africa, William returned to his family at Plaistow Green, returning to his trade as a calf dealer. After his father’s death in 1908, William and his family briefly moved to live at Ashover Hay before moving to the hamlet of Wheatcroft, on the outskirts of the parish of Crich. Prior to his service in the army during the First World War, William had also been employed at Oakerthorpe Colliery.

During the early stages of the First World War, as an experienced former soldier, the call to arms found William ready to respond. He was attested for service with the Royal Engineers at Chesterfield on 1st February 1915, with the rank of Driver. Shortly afterwards he was attached to the 84th Field Company which served as part of the 20th (Light) Division and embarked for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 23 July 1915. The Division spent the duration of the war in action on the Western Front, taking part in many of the significant actions, including phases of the Battles of the Somme in 1916 and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

William was wounded in action during the Battle of Cambrai on 28th November 1917 when he received a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was moved to the Casualty Clearing Station but his wound was so severe that he passed away shortly after admission. He was thirty-nine years old. William was laid to rest in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, which lies in countryside east of Amiens in the Somme region of France. After his death his personal effects of pipe and pencil were returned to his mother.

Newspaper report

Derbyshire Times, 22nd December 1917
photo of William TaylorMrs Taylor, Wheatcroft, Crich, has received news that her only son, Driver William Taylor, has been killed in action. The news was conveyed in the following letter from the matron of the Casualty Clearing Station, France, dated November 28th: – “It is with great regret I have to tell you of the death this day of your son, Driver W. Taylor, from wounds received in action. He came to us this morning so severely wounded in the abdomen that all we could do for him was of no avail, for he succumbed to his injuries shortly after admission. His end was peaceful and free from pain. It may be of some little comfort to you to know he did not suffer. With sincere sympathy”.

Driver Taylor, who was 39 years of age and single, served with the Sherwood Foresters for three years during the South African war. In February, 1915, he joined the Royal Engineers, and six months afterwards was sent to France. He formerly worked at the Oakerthorpe Colliery and is well known in the Crich and Ashover district.

Medal Roll Index Card
He was awarded the Victory, British War and 15 Star Medals.
He entered France 23/07/15

Army Service Record
He attested 01/01/15 at Chesterfield aged 38 years 2 months an unmarried farmer of Wheatcroft, Crich. He had previously served with 2nd Volunteer Battn Notts & Derby. His height was 5ft 6½ in, weight 148lb and he was C of E. The next of kin was his mother Elizabeth Taylor of Wheatcroft who received 7/2 separation allowance and 3/6 allotment of pay. After his death personal effects of his pipe and pencil were returned to his mother.
He had sisters: Sarah Ellen Stone, aged 30, Moorwood Moor; Gertrude Luigley, aged 28, Norbriggs; Florence Hannah Taylor, aged 25, Wheatcroft; Edith Smith, aged 23, Sherwood St Derby; Ada Taylor, aged 21, Wheatcroft.
22/07/15 Embarked
12/12/16 to 22/12/16 Leave to the UK
20/02/17 Admission to hospital
19/03/17 Rejoined unit from hospital
13/08/17 Admission to hospital
21/08/17 Rejoined unit from hospital
28/11/17 Died of wounds (gun-shot wound to abdomen)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials W
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Driver
Regiment/Service Royal Engineers
Unit 84th Field Coy.
Age 39
Date of Death 28/11/17
Service Number 61109
Additional Information Son of Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor, of Wheatcroft, Crich, Matlock, Derbyshire.
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference III. D. 17.

War Graves certifictae for William Taylor WW1

Memorial Card for William Taylor

Soldiers' Effects Book
William Taylor; 84th Field Coy RE; Driver 61109; died in No 48 CCStation France 28.11.17; War Gratuity £13; paid out to:
16.3.18 mother Elizabeth £6 16s 5d
14.11.19 mother Elizabeth £13 0s 0d


1901: Plaistow Green

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Samuel Taylor Head 45 Cattle dealer Crich
Elizabeth Taylor wife 41   Ashover
William Taylor son 24 Soldier Ashover
John Taylor son 18 Farm carter Crich
Sarah E Taylor daughter 11   Crich
Gertie Taylor daughter 9   Crich
Florence Taylor daughter 6   Crich
Edith Taylor daughter 6   Crich
Ada Taylor daughter 2   Crich
Lucy Taylor daughter 2 mo   Crich

RG13 piece 3231 folio 32 page 10

1911: Hay, Ashover

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Elizabeth Taylor Head (wdw) 51   Ashover
William Taylor son 33 Calf dealer Ashover
Ada Taylor daughter 12 School Plaistow Green

RG14PN21057 RG78PN1256 RD438 SD1 ED3 SN47