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Harry Taylor

Rank: Gunner

Lifetime: 1889-1917

Reference: L/5140


War Memorial at St Peter's, Norbiton, on which Gunner Harry Taylor is commemorated

The Hampton Wick Roll of Honour helps to identify him as Gunner Harry Taylor (L/5140) of D Battery of the 21st Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery who died on 5 July 1917.

He was the third son of William Taylor of Caxton House, 47 High St, Hampton Wick. Gunner Taylor was the husband of Mary Taylor, of 40 Hampden Road, Norbiton and they had 2 children. His grave is at Fosse No.10 Communal Cemetery Extension, Sains-En-Gohelle, France. He is also commemorated on the War Memorial in St Peter’s Church, Norbiton.

Before enlisting in May 1915, he had enjoyed a rather colourful life according to his obituary in The Surrey Comet dated 25 July 1917. He had been employed by a Mr Tom Dann, bookmaker and was a “well known in the Midlands as a ten stone boxer”. After enlisting, he was sent to France in November 1916 where on 5 July 1917 he was killed ,along with 11 of his comrades, by a single enemy shell.

Gunner Harry Taylor was described in a letter from his Commanding Officer, Major Buxton Smith, as “an excellent gunner, always cheery, a very hard worker and a great favourite with the men”. When he was buried in France about 30 wreaths were sent by his own and various other batteries.

Gunner Harry Taylor’s obituary relates that his father had 3 other sons in the army. William Taylor, a private in the Warwickshire Regiment, had already been missing for 12 months at the time that Harry Taylor’s obituary appeared in The Surrey Comet and was presumed dead (although he is not listed on the Hampton Wick War Memorial or on the casualty lists of the CWGC – so perhaps he subsequently reappeared?). Charles Taylor, a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, had been serving since the outbreak of the war in 1914 as he was a reservist. Corporal James Taylor had also been serving since 1914 as he too was a reservist. He had originally served in the Worcesters but by July 1917 was deployed in the Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers.

References to various Taylor family members in Hampton Wick abound some of whom may be related to Gunner Harry Taylor. An obituary of local magnate and dignitary A. W. Bullen states that he took over the role of parish surveyor in 1914 as a P. Taylor (the previous incumbent) was away at the front during the Great War. A William Taylor (possibly Gunner Taylor’s father or brother) had various businesses in Hampton Wick including a draper’s shop in 1910 at 57 High Street and a furniture dealership in 1914 at 47 High Street. Ada Taylor, was landlady of the Rose and Crown Public House during the war years (from 1915 until 1919). By 1920, a Charles George Taylor (again possibly his brother) was a fruiterer at 81 High Street. Henry Taylor, a retired boot maker, lived at 26 High Street and was said to be a semi-recluse.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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