Paylor J W

Lance Corporal 148607 John W Paylor, 55th Battalion Machine Gun Corps, (formerly Private 2477 Yorkshire Regiment)


Killed in action 6th September, 1918.

John William Paylor was born in Thirsk in 1896. He was the son of Thomas Paylor, a farm hind also from Thirsk , and Elizabeth Metcalfe, the daughter of Charles and Margaret Metcalfe who was born in Darlington. The marriage of Thomas Paylor and Elizabeth Metcalfe was registered in Thirsk in 1893.

By 1901, however, the family was in Picton within Stokesley rural district and they are recorded ten years later as living at Thorntree Farm, Carlton, near Busby. John was then 14 and 'at home'. He was one of a large family, 9 children in all, of whom 8 were then surviving. John had 4 brothers: Charles, born about 1886, Thomas Vincent (1901), Arthur Wilfred (1903) and Joseph Rowland (1908). There were also 3 sisters: Sarah Selina born 1894, Annie Elizabeth (1899) and Margaret Jane (1905).

John’s attestation (enlistment) papers do not seem to have survived but those of his brother Charles have, and from these we can see that the family was living in West End, Stokesley in 1914. According to the Book of Remembrance John initially enlisted with the 4th Yorks Territorial Regiment on 14th September 1914 and was sent to France in April 1915. Over the next two years he was twice gassed and was once “missing” – his friends believing that he had perished.

The official list of “The Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914 – 1918” states that John enlisted in Northallerton where he joined the Yorkshire Regiment. He was later transferred to the 55th Battallion Machine Gun Company (MGC). The 55th MGC joined with other MGCs of the 18th Division to form the 18th Machine Gun Battalion on 16th February 1918. He remained with this unit through the campaigns of spring and summer 1918, first checking the German advances and then driving the invaders north and east across France and Flanders. John Paylor had come through the most perilous stage of the whole war, only to die in action two months before the war ended.

Private Paylor's medal card records a variety of regimental numbers allocated to him as he was transferred from one unit to another. The first entry has him listed as Pte 2477, A Cyclist Corps; next he becomes Pte 14376, A Cyclist Corps, and finally Pte 148607, MGC. An annotation to the card by an army clerk reads: “correct Regtl No. 186” which must have been the number allocated to him when he joined the territorials.

From the medal card we also learn that John died of wounds and, poignantly, that his medals were returned undisposed of. Given the size of John Paylor's family, this seems hard to explain.

Private Paylor was 22 years old when he fell. He was awarded the British Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. His body lies in Plot VI A 25 of the Pernes British Cemetery

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