Taylor T.E.

Private 37869 Thomas Eeles Taylor 12th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, (formerly 32nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers)


Died of wounds 7th April, 1917

Thomas Eeles Taylor was born in Stokesley in 1896. He was the son of Thomas Tweddell Taylor and Martha Jane Eeles who married in Stokesley in 1887. He was also the nephew of Mary Glasper (nee Taylor) and therefore the cousin of James Frederick Glasper, who also fell in the Great War. (See Glasper J.F.).

Both of Thomas’s parents (as well as all of their children) had been born in Stokesley, where his father had trained as a painter. However, in 1901 Thomas was living in York with his parents and 3 siblings; Frank, Harry and Susannah Maria. His father was a railway carriage painter for the North Eastern Railway (N.E.R.).

In the 1911 census, Thomas's family, with the exception of his brother Frank1, were still together York; Thomas’s father was still a coach painter for the North Eastern Railway, and Thomas’s brother Harry was a clerk in a flour mill. Thomas himself was at school.

According to the Book of Remembrance Thomas (like his father) was an employee of the N.E.R. prior to enlistment, and this is confirmed in the card index to his awards, which shows that he originally enlisted into the 32nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.2

The 32nd Battalion was founded early in the war, when the N.E.R. found that over 2000 of its employees had enlisted within a few days of the declaration of war. It was felt by the management of the N.E.R. that its men should be given the opportunity to serve with their work colleagues and friends in a special North Eastern battalion. A circular was sent to employees asking men to complete a form if they wished to do this. The organisers thought they would need 1100 men to support the idea if the proposal was to be accepted. They actually received 3000 replies.

On 11th September 1914 the unit was given permission to style itself the 17th Northumbrian Fusiliers. The N.E.R. showed its support by the offer of generous terms for the recruits such as guaranteeing adequate provision for wives and dependents, keeping the men’s jobs open, and even paying the superannuation and pension contributions of the volunteers.

The 32nd Battalion was established as the reserve to 17th Battalion in June 1915. The men of the 32nd spent most of their training time in England commencing in Hull. In May 1916 drafts were prepared to 17th battalion and the 32nd subsequently became the 80th Training reserve taking in recruits other than N.E.R. men.

The official rolls of 32nd Battalion do record Thomas Eeles Taylor as one of their number, but simply inform the reader that he was transferred to 12th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

(For more information on the N.E.R. Battalion, see
“Record of the 17th and 32nd Service Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers (NER) Pioneers 1914 – 1918”
by Lt Col Shakespear, ed. Major H Shenton.)

Thomas Eeles Taylor was sent to France with 12th Battalion KOYLI - or to give it its full title 12th (Service) Battalion (Miners) (Pioneers) King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The complex title of this unit comes from its origins as it was originally raised in Leeds by West Yorkshire Coalminers Association in September 1914. It was later attached to the 31st Division, 5th Army.

Private Taylor arrived in France in June 1916 and was therefore present for the attack on the hill top fortress of Serre on the opening day of the Somme Offensive (1st July 1916), an attack met with overwhelming enemy artillery and machine gun fire in which heavy casualties were sustained. Nevertheless, Private Taylor survived the entire 1916 Somme campaign, which was finally abandoned late in the year, with little gain to show for truly horrific casualty figures.

In April 1917, the 12th Battalion KOYLI were involved in fighting in the Ancre Valley, near Beaumont-Hamel. It is recorded that fighting took place on the 4th and 5th April near Epehy and Havrincourt Wood and it may have been that this was when Private Taylor was wounded, dying from his wounds 2/3 days later on April 7th.

The action was termed a “success” as 3 villages, 100 German soldiers, 2 trench mortars and 11 machine guns were captured.

Private Taylor was 20 years old when he fell. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and his body lies in Plot I K 45 of the Aubigny Communal Cemetery.

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