Harry Taylor was born on 9th August 1895. His parents were Harry Taylor and Tamar Mettam. Harry was the second child for the couple who already had a one year old daughter, Edith.
Harry was baptised at Old Whittington church on 2nd October 1895.
The baptism register shows that the family were living at 34 Whittington Hill and Harry senior was working as a miner.
By the time of the 1901 census the family had grown and Harry now had two younger brothers William 3 and George 2, and a baby sister Ethel at 8 months. The address is shown as 24 Whittington Hill.
The 1901 census shows that Harry was at school. At some point the family moved from Whittington Hill to Dingle Bank, Calow. Dingle Bank is the area off Dingle Lane and between Dark Lane Calow and Calow Lane Hasland.
In 1903, according to the school records, Harry and his two brothers William and George were all attending Calow National Junior School (later Church of England school). The address given for the three boys was Dingle Bank and the previous school they attended was Old Whittington.
By 1906 the family had moved back to Old Whittington and were living at 44 Whittington Hill, and the children were attending Whittington Moor Endowed Boys school (later Peter Websters). Strangely the entry shows that the last school attended was Old Whittington so I am not sure how long the family were living at Calow.
By 1911 the Taylor family were living at 111 Whittington Hill and Harry at 15 years old was working as a Coal Porter.
Harry’s occupation is coal porter and this is described in Victorian occupations as a person who carries and delivers coal. (http://www.census1891.com/occupations-c.php). However, Harry changed his occupation at some point and started working at Cummings Blacking factory in Whittington.
The Blacking factory was off Newbridge Lane in the Foxley Oaks area of Whittington.
In 1915 he enlisted in Chesterfield and joined the 2/6th Battalion of the Notts and Derbyshire regiment (Sherwood Foresters) service number 241719.
I cannot confirm when Harry actually joined up as the Service Record no longer exists, however a newspaper report at the time of Harrys death would indicate he joined up some time in 1915.
In August 1915 the 2/6th Battalion came under orders of 176th Brigade, 59th (2nd North Midland) Division.
In April 1916 the Division was hurriedly ordered to Ireland to assist in quelling troubles that broke out in Dublin and elsewhere. Severe fighting took place in the battle against the Irish nationalist forces. The Division’s first battle casualties were incurred.
The passing of the Military Service Act in early 1916 deemed all men to have agreed to serve overseas and thus the Division was available to be sent, once it was trained. The Division returned to England in January 1917 and orders were issued that they would soon be going to France. The whole unit arrived at Mericourt by 3rd March 1917, they took part in the following actions.
The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (23-25 September)*
On 20 September 1917, the Division’s role was to relieve the 55th (West Lancashire) Division after it had made an attack in the area of Gravenstafel. The Lancashires succeeded in capturing all objectives and the 59th duly moved to relieve them. Assembling around Goldfish Chateau, just outside Ypres, the Division moved up into the salient on the night of 23/24 September and completed the move into battle positions during 25 and 26th. Divisional HQ was set up in a pillbox on the eastern bank of the Ypres Canal.
The Battle of Polygon Wood (26-30 September)*
The Division attacked as part of the British force that made an assault early on 26 September. Using 177th and 178th Brigades in front, the Division captured all of its objectives and then held on against German counter attack. Divisional HQ, finding its canal position to be very near some heavy artillery, moved back a way to Mersey Camp Wood but were there bombed by enemy aircraft at night. The Division had suffered 2000 casualties while in the salient and was relieved on 29 September by the New Zealand Division.
* the battles marked * are phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres
(Information from www.longlongtrail.co.uk)
It is difficult to confirm which actions Harry would have taken part in but he was killed in action on 26th September 1917 at the start of what we now know as Passchendaele, he was 22 years old. There is a good chance he would have taken part in the Battle of Polygon Wood and it is possibly where he died.
He is buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery (more information here )
Pictures of New Irish Farm Cemetery taken July 2019 courtesy of A J Taylor
In a report in the Derbyshire Times and Herald 13th October 1917 a Lieutenant in the Sherwoods sent this message to Harry’s parents. ” He died doing his duty nobly and magnificently advancing in the first wave. He was a noble example of English courage and bravery”.
Harry’s medal card shows that he was awarded the British War and Victory medals, he wouldn’t have been awarded the 14/15 Star as he did not serve in an overseas theatre of war until after 31st December 1915.
The register of Personal Effects shows that originally Harry had put his mother down as sole legatee for any outstanding monies due from his army pay, this was changed to his father Harry. Sadly, the reason for this (as far as I can check without a death certificate) Harrys mother died towards the end of 1918 and these payments were not sent out until 1919.
Register of Personal Effects
In 1939 Harry’s father was still living at 111 Whittington Hill and he died in 1944. This information has not been checked with the death certificate however. Harry’s brother William also enlisted and served in France. Whilst he was there he lost the thumb on his left hand but did survive the war and went on to marry Florence Barson on 25th December 1919 at Old Whittington church.
Harry Taylor is remembered on Old Whittington and the Brushes War Memorials.