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Person Details
27 Jun 1896
Kibworth Leicestershire
He was the son of Thomas Smithies, a consultant engineer, and Mary Ellen Taylor of Westaby House Smeaton Westaby Leicester and later Steep Petersfield Hampshire. He was the brother of Lily Dorothea and Mark Herschel Taylor. He also attended Bedale. After school he went to London University, the London School of Economics, and then abroad.
He studied accounting in London, then worked for a firm of camera and lens makers in Berlin. In 1914 he became a civilian clerk in the Army Service Corps.
15 Oct 1916
20
814980 - CWGC Website
Lieutenant
2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Taylor obtained a commission in the Army Service Corps. He was promoted Lieutenant in October, 1915, and ordered to the front on December 23, 1915. After two applications, he was transferred, at his own request, to the infantry in the trenches in April 1915. He was commissioned in October that year. We get a useful insight into the last six months of his army service from the “History of the Sherwood Foresters in the Great War”. In April 1916 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters. The explanation of the move was that Smithies Taylor found that his duties in the ASC ‘afforded him insufficient scope for the destruction of the Hun’ and, therefore, he had applied for a transfer to the infantry and joined the 2nd Battalion for duty in the frontline. Apparently, his fighting kit on arrival was found to consist of two blankets and a mandolin! Thus equipped and armed the “History” states that he did excellent work for his new corps and the ‘weapon’ with which he came armed effectually livened up “A” Company during ‘many dreary tours of duty in the trenches’. During the Somme Offensive 1916 on 11th September the Sherwood Foresters marched to Carnoy, where they were shelled heavily but harmlessly during lunch, having arrived at 1 pm. After their meal, the battalion left their packs at the transport line and went up to take over trenches south-west of Guillemont. Lieutenant Taylor is recorded as staying behind with the packs. On 14th September 14th 1916, Smithies Taylor took temporary command of ‘A’ Company after the commanding officer had been wounded just before they were due to attack near Guillemont. On 15th October he was killed while the Battalion were in trenches near Le Transloy. His death was described in a letter to his mother from an officer in another company. It states: “…I was one of the last persons to speak to him. We had taken a section of trench in front of us from the Germans, and that night ‘A’ Company under Lieutenant Taylor was to relieve the company which had taken the position. The German snipers were very active, and I was digging a communication trench for the relieving troops to use. He came to me and saw what I was doing and then went over to the new trench to get in touch with the commander there. He came back shortly afterwards and as my trench was not ready for the relief, returned to the forward trench again. He was a little while there, and as the trench was being repaired, walked with his servant on the top. The Germans shot at them and he told his man to get down quickly. The man did so, and as he did so, he heard his officer say “I’m hit”. Taylor lay perfectly still and closed his eyes so that his servant said that he looked asleep. They buried him and I believe the Adjutant has the reference to his grave.’ In fact, the exact whereabouts of Lieutenant Taylor’s grave may well have been lost fairly soon after he was killed, as he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. During the six weeks they spent on the Somme, the 2nd Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters lost 12 officers killed, 152 non-commissioned officers and other ranks killed, 16 officers wounded and 625 other ranks wounded – a total of 805 casualties in 42 days.
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