Private Walter Charles Taylor of “C” Company, 7th Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment died on 5th July 1916. He was recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being 18 years old, although his service record gives his age on enlistment on 23rd April 1915 as 19 years and three days. It seems that he lied about his age as, although 18-year-olds could enlist, soldiers couldn’t serve overseas until they had reached the age of 19.
Walter was born in Olton, Solihull, the youngest of the two sons of parents Walter William Taylor, a gardener, and his wife Georgina. By the 1911 census, the family was living in Packwood House Yard, Hockley Heath, and both boys – 14-year-old Walter, and his 16-year-old brother, Reginald Sydney – were working for the post office as telegraph boys. When he enlisted in the Army, Walter gave his trade as a baker, and his address as 41 Ivy Thomas White Road, Coventry.
He joined the South Lancashire Regiment in Crosby, the day after enlisting. On 7th August 1915, he was appointed Lance Corporal, but reduced to the rank of Private on 7th October 1915 as a result of “dirty parading for General’s inspection”. Several other minor infringements were noted on his charge sheet and he was punished with “jankers”:
- not being shaved on 8:45am parade on 26th April 1916 (punishment: 5 days Confined to Barracks (CB));
- having a dirty rifle on morning parade on 9th May (7 days CB);
- being absent from defaulted parade on 15th May (3 days CB);
- and inattention on parade on 20th June 1916 (3 days CB).
He was posted to France on 11th August 1915, where he served for 330 days before being posted missing after last being seen on 5th July. His body was never identified, and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Knowle, although he is not recorded on the memorial at Olton, where he was born, nor at Lapworth, where his family lived.
If you have any further information on the family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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