Regiment: 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex
Date and place of birth: 4 June 1898 in Milland, Sussex
Date and place of death: 27 March 1918 in France
William Ernest Ewert Taylor was the son of Alfred Ernest Taylor and Eliza Taylor, nee Ockendon. Alfred Ernest was a Baker and Grocer and the family lived at Cartersland, Milland.
In 1901 Alfred Ernest Taylor (34), baker, Eliza J Taylor (30), were living with their children: Lydia B A (4), William E E (2), and Alfred J C (4 months), in Milland Lane, Trotton, Sussex.
In 1911 Ernest Taylor (44), Eliza Taylor (41), William (12), Arthur (10), Matilda (7), and Gladys (2), were living at 11 Milland Lane, Liphook, Hants.
William was educated at Hollycombe Council School before moving to Midhurst Grammar School on 21 January 1913. There he passed the London University exam with honours. He also achieved the same result at the Royal Academy of Music. He became a pupil teacher in August 1915. He left the school on 25 February 1916.
William Ernest Ewert Taylor joined the 3rd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment on 1 June 1916.
The 3rd Battalion was formed in Bexhill on 20 November 1914 by Colonel Claude Lowther, a Conservative politician and owner of Herstmonceux Castle. His recruiting drive raised three Battalions: the 11th, 12th and 13th. However, he did not lead them into battle but returned to Herstmonceux.
By March 1915 the Battalion was mobilised for war and landed in Le Havre as part of the 116th Brigade of the 39th Division. The announcement of William Taylor’s promotion from the Officer Cadet Section to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment appeared in the London Gazette on 25 October 1916.
He served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 28 November the same year.
He was later appointed Lewis Gun instructor to 116th Brigade School, British Expeditionary Force.
The Royal Sussex Regiment participated in all the major battles of 1916: Richebourg, Ancre Heights and Thiepval Ridge and in 1917: Battles of Pilkem Ridge, Langemarck, Polygon Wood and the 2nd Battle of Paschendale.
Death and commemoration
William Taylor was killed in action at Buire-sur-L’Ancre on 27 March 1918.
His commanding officer wrote –
‘He had only been with us a short time but had already established a reputation in the battalion for bravery and cheerful bearing of hardship and danger. He would in my opinion have made a brilliant officer had he lived. He was fighting with another unit when he was killed and I am told was fighting with great bravery.’
He was personally thanked by his Commander in Chief on behalf of the divisional commissioner for the pluck and coolness with which he conducted himself in very difficult circumstances when he had extricated his platoon from a position of great danger.
He is buried in the Delville Wood Cemetery, grave reference XVIII.Q.2. His headstone is inscribed ‘Loyal and Brave Loved by all’ which was chosen by his father: Mr A E E Taylor, Carterland, Milland, Liphook.
He is commemorated on the Board in Midhurst Rother College.
He is also commemorated on the War Memorial Tablet in St Luke’s church, Milland. (The additional information for William Taylor gives his parent’s address as Hillside, Queens Corner, Iping, Midhurst, the address given by the CWGC.)
Subsequent family history
Matilda Taylor married M Rooke in 1931
Gladys Taylor married William Luff in 1933