Private 36717 William Arthur Taylor

Killed in Action on Tuesday, 18th June 1918, age 22.
Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France.

4th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

Son of William Arthur and Anna Taylor, of 106, Whitehall Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: West Bromwich, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1760400/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
28a Bull Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
William Arthur Taylor (27, Brick Putter-In, born West Bromwich), his wife Anna (25, born West Bromwich), and their 2 children: William Arthur (4, born West Bromwich), James Frederick (3 months, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
303 Whitehall Road, Great Bridge, West Bromwich, Staffs.
William Arthur Taylor (37, Glassmaker, born West Bromwich), his wife Anna (35, born West Bromwich), and their 3 surviving children of 5: William Arthur (14, Glass Bottle Worker, born West Bromwich), James Frederick (10, School, born West Bromwich), and Annie Maud (8, School, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

The CWGC website gives the next of kin address as Great Bridge, Tipton, and William is commemorated here because of that. It must be acknowledged that the Tipton connection is a little tenuous, and more likely to be the West Bromwich side of Great Bridge. Nevertheless, he is welcome here.

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £7/0/1d (7 pounds and 1 penny); this was paid to his father, Wiliam A., in October 1919. His War Gratuity was £7/0/0d (7 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in November 1916.

Action resulting in his death

The 4th Battalion, South Staffs, as part of 25th Division had significant and costly involvement in the bloody defensive actions following the German attacks on 21st March 1918. Over the next 6 weeks they had at least 11 Officers and 167 Other Ranks killed in action. At the beginning of May 1918, 25th Division was one of the five divisions of Commonwealth forces posted to the French 6th Army in the Soissons area to rest and refit, supposedly in a quiet area. Here, at the end of May, they found themselves facing the overwhelming German attack which pushed the Allies back across the Aisne to the Marne.

The Battle of the Aisne began with a German attack in the early morning mist of 27th May. Their superior numbers forced the British into retreat, despite some heroic stands to slow the German advance. At 10.00am, the remaining British reserves were brought into action. By the evening, the British line had been forced back over 3,000 yards.

Those still capable fought a withdrawal as the Germans continuously advanced beyond the River Marne. Casualties between 27 May and 14 June were 4338 officers and men, of whom 2511 were missing.

On the 17th June the South Staffs were relieved by Italian troops, and on the 18th June were sent by train 25 miles south from Germaine in the Champagne area, to Fère-Champenoise in the Marne area. This is a little confusing as William is recorded as being killed in action on Tuesday 18th June 1918. William has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings