12 October 2018
Leslie Taylor of Lonsdale House, Wickington, Manchester enrolled at Harper Adams in October 1917 but his date of leaving is unknown. He previously attended Manchester Grammar School and they have kindly provided us with this obituary published in the school magazine in November 1916:
“Leslie Taylor was born on 14th February, 1893. He was the son of the late Mr. John Taylor, of Oakfield House, Slade Lane, Levenshulme. He was educated at our South Manchester School and came on to us in 1908. From M.G.S. he passed to the Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire. He made up his mind to farm in Australia and had just arrived in Sydney, N.S.W., when war was declared. At once he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (19th Battalion). He served for four months in the trenches in Gallipoli, and then, after a spell in Egypt, he served for about eleven months on the western front.
“He was killed in the Somme fighting on 27th July. During his whole time of service he never once applied for leave. He set duty above all things.”
An article in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald (14/4/2014) provides more information as told by Liz Amos, who had researched the story of her great uncle.
Leslie Taylor was the second eldest son of John Taylor, who owned a brewery in Manchester. Following his education at Manchester Grammar School and Harper Adams Agricultural College, Leslie emigrated to Australia at the age of 21 to farm.
He enlisted at Sydney with the 19th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) [service number 1317] and sailed to Egypt for training. The battalion was sent to Gallipoli, where it fought against the Turks, defending Hill Sixty. After it was withdrawn from Gallipoli, the battalion was sent to France, arriving at Marseilles in March, 1916.
The files of the Australian Red Cross Society wounded and missing enquiry bureau contain a copy of a letter dated 16th September, 1916, from Leslie’s elder sister, Doris Taylor, to the British Red Cross asking for information on him as the family had received no word from him since the first week in July, 1916. Other official letters on the file recorded that he had received a direct hit from some shrapnel while waiting in a first line trench near Thiepval, and his subsequent burial by fellow soldiers where he fell at the battle of Pozieres on 27th July, 1916.
Records received from the National Archives of Australia, included a form detailing the medals awarded to Leslie the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which were given to everyone from the British and Empire forces who took part in the war.
Lesley Taylor is remembered with honour at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.
The Australian National Memorial stands within Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and commemorates all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, including those who died on the battlefields of the Somme 1916-18. Of the 10,982 names displayed at the unveiling of the memorial in 1938, the burial places of many have since been identified and as a result, there are currently 10,729 Australian servicemen officially commemorated by this memorial.