ROBERT HODGSON TAYLOR

Private 1827, 12th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Died 13th January 1919 aged 35

Buried Bowling Cemetery, Rooley Lane, Bradford

Husband of Charlotte Taylor

Lived 18, King Street, Heckmondwike


Robert was born on 22nd September 1883 at 19, Priestley Street off Bolton Road, Bradford.  His parents were John and Sarah Ann (née Hodgson); John was from East Retford; Sarah was from Wetherby.  Robert was baptised on 20th January 1884 in Bradford Parish Church.

By 1901 Robert, then aged 17 was working as a Pavior, like his father.  On 4th April 1904 Robert married Charlotte Ann Lewis at St John’s Church, Cheetham, Manchester.  In 1911 Robert, Charlotte, 4 year old son Ralph and daughter Evelyn, born 23rd November 1910, were living at 14, Bolland Buildings, Low Moor, Bradford.  Robert worked for the Building Department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.  By 1914 the family were at 5, King Street, Heckmondwike and a son John Vincent was born on 30th November 1914.  Their first son Ralph died around this time.

On 11th August 1915 Robert joined the 12th Service Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (Pioneers).  He gave his address as 18, King Street, Heckmondwike; his occupation as a Pavior and his age as 31 years 11 months.  In October 1915 the Battalion moved to a camp at Fovant near Salisbury before sailing for Egypt, arriving there on 6th December 1915.  The Battalion carried out maintenance work along the Suez Canal until they received orders to move to France, arriving in Marseilles on 3rd March 1916.

The Battalion took part in the attack on the remains of the fortified village of Serre on the first day of the Battle of the Somme: 1st July 1916.  The Battalion’s orders were that they should support the attacks by the Leeds, Bradford and Accrington Pals Battalions by maintaining communications; wire cutting and trench repair.  In addition to their packs each soldier carried tools and 170 bullets for their Lee-Enfield rifles – the Pals soldiers were equipped with 220 bullets.  The severe losses suffered by the Pals Battalions meant that the 12th Battalion was fully engaged in the attack.  At roll call at 16:30, 197 soldiers of the Battalion were listed as killed, wounded or missing.

At this point the records for Pte Taylor are unclear: he returned to England on 7th July 1916, though a note that says he had been wounded has been deleted.  A son, also named Ralph, was born on 27th July 1916 but the likelihood of a soldier being granted leave on that account, at that stage of the Somme offensive, seems remote.  The usual leave period was 10 to 14 days, including travel and Pte Taylor did not return to France until October 1916.

But it is clear that he was posted on 3rd September 1916 to the 3rd Battalion, which was then in Reserve at Withernsea on the East Coast.  When Pte Taylor did return to France on 6th October 1916 it was with the 10th Battalion.

He continued to serve with the 10th and was wounded whilst the Battalion was in an area to the South-East of Bethune in Northern France when attacks were being made on the German defence lines during December 1916.  German ‘Blue Cross’ gas shells fell on the Battalion’s positions and the Battalion records show that two men were wounded on 10th December 1916; one on 19th December and one on 21st December.  Pte Taylor was amongst those wounded and he was back in England on 29th December 1916.  He spent some time in Eastbourne, perhaps in the large military hospital there.  He was later assessed as ‘no longer fit for war service’ and was discharged from the Army on 15th October 1917.  On 28th November 1917 he was awarded the Silver War Badge as a soldier discharged on account of wounds.

Robert died on 13th January 1919 in Horton War Hospital, now St Luke’s Hospital Bradford.  Causes of death were heart failure and a stroke.  He was 35 years old and his home address was 60, Saville Street, Bradford 4.  He is buried in Bowling Cemetery Bradford, block M.   In addition to the Silver War Badge he was awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.  His total service for pension purposes was 2 years 66 days.  Mrs Taylor received two payments on 8th March 1920: outstanding allowances of 15s 7d and a war gratuity of £9 10s.  In late 1920 Charlotte married John Britton in Bradford and in 1925 arranged for the inscription ‘Thy will be done’ to be included on the Imperial War Graves Commission headstone in Bowling Cemetery.  Charlotte died in 1927, aged 43.

Robert Taylor’s nephew Robert Hodgson also served in the Army, mainly with the Machine Gun Corps, from 20th February 1918 to 13th December 1919.
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