Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Arthur Taylor

Arthur Taylor :

Arthur Taylor : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Territorial Efficiency Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Territorial Efficiency Medal

Arthur was born on the 18th December 1895 in Longsight, Manchester. He was baptised at St Clements Parish Church on the 8th January 1896. His father was called Harry and his mother was Sarah Elizabeth. He had 2 older siblings; Samuel Harry and William Thomas, and 5 younger; Ada Ann, Fred, Sarah Emma, Elizabeth and Thomas. Samuel, William and Fred had died by 1911.

Harry worked as a labourer and mixer at a rubber works throughout Arthur's childhood. The family moved often around the Ardwick and Longsight areas. Each child was born at a different address, except Sarah and Elizabeth in 1904 and 1906. In the 1901 and 1911 Censuses the family lived at 2 other addresses.

The family lived at 18 Ross Street when Arthur was born. By 1901 they were at 7 Old Street in Ardwick. Ten years later they had moved to 77 Morton Street in nearby West Gorton. Unlike the previous 20 years, the family would live here for around a decade. Arthur had followed in his father's footsteps, and worked as an errand boy at the rubber works.

As well as his civilian job, in early 1913 Arthur joined the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force, so he kept his civilian home and job, and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. There would also be an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks.

Arthur's service number was 1681. He became a member of the battalion Band, and played the cornet. One of his close friends in the Band was Ben Adams, 'who he often spoke of in pleasant terms'. Other members of the battalion referred to the bandsmen as 'God's own little gentlemen'.

Soon after the 1914 camp the First World War broke out. The Territorial Force was called into service in early August, and the 8th Battalion was sent overseas on the 10th September. They arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 25th.

We don't know whether Arthur was ever wounded or taken ill during the war, and he seems to have spent almost all the war with the 8th Battalion.

After less than a month in Egypt, on the 19th October Arthur was sent to Cyprus. This was a Turkish colony administered by Britain. As Britain and Turkey were now at war Arthur and the renamed 1/8th Battalion took part in the British annexation of the island. They stayed there until the 23rd January 1915 when they returned to Egypt.

Arthur went to war in May 1915 when the 1/8th Battalion landed in Gallipoli. They landed on the 6th and were sent into the front lines after 4 days. The battalion spent 12 days at the front, holding the line under Turkish fire. They were then relieved and sent to the rear. The battalion was able to get some rest, but they were also used as labourers to build roads.

After 4 days of this, on around the 26th May, the battalion returned to the front. On the 4th June they took part in the attack on the village of Krithia. This had been intended to be captured during late April when the first Allied troops landed, but the Turks had been able to hold them off.

The 1/8th Battalion advanced further than most British units, but this meant when the Turks counter attacked they were cut off and forced to withdraw. The 1/8th Battalion lost around 350 men on that day. Many of them will have been friends of Arthur.

The battalion's next major operation began on the 7th August, again near Krithia. It was intended to divert Turkish troops away from the British landings at Suvla Bay. The British launched an attack, but were forced back by a Turkish counterattack. The Turks continued to attack for the next 2 days, inflicting many casualties on the British.

This would be the heaviest fighting Arthur saw in Gallipoli. Although the Turkish defenders still shelled and sniped at the British, over the next few months the weather and disease were perhaps the main threats to Arthur and his comrades.

The 1/8th Battalion was evacuated back to Egypt in December and served there throughout 1916. In March 1917 they moved to France to fight on the Western Front.

At around this time soldiers serving in Territorial Force units were given new service numbers. The 8th Battalion was allocated the range 300001 to 350000. Arthur was given 300127.

The 1/8th Battalion served on the old Somme battleground at Epehy and Havrincourt during the summer of 1917, before moving north to Ypres in Belgium during late August. They guarded the North Sea coast at Nieuwpoort whilst the Passchendaele Offensive was fought around Ypres. In November 1917 they returned to France and were stationed around Bethune.

During 1918 the 1/8th Battalion helped to defeat the German Spring Offensive of March and April. The attacks began on the 21st March, and the battalion fought desperately to bring the Germans to a halt.

In later life Arthur's son Wilfred remembered him often referring to Bapaume. The Battle of Bapaume was the first phase of this offensive. The hard fighting and the dangers of the retreat must have had a strong impact on Arthur.

Arthur was in the UK in early June, although we don't know why. He married Jane Ingram in the Ancoats area of Manchester on the 6th June. We don't know whether he returned to France.

The Allies had defeated the German offensive by July and began one of their own in August. With or without Arthur, it was extremely successful and drove the Germans back. The 1/8th Battalion took part in hard fighting in the Somme area. They then broke through the German Hindenburg Line and crossed the Selle River, and by the end of the war on the 11th November they had reached Hautmont.

At some point after the end of the war Arthur was demobilised and left the Army. He had served for 6 years and 60 days when this happened, suggesting it was in mid 1919.

Shortly after the end of the war the National Publishing Company began an attempt to print a roll covering every man who had served in the First World War. They invited veterans or their families to send a short account of his or her service, for a fee. Not all veterans took up this offer, and the details they included were not checked for accuracy. Arthur or his family sent this biography to the Company. It was published in Section XI, Manchester, of the National Roll of the Great War:

Taylor, A., Private, 1/8th Manchester Regiment

A Territorial, he was mobilised in August 1914, and proceeded to Egypt in the following month. He took part in the taking of Cyprus from the Turks, and was afterwards sent back to Egypt, and stationed at Cairo. Later he was transferred to the Dardanelles, where he fought gallantly at the fierce fighting at the Landing on the Peninsula, and was wounded at Krithia, but was in action again in July 1915, being then severely wounded. He was sent to hospital in England, and was retained there until discharged in November 1917, holding the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.

77, Morton Street, Longsight, Manchester

Arthur was not discharged in 1917, and we know he fought in France.

Arthur rejoined the 8th Battalion on the 27th July 1920 and was given the service number 3512145. He was a metal worker in his civilian life. He served until the 26th July 1922 when he was discharged. His conduct had been 'Good'. Shortly afterwards he was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal to recognise his 12 years of service. Arthur could count the war years twice.

When he left the Army Arthur lived at 9 Junction Street with Jane and their children. Their first child, Dolores, had been born on the 10th July 1920. We believe they had another 6.

Arthur was born between January and March 1922, Samuel between April and June 1923, Wilfred between October and December 1924, Joan during the same period in 1927, Terence between April and June 1930 and Eveline J. between January and March 1932. Sadly Terence died between October and December 1930.

Wilfred remembers his father working in the 'aircraft industry' whilst he was in the TA. In later life he became Bandmaster of a TA unit based at Seymour Grove TA Centre in Old Trafford, Manchester. We don't know which.

We believe Arthur died in late 1968, aged 73. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in March 1995.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council