Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Samuel Taylor

Samuel Taylor :

Samuel Taylor : (L to R) Military Cross; Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Elandslaagte', 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves

(L to R) Military Cross; Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Elandslaagte', 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Belfast'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves

We don't know anything about Samuel's early life or family.

He joined the Army in around July 1897. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 5131.

We don't know anything about Samuel's career until August 1899, when he was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Gibraltar. In that month the British Government decided to send the battalion to South Africa in case war broke out between British and Boer settlers there.

The 1st Battalion sailed to Durban and was stationed in the small town of Ladysmith in Natal when war was declared on the 11th October.

Samuel was present at the battle of Elandslaagte on 21st October. This was the first battle of the war in which the Manchesters took part. Although a victory it had no strategic or tactical importance and by the 30th Ladysmith was under siege.

During the siege the British fought hard to stop Boer attempts to take Ladysmith; the 1st Battalion would attack Boer artillery to stop it from shelling their positions. By the end of the siege food was in short supply and disease was widespread. The British relief force reached Ladysmith on the 28th February 1900.

After Ladysmith the British Army tried to force the Boers to face it in battle. They succeeded on the 21st August 1900 at the Battle of Belfast, or Bergendal. Samuel took part in this battle, which lasted until the 27th and ended with the defeat of Boer forces and the capture of their temporary capital, Machadodorp (today called eNtokozweni). The Boers did not surrender; they fought on as guerrillas in small units, so Samuel stayed in South Africa.

There were no battles on the same scale during the rest of the war. The 1st Battalion took part in many smaller operations intended to restrict the Boer's movements and force them to face British soldiers. This strategy was eventually successful and the war came to an end on the 31st May 1902.

The 1st Battalion stayed in South Africa until March 1903, when it moved to Singapore. Samuel was still with the battalion that June. It served in Singapore until September 1904, and then moved to India, where it would stay for the next 10 years.

We don't know anything about Samuel's career until 1913. He had stayed in the Army, and by this time he held the rank of Colour Sergeant Instructor. He was serving as a member of the Permanent Staff of the 5th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Wigan, Lancashire. Territorial soldiers lived as civilians most of the time and trained as soldiers during evenings and weekends. They would also have an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks. The Permanent Staff were Regular soldiers who organised and led training, and ran the unit between training events.

In late 1913 Samuel was promoted to Sergeant Major. This made him the most senior soldier (as opposed to officer) in the battalion. He was responsible for ensuring discipline and maintaining standards amongst the soldiers.

On the 28th February 1914 the Sergeant's Mess of the 5th Battalion commemorated the Relief of Ladysmith with a dinner. Some of their members had taken part in the relief of the siege. We don't know whether Samuel was the only veteran of the defence present.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 the 5th Battalion was called into service. It was sent to Egypt in early September and arrived there on the 25th.

The battalion landed in Gallipoli in early May 1915. We don't know exactly when Samuel went overseas, but he had joined the battalion by then. It fought in Gallipoli until the theatre was evacuated during December. The battalion was involved in difficult fighting and took heavy casualties.

Samuel left the battalion before the end of the campaign. His 'service in the field' had been so distinguished that he had been chosen to become an officer. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on the 2nd November 1915 and joined the Worcestershire Regiment.

We don't know which battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment Samuel joined, so unfortunately we can't say for certain where he served. He was eventually promoted to Lieutenant.

On the 3rd June 1916 Samuel was awarded the Military Cross for 'distinguished service'. Unfortunately there was no citation with the award, so we don't know what he did to earn it. He was Mentioned in Despatches around 5 weeks later on the 13th July.

We don't know anything about the rest of Samuel's war service. The war ended in November 1918 and he seems to have left the Army soon afterwards. By mid 1920 he was on the Retired List.

Samuel left this list on the 1st June. He returned to the 5th Battalion as its Quartermaster, with the rank of Captain. The Quartermaster was responsible for the storage, supply and issue of all items of equipment used by the battalion. It was a very responsible job, and usually went to someone like Samuel; an experienced senior soldier who had been commissioned.

Samuel held this job for 9 months until he retired on the 25th February 1921. The rest of his life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in November 1951.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council