Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remembrance Day: We remember those who served

On a personal level we remember family members who served in war. My husband and I remember these grandparents and great-uncles who voluntarily enlisted in WW1. Two were killed in action.

  William Angus Wyllie
  Thomas Henry Smith
  David Edgar Taylor (KIA)
  James William Taylor
  David Ray Leed (KIA)
  William George Leed
  Robert John Daniel Phelan
  William Thomas Alford

I've written a blog about Thomas Henry Smith and David Ray Leed here and here.Today I'm highlighting David Edgar Taylor.

David Edgar Taylor
David was the eldest son of Henry and Martha Taylor who lived at South Ecklin near Cobden, Victoria. On the 30 November 1914, when he was 22 years old, he enlisted in the AIF and was attached to the 6th Battalion.

David sailed to Egypt on the 'Clan Macgillivray', arriving March 1915, and then to Australia and back to Egypt as a Military Policeman (Provost) on the 'Ulysses'. He was then transferred to the 22nd Battalion (Second Division) and went to Gallipoli with that battalion in August 1915. [Note: Each Division four battalions of about 1000 men.]

The arrival of the Second Division at ANZAC.
The 6th Infantry Brigade camping in Rest Gully 5th September 1915.
  Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 Vol X11

We have a few fragments of a diary the David kept and some letters that he wrote home This is his diary from Gallipoli. I've retained Dave's original spelling.

Diary Page Four [Gallipoli, September 1915]
 … shell us again they gave us some big ones that the boys call … ball,  one landed just near us & blew a big hole in the ground just like a water hole they call them  … explosive shells
9th  It has been quiet all day, tonight we tried to bluff them that we were going to attack them by giving them three rounds nappaid then duck behind the parript & let them waist there minition  our artillary has been giving them a hot time of it
10th they gave us some more shells this morning one of our cpls got buried in his dug out & was there some time before he got out
11th  We gave them a few more rounds nappied this morning, after that … us a few rounds in return but we did not bite like they do  they also gave us a few more shells
12th   has been quite a day  they gave us a few more shells, it is just a  week since our … landed on the dardnelles we have only had 26 casualties … were killed the others were wounded  … guns on our cliff all day they sound like … Beachy Bill as our boys  call her has been … all day landing on the …  she killed 4 & wounded 26 this gun has accounted … since the first landing our guns can never get on to … they gave us a good shelling this morning of the … it one had his arm torn clen of  the rest of the day was quite
… morning .. us  a … more shells but no one was hurt …
 … have had a quite day our artillary giving them gip  all …  … not supplied to it we have also given them a  hot …   2 more of our chaps got shot though the …
16th  got some more shells today but done no damage tonight a piece of shell landed just beside me while on  my post
19th  very quite all day till five oclock we had just come back from a swim on the Beach & having tea when all of a sudden they started to bombard us & for about an hour they peppered us hot & solid  they also used there machine guns on us we were all huddled up in our dug outs when the order came to fall in & stand to arms & out we had to get with shells flying all around us & get in to the firing line with  … we had 14 casualtys 2 were killed right out and 9 others were terrible cut about … amount there was left … a major as 9 oclock tonight we thought they were going to attack us all night we straining our eyes & waiting for them to come till day light but they did not to relive our feelings
20th  Today we shifted along the firing line some distance  has been quite all day got a few more shells to day but they did no damage
21st  our war boats have been shelling the Turks all day every shell that fell seem to scoop out yards of there trench
… I have been sick all day had cold shivers this morning our guns … shelling them they gave us a few shells this evenin but  they … have the same strength as our shells do
… sick this morning & have been off duty all day … mail came in today but I got no letters from home … today this is the 8th time that I have …
22nd  They started to shell us early this morning but as usual our boys give them the worst of it one of our guns opened up on trenches in front of us & God help the men that tried to leave in that trench & not only that our shells were landing every where.  This afternoon they were trying a new gun of ours on the Turk trenches in front of us it was awful to watch them shells you could hear them coming over like a big … coming through the air the sound was bad enough for us to hear but not half as bad as  must have sounded for the Turks
23rd  quite all day we gave them a stir up this morning with both arrittarly & rifle some of our shells were coming over 4 miles & landed in a Turks trench about 20 yards in front of us the very air … is alive with shells they opened … there 75 on us but done no damage our guns soon quitened it this was the first time that they had opened there artillary on us at night for they were frightened of showing there guns up
24th  We again shift along the line we are not allowed to leave the firing line for one minute with out calling the … up they shelled us again this afternoon but done no damage our artillary has been keeping them busy all day
25th  We are in supports to day for a spell which is the … since we landed also a wash which is also our second  this … had to go back to the firing line
26th They have kept shelling away all day with there …  …was hurt very badly our war boats have been giving them some shells this after noon
27th  This morning as daylight we discovered that they had put up some barb wire in front of there trenches through the night, none of us had noticed them doing it, this morning they made it a bit hot for us they gave us about 200 shells, today we hear that our boys on the left  have advanced about two miles inland, we also get word that England has broke the German line in the western front  we again go to the supports I have not taken my clothes off since we landed & only had my boots off once bar when we went for a swim
28th  we still get good news from the western front & all hope that the war will soon end for we are sick of this life, we are feeling dirty & grimey, we were having tea to night when a shell landed just near us we were all ordered to our dug outs & had just left our places when a shell landed right where I was sitting I was at my post just after when another shell landed just beside me but as luck would have it the ground was soft if it had been hard I would not have been alive to write this
29th  very quite all day a few shells landed near us at dinner time but done no damage
October 1915
1st  Two chaps killed on the next post to me shot them in the head with bullets from a machine gun I had a look at the post this morning there was blood every where they gave us some shells this after noon
2nd  We got a lot of shelling this after noon we have been deepening our trenches to day had to nock  off now & again & get into our dug outs away from there  shells
3rd  word was passed on to us from the turks that many of them would surrender if we would not shoot them when they were coming over we sent back word that they could come but not more than 2 at a time, just after dark about 20 were seen coming towards our trenches & others were getting over the parript  & thinking that they were going to attack us we were told to stand to arms & our … gun open out on them after more were seen coming over we were all ordered to take down our sand bags & fix bayonets ready to charge but they did not come they sent word that they had mistaken our  … & that they were only coming over to give them selves up
4th  we had just been relived from the firing line this morning and they opened up with there 75 on us for about an hour they gave it to us hot & solid we had to go to the firing line again & stand to … the post that we had just left was blown to pieces & one of our chaps with his arm blown off many others were wounded one of the chaps on the next post had been shot through the head he was a fine fellow & was the only support of his crippled Sister He was Pte Grant
…back in the firing line to day things were very
On 29th October 1915 Dave was suffering from severe pneumonia and a week later was transferred to the hospital ship 'Somali' and taken to Gibraltar. On the 19th December he was transferred to the 3rd London Auxiliary Hospital in England, still suffering from pneumonia.

David was sent to France on 25th March. In the meantime the 22 Battalion had been posted to France, and David rejoined them on 31st July 1916. In April 1916, shortly after his arrival in France he write to his sister, my grandmother:
Well Dear Sister I had quite a good time in England I will never forget it, it is the Best Place that I have been in yet of course it does not come up to Australia but for all that it is the next Best better than France anyway you see I have not seen much of France yet but what I have seen of it I don’t care too much for & will not be sorry when we get a move on as for England I could stay there till the war is over but like all other things that are good they have to end Duty must be done so here I am some where in France.
The Second Division, AIF, on the march in France, July 1916

The Germans held the Pozieres area on the Somme River and were in an immensely strong position with clear views over all possible lines of advance by the allies. In July 1916 the British Infantry and the Australian First Division had made costly attacks against Pozieres and the village was reduced to rubble. The First Division last 5285 men in three days, and were replaced by the Second Division on 27th July. In ten days they lost 6848 men before they were relieved by the Fourth Division.

Dave Taylor was killed in this battle, on 5th August 1916, but his body was never found. His family was told that he was 'Missing in Action' and an enquiry 14 months later found that he had been 'Killed in Action'. He is listed on the Memorial Wall at Villers-Bretonneux.

The O.G.1. trench, Pozieres, France. This is the area where David Taylor died.
Sadly, David's mother could never quite believe that David had been killed. And the family heard that he was 'Missing in Action' on the day before my grandmother's wedding. I've written about that here.

David Edgar Taylor.

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