In Memory of

Horace Edgar Taylor


Who Died in 1981

Age 83

Service Number 105540

Regiment/Unit: 28th (North-west) Battalion

Citation: None

Honors and Awards: The Victory Medal 1914 - 1918
The British War Medal August 1914 - November 1918
The Army Class C Medal (For Honorable Service)

Additional Info: The following letter From his Grandson.

My name is James Taylor.

I am the grandson of Horace Edgar Taylor Reg. #105540. My grandfather died in 1981 however always believed that he should have died on September 15, 1916 - the battlefield of Flers-Courcelette at the Somme. On that day he was severely wounded. The wounds took him out for the remainder of the war and in fact would hinder him for the remaining years of his life. Though he never complained, I know his life was tremendously effected by those wounds and memories of that experience. He seldom spoke to anyone of his military life and almost never told family members of the suffering that men endured overseas.

My grandfather, as he told me and as his military record corroborates, enlisted in Regina with the 28th (North West) Battalion on December 7, 1915. Though only 17 years of age (he would turn 18 in March 1916), he was accepted. He told me that he had tried before but due to his age, a shortness in height and too small a chest girth he was rejected. He recalled that on this occasion he was told by the recruiting Captain that, "We can stretch him to make him fit"....he began military life - training. From his recollections over the many years he could still remember his Reg # 105540 - something none of us ever forget I suppose.

He skipped over his training period to France. He said that they first went to "Assaillant ......that in Ypres"..."and we were there 6 weeks in what was called the horseshoe firing on 3 sides in mud that seemed to come up to our waist in the trenches". My grandfather was a runner and lookout. He carried wire out between the Canadian and enemy trenches devising a system of pulls and tugs signifying different messages to men holding the wire in the trenches. He described to me the system and remembering the terrifying experience of flares, whiz bangs overheard, shells exploding nearby, shots overhead and mud. He would crawl for sometimes up to 2 hours through craters of mud and water. He would be relieved with a signal tug and another man would crawl out to take his place.

He described the terrible conditions of lice and bugs and filth here. They were actually relieve to hear they would be moving up to the valley of the Somme to the town of Albert. They travelled part way by rail and then the remaining 15 miles by foot. Here they existed on rations of bully beef and hard tack. This was September 14, 1916. The battle of the Somme of course had been waging since 01 July 1916.

On September 15, 1916, my grandfather (attached to the 28th Battalion, 6th Brigade and part of the 2nd Division) was to advance on the village of Courcelette. In particular my grandfather remembered that their objective was the Sugar Refinery where enemy trenches were well fortified and troops well dug in. He remembered going over the top at 06:25 hrs as a runner and told to stick by a Capt. Oliver. Now this Captain Oliver was known to the rank and file as "Zip" because everytime he'd drill the men Oliver would say, "Bring it up with a zip"... My grandfather stuck to Capt Oliver like glue ready to carry any dispatch that might be required during the engagement. My grandfather clearly remembered the barrage... how loud and dreadful it was. They were all told as they went up the line to not be afraid of something new... they were told by the officers that this new weopon was on our side. My grandfather remembered vividly these big lumbering giants, spitting out gunfire. He was not too impress because he said they were so slow, we passed them... they would fall on their side and then they could not move. They wold get stuck in the ditch because they were made funny... of course grampa was talking about the first use of tanks with infantry in battle and it was here at Courcelette on the Somme.

As my grandfather advanced with Capt. Oliver he saw the captain get hit in the hand and then again. He lay in the mud, injured but still alive. The captain signalled for my grandfather and hastily prepared a dispatch which he gave to my grandfather. He also explained the message... it was written on white paper from a small note pad taken from his pocket. The message was to be taken back HQ ... the request for the 31st Battalion and the 29th Battalion (Little Black Devils) to move up because resistance was heavy... too heavy. We are really getting into trouble out here. My grandfather made the Captain as comfortable as he could, saluted him and started back in the direction from which they had come, crawling on his belly. My grandfather remembers having to crawl through many a shell crater... and it was in one of these craters, as he crawled up the other side, he was himself hit. He took a hit in his thigh and six in his stomach. Of course he fell back... and believed he was a gonner.

Somehow he managed to pass the dispatch onto a fellow while in that crater... someone he only remembered as Cuthbert. (he met this man later)... Though my grandfather felt he should have died that day... he said to me that he refused to. Somehow he made it and found himself carried by stretcher bearers. Though he never made the objective of the Sugar Refinery or Courcelette, the 28th did capture the village and by 1900 hr... the battle was over. A victory of 2 miles at a great loss of life...

My grandfather was first taken to an advanced dressing station or field ambulance station and then on to Etaps in France. He was given the number 13. He was opened up 4 inches wide the full length from his breast to his groin. When done they sulphated him and bandaged him up. He later woke up in a British Hospital in Colchester England. He had been returned to England and remembered nothing... How he got there he did not know but there he was and there he remained being treated for his wounds when one day a big burley Sgt came into the ward and demanded to know, "Is there anyone in here by the name of TAYLOR ??"".

My grandfather answered yes and the Sgt. swore... "What are you doing in here???? This is a complete British hospital!!" My grandfather had no idea how he got there, nor did he care... It was almost immediately that my grandfather was removed to the VAD Hospital in Rovington Kent. He remained in Rovington Kent until he was moved to Buxton where he appeared before a medical board. It was determined that he was no longer suitable for the front but my grandfather, a stubborn man was not about to accept a "Batmans" job, so he asked to be shipped home to Canada. He said, "If I'm no good for France... I'm no good for Batman... ship me back to Canada".

First thing he knew , his transfer papers were in and my grandfather found himself on the way back to Regina. He and 10 others arrived on the station platform in Regina. He recalled being met by Mayor Black. They were taken to the King's Hotel for a decent meal... the first they had had in what seemed to be an eternity.

My grandfather was admitted to St. Chads Hospital where he continued to be treated... there was skin grafting done. Eventually he received his medical discharge from he 28th from a Major Ashton. This came on May 4, 1917. My grandfather had $110.00 in his pocket with a $3.75 per month military pension to meet the world... walking on two sticks. My grandfather had lived a lifetime from December 7, 1915 to May 4, 1917. Most of it was bottled up inside him but I am glad that we had the time to talk. I recorded much of his tale on audio tape and have since done as much research as I can regarding the 28th, Courcelette and the Somme. I am always interested in learning more.

I have poured over the information and the photographs. I am convinced that the Drummer in the photograph of the Base Company named Taylor is my grandfather. There is one photo that I know of in existence taken of my grandfather in uniform... my Uncle has it... I have seen it... examined it... I remain convinced they are one in the same. I know I am looking at my grandfather at 17 years of age.

As for the fellow that my grandfather handed the dispatch, Cuthbert. Apparently he was with the 31st. My grandfather actually met him later. Cuthbert received a decoration on that day for his efforts in delivering that dispatch. He wanted to give it to my grandfather. My grandfather would not hear of it...... They wrote to each other several times... I would like to know who he was... does he have family still living... how might I get into contact with them. Captain Oliver is another person whom I find interesting. My grandfather knew that he recuperated to the point where he was able to return to France. Apparently he survived the war and returned to Canada as a Major. I would be interested in knowing what became of him....does he have living relatives. Another name my grandfather spoke of was a Berton Shore. I know nothing of him and yet my grandfather spoke volumes about him. They returned from France together and actually went into business together in Ogema, Saskatchewan.

I am not sure why I have written this letter, to a stranger. Maybe, this story needs to be told and added to the many that have not and never will be. Like so many of his generation, my grandfather was a good man who got caught up in a terrible conflict. Many did not return and were never heard of again. Many, like my grandfather did and carried the burden for the rest of their lives. There are not many veterans of the Great War left today. Their story needs to endure. I am passionate in this. Years ago when I was in Regina, I had the priviledge of speaking with veterans of the Regina Rifles in the mess in the Armories. My money was no good on that occasion because my grandfather had paved the way from that very same armory back in 1915. When I told him this, he was very proud.


Jim Taylor

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