Maurice James Taylor
Maurice James Taylor
was born in July 1897 in Epwell near Banbury in Oxfordshire, the eldest son of James and Betsey Taylor (nee Box). Father James was a shepherd and by the turn of the century the family had moved to 2, Leicester Lane in Stoneleigh, and by 1904 to Ashow. Altogether nine children were born to the family. Initially Maurice became a farm labourer but by the time he enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment he was employed by A. Williamson & Co, motorcycle manufacturers in the Earlsdon district of Coventry. The firm built 8hp machines powered by Bristol-based Douglas engines; perhaps it is significant that Maurice soon found himself attached to a Machine Gun Company in the army.
Maurice enlisted at the age of 20 in Coventry in July 1917 as Private 20491 in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment; by now the family had moved again to Finham Park Farm, all the time remaining on the Stoneleigh estate. At some point later (his service record has not survived) he became number 57689 in the Machine Gun Corps.
In March 1918 the Germans launched Operation Michael, which drew British forces to defend Amiens; on April 8th they launched, further north, Operation Georgette, attempting to choke the British into defeat. Within two days matters were so perilous that Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig issued the famous "Order of the Day" on April 11th: "With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end." By the end of Operation Georgette losses on both sides were roughly equal, approximately 110,000 being wounded or killed. Maurice James Taylor received the wounds from which he was to die on April 13th, as part of the intense fighting in the Nieppe Forest. There was desperate fighting with machine guns through fog, to point blank range. Maurice is buried at Ebblinghem Military Cemetery reference 1.A.9, halfway between St Omer and Hazebrouck. Still 20 years old, he had been in the army for less than a year.
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