Richard James Taylor is the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed Mary Alice Dawson.
Richard was born on 4 March 1885 in Waddington, Lancashire to parents Henry Taylor and Mary Altham. My cousin Mary Alice was born on 6 February 1888 in Barrowford, Lancashire to parents Joseph Dawson and Alice Hartley. Or common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.
Richard and Mary married on 30 December 1909 at St. Thomas’, Barrowford. They had two children – Dennis born in 1910 and Kenneth born on 8 November 1917 (they are my 4th cousins 1x removed)
In World War 1 Richard served in the 2nd/5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. His service number was 241099 and he reached the rank of Sergeant.
During 1918 the 2nd/5th Battalion took part in The Battle of St. Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings and The Battle of Rosieres.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website Richard died of wounds on 12 April 1918 at the age of 33.
Richard is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. His headstone number is 3394 with the following inscription:-
WE LOVED HIM, OH WE LOVED HIM
BUT THE ANGELS LOVED HIM MORE
ONE OF THE BEST
Richard was awarded the Military Medal – see the extract from The London Gazette of 23 May 1918 below. The Military Medal (or MM) was a medal awarded for exceptional bravery. It was awarded to the Other Ranks (N.C.O.’s and Men) and was first instituted on 25 March 1916 during The First World War, to recognise bravery in battle.
St. Sever Cemetery Extension (taken from CWGC website)
During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920. During the Second World War, Rouen was again a hospital centre and the extension was used once more for the burial of Commonwealth servicemen, many of whom died as prisoners of war during the German occupation. The cemetery extension contains 8,348 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (ten of them unidentified) and in Block “S” there are 328 from the Second World War (18 of them unidentified). There are also 8 Foreign National burials here. The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
On 23 April 1925 Mary Alice, Dennis and Kenneth emigrated to New Zealand. They sailed from Southampton heading for Wellington aboard SS Rotorua. I hope that they had a happy life in New Zealand.
A final note about the SS Rotorua – it seems that the ship was sunk on 11 December 1940 while sailing as part of Convoy HX92. She was struck by a torpedo from U-boat number U-96 about 110 miles northwest of St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides.
Those of you who read my blog regularly may recall that U-96 was also responsible for the sinking the Arthur F Corwin on 13 February 1941 – see post here.
So I was interested to find out what finally happened U-96
The boat’s final operational patrol commenced with her departure from St. Nazaire on 26 December 1942. Crossing the Atlantic for the last time, she then came back to the eastern side and after transferring a sick crew-member to U-163 on 3 January 1943, arrived at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) on 8 February.
She spent most of the rest of the war as a training vessel. She was decommissioned on 15 February 1945 in Wilhelmshaven. When US Eighth Air Force attacked Wilhelmshaven on 30 March 1945, U-96 was sunk in Hipper basin. The remains of the U-boat were broken up after the war