1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 29th August 1918 age 23
Private A. Taylor – Gordon Hrs.
This is Alexander Taylor born on 20 March 1895, also at Torphins. In 1911 he may be the sixteen year old Alexander Taylor who was working as a cattleman on the farm of Strathweltie at Coull, as he gave his residence as Tarland on enlistment, becoming a Private in the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He was killed in action at the age of 23 on 29 August 1918 on the Western Front. At that time the 1st Battalion were participating in the final allied push against a gradually weakening German defensive line culminating in the Armistice in November. The Battalion war diary for 29 August records: “Bn patrols out to keep in touch with the enemy, one platoon of the left coy advanced too far and was practically wiped out by MG fire from the flank”. It may be (though it is impossible to be sure without more precise information) that Alexander was a victim of that attack. He is buried or commemorated at the H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St.Mein.
The Taylor Family
On 8 December 1882, at Kincardine O’Neil, Francis Taylor from St Fergus married Mary Smith, a native of the parish. The Taylors lived for a time at Beltie Terrace, Torphins, but at some point between 1902 and 1904 their home became the Toll House in Kincardine O’Neil, and they lived there through the years of the First World War, moving later to Norton Cottage. Francis was employed as a labourer and a gardener at Kincardine, then Norton House, and became caretaker of Christ Church. Francis and Mary had fourteen children in all, and lived into the 1930s. They kept bees, and competed with some success in the Kincardine O’Neil Annual Bulb Show – an event which inspired intensive and detailed reporting in the local press. In 1910 the Taylor family were no doubt disappointed to take second place to Mr Nicoll of Stranduff Cottage in the Kincardine O’Neil Window Flower Box Competition. Thanks to the Aberdeen Journal we know that Mrs Taylor donated eggs and jam to the Aboyne Castle Hospital in September 1916. A tall granite tombstone to the west of the west gable of the old kirk also records some of the history of the family. Francis and Mary outlived six of their children: William who died in his sixth year in 1898 after two days of bronchitis, Gordon their second youngest, who only survived to the age of two in 1906 and, in consecutive years from 1916 onwards, four sons – George, Herbert, Alexander and James – who died in the course of military service.