George Hunter Taylor
14th (Service) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Died 23rd August 1916
Corpl. G. H. Taylor – H.L.I
George Hunter Taylor was born on 17 July 1890 at Torphins. He looks likely to have been named after George Hunter, who was one of the witnesses of Francis and Mary’s marriage in 1882. He was living at Coull when he enlisted at Aberdeen, and joined the 13th (Service) Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), who in early 1916 became absorbed into the 14th (Service) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry in which George held the rank of Corporal. Both were so-called “Bantam Battalions”, formed to meet a demand for enlistment by men who had been rejected as failing to meet the army’s standard height qualification of five feet three inches. In May 1916 the 14th HLI were stationed at Blackdown in Hampshire, destined for France in June. On 19 May, by special licence at Aberdeen, George married Jessie Williams Emslie Milne from Coull, the bride’s father being at that time a Private in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The marriage was to be an extremely short one. On 6 September 1916 the Aberdeen Journal reported that Mrs Taylor had received information that her husband had been missing since a raid on the enemy’s trenches. It seems he was killed or fatally wounded on the night of 23 August 1916, the 14th Battalion having moved up to the front line at Calonne and Boyaux a few days previously. He is buried at the Lens Eastern Communal Cemetery.
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.