Herbert Charles Taylor
7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 20th November 1917 age 20
L/Corpl. H.C. Taylor – Gordon Hrs.
In the late afternoon of 13 May 1897 Mary Taylor gave birth to twins. Herbert Charles was born at 5pm, ten minutes after his sister Maggie Ann Sim, later known as Maidie. Herbert enlisted at Banchory and served in the 7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion Gordon Highlanders. On 20 November 1917, the first day of the Battle of Cambrai, the 7th Gordons, as a part of the 51st Highland Division, were involved in the allied recapture of the village of Flesquières. They were to follow behind a somewhat experimental advance movement of tanks which it was intended would breach German defences over an extended length of the Hindenburg Line intercepting communications with the coast, forcing a German retreat and enabling the allies to retake Cambrai. Herbert Taylor was killed in action that day at the age of 20. Flesquières was captured on the night of 20/21 November, and held in the face of a determined counter-offensive which in due course forced an allied retreat over some of the ground gained in the first days of the battle. The Aberdeen Weekly Journal of 7 December 1917 reported:
“Information has been received by Mr and Mrs Francis Taylor, The Tollhouse, Kincardine O’Neil, that their son, Lance-Corporal Herbert C. Taylor, Gordon Highlanders, has been killed. Corporal Taylor has been on active service for more than two years…”.
He is buried at Orival Wood Cemetery, Flesquières.
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.