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John Taylor

29446 Private

1/4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, 150th Infantry Brigade, 50th Division

Age: 22

Date of Death: 10.4.18

Buried: Ploegsteert Memorial Panel 4

Family history: Son of James and Isabella Taylor, Dobbie’s Buildings, Muirhall Road, Larbert. He was born in Montrose. He was an apprentice shoemaker with the Larbert Co-operative Society and was employed by the Carstairs Cooperative Society when he attested in Stenhousemuir in February 1916. Posted initially to the 3rd Battalion Royal Scots and then to the Royal Scots Labour Battalion. He was later transferred to the 1/4th East Yorkshire Regiment.

The action leading to his death

April 1918 was the most critical month for the British Armies in France and Flanders, when they faced the third major German offensive of that spring ‘Operation Georgette’ known to the British as the Battle of the Lys. The battlefield covered an area from La Bassee Canal near Givenchy northwards past Armentieres almost to Ypres, a distance of some thirty-seven kilometres. The offensive had two strategic objectives the taking of the important railway junction at Hazebrouck and capturing Ypres. Operation Georgette and the earlier offensives of Operation Michael on the Somme and Operation Mars at Arras, marked a return to open warfare. The 1918 open warfare was a different style of open warfare from that of 1914 and can be seen as the way major wars, by industrial powers, were waged ever since.

(Linesman Map)

On the 9 April the 1/4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment was part of 150th Infantry Brigade facing the German attack and were in the process of digging in on the north bank of the Lys east of the town of Estaires. They came under heavy shell fire and suffered heavy casualties but held the enemy off from crossing the Lys. ‘B’ Company covering the Nouveau Monde Bridge fought off a German attack with concentrated rifle fire. At 10.30am on the 10 April the Germans were crossing the river in force at Pont Levis and moving north east. This took them behind the line held by the 1/4th East Yorkshires. Despite their valiant attempts at counter-attacks the German advance continued. They fought on to the last however, the East Yorks were annihilated with the platoons being mopped up and the battalion HQ taken prisoner. What was left of the battalion, three officers and 120 men, withdrew to the south of the Verte Rue road and went into reserve behind the Guards Brigade.

Originally posted as missing, which generally meant dead, on 10 April, his father, like many other parents of soldiers who had been listed as ‘missing’, pursued the army for a definite answer for over a year as to his son’s fate.

Medals Awarded

British War Medal, Victory Medal

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