Born at Crowle in 1892, William was one of five children and the only son of John William and Alice Taylor (nee Harwood). His father was a farm labourer from Crowle and his mother from Worksop. In 1901 the family lived next door to the Troope’s in Coultard’s Lane and had moved to Peat Moss Villas by 1911.
In 1911 William had left home and was living in lodgings in Thorne where he worked as a brickmaker. Sometime between then and 1916 he married and moved to Leeds. He and his wife Edith had one child.
William enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Doncaster in March 1915. Following his training he was posted to France on 4th March 1916, where joined the 10th KOYLI who had been there since September 1915 and suffered heavy casualties during their first action at Loos a matter of days later.
On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 10th KOYLI were situated east of Albert where they were to take part in their Brigades attack on the village of Fricourt. Together with their colleagues from the 9th KOYLI the men from the 10th KOYLI had advanced into no-man’s land before zero hour, 7.30am, and made swift progress into the German trenches once the attack began. The 10th KOYLI captured and cleared their main objective, Crucifix Trench, but were unable to advance any further by strong machine gun fire. Unfortunately the units to the north and south of the two KOYLI battalions had not made such good progress and the two battalions were now surrounded on three sides. Digging in they managed to hold their positions under heavy fire until relieved the next day.
In capturing and then holding Crucifix Trench the 10th KOYLI suffered 60 men killed, 308 wounded and 135 missing. Among those killed was William Taylor. It is mostly likely he received his fatal wound in the advance across no-man’s land, as in a letter to his parents a sergeant from his regiment wrote of speaking to William as he lay injured on the battlefield prior to being recovered by the stretcher-bearers. Sadly he died later that day and is buried close to where he fell in Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle.
William is the only Crowle soldier to be mentioned in the National Roll of the Great War. The epitaph his wife Edith chose for him was:
‘His memory is cherished with pride’.
William may also be commemorated on a Leeds War Memorial.