Monday, 9 November 2015

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Private Arthur A. Taylor of Winnipeg

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I am working on a series of blog posts and radio shows that will look at 100 Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

British-born Arthur Anderson Taylor lived with his parents at 543 Home Street and worked as a printer for the Northwest Laundry Co. on Main Street and York Avenue. In the summer of 1915 he joined the 106th Regiment, Winnipeg Light Infantry reserve unit as a drummer.  

On December 1, 1915 he enlisted with the 101st Regiment, Winnipeg Light Infantry. The following week, a brief item in the Winnipeg Tribune noted that his parents said that "(he)... was anxious to go to the war when hostilities started" and was now getting his wish.

Taylor’s age is unclear. The Tribune item noted that he was one of the city’s youngest soldiers, enlisting at 16 years of age. Calculating his age based on the birth date he used on his attestation papers, however, would have made him 17 years, 8 months old.

There was a loophole in the Canadian system that allowed child soldiers, some as young as 13, to go into battle. 

It was commonplace for battalions to have boys serve as buglers or drummers. When the unit got called up, some of them enlisted using a false birth date. This allowed them to stay with the unit through their final training and, if their parents agreed, over to England.

There, some units took their boys over to mainland Europe and into battle with them. Some did not, but with attestation papers showing they were of age, it was easy to find a unit that would be happy to sign them up.

Taylor went missing in action in October 1917. In May 1918 his parents were notified that he was presumed dead. 

His remains were eventually discovered and he is buried at Passchendaele New British Cemetery, Belgium.


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