Eastleach War Memorial – Eric Herbert Taylor

Born in Eastleach in 1895, Eric Herbert Taylor was the fourth son of Charles Taylor, the Headmaster of the village school, and his wife, Helen, a schoolmistress at the school. They lived in the School House and, at the time of the 1891 census, they had three boys, Charles aged twelve, Arthur aged ten and Alfred aged five, all born in Eastleach. Charles senior was born in Bath around 1840 and Helen in Cheltenham around 1856. By the 1901 census, only Alfred and Eric were still living at the address and Alfred, at fifteen, was still described as a scholar, quite unusual in Eastleach at that time. It seems that Charles senior became ill during 1903 and there are several references to his absence in the School Log. His death, at the age of sixty-six, was registered in the first quarter of 1904 and Helen, his wife was appointed to the headship.

 By 1911, Helen is living as a widow aged fifty-two with a domestic servant, Mary Hawker aged sixty-three and with no sign of any of the sons. In 1911, Arthur, now aged thirty and a stationer and book seller, is found living as a lodger at 37 Gordon Road, Margate, the home of Mary Carruthers, a widowed boarding house owner. Also living there is Eric, described as a shop assistant stationer worker, aged fifteen. It seems he had gone to Margate to work with his older brother. By December 1914, Helen’s health was causing concern and the governors recorded their regret at her resignation on 1st April 1915 after thirty-seven years of service.

Quite when Eric joined up is not known but he enlisted in Canterbury with 11th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). The 11th was a Service Battalion made up mainly of Kitchener volunteers and they served on the Western front with distinction. Eric was killed in action on 23rd March 1918 and has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras so he obviously died on that sector of the front. On that day, the Germans had taken Monchy-le-Preux, crossed the Tortille river between Bapaume and Peronne, captured Peronne and Ham and reached the line of the Somme. Monchy-le-Preux is only a short distance from Arras so it is possible that he perished there.

The Arras Memorial
The Cemetry at Faubourg-D’Amiens

Helen, his mother, may well have left Eastleach by then as she had been living in the school house when she retired. Possibly she remained in Eastleach, living in another property – something which the 1921 census might reveal. However, someone had Eric’s death remembered, not just on the war memorial, but also on the reverse of  his father’s memorial stone in Bouthrop churchyard.