Cycle ride through war battlefields

Garth Taylor with his father Ernest, pictured in 1967 before Ernest died
Garth Taylor with his father Ernest, pictured in 1967 before Ernest died
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The family of a First World War soldier will be travelling to France to cycle to the battlefields where he fought.

The Taylor family and their friends plan to commemorate the life of Able Bodied Seaman Ernest Taylor, who was injured while fighting with the Royal Naval Division’s Nelson Battalion.

They will also raise money for the Royal British Legion, which Mr Taylor supported.

After joining the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1916, Mr Taylor was allocated to the Royal Naval Division, where he was trained to fight on land alongside the Army.

In 1917, after four months at the front, he was wounded in the back leg and head at the Battle of Arras and sent back to England, where he had his leg amputated.

Mr Taylor lived in Ryhall with his wife Marion and four children until his death in 1972 at the age of 74. Mrs Taylor continued to live in Ryhall until her death two years ago.

Next month six of his family, including two children, two grandchildren, son-in-law and granddaughter-in law, will be joined by friends on the journey to the Somme,

From a base in Le Sars some of the team will cycle, covering some 1,000 kilometres between them over four days, in a series of circuits round the Somme, Arras and Ypres battlefields,

They will end the trip by laying a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at The Menin Gate, a war memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the area around Ypres, in Belgium, which was the scene of some of the biggest battles in the First World War.

Garth, 61, a former Essendine Primary School and Stamford High School pupil, now living in London, said: “From Le Sars we will cycle each day to places where my father fought and was wounded.

”He was really disabled, but he didn’t let it get him down.

“He was very proud of his children, but not as proud as we were of him.”

In an interview in 1962, AB Seaman Taylor, a costing clerk at Allis Chalmers, in Essendine, until his retirement, told the Mercury that “the worthwhile things in life are those that cost nothing. I have four wonderful children and the love and affection that binds us as a family together. What more could a man ask for?”

Garth said that was typical of his dad, who he remembers as someone with no bitterness and who never complained about his disabilities despite being troubled by war wounds throughout his life.

Garth said: “He did not hate the Germans. He did not say much about his experiences but did tell me that the trenches were so close together in some places that the two armies could converse with each other.

“He said the Germans would shout over to the English lines - ‘Hey Tommy Gott ist mit uns!” and the English would reply ‘No Fritz, God is with us’, then both sides laughed, presumably because neither believed in God after all they’d been through.”

The team will meet all their own expenses for the journey. All funds raised through donations will go to the Royal British Legion.

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