Ernest Michael Taylor was born 9 March 1891on 90 Doncaster Street, Saint Martin, Liverpool, England. His parents, Joseph Taylor of Co. Waterford, Ireland, a bookkeeper, and Catherine O’Brien of Liverpool were staunch Irish Catholics whose families had immigrated to England. He was the eldest of three other siblings, William born 1897, Joseph born 1898, and Mary Josephine born 1889. In 1911, the family relocated to Halifax, Yorkshire West Riding. By this time, Ernest was 20 years old and his occupation was listed in the 1911 English census as “Giving Olet Caus Of Dry Flar Carpet Losens.” In fact, the entire family was employed at the carpet making business called ” Lin Winder Carpet Makers”. His father had passed away by this time, leaving his mother Catherine the head of the household.
IMAGE RIGHT: Studio portrait of Ernest Michael TAYLOR, service number 1307. When mentioned in the Supplement to the Edinborough Gazette on 26 February 1918 his rank was listed as Corporal and his Regimental Number 675383
Ernest eventually joined the military, probably one of Kitchener’s volunteers, and was trained as a Gunner (Regimental number 1307) in the Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.). He deployed to France 29 September 1915. In only a few short years, he was promoted to Sergeant, with a new Regimental Number 675383. I am unsure why the number changed and how he was promoted so quickly, but perhaps he was wounded and, following recovery, was posted to a new Regiment withing the R.F.A. or to a training establishment. Many of my family members have served in the military, and have a tendency to speak little of their hardships, and thus we have forgotten the story. Ernest was awarded the 1914-1915 star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
After the war, Ernest opened a tobacco shop and married Victoria Annie Whitelock on 28 Feb 1920. She died later that year in childbirth. Ernest then married Rebecca Kane in West Derby Lancashire on 20 November 1921 and they had ten children together. While Ernest ran the Tabacco Shop, Rebecca helped to make ends meet by working as a waitress. They lived in a small home on 65 Argos Road in West Derby, Liverpool. Their first child, my Grandmother Catherine Josephine Taylor, recalls how crowded the home was and how often she would babysit her siblings. She recalls being a second mother to her siblings, cooking for them, bathing them, and putting them to bed.
At one point, the family was badly in need of money, and so the decision was made that Rebecca would pawn Ernest’s medals to “put food on the table” as my Grandmother recalls. Rebecca gathered up all the kids and walked to a local pawn shop where she sold the medals with the intention of returning to buy them back after payday. My grandmother Catherine recalled that payday was only one or two days away at the time her mother Rebecca sold the medals. When Rebecca returned to buy back the medals, they had been sold. Distraught, she returned home. She and Ernest had a huge row and Rebecca ended up smashing the portrait of Ernest on horseback during the war.
Ernest died 7 December 1955 in Liverpool at the age of 64. He is buried in Yew Tree Cemetery. My grandmother was extremely proud of her father’s service in the Royal Field Artillery. She never spoke to her children about her past, but she told me about her whole life when I was around sixteen years old – this was a few years before she died. She was a practical woman who was more concerned with feeding her family than she was with treasured heirlooms, but the loss of these medals bothered her deeply because of the resentment their loss created between her parents. I wanted to please my Nan by finding these medals. Now that she has passed, I would like to give them to her sister in England.
This story was composed by Tony ROSS, the great grandson of Ernest Michael TAYLOR of Great Britain.