William (Bill) TAYLOR
William (Bill) Taylor born in London, England, in 1922, died on November 13, 2018. Driver/mechanic in the Royal Engineers.
William Taylor, known as Bill or ‘Tea Pot’ for was always making a brew, was born in the East End of London in 1922.
When war came he waited for his call-up in May 1942. Initially he had wanted to be an RAF gunner but his math skills were not up to par so that was a non starter. He was assessed and someone decided that the Royal Engineers was the place for him. Training, training, training was the order of the day for the next 18 months with 174 Field and Parks Company as a driver/mechanic; in fact, driving the HQ section mobile workshop. Due to an earlier injury (a broken foot) from a kick back when attempting to start a motorcycle he was excused most drill.
But it was not all training once it got to 1943. Whilst based at Aldershot, his company was responsible for building an exact replica of a section of the Atlantic Wall that the Organisation Todt was busy building to the same specification across the other side of the channel. He recalled he’d never seen so much concrete used in one place. This wall was then used by various items of Hobart’s Funnies, including the Double Onion, to test their effectiveness, and possible need for modification, prior the assault on Europe that was still in the planning stages.
Just before D-Day Bill was transferred to 120 Road Construction Company, in the same role.
He was luckier, following the Canadians in on Juno Beach and landing at Bernières-sur-Mer. His rendezvous point was a farmhouse some 300 metres inland and whilst waiting quietly in the farmyard for their next orders they heard a motorcycle speeding down the road. When it got to the farm gate it suddenly stopped and moments later the shout went up – “Bill, you’re wanted”. As an RE trained motor mechanic he soon had the machine running again and the dispatch rider was on his way. No one knows the importance of the messages he was carrying but with Bill’s help he got through.
Whilst his company were soon busy opening up transport links inland from the beachhead, particularly a by-pass for Crepon that exists to this day, his section was established at Le Manoir in Douvres-la-Delivrande which became their billet and company HQ. His company befriended a neighbouring family, the Measuriers and managed to help the youngsters out with the occasional handout of food, for which they were most grateful. The 120 stayed there until moving up to Caen in August, then to the Dutch border and eventually into Germany, ending up at Paderborn.
He decided in 1992 that he would return to Normandy for the D-Day commemorations for those of his uniformed colleagues who did not make it; he subsequently returned every year.
Bill passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 13, 2018, aged 96.