George Alfred Taylor
Lance Serjeant; "A" Squadron., 24th Lancers. Royal Armoured Corps
Date of Death 8 June 1944
Service Number, 319743
George is on the right in this picture. The others are not known
Loyd Personnel Carrier T26529
"Arab before she went for salvage 1943".
George Taylor 3rd from left.
George Taylor to the right
George was born on 13th December 1919 in Cropthorne, Worcestershire. He was the eldest son of George Taylor and Nellie Bertha née Shotton.
George Senior was born in 1887 and was a Soldier during World War One and found himself a prisoner of war following his involvement at the Battle of Mons. After the war he worked on the land growing vegetables as was the employment of much of the men in that area of the country.
George Alfred initially followed into his father's profession and worked on the land after leaving school but wanted to improve his prospects and escape the hard life of his father. In 1937 he chose to join the Army where he got the nickname of 'Spud' because of his link to the land. He found himself in the a Regiment of The 9th Queens Royal Lancers and spent time in France during the early days of World War 2 as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). He was injured in the foot and evacuated back to England before Dunkirk.
During the early 1940's when home on leave (approx 1942) George Alfred met Irene Mary 'Renee' Beaumont. He saw her hanging out the washing and used to wolf whistle at her when he passed and eventually asked her out to a local dance. Their relationship blossomed from there. They married 22 April 1944 at Cropthorne, had a few days in London, but George soon had to return to the Regiment. In a letter 24 May 1944 to Renee, George is pleased to hear she is expecting a baby and hopes it will be a boy.
The 24th Lancers and George were destined for Normandy and the D Day landings. Sadly George was killed 8th June 1944. Their daughter Valerie was born 11 January 1945. Renee's parents were Albert and Hilda Beaumont, but Hilda had died young and Albert remarried, Emily Purbrick. In 1947 Albert and Emily moved to Rose Cottage in Peldon; Renee and daughter Valerie joined them. In 1950 Albert bought the Post Office business and Rose Cottage became the Post Office. Emily became the village Post Mistress and Renee became Post woman, cycling round the village delivering post and telegrams.
To return to George's Army career:
The 24th Lancers was formed on 1st December 1940 from cadres of the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers and the 17th/21st Lancers. They also existed before this date being raised in 1794 and disbanded in 1802.
They spent the years after Dunkirk and before D Day practicing with the Tanks ready for the Liberation of Europe. By 1944 they were equipped with Sherman tanks and George was a tank commander. In the weeks before D Day, they were sealed in camp with no leave allowed. They went to Southampton and then boarded an American Tank Landing Craft. They were then told that this was 'the real thing'.
They landed on Gold Beach at 07:20 7th June 1944. The aim was for them to help with the taking back the city of Caen and they formed a small bridgehead outside Bayeaux. The Battle of Caen was one of the biggest battles in WW2. George and his crew were part of the A Squadron in the Lancers and George was the one with his head out the turret giving directions to the driver.
George and his crew were at Audrieux to do some reconnaissance on the enemy's position and were relaying the information back to the headquarters so decisions could be made about what actions should be taken. No-one knew that the village they were in still had snipers hiding. Unfortunately, one shot George in the head and he was killed instantly.
There were many snipers active in the area, both German and some female French snipers.
The force of the firefight meant the rest of the crew had to flee for their lives and find safety. They were only able to retrieve a few items from George's body before they had to leave including his wallet, pay book and photo he carried of Renee. After a couple of days they managed to return to the site and recover his body. Other personal possessions had been taken by the Germans; watch and wedding ring. George was buried nearby and his grave marked so his body could be recovered later and interred in the Bayeux Cemetery, Bayeux.
A Sherman tanks in Normandy June 1944. Right hand picture is from 24th Lancers
With the 8th Armoured Brigade, the regiment landed on Gold Beach, in the second wave of the Operation Overlord landings, supporting the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. After intensive action in the Tilly-sur-Seulles, Fontenay-le-Pesnel, Tessel Wood and Rauray areas, the regiment was disbanded towards the end of July 1944 due to heavy casualties at the Normandy landing, with the survivors joining the 23rd Hussars. The picture on the right above depicts the Shermans of the 24th Lancers with the 50th Infantry Division in Bayeux on the 8th June 1944. The lot of the British 'Tanker' during World War Two was not a happy one. British tanks were criminally under-armed almost throughout the conflict. The 2 pounder gun persisted in use beyond reason as the Panzers grew increasingly invulnerable to its effect. The 6 pounder gun had only a short time when it could defeat any German opponent, before the Panther and Tiger arrived. The only answer was the Sherman Firefly with the British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon. It went into production in early 1944, in time to equip Field Marshal Montgomery's 21st Army Group for the Normandy landings. It soon became highly valued, as its gun could almost always penetrate the armour of the Panther and Tiger tanks it faced in Normandy. But the small number of German Tigers and Panthers available could wreak carnage on a British formation - as witnessed at Villers Bocage in 1944.
A troop of three tanks remained relatively constant during the war and were commanded by a Subaltern, Sergeant and Corporal respectively; thus George would have commanded the second tank in the troop of three.
1939-45 War Star; France and Germany Star; 1939-45 War Medal; Defence Medal
Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: XIV. J. 5. Cemetery:
BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY
George is commemorated on the War Memorial at Cropthorne, Worcestershire. He was not resident in Peldon at the time of his death, but his name is on the list produced by the Royal British Legion for Mersea and surrounding parishes.
There have been many additions to this article since Ted Sparrow wrote it, using the considerable research and photographs from George Taylor's daughter Valerie and granddaughter Anne.
Anne was able to contact Tony Hughes who was a member of George's tank crew and Tony provided much background.
Other sources are:
'None Had Lances' by Leonard Willis - details of the 24th Lancers in WW2
Imperial War Museum