ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories

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WWI Stories – Sergeant Wesley Charles Rivers Taylor


Patricia Taylor shares the story of her husband’s grandfather, Sergeant Wesley Charles Rivers Taylor

Wesley Charles Rivers Taylor was born on 4 September 1892 in Kew, Melbourne. He enlisted in the 5th Battalion A.I.F. No. 245 in Melbourne on 15 August 1914 aged 21, an apprentice boot maker, having been a reservist in the 52 Infantry which was closely associated with the 5th Battalion.

Wesley-Charles-Rivers-TaylorHe was promoted to Sergeant on 15 January 1915. During the war Sergeant Taylor kept a diary in two small books (retained by his eldest grandson) written in indelible pencil, recording his experiences from the beginning of the assault at Gallipoli to his return to Australia in November 1916.

“Landed at Gallipoli peninsula under very heavy shrapnel fire – as we were coming ashore the shrapnel fell all around our boat but no one was hit as I was walking along the beach the shrapnel was right alongside of us I have the piece in my pocket I have had no sleep for 2 days.” – Sunday 25th April, 1915

Sergeant Taylor’s involvement in the war began on 25 April 1915 when he took part in the landing at Gallipoli. He saw fighting at the Second Battle of Krithia in May (where the Australians became known as the White Ghurkhas for their fearlessness), and the Battle of Lone Pine (where the fighting was some of the fiercest the Australians experienced during the campaign). He remained at Gallipoli as a member of the Quartermaster’s staff and finally left the peninsula for Egypt on 12 December 1915.

Both Sergeant Taylor’s brothers fought at Gallipoli. Vernon George Rivers Taylor, his eldest brother, later fought in France and remained in the army after the war and Clarence Churchill Julius Taylor, his second eldest brother, was killed at Pozieres Ridge, France in August 1916 fighting with Lieut. Jacka VC as member of Jacka’s Mob.

After further training in Egypt, Sergeant Wesley Taylor travelled to Ypres, in France. In his diary entry dated 30 March 1916 he writes  “Arrived at Marseilles 7 o’clock -I am in love with France.” Later he was to name his only son Lyons after the town in France where his train had stopped and he was given a cup of tea. 

After fighting in France to the end of June 1916 he became ill affected by gas and was evacuated to England where he remained until he was discharged and returned to Australia in December 1916. He married his sweetheart Amy Ann Whight and returned to work at Cherub Shoes in Richmond where he became a manager. He died on 6 April 1948 in Oakleigh, Melbourne.