The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- George William
- Corporal (Promoted on 24.1.1942)
- Regimental #:
- ‘A’ Company Headquarters
- Place of Birth:
- Darley Dale, Derbyshire, England
- Father's Name:
- William Taylor
- Mothers's Name:
- Edith Taylor (nee Levatt) (Fanny Taylor was his stepmother)
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Truck Driver
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 43.
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi
- ‘E’ Force Borneo
- 4/4597 & 1560
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No. 1 Camp
- Date of Death:
George enlisted AIF 23 Oct 1940. He later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Coy Headquarters as a driver/mechanic – in fact he was Transport Corporal under command of Major Saggers (who later transferred to ‘E’ Coy Special Reserve Battalion as their CO).
The original ‘A’ Company Headquarters was small in number with only 16 personnel. Another 14 reinforcements joined them Jan 1942 when their transport ship from Sydney to Singapore – ‘Aquitania’ anchored off Fremantle for two days.
It was here ‘Aquitania’ resupplied but most importantly picked up more than 100 reinforcements. Unfortunately most of these young men were placed in one Battalion (‘E’ COMPANY SPECIAL RESERVE BATTALION) and nearly half would be killed when they walked into a Japanese ambush 12 Feb, 1942 at South West Bukit Timah, Singapore.
George survived the battle of Singapore, was taken POW of Japan with thousands of Australian and British troops. The Australians were accommodated at Selarang – Changi, Singapore, where conditions were shockingly overcrowded. The Japanese began assembling work parties to work around Singapore and work forces to work on the Burma-Thai Railway. George sailed from Singapore with ‘E’ Force Borneo in 1943 – they were headed for Sandakan, North Borneo part of a work-force of British and Australian POWs to construct the airfields and roads.
Conditions were reasonable to begin with, however the Japanese and Korean guards quickly revealed their sadistic and cruel traits! To dispose of evidence of POW atrocities, Japanese senior officers set in place plans to do just that – In early 1945 the POWs were sent on marches carrying military guns, ammunition, food from Sandakan to Ranau. The POWs already weakened from sickness and starvation died on the track or were beaten or shot to death. When the war ended, more than 2,000 POWs had died – 6 men miraculously survived after escaping. Thankfully, because they were able to provide evidence at the War Trials.
It is perhaps a blessing, if one can be permitted to say so, that George died at Sandakan Camp 2nd March 1945 of malaria. The Camp conditions became much worse in the following months, until the last POW died about 15 August 1945 either on the track, Ranau or outside at the Sandakan compound, often without shelter because the Japanese burned all the huts in May. POWs had received no food rations since end of Dec 1944. (they had only what they had managed to stockpile before January 45). POWs were forbidden to purchase from locals.
Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX8867 Corporal George William Taylor, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW’s were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Corporal Taylor, aged 43, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 2 March 1945. He was the husband of Lucy May Taylor, of Subiaco, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 18. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)
Height 5′ 7 1/4″
TAYLOR, Corporal, GEORGE WILLIAM, WX8867, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 2 March 1945. Age 43. Husband of Lucy May Taylor, of Subiaco, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
George was the son of Edith (nee Levatt) and George ‘William’ Taylor born 1902 Derbyshire, England. George’s mother died prior to his father’s remarriage to Fanny Allen. William died in 1921 and by 1921 Census George (Jnr) was living with his step-mother Fanny Taylor at Hedges Farm, Childwickbury, St Albans, Hertfordshire, England.
On 29 Nov 1923 George left London on ‘Benalla’ on 29 Nov 1923 sailing to Fremantle. He was 21 years of age.
The first we can find of George is in 1931 Electoral Roll. He is living Wubin working as farm hand.
In 1932 he married Lucy May Digwood from Collie. Lucy is one of 5 children born to parents Henry and Elizabeth Digwood who migrated from Wales. Elizabeth Digwood died in 1928.
With no immediate family in Australia, the Digwood family would have become his family.
Below: Lucy’s older brother served in WW1. The family receive news 1916 he had been seriously injured.
Lucy’s mother, Elizabeth dies 1928 unexpectedly following an operation at Collie hospital.
Below: Lucy’s brother Charles – this WW1 Veteran’s life appears precarious.
In Jan 1931, Charles Digwood despairs and attempts suicide with his own shotgun – he was firstly admitted to hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
In 1935 Henry Digwood died.
In 1936 Electoral Roll, George is storekeeper, living with Lucy at Dunedin St, Fremantle.
1937 Lucy and George are residing Gloster Street, Subiaco. George is truck driver.
In 1943 Electoral Roll, the last before George departed with 2/4th for Singapore, he and Lucy were living 202 Heytesbury Street, Subiaco, George truck driver.
Lucy and George had one son, Laurence born in 1935.
George served as a Deacon at Church of Christ, Subiaco. You can read further as Church of Christ
Lucy remarried in 1956 to Herbert Leonard Johnson. She died 1975 aged 74 years.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***
- Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak