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Alfred Taylorson (1870-1962)

Sunderland man served with Canadian Army awarded Military Medal

The second youngest child of Bishopwearmouth butcher John Taylorson, Alfred was baptised on 28 December 1870. Born and brought up in the same house in Burn Terrace, his father died just after his eleventh birthday and the butchery business was taken over by one of his older brothers. Alfred and his brother Albert were plumbers. In 1886, aged 16, Alf became an apprentice seaman indentured into the Merchant Navy. Ten years later he received his Certificate of Competency to say he was qualified to be a Second Mate. In 1898 he qualified as a First Mate and on 22 June 1900 he received his Master’s Certificate.

In 1903 Alf married Elizabeth Forrest and they had a son, Joe, born in 1904, followed by Elsie two years later. August 1909 saw Alf and his brother, John. sail for Canada, making for Calgary. Elizabeth and the two children joined Alf in May 1910.

The family moved to Kaslo, British Columbia and it was from here that Alf travelled to Camp Vernon to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 14 September 1915. He gave his occupation as master mariner and carpenter, and this young-looking 39-year-old tattooed former sailor became Private 442502 of the 54th Battalion. Docking at Plymouth in December 1915 the battalion moved to billets at Bramshott, Hampshire. Private Taylorson was almost immediately a patient in the camp hospital with influenza. Promoted to corporal in March, Alf made out his paybook will which stated that his will was held by Burnside & Morton, solicitors of Sunderland.

Having spent months in training, the battalion was eventually posted to France on 13 August 1916 and travelled by foot, train and London buses into Belgium. After a month they moved into the area of the Somme, reaching Albert on 10 October. Promoted to sergeant at the beginning of November, it was for his work during the attack on Desire Trench on 18 November 1916 that Alfred Taylorson was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. The citation reads “he was conspicuous for the coolness and intelligence with which he handled his platoon during the attack and subsequent reorganisation and consolidation. He was wounded but continued to direct his men until consolidation was completed, after which he was sent out”.

Having had his wounds dressed, he was returning to base but had to take shelter in an old shell hole when was buried in a foetal position. He was dragged out by his legs and was unconscious for a week. He was invalided to 5th Northern General Hospital in Leicester. Suffering severe pain in his back and unable at first to straighten his legs, he had electric treatment and massage, but a medical report of January 1917 stated that he was badly crippled and that his wounds were not healing. Discharged from hospital in England on 9 March 1917 he was invalided to Canada and treated as an outpatient at the Military Hospital, Esquimalt, British Columbia until the end of November, when he was discharged from the CEF as medically unfit.

Alf returned to his wife and family in Kaslo and found work as a janitor. They moved to Chilliwack in 1923, and their daughter, Elsie, died there five years later. Alfred Taylorson died on 15 November 1962, outliving his wife by nine years, and is buried in Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary.

Civil Parish: Sunderland

Birth date: 3-Dec-1870

Death date: 15-Nov-1962

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 7 Burn Terrace, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland (1871 census)
4th Street, Kaslo City, British Columbia (1921 Canadian census)
Chilliwack, British Columbia (daughter’s death notice)
4851 Water Lane, Caulfield, Vancouver, British Columbia (Voters list 1940)

Religion: Wesleyan

Employment: Plumber (1891 census)
Apprentice seaman (Board of Trade certificate 1886)
Second mate (Board of Trade certificate 1896)
First mate (Board of Trade certificate 1898)
Ship’s master (Board of Trade certificate 1900)
Janitor (1921 Canadian census)

Family: Parents: John Brown Taylorson, Jane Morrison Taylorson nee Douthwaite
Siblings: Mary Ann Taylorson, Ursula Taylorson, Thomas Taylorson, Jonathan Taylorson, Jane Douthwaite Taylorson, James Douthwaite Taylorson, Albert Edward Taylorson, John B.Taylorson, Robert Swann Taylorson, Frederick Taylorson
Wife: Elizabeth Taylorson nee Forrest
Children: Joe Taylorson, Elsie Taylorson

Military service:

Sergeant 442502
54th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force
Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Medal(s): Military Medal
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstaff, Durham

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