One hundred years’ on: poppies, the Battle of the Somme & William Faulkner Taylor



On Friday I was dog-walking on the chalk fields around my home. At their fringes, where the farmer has left off with his sprays, the oil seed rape is woven with grasses, small scabious, bird’s foot trefoil – and poppies. I stopped and photographed them, and thought of one soldier in particular: my great-great uncle, William Faulkner Taylor, who had arrived from Canada almost exactly 100 years’ earlier, at the end of June 1916. He’d pitched up not so very far from me, in a training camp in Bramshott, Hampshire, to await his passage to France. He didn’t yet know it but the Somme was to be his bloody baptism.
“July 2nd 1916

Dear Harold,

I arrived in England last Thursday. I have been hoping to be able to come up to see you before we go to France, but the Colonel told us this morning at church parade that it was impossible to grant any leave at all because they want to rush us through & get us ready to go to France sometime in August, he said the only passes that he could give us were from noon on Saturday until ten o’clock on Sunday night & that wouldn’t be any use at all. I went home for a day before we left Canada & everybody was quite well when I was there, we left Saskatoon on the 12 of June. We were inspected yesterday by the King about 8 miles from here & believe me it was some march with a full pack after doing nothing but sit around for nearly 3 weeks, we were away at 6 in the morning & didn’t get back until six at night & were pretty tired boys. Have you enlisted yet or what are you doing, I suppose this letter will find you if you are not at home, I have been wondering if you have enlisted and are by any chance camped anywhere around here, if so we could arrange to see one another somewhere. Well, I think this is all now I will write again as soon as I hear from you.

Your dearly beloved little chip, Bill”


2 thoughts on “One hundred years’ on: poppies, the Battle of the Somme & William Faulkner Taylor

  1. Pingback: William Faulkner Taylor – part 2 | No Frigate like a book

  2. Pingback: Silent Voices – Found poetry of lost women | No Frigate like a book

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