George Washington Tayler, 1890 - 1915
George Tayler was killed during the battle for Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915. He was aged 25. His body was not recovered and his name is on the Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial, Chunuk Bair Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey.
George was born in Eltham on 4 February 1890. His parents were Alice Maud and George Washington Tayler. His father was Eltham's first Mayor and was also a Justice of the Peace. George had an older sister and two younger brothers and a younger sister.
George passed his matriculation and solicitors' general knowledge examination at the end of 1905. On leaving school he worked as a teller in the Eltham branch of the Bank of New Zealand. He resigned to enrol to study law at Victoria University College. While he was studying he was employed as a law clerk by the Eltham firm Syme and Weir.
He enjoyed playing sports and participated in tennis, hockey and golf. He was also active in the territorial forces, holding the rank of Lieutenant from May 1912.
In late February 1914 Tayler was advised that he had passed his final solicitor's examination and he was admitted in the Supreme Court at Palmerston North. Shortly after, on 14 April 1914, he married Ella de Sou Riley at St Paul's in Auckland. The couple returned to Eltham where he continued to work for Syme and Weir. He would have worked with Donald Eric MacKay who died of wounds on 9 June 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.
Shortly after the outbreak of war, on 13 November 1914, he enlisted in the army. He left for Trentham camp shortly afterwards with the Third Reinforcements and was appointed Lieutenant in recognition of his territorial experience. His medical examination record shows he was 5 foot 7-1/2 inches tall (1.71 metres), weighed 9 stone 11 pounds (62.1 kg), had blue eyes and "medium" hair.
Tayler embarked from Wellington on 13 February 1915, arriving at Alexandra in Egypt on 26 March. On his arrival he was transfered to the 11th (Taranaki) Company of the Wellington Infantry Regiment. He did not participate in the initial Gallipoli landings, but was sent to the Dardanelles on 8 May 1915, during the battle for Krithia and Achi Baba.
On 8 August 1915 Tayler's regiment was involved in the battle for Chunuk Bair. He was killed during the fighting to hold Rhododendron Ridge just below the heights. At the end of the day only 70 men in the 760-strong Wellington Batallion were left who were not dead, wounded or slightly wounded.
Several weeks after the news of Tayler's death reached New Zealand, the Dominion newspaper published a letter he had mailed to his wife on 11 July 1915. Mrs Tayler, who had moved to England, sent the letter to the honorary secretary of the Mayoress's Committee of the Countess of Liverpool Fund, for whom it had been written.
Her covering note stated: "My husband, Lieutenant G.W. Tayler, asked me to post to you the enclosed note, as he had no other envelope. It was written only a fortnight before he was killed in action, after being exactly three months in the trenches. Please accept my thanks for the pleasure given by your committee, more especially as he had received none of the parcels sent by me. He said the heart of the women of New Zealand would glow with pride and pleasure to hear the remarks of his men on what the women at home were doing for them."
Tayler's letter from Gallipoli read: "The writer begs to acknowledge on his thirteenth Sunday in Gallipoli to the date and the day, the useful and welcome gift from your committee. If you can imagine a bath in two pints of water with your soap and the joyous feel of the new and clean socks you will know how joyful a soldier can be and how proud to think that our people at home work to make us have that comfort and joy. I am asking Mrs Tayler to post this to you with my best thanks as one envelope is my all, and paper is nearly 'non est.'."
Tayler's name is on the sixth panel of the Eltham War Memorial Gates at Eltham Primary School.
Sources: Otago Daily Times, 5 February 1906, page 3; Hawera and Normanby Star, 27 February 1914, page 8; Hawera and Normanby Star, 16 August 1915, page 8; Auckland Weekly News, 26 August 1915, page 38; Dominion, 25 September 1915, page 11; The Spike, War Memorial Number, 1920, page 38; John Banks, ANZAC Speech, Auckland, 26 April 2004.
This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.
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Last updated on the 22nd April 2020