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James William Taylor

by Jess Gibby | People, World War One

Private James William Taylor 267973 served in the 1/6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment. Recorded in the 1911 census as born in 1897 in Bishopsteignton, and living at Delamore Cottages with his father Henry, and mother Jessie. Henry was a mason and James is recorded as a gardener aged 14.

He died on the 22nd October 1918 in Iraq, and is buried at Basra war cemetery.

Our thanks go to Alistair Wallis who, in the course of his own research on his great uncle Clifford Wallis, identified James as being the identity referred to as William Taylor on Bishopsteignton War Memorial.

Military Experience

James joined the 1/6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment which was a Territorial Force as a private (Service Nr 267973). This division was ordered to India to replace the regular British and Indian armies who were being deployed to the western front, He writes in the letter to Mrs Wallis that he had not come across any other Bishopsteignton chaps other than in India where he saw Jack Apps.

According to the wartime memories project, in January 1916 the Battalion joined the independent 36th Brigade Indian Army for service in Mesopotamia. (now known as Iraq). The battalion was involved in several campaigns including the second battle of Kut and the fall of Bagdad in 1917.[1]

In 2023 Alistair Wallis contacted Bishopsteignton Heritage following his own research using his family archive. He came across a letter from James W Taylor written from Mesopotamia on the 10th July 1918. This letter was written to Mrs Wallis thanking her for the socks that had been sent out from the village to his Devon Regiment.[2]

B. Coy: 7th Platoon,
1/6th Devons.
Mesopotamian Force.
10. 7. 18.

Dear Mrs Wallis,

I am very pleased to say that I have received your parcel all safe and sound containing the socks. It was dated 29/4/18. I cannot thank you too much for them (the socks) they are some of the most useful and most appreciated things in this hot country, and also very necessary, especially when we go on the march. In some places the ground is very rough, and with the severe heat our feet soon start to get tender and distressing, that is if the marching is for any great distance. In answer to your letter, I have not yet seen or heard of any Bishop’s Teignton chaps around here. There are none in our Regiment. When I was in India I saw Jack Apps, but I have not seen anyone else from home since in this country anywhere. I do not know his present whereabouts. I expect it has got quiet at home now. Now that the age limit has been raised I expect a few more will have to go. I also received your letter dated 18/5/18. and I was very sorry when it informed me of your great loss, and I know that you have my deepest regret and sympathy. Clifford was well known to me when I was at school. I am sure he has, and will be, missed in a very wide sphere. Many thanks for the Memorial Card, and again thanking you for the socks I think I will close. I am glad to say that I am in the best of health at present. Hoping that this will find you quite well and all at home in the best of health,

I remain,
Your’s truly, Pte, J.W.Taylor.

Death and Burial

Sadly, 3 months after writing the letter James Taylor was killed on the 22nd October 1918 aged 21 years and tragically 9 days before the end of the campaign in Mesopotamia. He is buried at the Basra War Cemetery in Iraq. I.R.14.

A two volume Roll of Honour listing all casualties buried and commemorated in Iraq has been produced and are on display at the Commission’s Head Office in Maidenhead. Digital versions of these Rolls of Honour have been produced and are available to view online at


[2] With thanks to Alistair Wallis for his permission to publish the private letter and his research. The full Clifford Wallis letters collection can be seen here.