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Capt. Ken CC Taylor DSO - 1888-1916
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure||
|World War I Mess Medals - Capt KCC Taylor DSO|
|Orig. mess medals - Size - 60 x 70 mm
Found - Vancouver, BC
|The British Empire medals, left to right are: the DSO - Distinguished Service Order (for an act of distinguished service or merit, second only to the Victoria Cross); the Mons Star (2 million issued to anyone in the theatre of war before Dec. 31, 1915); (the British War Medal (6.6 million issued to anyone who left their native land to join the war effort; the British Victory Medal (5.7 million issued to anyone who entered a theatre of war.)|
During World War I millions of medals were awarded to men and women who served in the armies of the British Empire.
Everyone who qualified was issued the large set of medals veterans wear on Remembrance Day. But mini medals or mess medals - miniature versions of their big brothers - were also available for wearing at dinners or dress occasions where the huge clanking medals would have been an inconvenience.
The large medals had the recipient's name inscribed around the rim; mess medals did not because they were too small. As a result no one knows to whom most of them once belonged...
This rack of mess medals is special for a number of reasons that makes it highly sought after by collectors:
- the medals are a named group with provenance clearly testifying to whom they were awarded
- they were awarded to a Canadian officer
- they include a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) second only to the Victoria Cross in merit
- they include an MID (Mentioned in Dispatches) clasp left, issued for uncommon acts of bravery recognized by the Commander-in-Chief
- they were awarded to an officer who was killed in action
- they retain their original ribbons in fine condition
- they retain the long mounting pin for attaching to the uniform
- the medal group is accompanied by two original photographs of Captain Taylor, a most rare complement to any medal group
Today, sadly, often all that remains of a civilian volunteer who paid the supreme sacrifice at war, is a box of medals, or an anonymous photograph. The photo of Ken right was taken when he was in France probably during one of his convalescing periods. There seems to be a nurse and stretcher crew walking in the background.
Someone, possibly a family member, wrote the highlights of Ken's service, and glued them onto the picture, lest he and his record be forgotten. Then family members dissipate, the links to Ken dissolve, and his medals go to a yard sale or the auction block.
Ken Taylor left standing outside the Industrial Hall at Vancouver's Hastings Park, near the steps where thousands of British Columbians had their group pictures taken before embarking for service overseas.
Ken, like almost all the men and women who served in World War I, were not career militarists, but civilians who answered the call to suit up, and learn the technology of war.
None were keen about war; few had ever been keen to learn about guns and tanks and bombs, let alone use them, or to see what the effect of them would be on other human beings.
Their first passion always was, peace, and an end to war. None pursued the military arts, or the technology of war, as their primary passion. They only left civvy street and donned uniforms because their country called.
They were civilians first, and last. To them all, military service was an aberration, neither a life vocation or a desirable passion.
Ken had spent his life as a land surveyor. It was his primary passion to which he hoped to return just as soon as he could get the uniform off... when peace was won.
Unfortunately for Ken, like 65,000 other Canadian civilians volunteers, it was not to be...
Ken Taylor was born in Montreal on 20 March 1888, and was a land surveyor prior to enlisting in the 29th Battalion on 11 Nov.1914.
He was seriously wounded in the chest,arms, and head, by grenades and bullets, on 30 January 1916, while leading the Brigade bombers in a raid.
He was awarded the DSO on the 29 February 1916, and Mentioned in Dispatches on 25 May 1916.
He was killed in action on 12 September 1916.
The citation for his DSO reads:
"For conspicuous gallantry while leading bombers in a raid on enemy trenches. Although wounded, Captain Taylor jumped into the trench and disposed of several of the enemy with bomb, revolver and bayonet. Later he withdrew his men most coolly, and assisted in taking back the wounded."
He had attended the Royal Military College and his brother,Major T.A.H.Taylor OBE MC served along side him in the 29th Battalion..
Later commanding the PCMR, Taylor became the first officer of the 29th to be awarded the DSO, and sadly, the distinction of being the first original 29th officer to be killed in action in the bloodbath that was the Somme.
Ken was only 28...
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