Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Harold Vivian Gordon-Taylor (ASC)

Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Recommended Posts

I came across an interesting story today, whilst researching ASC drivers in the Great War. I came across this chap:

Harold Vivian Gordon-Taylor (with a hyphen in his handwriting, but not indexed that way on Ancestry), who attested at Grove Park, on May 25th 1916.


He gave his birth place as Toronto, Canada, and his residence as "Mosley, Sherbourne Street, Toronto". His age was 24yrs 5months, giving a birth year of early 1892 or late 1891.

He stated he was a British Subject, his trade as "Independent", and stated truthfully that his whole previous military service consisted of 2 years training at Uppingham OTC.

He was married, but separated from his wife. His next of kin was his mother, Mary Adeline Gordon-Taylor, "99 Ditchling Road, Brighton (Solicitors) ".

He was assigned to Grove Park as a Driver (Learner) but there is no record that he ever completed the training.

On July 9th 1916, he deserted. He didn't reappear, and he was presumably still absent when on August 3rd, he was struck off the strength of Grove Park. Apart from a list of clothing and equipment, totalling £3/5/4¼d, his record ends. There's no mention of a return, and a court martial.

I then Googled the man, but the only reference I can find, is in Genes Reunited, and I do not subscribe to that. The details there are:


British Army Service Records 1760-1915

Collections from

Great Britain

Birth Year


Birth Country


Birth Parish



Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) - 1st Foot

Soldier Number



WO97 chelsea pensioners british army service records 1760-1913

I think that with such an unusual name, one can be fairly confident it is the same man, but as can be seen, the Place of Birth is different.

And the Regiment is now the Royal Scots, and the record is held in the WO97 series, although I can't get a hit on searching the Discovery catalogue.

I also can't get a hit by searching for him without the hyphen on Ancestry.

A bit of a mystery, Does anyone have any suggestions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Desert in UK is easier. Separated and NOK via solicitor? Perfect time to just hide away and start again, even that late on with two years OTC experience he goes via the ASC?

Educated and a new life? Think this may be a disappearing man.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On his attesting form he states he received a notification from Sgt Hall ASC. Would this have been posted to him in Canada? If he was due for call up wouldn't he have been notified by War Office?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin

The 'notice' is given on enlistment and simply sets out the terms of service so not much help.

The service record in the Royal Scots is on FMP which can usually be accessed at a library if you don't subscribe.

Headlines are, age 14, occupation tailor he enlisted for twelve years as a boy at Shorncliffe on 21/05/1906 and was discharged on the 8/05/08 his services no longer being required.

He attended Sutcliffe Industral School Bath. You would say they were not the same man except on the Ancestry record his mother is Mary Adeline Gordon-Taylor and on the earlier record her name is given as Adeline Gordon-Taylor living at an address in St John's Wood, father Basil.

At first glance seems a bit of a fantasist, perhaps he was hoping for a commission hence the reference to the OTC, impossible to say but it looks like so many others he simply vanished after he deserted.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I suspected a bit of fantasy myself.

Such an unusual surname. None of that surname in the 1891 Census.

Oh well.

Great disappearing act.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


There is a criminal record on FMP for a Harold Vivian Gordon Taylor, born about 1893.

21st September 1909, Marylebone Police Court, stealing a postal order to the sum of 8s 6d. 6 months hard labour in Wormwood Scrubs.

Edit: There is another 5 criminal records with the same man using various combinations of his name and also the alias Gordon Hicks for petty thefts and fraud.

Also an interesting article in the Gloucester Journal 30 January 1915, obtaining suits and an Army Service Corp jacket from a gentlemens outfitter while in uniform and pretending to be an Army officer.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once researched a man with a hyphen name on his medal. No luck with the MIC but when I dropped the hyphen & used the first half as just an initial I found him at once. Seems he used any brains he had to bad purposes. The R Scots part is intriguing, did he serve after all? Hope more can be found on him under whatever names he used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks MickLeeds for that interesting bit of background.

Off to search the Medal Rolls now for Pte. Mitty, Walter. ASC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a story in the Portsmouth Evening News of 28 January 1926 about a con man, (Major Gordon-Taylor) claiming to be the nephew of the surgeon and conning people out of money on the Riviera.

Could this be our man again, I wonder?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a story in the Portsmouth Evening News of 28 January 1926 about a con man, (Major Gordon-Taylor) claiming to be the nephew of the surgeon and conning people out of money on the Riviera.

Could this be our man again, I wonder?

Yes that sounds like him.

There have only been about 6 deaths of "Gordon-Taylor"s in the UK since 1837, and he isn't one. He may well have died abroad.

Or under another name.

He is no relative of Gordon Gordon-Cooper , who oddly enough wasn't actually a Gordon-Taylor!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a couple of newspaper accounts in early May 1923 (best probably Yorkshire Post 7 May 1923). About a Harold Gordon Taylor who had been arrested on the stage of a Birmingham music hall and appeared in court in Croydon. He seems to have been recognised by a Mrs Jessie Norman as he owed money on an affiliation order. The man she was looking for was Charles Gordon Taylor who had been a driver in the [Royal] Army Service Corps.

The court discharged Harold Gordon Taylor as a witness from the bank branch from which cheques had previously been sent to Mrs Norman said he was not the right man.

There is nothing conclusive, but you get the feeling our man might be involved somewhere in there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


He appears in the Phone Book in Liphook ,Hants, in 1923.

Living at "Will O' the Wisp, Longmoor Road.

But then nothing.

He's having a larff isn't he?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...