TAYLOR, Ronald

No.5828403, Private, Ronald TAYLOR
Aged 23

5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died of Illness in Captivity on Friday, 7th May 1943

Ronald TAYLOR was born on 26th February 1920 in Haverhill (Risbridge Q1-1920 4A:2167), son of David and Kate TAYLOR (née MAYES).
He was a farm labourer living at Boyton Hall Cottages, Haverhill.

It is not known when Ronald's father left the army but by 1938 the family were living at Chapel Farm Cottages, Little Wratting. On 16 May 1939 Ronald, aged 19, followed in his father's footsteps and enlisted in 'D' Company, 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.

In the 1939 register, at Boyton Hall Cottages, Haverhill were his father David TAYLOR [14-2-1894] farm bailiff; his mother Kate E [26-9-1891] and his brother John [25-6-1924] a milk roundsman. No closed records.

Initial training took place at North Walsham with the first few months spent in the Norfolk area performing guard duties at river bridges; coastal defence in the sand dunes of Hemsby and also in and around stately homes. The unit was then moved on to other locations, being stationed at Fulbourn near Cambridge, then to Hawick, Scotland; Liverpool; Isle of Anglesey; and finally Leominster in Herefordshire.
In early October 1941, whilst at Leominster, they were informed that they would be going overseas, possibly for service in the Middle East. On 27th October they made their way by train to Liverpool Docks, where they embarked on a troopship named the 'Reina del Pacifico' which, as a part of the 18th Division Convoy, sailed for what was to prove a great misadventure. On reaching Halifax, Nova Scotia, the troops transferred to an American troopship, the 'USS Wakefield', which was once an ocean-going cruise liner. Compared to the previous ship this one was magnificent, everything about it being first class, the accommodation and food was excellent. On the 9th December, the convoy docked at Cape Town still under the impression that they were due for action in the Middle East, but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour they found themselves diverted to Singapore instead.

The South West Echo of 10th April 1943 reported:
'Prisoner of War:-Mr. and Mrs. David Taylor of Boyton Hall Cottages have received intimation from the Catholic Times, who received the news from the Vatican radio station, that their second son, Pte Ronald Taylor is a Prisoner of War in Malaya. He was reported missing in February 1942.'
By the time that they received this notification, Ronald had been a prisoner for fourteen months.

The 5th Suffolks were fighting until the last minute, before Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese on 15th February 1942, which is when Ronald was captured and then put to work on the Burma-Siam railway. He succumbed to Amoebic Dysentery and died on 7th May 1943, barely two months after his parents had received the news that he was a POW.

He was originally buried in grave 26 at Kanburi Paper Mill Cemetery and re-interred in Kanchanaburi on 29th January 1946

photo from asiawargraves.com

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ronald Taylor is buried in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, grave 2:F:31

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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