Pages of the Sea Remembers Flotta’s Robert William Taylor

Robert William TaylorThe Pages of the Sea event which is to take place on Scapa Beach on 11th of November, 3pm,  will be a  large-scale sand portrait of Lieutenant Robert William Taylor MC, from Flotta.

Pages of the Sea: Community Workshop

A shuttle bus service will be operating on the day to help people attend due to the limited parking at Scapa. The shuttle bus will leave Great Western Road carpark in Kirkwall at 3pm  and also at 3:30pm if there is sufficient demand.

Return trips leaving Scapa at 4:30pm and, if required, at 5pm.

Those taking part will be able to create their own silhouettes in the sand, in memory of the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.

Robert William Taylor of Flotta

Robert Taylor born at Mounthoolie, Flotta, on 14 September 1893, the only son of Robert Taylor and Jane Taylor (née Sutherland).

He joined the National Bank of Scotland before enlisting in Kirkwall on 6h July 1915. He travelled to Glasgow to join No. 6 Depot, Royal Field Artillery as a gunner. He was soon promoted to Bombardier, then Lance Corporal. After his commanding officer recommended Robert for a commission, he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Special Reserve on 1 October 1915.

Robert joined D Battery, 83rd Brigade R.F.A. in the 18th (Eastern Division) in the field on 26 February 1916. His Division attacked at Montauban on 1 July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when it was one of the few British divisions to succeed in all its objectives, at the cost of 3,115 casualties.

Robert earned the award of a Military Cross during the Battle of Passchendaele and was promoted to full Lieutenant before his division returned to the front to begin the relief of 11th Division on 10 October at Poelcapelle.

Seriously injured in 1917, Lieutenant Robert William Taylor MC  was 24 when he died of his injuries.

His Commanding Officer remembered him as one “one of the most unselfish and cheerful fellows” he had served with and recorded a touching tribute to Robert that was published in The Scotsman on 19 November 1917.

It read: “Lieut. R.W. Taylor, MC, R.F.A. (died of wounds) was a highly popular and efficient young officer, who had been through nearly two years of the hardest fighting, and won the Military Cross last August by a rare exhibition of tenacity and skill in sending back information of the highest value while acting as forward observation officer.”

Robert Taylor was buried in at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. He is commemorated on Stromness War Memorial, and also on a gravestone and on the war memorial in Flotta churchyard. His Military Cross is held at the Orkney Museum, Kirkwall.

Antony Mottershead,Orkney Islands Council Arts Officer  said:

“We’re inviting folk to come along to the beach from 3pm onwards.

“There will be some additional space for parked cars in a field adjacent to the Sea Cadets’ building at Scapa, but we would strongly encourage people to use the shuttle bus if possible or, if the weather is suitable, to walk or cycle to the beach using the Crantit Trail.

“We expect the beach to be busy and we’d ask people with dogs to keep them on leads while the Pages of the Sea event takes place.”

A poem specially written by Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather at Scapa and at other beaches across the UK and take part in a nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left home shores during the war. Copies of the poem will be available at Scapa.

People attending are also encouraged to bring torches and other small lights with them to help with the reading and to act as a visually arresting moment as daylight fades.

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