A Local Story for Remembrance Day 2018.

Donald Taylor dressed for the Royal British Legion fund raising campaign

This pristine Commonwealth War Graves headstone commemorating Lilian Taylor has kept its lonely vigil in Sulgrave churchyard for almost 100 years. To mark the centenary of the signing of the armistice which brought the Great War to an end, this year the Royal British Legion has created a special brooch dedicated to the memory of the courageous women who served and lost their lives as a direct result of the First World War.

I set out below the remarkable story of the connection between Lilian, the RAF wreath and one of these brooches:


This rather haunting photograph from 1917 shows Lilian Taylor of Sulgrave in her uniform as a member of the Royal Flying Corps. She later became one of the earliest members of the Women’s Royal Air Force. As recorded on the headstone she died on 6th November 1918. She was one of the many who survived the war, only to die in the dreadful flu epidemic which coincided with its end. Sadly, very little is known about her war service but the presence of the Commonwealth War Graves headstone in the churchyard suggests that she may have been serving in France where she perhaps became infected and was then invalided home to Sulgrave where she died.

She was aunt to Donald Taylor who is, of course, a familiar sight in the village, especially at this time when he does sterling work selling poppies on behalf of the Royal British Legion.

The following message was sent to the Sulgrave Village Website:

I am looking to contact Donald Taylor whom I understand may live in Sulgrave. I understand that he does a lot for the Poppy Appeal and I have something that I would like to give him as it should belong to him… It is a limited edition poppy that I have received today. The poppy collection commemorates each of the brave women who died in the First World War and I have, by chance, purchased the poppy commemorating his auntie, Lilian Taylor. My wife would rather he have the poppy as her family and I would very much appreciate it if you could arrange for my contact details to be passed to him in order that I can send the gift to him.

This message was passed on to Donald, who confessed himself overwhelmed by the generosity of the purchaser of the brooch. Arrangements were made and it was dispatched by special postage to Sulgrave. Below are photographs of the brooch itself and the certificate which accompanied it……


The brooch and its box.



The certificate.


By coincidence, at about the same time, Northamptonshire Women’s Royal Air Force Veterans had made arrangements to place a wreath on Lilian’s grave on Saturday October 20th. After a short service in the church, the vicar and a handful of villagers stood before the headstone while Donald and WRAF Veteran Pamela Spreckley laid the RAF wreath. In the bright autumn sunshine the quiet churchyard echoed to the well known words: “…they grow not old as we that are left grow old….” and “…tell them of us and say – for your tomorrow we gave our today…..” It was a very simple and very moving  tribute to Lilian, who died so young……


Donald Taylor and Pamela Spreckley lay the RAF wreath.





Gareth, Sarah and William Gosling were the kind family from Dorset who donated the poppy brooch to Donald. They came up for a British Legion event at Weedon Lois and as you can see they and Donald became firm friends:

My paternal grandmother was Catherine Taylor, formerly of Wootton House, Little Street, and so Lilian was my “great aunt”! It was therefore a pleasure and a privilege to act as a “go between” for Donald and the kind donor of the brooch. Very shortly, Donald will be wearing it whilst doing the rounds with tray and collecting tin so don’t forget to buy your poppy.

Colin Wootton



2 Responses to “A Local Story for Remembrance Day 2018.”

  1. Remembering my great great uncle Wallace James Smith .born in sulgrave. Also in the church memorial.

  2. peter wootton says:

    Has anyone in the areasany photographs of my great grandad owen wootton or his son Bertie wootton,would love to see any picture of any of my family,thank you in anticipation.Peter Wootton yeadon.leeds

Leave a Reply