A SOLDIER from Stratford who died just weeks before the end of the Second World War is to be honoured.
Reginald Taylor died in a tragic accident while practicing amphibious landings on Lake Windermere in Cumbria in the summer of 1945.
The 19 year-old was based at Barnard Castle in County Durham with 20 other soldiers who were preparing to face Japanese forces overseas.
Nine soldiers from the Kings Royal Rifle Corps were traveling between Cockshott Point and Belle Isle on the lake when their boat was overturned in a squall – six of the men drowned when their battle kit became water-logged.
Their comrades on the shore tried to save them despite dangerous weather conditions, and a passer-by even helped one soldier by swimming out and dragging him back to the shore.
The exercise took place on July 27 – a couple of months after peace had been declared in Europe, but while Britain was still engaged in the war with Japan in the Far East. Less than three weeks after the accident Japan surrendered with the war officially declared over on August 15.
Seventy years on and a memorial plaque for the soldiers has been commissioned by the Windermere branch of the Royal British Legion. It will be placed on a seat at Windermere’s War memorial.
Don Lowis from Windermere remembered the accident from his childhood and contacted the Westmorland Gazette who found a report in their archives from the day after the tragedy.
The report tells how the previous two trips of other soldiers had been carried out without any problems when the weather changed suddenly, throwing up large waves which swept the boat over and sank it immediately.
Mr Lowis told the Observer: “I had a vague memory of the incident, but when I asked people of my age and older no one remembered anything about it. So I wrote to the local paper and they found the report of the accident.
“I think the reason it stayed in my mind is that it happened on the day of my mother’s funeral there were a lot of soldiers about in Bowness (the town where Don lived) and mum got a lot of salutes.”
Thanks to Don, the Royal British Legion read the names of those who perished with the local Roll of Honour on Remembrance Sunday this year.
Reginald, whose address was listed as Bordon Place in the newspaper report of his death, is buried in the Stratford Cemetery on Evesham Road. Don hoped any remaining family in the Stratford area would be pleased and proud to know Reginald had been honoured by the people of Windermere.