Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 06:55 UK

Search for family of WWI soldier

The funeral procession down Prestatyn High Street
Herbert Taylor's funeral attracted crowds on Prestatyn High Street

A search is on for descendants of a World War I veteran who has been given a gravestone 91 years after he died.

Herbert Taylor is believed to have been the first WWI soldier buried with full military honours in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, in 1917.

However, a headstone was never paid for and a local historian believes this was because his family moved away.

Prestatyn Town Council, which paid for the stone, wants any relatives to attend a church service on Saturday.

Herbert Taylor's funeral procession
The coffin was transported by horse and carriage

The service, which will officially dedicate the headstone to Lieutenant Quartermaster Taylor, will be at Prestatyn Parish Church at 1100 BST on Saturday.

Until now, his grave has been unmarked.

Local historian Jerard Bone came across the discrepancy when he was researching war memorials in Denbighshire.

He said: "I was very intrigued by a postcard that had been given to me by picture historian Harry Thomas showing the very first funeral with full military honours in Prestatyn.

"But when I looked, I couldn't find Mr Taylor's headstone.

"From the image, I could see exactly where he had been buried so I did some research and later discovered a lot about this chap from records in London.

Historian Harry Thomas, councillor June Cahill and historian Jerard Bone at the grave (picture courtesy of dailypost.co.uk)
The council, and local historians, hope relatives can be traced

"I learnt that he was from Cardiff and had four sons. He used to be the manager of the city's Empire Theatre but took a 180 pay cut because he was desperate to serve his country."

The Empire stood in the Queen Street in the city centre, until the building was eventually demolished in the 1960s.

Mr Taylor served 21 years with the 3rd Volunteer Rhondda Battalion, which later became part of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

The battalion was stationed in Prestatyn before going to France, and he had been involved in raising recruits.

In December 1916, he was forced to resign from the armed forces when he fell ill in France, and returned briefly to Prestatyn.

He died aged 48 on 3 January, 1917, after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Mr Bone believes Mr Taylor's family might have moved back to Cardiff before a headstone could be erected and the issue of marking his grave became overlooked.

Herbert Taylor's burial
Soldiers and civilians turned up for the burial service

Mr Bone claimed providing a headstone had been outside the remit of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion.

A campaign was taken up by town and county councillor June Cahill last year when she was mayor of Prestatyn, and the town council has now paid for and installed the headstone.

She said: "We are very pleased to have provided the funds for Herbert's headstone.

"We just hope any relatives of his can attend the service."

A spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said they would investigate the case to see if Mr Taylor could be added to its list of fallen during the Great War.

If so, the grave would become one of 170,000 war graves in the UK which are looked after by the Commission in 13,000 different burial grounds.

The headstone was installed last month and Saturday's official service will include members of the British Legion, the Royal Welsh battalion and the Western Front Association.

It is thought Mr Taylor could still have descendants in the south Wales area.

Any relatives are asked to contact Ms Cahill on 01745 856 775.


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07 Sep 08 |  North East Wales
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28 Jul 08 |  North East Wales
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