In our series of articles on World War II soldiers from Trousdale County, we have written about four local boys who paid the ultimate price for their nation. Lewis Key, Jack Cato, Joseph Lovelady and Cortez Beal all gave their lives in the service of their country.
They were not the only ones from here to shed their blood for our nation. A list compiled by the Historical Society also gives the names of Charley Scruggs, John Fisher, James Dyer, Julian Seymore, Austin Smith, Richard Scoggins, Stanley Moore, Ottis Thomas, Leon Johns, Charles Lee Burton, Wiseman Parkhurst, James Gregory, Vassie Coleman Burton and Aubrey Forkum.
Because some men lived here for a while but then moved to other counties and enlisted there, or enlisted here but lived in neighboring counties, it is difficult to make a comprehensive list.
Many other men served and many of those were wounded – and they eventually returned to their homes and went on with their lives. Last week, we wrote about “Bill” Holder, who served in Europe and came back to Trousdale County to farm.
This week we write about another young man who served in the war and returned. But for a while he was missing in action, and his family was left to fear the worse!
Reading a short notice in The Hartsville Vidette from early June 1944, we see it has the headline: “Cpl. Taylor Missing On Invasion Day.”
The article says, “Mrs. Annie L. Taylor has been advised by the War Department that her husband, Cpl. George W. Taylor has been missing in action since June 6th, in France.”
The brief write-up didn’t mention that George and Annie had only been married a few months before he left for service in 1942. His young wife and parents were forced to sit and wait for further news, listening for the phone to ring or looking for the mailman to bring better tidings.
A follow-up article in our local paper, dated July 14, 1944, is headlined, “Thirteen Days Behind Enemy Lines!”
That article states, “Cpl. George Taylor, announced as missing in action in France on June 6th, invasion day, is now safe after spending 13 days behind enemy lines in Normandy, according to a letter just received by his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. G. G. Taylor of the First District. His wife…received word of his safety at the same time. These letters were written somewhere in France on June 23rd.”
The Vidette then reported on Taylor’s adventures on D-Day.
“…His glider crashed behind enemy lines on invasion day just as the beachheads were being established on the French coast. Every member of his glider team was slightly injured and it was 13 days before they joined up with other American forces coming inland from the coast.”
Fortunately, the French people were good to their rescuers.
The article continues, “When their rations gave out, the French people fed them as best they could. In spite of help from the Normandy farmers, they were cold and hungry several times.”
George and his fellow soldiers did meet up with other Americans and were able to continue on their task of driving the German Army out of France.
George Taylor returned to the United States and was joyfully reunited with his young bride and his parents.
Like others from Trousdale County, George returned to his farm and began to raise a family, sons Wilson and Phillip, and daughter Mary Jane.
Many people will remember George Taylor as “Honey” Taylor, due to his use of the Southern pet name “Honey” when he was addressing people.
And having seen the world, George was not content to merely plow the soil, he looked for other ways to serve his neighbor – he ran for sheriff!
He was elected sheriff first in 1952 and served until 1958. He ran again in 1968 and served for two more years – and was our only sheriff to be shot in the line of duty (to our knowledge). He recovered and remained active in local and civic affairs till his death several years ago.
As we enjoy our freedoms today, we can certainly thank what some people call “the Greatest Generation” for their sacrifices. Well done, men!
*Note: The Trousdale County Historical Society will meet this Saturday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. in the afternoon at the County Archives Building, located behind the County Administration Building on Broadway.