Taylor, Robert Vickris

He was the elder son of Major John Vickris Taylor and Sybil Taylor, of North Aston Manor, Oxford. He was the brother of A.D. Taylor (B1924-1928), and came to Winchester from Durnford in January 1922. He was a House prefect for his last year.   He passed the RMC examination, although owing to his stammer he failed to pass the medical but gained a commission via the University. At Magdalen College, Oxford, he read History, and represented Oxford at polo in 1930 and 1931.

That year he joined the 16th/5th Lancers, being promoted to captain in 1937.

Taylor married, on May 20th 1937, Prudence (daughter of Edward Lane Fox), of Walton House, Boston Spa, Yorkshire.

At the outbreak of war in September 1939, 16th/5th Lancers were based in the UK. In mid-1940 the regiment was designated a motor machine-gun regiment, with twenty officers and four hundred men. With 17th/21st Lancers and 2nd Lothian and Border Horse the regiment formed 1 Motor Machine-Gun Brigade. In November 1940, the brigade was renamed 26 Armoured Brigade and transferred to the newly formed 6th Armoured Division. The units of 26 Armoured Brigade remained together until the end of the war. Equipped with Valentine and Matilda tanks, 16th/5th Lancers trained for two years before they saw action.

In November 1942, the regiment was sent to North Africa as part of Operation Torch, the joint British-American force intended to open a second front against the Afrika Corps.  The Allies pushed into Tunisia and encountered German forces, against whom their tanks were obsolete, the Valentine being under-gunned and the Crusader unreliable.In February 1943 the conversion to Sherman tanks was undertaken, but not quickly enough as Rommel now launched a massive counter-attack on the inexperienced Allied First Army approaching Tunis from the west. The whole southern front crumbled, and the German advance threatened First Army’s lines of communication. 16th/5th Lancers had had no time for training on their new equipment.

On 19th February Taylor’s regiment took up defensive positions south of a wadi near Sbiba, coming under German attack in the early morning.   After moving their position they then came under fire from 88 mm guns of the XXI Panzer Division and three tanks of A Squadron HQ, including Taylor’s, were hit.  He died of his injuries the following day.   He lies in grave II.C.25 of the Enfidaville War Cemetery.

Acknowlegement re photo : Madgalene College Oxford




War: World War 2

  • Surname: Taylor
  • Forenames or initials: Robert Vickris
  • House: B
  • Years in School: 1922-1927
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: 16th/5th Lancers
  • Date of Birth: 20th November 1908
  • Date of Death: 19th February 1943
  • How Died: Died of Wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner E2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Enfidaville War Cemetery: Grave II.C.25