517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team
Lt. David P. Taylor
HQ Company, 3rd Battalion
July 11, 1921 - August 8, 1994
I am the niece of David P. Taylor, who served as a 1st
Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, Headquarters Company. My uncle died in 1994
in Cleveland Ohio. I did not know him as well as I would have liked.
I spent most of my childhood overseas due to my father's service with USIA, which was then part of the State Department.
Uncle David was a quiet person who said very little about his WWII service to his nieces. I know that he was fascinated with history, the Pittsburgh Pirates, was very kind to us as children, and was an excellent and graceful dancer (I found this out at my wedding!). He never married and worked in management for Stouffers, Biltmore Hotel, Commodore Hotel and Holiday Inn and later for TRW.
I am only now becoming aware of my uncle's service, and have found the 517th prct website an invaluable source of information, for which I'm very grateful.
I do not know if he participated in reunions or other events related to the 517th in subsequent years. I do know that some time in the 1970s, when my father was stationed in Belgium and I was in college, my uncle visited my family in Brussels and went to some of the places that were important to him from his service. I only learned of this recently from my father.
I am wondering if anyone who reads the Mailcall remembers my uncle and is willing to share with me any of those memories, by email or by telephone (510) 397-0373. I would like to get a fuller picture of him -- more as a journalist and memoirist than as a genealogist. I am interested in unvarnished recollections. I do not know how my uncle was perceived by the men he served with. Any insight I can get into his life as a young man would be most appreciated.
Also, I've included a timeline and biography based on the information I have, much of which I have questions about. If you have answers to any of those questions I would appreciate it.
My general reading about World War II, which is just beginning, and, specifically, the achievements and struggles of this regiment, have led me to realize how much I do not know -- not only about World War II, but also about a person I only occasionally saw during summer home leave trips and other family events. I've become very interested in finding out as specifically as possible about the actions my uncle participated in and where he would have been at different times during these actions.
I am including the following information in the event it helps jog some memories:
David Pollock Taylor was the only son of Rachel Pollock Taylor from New Castle PA (western Pennsylvania). He had two younger sisters. Verna was the oldest and Maxine (he called her Maggie), my mother, was the youngest. David lost his father to pneumonia when he was just a boy, and my mother never knew her father. My mother died two years ago, before I began asking about this.
I have interviewed my father, who gave me some insight into the family dynamics and who knew the broad strokes of my uncle's service, but not too many details. Unfortunately, I don't have my mother's input which would have been very valuable.
This is what I know so far about his life as a young man and a soldier, based on this website, his death certificate, news reports from his hometown newspaper (my grandmother apparently was a regular and avid contributor of family news to the New Castle News!):
David P. Taylor, Biography and Timeline
July 11, 1921 - Born New Castle, PA to Howard D. Taylor and Rachel P. Taylor
1940 - Graduated New Castle High School
September 1941 -- Began studying at Cornell University in the hotel school.
June 25, 1942 -- Volunteered for the army on June 25, 1942. I do not know if he went directly into the paratroopers or if he volunteered for this later.
November 3, 1942 -- New Castle News report --Completed Noncommissioned Officer's School as a corporal at Camp Wheeler GA and entered Officer's Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA
February 6, 1943 -- New Castle News report -- 2nd Lt. David P. Taylor received his commission as an army officer at Fort Benning GA on February 3. Home on leave for a week for the first time since entering service.
1943, unspecified -- In Sicily in 1943, according to New Castle News report of Jan. 31st, 1945 (see below). I'm assuming he was part of Operation Husky, but I have no direct evidence of this.
1943, unspecified -- Instructor at Ft. Benning, GA, according to New Castle News report of Jan. 31st, 1945 (see below).
April, 1944 -- Returned to Italy after serving as Instructor at Ft. Benning, GA from New Castle News report of Jan. 31st, 1945 (see below)
August 9, 1944 -- New Castle News report -- 1st Lt. David P. Taylor writing from Italy describes a joyous 4-hour reunion with another New Castle boy, Lt. John Thompson of Mt. Jackson. First newspaper mention of his being in the paratroopers.
Christmas 1944 -- Listed as a 1st. Lt. in the Christmas roster, serving under Lt. Col. Forest S. Paxton, in Headquarters Company Third Battalion. First evidence that he was with the 517th.
January 13, 1945 -- Morning Reports -- LWA, 2500 yards SE of Stavelot, Belgium (hospital or site of injury -- not sure which).
January 21, 1945 -- Morning Reports -- asgd and jd to Co fr. Hq Co 3rd Bn this regt as of 12 Jan 45 (not sure what this means!)
January 31, 1945 -- New Castle News report -- Report from letter received by my grandmother from David in hospital that her son suffered three shrapnel wounds of the leg on January 13. The story reads "his wounds might've been of a more serious nature, he (David) related, but for the fact that he was carrying a book in his hip pocket, which stopped one of the pieces before it had struck the bone. He said that only severe flesh wounds were sustained and he hopes to be out of the hospital in a month."
In this article, it says "Lt. Taylor... has taken part in jumps in Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. His unit, the 517th, was in action for 93 days, following D-Day in Normandy, and went in and relieved the 101st Battalion at Bastogne. After returning from Sicily in 1943, he served as an instructor at Fort Benning GA., returning to Italy last April and taking part in action around Rome, and Yugoslavia, and France." I am not sure how much of this information was from his letter, my grandmother, or staff writers contribution to the article. I am not clear on how he would have served in Yugoslavia based on my research.
March 2, 1945 -- Morning Reports -- if I understand the abbreviations I think he was released back to duty after being sick (non-battle casualty) at Joigny, France and went from unassigned to assigned
March 17th, 1945 -- New Castle News report -- Report from the letter received by my grandmother that David had returned to duty in February after being wounded in January. He said in the letter that his entire unit, The 517th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne division, has been pulled back out of the fighting and will be regrouped with a new unit which has just arrived in France. He will be a member of the staff of the commander of the new unit.
March 30, 1945 -- Morning Reports -- Duty to Absent Sick at 230 Field Hospital, Joigny, France
August 12, 1945 -- Manifest for the Madawaska Victory Ship. Listed under H Company.
August 8, 1994 -- New Castle News obituary. Mentions he received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart (for his wounds in the Battle of the Bulge).
Submitted by Ellen H. O'Donnell