Major Toby Taylor, 1st Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, recalls the loss of friends and companions.
Toby Taylor
Major Toby Taylor

But through most of the war you always felt you had survived did you?
I don’t think you ever thought much about surviving or not surviving. You were doing a job. Your friends were being killed, it didn’t make much odds, you were saying when is the next meal, have I got my tobacco, where will I be sleeping. You know we did not dwell on the war very much … no. Another funny thing about Cockneys, East Surrey all being Cockneys. No one was ever killed. No one ever used the word killed or dead, Cockney rhyming slang exactly, he has had his lot. They could never say killed or dead. Old so and so got his lot yesterday. It’s funny that isn’t it?
He got his lot.
Very sad to have to bury your friends.
My friends John [McFox] and Robert Lindsay I had been at Sandhurst with and served with, they’re bosom drinking friends you know, and after John [McFox] was killed at Fort Macgregor he had married just before, anyway just married, and after Fort Macgregor a parcel arrived for him from his wife and the orderly room said to the CO what shall we do with John [McFox’s] parcel, Oh, give it to Toby Taylor, his best friend, and he undid it and vest, pants, clean underclothes and tobacco and a nice letter from his wife. We had buried him two days earlier. John and Ronnie Lindsay the same. It is alright hearing about people being killed but so often they are personal, you know, so and so died at so and so, but if you are in the infantry or battalion you have been with these people through all sorts of drunken parties before the war and dances and all that and then you are with them and they gradually get killed one by one.
I said to you yesterday so many people don’t want to talk about the war but I do. It is a therapy for me, I live it all the time. I am reliving it, can’t escape from the damn thing. It does me good to get it off my chest a bit.