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The Divisional Cavalry

The Divisional Cavalry

While the wounded were receiving treatment and sympathetic care in the rear of the battle, the Eighth Army was being led towards Tunis by the light tanks and Bren carriers of the Divisional Cavalry- Padre Taylor served continuously with this unit from Greece to Cassino and he was one of the best known and most respected chap lains in the Division. His conscientious and courageous pursuit of duty was cloaked by an exuberant and lighthearted friendliness. He found time to take services with many isolated groups of soldiers and was always welcome, even with those hard-bitten men, the New Zealand Engineers!

In his own unit, where he was affectionately known as ‘Harry Kaitaia’. he had very great influence and there was seldom a time when he did not know the name and face of every man in the regiment. He was untiring in his visiting and organising, and on occasions a great and outspoken preacher. Gradually he made his position in battle an established tradition which was widely appreciated by the troopers and officially approved by the Colonel. page 73 A short distance behind the first line of skirmishing Bren carriers and light tanks came the chaplain, often some two miles ahead of Regimental Headquarters. He travelled in a Bren carrier, which had been specially allotted to him. with a medical orderly and a Red Cross flag. At night he took his place with the advanced laager, and in the early light of the morning nearly all would be present as he took prayers or celebrated Holy Communion.

Padre Taylor was wounded on the way to Tunis but refused to go back. The only time that he was seen to be frightened was on one occasion when his colonel sought him out and said, ‘I will put you on charge if you don't wear this,’ and he pinned a medal ribbon to his shirt. This was the first intimation he had of the immediate award of the DSO; he was the second chaplain in the war to receive this decoration. Padre Taylor's friends in the Department often accused him of believing that there was no more important unit in the war than his beloved ‘Div. Cav.’. and certainly his regiment believed that there was no other chaplain like him; and they were right.