Title: Navy Seaman 1st Class, World War II
Birthdate: July 16, 1923
Death Date: February 5, 1945
Plot Location: Naval 1, Row 10, Grave 10

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Boston was the original home of the Taylor family but after Harold was born they moved south to the suburb of Quincy. By the 20th century, shipbuilding had replaced granite quarrying as the city’s major industry. It was the birthplace of both presidents named Adams, but in the last half of the 20th century it became more well known as the birthplace of Howard Johnson’s restaurants and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Harold was the first child in the family, and three years later he became the brother of his only sibling, June. Their father was a supervisor at Quincy’s Fore River Shipyard, which was owned by a division of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Harold worked there as well. Although he wasn’t required to register for the draft on his 18th birthday, the country was at war five months later so he was required to do so by mid-1942. 

Rather than take the risk of being drafted into the Army, he decided to enlist in the Navy in December of that year. Living by the sea and being around ships probably made his decision much easier. In fact, most of the ships built at Fore River were for the U.S. Navy.

Harold was sent to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor it was home to 6000 recruits. When Harold arrived there one year later he was one of more than 100,000 new sailors in basic training.

When he finished he was sent to Armed Guard School at Gulfport, Mississippi in March of 1943. These guards were assigned to merchant ships to provide some level of defense against enemy attacks. By 1945 there were over 144,000 men in the Armed Guard serving on 6200 merchant vessels. The gun crews usually sailed round trip on the same ship and sometimes on repeat trips.

Harold did just that, starting in April,1943 aboard the SS Moses Austin for eight months. He was assigned to three other ships the following year, having the rank of Seaman, 1st Class. He was part of the gun crew on that third vessel, the SS Thomas Sumter, when it arrived in Philadelphia in January of 1945.

He called his family from Philadelphia to let them know he had just arrived from England. Whether he was going to come home on leave or getting his next assignment isn’t clear. However, while on a city street on February 5th he was struck by a trolley car and suffered a fractured skull. He was pronounced dead at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. His family came to the city and agreed to have his remains placed here in the Naval Plot.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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