The Biggs' Boys
By Ken Stofer
Copyright 2005, 2006 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved
Biography of Albert William "Ace" Taylor
Flight Lieutenant, 266 Squadron & 83 Squadron/ Leading Mechanic, 48 Squadron & 242 Squadron, RAF
Albert Taylor was born May 1, 1919. He lived in Victoria where he was an honor student at Mt. Douglas High School and a member of the reserve Royal Canadian Corps of Signals from April 6, 1937 until June 21, 1938.
After seeing Captain Seymour-Biggs, he paid his own passage to England and joined the Royal Air Force July 26, 1938, and was stationed at R.A.F. Finningley. Here he took courses as an Airframe Mechanic/Airframe Rigger. On November 14, 1938, he went to #3 School of Technical Training (M) and then to #4 Wing Henlow, thence to #2 Wing Locking and then to 48 Squadron. On the 20th of March, 1940 he was posted to 242 Hurricane Squadron.
On May 1, 1940 he became a Leading Aircraftman, Airframe Mechanic (E). That same month the squadron was posted to France. While there Taylor had some interesting experiences of which he wrote to his parents:
"We left England in a big army transport plane, landing at our destination without incident and immediately found billets in a French farmyard. My French came in handy there, when we learned the farmer had run out of rations and some of us went scouting for food and made householders understand that we were hungry. We had some swell meals for a few francs.
"After a short time we got orders to pack a few things together and make ready for leaving(Germans advancing). The bombs were falling. I was detailed to take a party and help clear the 'institute'(NAAFI). After packing all we could, we were told by the 'institute' manager to help ourselves. We had a great feed of tinned fruit, etc., and I took my overcoat out of my lower pack and filled the pack with cartons of cigarettes. I had several thousand of them.
"Finally we left the place and headed for another destination. There we were bombed again, but nobody seemed to mind it. What made me feel bad was the stream of refugees, mile after mile of them, old people and young children, and all looking so hopeless. I gave away box after box of chocolates to them. The institute fellow objected a bit but w e soon shut him up.
"Later we learned that we had just left our drome in time, as the Germans sent droves of kites (aircraft) over and blew the deuce out of the railroad station, thinking we were moving by rail.
"All this time our boys were bringing Gerry kites down like flies. We shot six down to their one, on an average. The pilots usually baled out in their chutes. This baling out is the only snag there is, there being so many German parachutists now, the people on the ground are more likely to shoot first and ask questions afterwards. One of our pilots baled out of a 'blazer' and the Belgians machine-gunned him as he came down and killed him.
"Arriving at our second destination, we had a few hours' peace, but only a few, for Gerry bombed us again. With all this bombing, we had no casualties. So we moved down to Boulogne, where we were quartered in a rest camp. That night we were bombed again. The next morning we boarded a ship for Dover.
Arriving there we took a train to (censored).
"I want to go back to France again. After seeing how it is there, I feel that I cannot do enough. I really amazed myself, as even during the heavy bombardment and aerial battles, when others were in shelters, I and three more Canadians stayed out in the open and started the aircraft. Then we would take cover. Strange that I felt no fear whatever, and it gives me lots of confidence for the tough times to come.
"I was talking to an army chap and he told me that the German dead were lying six feet deep in some engagements, but others still came on. He figured that for every Tommy killed at least a hundred Germans died. It looks like a long, tough fight but we shall get them in the end. In the last few days our pilots have shot down over a dozen Gerry kites. They are getting plenty of action and fly from our base over German territory."
After 242 Squadron's return to England another commanding officer was assigned to the squadron. He was Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, the well-known legless pilot, to become famous by war's end and be knighted by the King. Bader's account of joining 242 Squadron, which he gave at an aircrew reunion in Winnipeg in 1972 is repeated in the Appendix.
Taylor became an engine mechanic on Bader's aircraft LE D and was very fond of the man. Taylor had always wanted to fly and never stopped applying for aircrew positions. One day he had a heart-to-heart with Bader who recommended him for aircrew. On the 26th of April, 1941, he remustered under training as a pilot going to #1 Recruit Wing and then on May 3 to #3 Initial Training Wing.
On July 19th, 1941 he was posted to the United States, where he trained in Georgia and Alabama to become a pilot. He excelled and was awarded the Pilots Distinguished Badge. He returned to the United Kingdom on May 12, 1942 as a Sergeant Pilot, wearing wings of Britain's Royal Air Force and those of the United States, one on each breast.
On December 22, 1942, he was posted to an Operational Training Unit, thence to 266 Squadron and later 83 Squadron. He was commissioned to Pilot Officer on April 9, 1944 and then to Flying Officer on September 10th of that year.
Taylor retired from the Royal Air Force, July 3, 1948 with rank of Flight Lieutenant. He returned to Canada to live in Vancouver where he operated a successful accounting business. Unfortunately he died before any personal details of his flying career could be obtained. However it has been learned from some squadron buddies that at one time his flying duties required him to land behind enemy lines to service the French underground movement. His desire to return to France had been granted.
----- Ken Stofer
Copyright 2006 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved
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