On Anzac Day, we remember all Old Carey Grammarians who died in service to our country. This year, we are profiling George Richard Taylor (1936).
George Taylor, known as Richard, was the son of Mr George Taylor of 8 Malin St Kew, a short walk from Carey Baptist Grammar School. Richard left Carey after three years and attended Brighton Grammar and later Melbourne Grammar where he was a boarder. At Melbourne Grammar he was awarded colours for boxing, football, swimming and rifle shooting.
Richard’s father was the editor of the Sun News Pictorial and he took an active interest in the School. On one occasion, a tour was organised for a group of Carey boys to visit the newspaper and witness the production of the daily paper. The visit was conducted personally by Mr Taylor and was reported on in the Carey Chronicle in 1927 as a great success.
After school, Richard joined a wool firm and spent six months in shearing sheds in Victoria and NSW.
He joined the air cadets in 1937 at Point Cook, and after gaining his ‘wings’ he transferred to the RAF as a Pilot Officer in 1938. One year later, on 3 September 1939, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, two days after Germany invaded Poland.
On the 10 July 1940, the Battle of Britain began. The German Luftwaffe attacked British supply convoys in the English Channel for the first time. By 18 August 1940, the Luftwaffe were mounting large scale raids on three targets in southern England. British Fighter command lost 68 aircraft and the Luftwaffe 69. The Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed Parliament and expressed the famous phrase, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’.
On 24 August, German night bombers aiming for RAF airfields drifted off course and accidentally destroyed several London homes, killing civilians. The RAF retaliated on 25 August and bombed Berlin. Richard Taylor was one of the pilots who took part in this raid, which was the first night-bombing raid on Berlin which saw 95 aircraft dispatched to bomb Tempelhof airport near the centre of Berlin. There was little damage, but Hitler was incensed and ordered attacks on London and other cities.
The Battle of Britain was the successful defence of Great Britain against the German Luftwaffe following the fall of France. The stakes were high with the German army controlling the French ports only a few miles away across the English Channel. Despite the odds, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command won the battle and meant that the possibility of invasion was blocked and the conditions for Great Britain’s survival and for the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.
Squadron Leader Richard Taylor was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in August 1940, after completing 32 operational flights. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in March 1941 and Squadron Leader three months later.
He was one of the youngest officers of his rank in the RAF and in charge of a squadron of Britain’s latest high-speed bombers. In the citation for his DFC, he was described as ‘showing praiseworthy devotion to duty and determination in pressing home his attacks. A thoroughly determined young officer, he always showed courage and set an excellent example to his squadron and several times had found his target despite adverse weather and severe enemy opposition’.
Squadron Leader George Richard Taylor was killed in action on 13 August 1941, when his aircraft was shot down during a bombing raid on Berlin. He is commemorated at the Berlin 1939–1945 War Cemetery, Charlottenburg, Germany. He was 23 years old.
Lest we forget.
For references in this article, please contact the Carey Archives office.
Joanne Horsley, Archivist