Edward (Ted) Taylor

Edward (Ted) Taylor

By Bryan Long

My mother’s cousin, Edward (Ted) Taylor, was a Mosquito pilot in the RNZAF during the Second World War. I knew nothing about him, however, until in 2018 I was shown his log books, a photo album, diary and copies of some of his documents. I discovered that he had been awarded a DFC, so decided to do some digging, to find out more. I had always loved the Mosquito and my cousin Robert Lyman had written about the famous attack on Amiens Jail in February 1944. I wondered whether Ted had been involved. I decided to find out.

Ted Taylor was born on 26 June 1914 in Auckland, the youngest of 6 children. He was renowned for his sense of humour. His only known aircraft incident was when he crashed while taking off. He managed to extract himself from the plane and started walking back to the base. On his way back the ambulance crew went passed him and asked him if he knew if the pilot was ok. His response was, “As far as I know.” He kept on walking and the ambulance headed off to the wreck. When it was later discovered that he had been the pilot, he was reprimanded. In another instance, while flying circuits waiting for fog to clear so that he could land, he was heard over the radio singing,

When I was just a wee-wee tot, they took me off my wee-wee cot And put me on my wee-wee pot, to see if I could wee or not.

This potentially happened on the 21st Dec 1944, the squadron records state “This aircraft landed in conditions of very bad visibility with the aid of the Fog Dispersal installation.”(FIDO) Apparently the controller was not too impressed with his rendition.

In Oct 1941, he started his training at Whenuapai Airbase in Auckland, New Zealand, joining number 4 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS). He would spend the next 5 weeks here, learning to fly in the De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth. He had his first solo flight with just less than 10 hours flying.

Ted would move around a few more flight training schools both in New Zealand an England. In July 1942 he started at Number 10 Flight Instructor School. By the time he started at FIS, he had 222 hours of flying under his belt. He spent just under 2 months here and on the 24th of September 1942 he was transferred to the Elementary flying training school at RAF Booker in Buckinghamshire. Here, he would spend the next 20 months as an Instructor flying Tiger Moths and Miles Magisters While at RAF Booker he went on only one operational flight.

On the 2nd August 1943 he would be attached to 77 Squadron, flying as 2nd Pilot in a Halifax serial JD371. They flew to Hamburg to bomb a target from 18,000 feet and drop leaflets. The records state that flak was moderate to heavy and that there were bad meteorological conditions. It was noted that the bombs fell short of their intended target. Sadly on the 28th August 1943, the crew of JD371 would be shot down over Belgium and 5 of the crew were killed.

By 24 August 1944 he had clocked up 1343 hours. He transferred to 1655 Mosquito training squadron at RAF Warboys in Cambridgeshire. On 5th Oct 1944, after 55 hours training in the Mosquito, he transferred to 192 Squadron at Foulsham in Norfolk. 192 Squadron was part of 100 Group, which was a special duties group tasked with the development, testingand operational use of electronic warfare. They flew missions recording German radio transmissions, blocking radar, confusing radar with the use of “window” – small strips of tin foil. They even had German-speaking airman able to put out false transmissions. Adolf Galland had this to say about 100 Group: Ted is second from the left The combination of the Pathfinders’ operations, the activities of No. 100 Group, the British advantage in radar, Jamming and Window techniques, combined with intelligent attacking tactics, as well as the discipline and bravery of the RAF crews, have been remarkable. We had our (sic) severe problems in trying to defend Germany in the air 100 Group

Ted is second from the left

The combination of the Pathfinders’ operations, the activities of No. 100 Group, the British advantage in radar, Jamming and Window techniques, combined with intelligent attacking tactics, as well as the discipline and bravery of the RAF crews, have been remarkable. We had our (sic) severe problems in trying to defend Germany in the air

100 Group was so secret that even the bomber crews they flew in support of did not know of their existence. There is still information today on some of their missions that is classified and subject to the 100 year rule. With 192 Squadron Ted would fly 3 different models of the Mosquito, the FB.IV – Fighter Bomber., the B.IV – Unarmed Bomber and the PR.XVI – Photo Reconnaissance. In all he flew 13 different aircraft. By the end of the war, only 10 aircraft remained. One – DK292 – went missing on 27 November 1944, killing Pilot Jack Fisher and Henry ‘Vic’ Vinnell. One of the Mosquito’s was sent to the French Air Force in 1946 and the rest were “Struck off Charge” between 1945 and 1951.

1944 saw the Germans start using V2 rockets. The Allies believed the V2’s were radio guided. As a countermeasure, the Allies flew what were codenamed “Big Ben” patrols. These patrols carried equipment that the allies thought would interfere with the radio signal to the V2 rocket that would take it off course. It would not be until 1976 that they would find out the V2 rockets were not radio guided at all. Ted flew several Big Ben patrols from January to March 1945. I am not sure if he was actually operating Big Ben or if he was recording for transmissions to the V2 rockets. One of his logs for a Big Ben patrol says he was “Searching the 27-65 Mc/s band for signals thought to be associated with the control of Enemy V2s.”

The majority of Ted’s mission’s were recording Enemy R/T and W/T. He did a few flights investigating different Radars and transmissions such as, Freya, FuG 217 and Centimeter. On 12 of his missions he also operated PIPERACK, codename for an airborne jamming transmitter carried by an aircraft that produced a cone of jamming behind it, within which the following bomber stream could shelter. He was operating PIPERACK on the night of the 23rd of March 1945 for the bomber force that bombed Wesel in Germany. This attack was in preparation for Operation Plunder, Monty’s operation to cross the Rhine.

Ted flew a total of 43 sorties with a total of 154.35 hours while a part of 192 Squadron, spending an average of 3.5 hours on each mission. He has a commendation in his Log book from the AOC of 100 Group that reads.

“For Meritorious service and good airmanship, that in a full operational tour has been completed without having been involved in any accident or ever having an unnecessary cancellation or abandonment of an operational sortie.”

He was awarded the DFC in 1945. The citation reads “This officer as Pilot has completed numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed the upmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.”

As I have spent more and more time researching 192 squadron and the missions that Ted flew, I feel privileged to be linked to this man. I have found myself wishing I could have met him. I have smiled as I spot him in a photo. I imagine, as all veterans tend to believe, that he would never call himself a hero. But he is. He left behind a wife in New Zealand. He faced possible death each time he flew over enemy occupied territory. What was their mission? To protect the bomber crews. They flew above the bombers and provided protection by means of electronic warfare, and have been called ‘the Guardian Angels of the skies.”

Ted lived to the age of 91, passing away in 2005.