Serial Number: NZ421295
RNZAF Trade: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Date of Enlistment: 25th of February 1942
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 314 hours
Operational Sorties: 5 Operational Sorties
Date of Birth: 26th of April 1920, at Botley, Hampshire, England
Personal Details: Jack was the son of Reuben Eastwood Taylor and Nellie Taylor, of Matangi, Cambridge, and the elder brother of fellow Cambridge airman Jim Taylor.
He had come to New Zealand with his family at a very young age. Jack was educated at Matangi School, and then did his secondary schooling at Hamilton Technical College, where he studied a Building Trades course, and attained matriculation standard. Sports he enjoyed were rugby, tennis and swimming. Jack was a particularly good rugby player, playing halfback in one of the T.O.B. Junior teams.
Jack had shown great promise at school, and upon leaving he gained an apprenticeship with Messrs. Smith & Clarke. He applied to join the RNZAF in March 1941.
Service Details: Jack enlisted on the 25th of February 1942 at the Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Rotorua. Straight after a brief course of ground training there, he embarked for Canada, leaving on the 5th of April 1942.
Upon arrival in Canada, he was posted on the 10th of May 1942 to No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was instructed in use of aerial wireless radios there. On completing this phase of training, Jack moved on to No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School at Lethbridge, Alberta on the 23rd of November 1942.At this school he learned about weaponry and how to be an Air Gunner.
On the 21st of December 1942 Jack passed out from this school, receiving his Wireless Operator Air Gunners badge (or WAG brevet) and he was commissioned promoted from Leading Aircraftsman to Pilot Officer. In gaining a promotion at the end of his training, this indicates Jack had scored his exam marks, etc, in the top third of the course.
After a brief leave, and no doubt a lot of travel, over the Christmas period, Jack was then posted on the 9th of January 1943 to No. 32 Operational Training Unit at Patricia Bay, in British Columbia. Jack trained there under operational conditions on Bristol Beaufort light bombers.
At the completion of this training period, Jack embarked for England on the 28th of May 1943. He arrived on the 4th of June, and reported on that day to No. 12 Personnel Reception Area at Brighton. He was attached to this unit for a considerable period awaiting posting, and during this time he was promoted to Flying Officer on the 23rd June 1943. His posting finally came through on the 19th of October 1943, when he reported to No. 29 OTU at North Luffenham, Rutland, to crew up and receive conversion training onto Vickers Wellington bombers.
This was followed in early May 1944 with a course at No. 1654 Heavy Conversion Unit at Wigley, Nottinghamshire, where he and his crew converted to the large four-engined Short Stirling bombers. On the 20th of June 1944 Jack and his crew were posted to No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston in Nottinghamshire, where he and his crew converted to the Avro Lancaster bomber.
On the 1st of July 1944, Jack was posted to No. 106 Squadron on Avro Lancaster bombers, who were based at Metheringham in Lincolnshire. As wireless operator on Lancasters, Jack took part in five operational sorties, bombing German targets in the French towns and cities of Villeneuvre St Georges; Caen; Cecil St Leu and Lequeville-La-Campagne. The latter is where he lost his life. One of these targets was bombed during the D-Day landings. He had also bombed Coutrai in Belgium.
Details of Death: Jack and his crew took off from RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire in No. 106 Squadron RAF Lancaster III bomber (coded LM641, ZN-D) at 21.30 hrs on the 7th of August 1944. The crew consisted of F/O Geoffrey Osborne Rabone RNZAF(Captain), F/O A.A. Dilworth RCAF (Navigator), Sgt K. Buck RAF(Flight Engineer), F/O S.R. Byarnson RCAF (Bomb Aimer), F/Sgt J.W. MacNicol RCAF (Mid-Upper Gunner), Sgt Frederick George Ralph RAF (Rear Gunner) and Jack as the Wireless Operator.
They were making a raid on strong points around Normandy, France following the Allied landings there, when their Lancaster was shot down. It crashed just outside of Quetteville. Five of the seven crew survived, with Rabone, Dilworth, Byarnson and MacNicol all evading capture and getting back to Allied lines, while Buck was captured and became a POW.
But sadly Jack and the rear gunner Fred Ralph were found dead in the wreckage by the Germans. They were buried at the scene of the crash. Jack was 24 years old.
Buried at: Three days after the crash the local Mayor got permission to re-inter the two victims at the Quetteville Communal Cemetery, France. They remain there today.
Connection with Cambridge: Jack and his family were from Matangi, on the northern side of the Cambridge district.