The Airmen's Stories - Lt. (FAA) E W T Taylour
Edward Winchester Tollemache Taylour was born on 1st January 1915 in Hong Kong where his father, Captain BRH Taylour RN, was Harbour Master.
The family later settled in Beech, near Alton, Hampshire.
EWT Taylour attended Cheam School before going on to the Royal Navy College at Dartmouth.
He was appointed Midshipman in January 1933. After four years of sea service, during which he was involved in rescuing civilians caught up in the Spanish Civil War, he elected to join the Fleet Air Arm.
As training was carried out at RAF establishments, on 5th January 1937 he was granted a temporary commission in the Royal Air Force as a Flying Officer.
His first posting was to No.1 FTS Netheravon in early 1937. The RAF returned the FAA to Royal Navy control in May 1939 and Taylour relinquished his RAF commission on 26th July 1939, becoming an Acting Lieutenant (Air Branch) RN.
In early 1940 he joined No. 800 (FAA) Squadron at Hatston (HMS Sparrowhawk ) in the Orkney Islands to fly Blackburn Skuas. Hatston’s role was to defend the fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow.
On the evening of 20th March 1940 Green section of 808, led by Taylour, intercepted ten He111s approaching convoy ON 21 off Kirkwall and drove them off, hits were observed but no claims were made.
On 10th April 1940, Taylour participated in the sinking of the German cruiser Konigsberg in Bergen (Norway) harbour – the first instance of a major warship with AA defences being destroyed by air power alone.
He was awarded the DSC (gazetted 9th May 1940). In late April 800 Squadron embarked on HMS Ark Royal as part of the covering force for land operations in Norway. He claimed a He111 of 9/KG26 destroyed over Romsdalfjord on 27th April and another of 4/KG26 over convoy TM1 on the following day. He was awarded a Bar to the DSC and a Mention in Despatches (both also gazetted 9th May 1940), these awards being presented by King George VI on 11th June.
After the Norwegian campaign ended Taylour transferred to 808 Squadron and converted to Fulmars. 808 was operating under Fighter Command and it was these sorties, flown from Worthy Down, Castletown (Isle of Man) and Donibristle that qualified Taylour and his colleagues for the Battle of Britain clasp.
On 22nd October 1940 808 Squadron embarked in HMS Ark Royal for service in the Mediterranean. On 27th November Taylour shared in destroying a Cant Z506B ten miles north of Bone, Algeria. On 2nd February 1941 he shared a Cant Z1007, on 8th May he destroyed a Ju87 and probably destroyed a CR42, on 23rd August he damaged a Cant Z506B, on 27th September he shared a S84 and on the 28th shared a Cant Z506B.
These victories were not without cost, his observer, Lt. (A) LGJ Howard, sustaining a severe leg wound in one engagement.
808 Squadron was still embarked on Ark Royal when it was was sunk on 13th November 1941.
He married Dorothy Mabel Gatcombe at Westminster in January 1942.
On 7th April 1942 Taylour was appointed to the command of 802 Squadron, equipped with Sea Hurricanes, the squadron embarked on the escort carrier HMS Avenger on 3rd September for the Arctic convoy run.
802 was tasked with protecting convoy PQ18 which, like its predecessor PQ17, came under ferocious attack by submarines and aircraft. The convoy was shadowed by BV 138 seaplanes from Tromso in Norway and the Sea Hurricanes found great difficulty in inflicting damage on them, armed as they were with .303 machine guns, the BV138 being protected by 20mm cannons and machine guns.
On 13th September 1942 at 1645 Taylour flew off Avenger leading three other Sea Hurricanes in a sortie to intercept a BV138, the fourth attempt that day. He led a successful interception but when closing in to ensure maximum damage he was hit by its 20mm cannon. Taylour’s Sea Hurricane caught fire and crashed in flames into the sea at 1648. The destroyer Onslow was immediately at the crash site but nothing could be seen. The BV138 shrugged off further attacks and escaped.
Taylour is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Fleet Air Arm Memorial.
Additional research courtesy of Steve Mosely.