Veteran Stories:
Earl Taylor

Air Force

  • An Officer's mess bill shows Earl Taylor's expenses for May 1945

  • A page from Flight Officer Earl Taylor's logbook

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"I'd navigated around England but this was long distance we had to fly… 500 miles or so to Germany"

Transcript

My name is Edward Earl Taylor. And during World War II, I joined the [Royal] Canadian Air Force, the RCAF. And I served on a British Royal Air Force Station. In fact, I think I was the only Canadian on the station at the time. Flying depends a great deal on the weather, so we had a lot of time. You didn't fly very often. In fact, I can remember in December 1944, looking back in my log book, I flew, I think, the 1st of December and then we didn't fly again until the last day in December. It depends on the weather because, although you can fly, we could up in the air in it, in order to take off and in order to land, you must have very good visibility. And in bad weather, rain or cloud, you can't land or take-off because you lose the visibility. I think my training took 2 years as a navigator. It was longer than a pilot's training because we had to pick up so much information. Meteorology and things like that. Then when I was trained, I was sent overseas. And they sent you overseas as individuals, you didn't go as crews or anything like that. All the individuals went over and everybody landed in a place in southern England. All the pilots came in as a group and all the navigators came in as a group and all the bombardiers came in as a group and all the air gunners came in as a group and the wireless operators. Everybody came in as a group, and then there, you were crewed up, as they call it. I don't know how they crewed you up, but all I remember is this Englishman with a very soft voice coming up to me and saying, in this English accent, which I thought was very strange then... he said, "I believe you are my navigator." And, if it wasn't for the kindness of my pilot, Frank Bingham, I'm sure I would have felt terrible, but I had a really good time. He was so nice to me and we got very close. And he was in charge of a crew of British people. And when they were talking between themselves, I had no idea what they were saying, because they had local idioms and local words, and the accents I could not understand. When we spoke to one another that was fine, but when they were talking amongst themselves they used all these strange sounding expressions that they had and I couldn't understand what they were saying. But, it was amazing how well we got along because I was from Canada and my skipper was from London and one of these chaps was from Yorkshire and one from Lancashire. It was amazing how we sort of got together and learned to work together. Bing, as I say, was the pilot and I was the navigator and we flew over to targets in Germany, and it was pretty frightening. And, you know, I'd navigated around England but this was long distance we had to fly, well over the North Sea for about 500 miles or so to Germany and then find the target. It was my job to direct them to the target and then afterwards, get back home again. We were assigned routes that we had to travel while we were flying. For various reasons, on these routes they could have some fighter planes guarding us from German fighters and they could also have various methods of foiling the German radio in that they had planes that flew around and could jam the German radio to confuse them when they sent their planes up and things like that. It was very interesting because, these men flew Mosquitoes. And that was developed here in Canada. It was a very unusual airplane. It was twin engine but it was called a fighter bomber. And it was made here in Canada out of plywood. It was a very unusual plane and, because of its lightness, being built of plywood, it could fly unusually fast. Over the target they'd have somebody - a master bomber he was called - flying around in one of these Mosquitoes and he'd be directing us and I can remember him being very indignant saying something like, "8 Group. 8 Group. Get down." We were supposed to bomb from 8,000 feet. The higher you were the safer you were from anti-aircraft fire. In other words, if you got up to 20,000, the anti-aircraft fire couldn't reach you. So, a lot of planes would hesitate to go below 20,000. (laughing) I remember this man, very indignantly flying around, "Get down." You know, we had to get down to 8,000 feet. From 20,000 feet, you couldn't bomb very accurately. Any little error would be just exaggerated, so we'd normally bomb from around 8,000 feet. Yeah, it was amazing to hear this voice, you know, saying, "L108, what are you doing up there?"
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