CLARRIE TAYLOR, DFC

"G" for George Crew member
460 SQUADRON RAAF

29 Aug 1922 - 21 Sep 2004

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Claremont Logie Taylor was born in Brisbane on 29 August 1922. He attended Sandgate State Primary School and Brisbane Grammar. He obtained an insurance job after leaving school. He joined the RAAF when he was 18 years old. He trained as an Air Crew Observer (Navigator/Bomb Aimer) in 1941 and was then posted to England with the famous 460 Squadron RAAF.

In 2003, Clarrie Taylor, also known as Clare Taylor, received a medal as a "Living Legend of Flight" from the Governor of Western Australia, Lt-General John Sanderson. One one mission, Clarrie used the northern star, Polaris, to guide their aircraft back to a safe area, after they had became lost. Clarrie and some of the crew were then able to safely parachute from the aircraft.

Clarrie was awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943.

On 14 February 1945, while attached to 25 Squadron RAAF in Western Australia, Clarrie's B-24 Liberator was assigned to locate the survivors of the US motor vessel "SS Peter Sylvester" which was torpedoed by German U Boat, U-862, on 6 February 1945 off Fremantle. The "SS Peter Sylvester" was en route alone from Melbourne, Australia to Colombo, Ceylon with a cargo of US. Army supplies and 137 US Army mules. German submarine U-862 fired 6 torpedoes into the ship.

Their B-24 Liberator crashed while taking off from Cunderdin airfield. Five crew members were killed in this tragic crash. Clarrie was one of the survivors of this crash. After he recovered from his injuries, Clarrie was discharged from the RAAF in June 1945. He then returned to Queensland. After a short time in the insurance industry, he obtained a job with the Department of Civil Aviation as an Air Traffic Controller. He worked in Townsville, Darwin and Perth. He was promoted to the position of Senior Search Co-ordinator in Western Australia where he retired in 1985. 

Clarrie Taylor unveiled a commemorative plaque at the 2003 Cunderdin Air Show to commemorate this tragic incident.

 


 

The following is a transcript of a letter that Clarrie Taylor sent to me on 29 January 1997:-

29 Pausin Cres.,
Bibra Lake,
WA 6163

29 January 1997

Dear Peter,

My apologies for the delay in answering your letter. The years are creeping on and my health is not what it was. In 1945 I was in hospital after a bad crash in a Liberator and have not seen inside a hospital since until just recently and have been in five times with a heart and lung trouble. Am sparking on all cylinders now – though at times – a little irregular.

As you will have guessed you got the right person. Am sorry to hear that Jan (Goulevitch) has gone; for although he operated much later than me, he was one of the 460 characters with his undertaker's hat. In my day, names that will live forever with 460 were (Sqd/Ldr) Paddy Boyle & Colonel Knox - both now gone. Paddy was a pilot and the Colonel a rear gunner.

It is great to know the interest that is developing around the RAAF activity ex UK. On Anzac Day many of us are asked by young people the meaning of the various medals. Talking of medals - The French have approved La Medaille de La Guerre for Bomber Command. I have enclosed an application form. - This was received from the Air Force Association. In Perth the completed form is submitted through the French Consul. Whether it will be awarded posthumously (in Jan's case) I don't know, but no doubt your wife will have & cherish his medals, so you could make some enquiries. You could obtain signatures of the President of 460 Squadron (QLD) Col Wheatley as verifying the application. I think Col lives at Sunnybank.

By the way, I am a Queenslander from Sandgate. Did my I.T.S. at Amberley Feb 1941. - 11 Course.

I notice in one of the forms you sent over you query my response to the Mystery?? of the Flag on the aircraft ("G" for George) - Mystery Solved. OR IS IT?

I can answer you that is the story as I was with the ground crew when it was discussed. I have no doubt that the error was intentional as they were concerned about possible repercussions if they put the Communist Flag on a British Aircraft.

Very little has been written of 460 at Breighton. For most people it was only Binbrook.

Breighton was only a very small village - a pub, a shop and a water pump - about 17 miles south of York. The closest large village was Howden which was the venue for the dances etc - (12 miles away). On many occasions when "Ops" were cancelled, a "Bus to York" was put on, Doc …..?....., the driver got 2/- each to stay sober to drive us home!!! The main attractions in York were 1. Betty's Bar, 2. The Half Moon and then the dance at the Guild Hall.

 

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I sound like a real drunk but I was teetotal but enjoyed dancing and until this last bout of sickness have been a competition dancer.

The station Commander - Group Captain Crummie RAF was a wonderful man. Stood no nonsense from his men but also had no time for bull.... He did many trips as Engineer - he would not fly as Capt. although an experienced pilot, for he said he had not been trained or checked in Lancasters. A wonderful man - died a couple of years ago as G/Capt Crummie C.B.E., Patron of the War Widows fund.

You mentioned "Strike and Return" the book by Peter Firkins. As you probably know Peter lives in Perth and I know him well. On the first raid by Lancasters ex Breighton (Low level) you will read of a crew getting the time from a clock in a French Village - that was us. We were in "T" for Tommy that night 22 Nov 1942 - 8 hr. flight - VERY LOW en route. Carried 2 x 1,000 lbs bombs plus 10 cans incendiaries.

Over here, John Currie is a computer buff - also on Internet. He has lots of statistical information which he is prepared to pass on to you. His address is 154A Samson St., Hilton Park WA 6163.

You may know that a new booklet on "G" is being prepared by the Canberra War Museum. Those of us still alive who flew in "G" were contacted a few months ago.

"G" was a lucky aircraft - Its Ground F/SGT Harry Tickle never lost an aircraft. He serviced "G" Wellington, Halifax and Lanc. We originally had "H" but when St. Smith (The Saint) finished ops, we took over "G".

From my Log Book my Trips were:-

22 Nov 42 Lanc 4329 T - Pilot Sgt. Murray
Stuttgart
Low Level - 8 hrs
2 x 1000 lbs, 10 cans incend., Photo obtained
28 Nov 42 Lanc 4330 H – Sgt Murray
Turin
14 Cans, 4 lbs Incend.,
Photo Directly on Target – 8hrs 35mins
6 Dec 42 Lanc 4330 H – Sgt Murray
Mannheim
1 x 4,000lbs, 12 small bomb containers, 4lbs Incend.
Very bad weather. Acft landed Harwell out of fuel. R/AG, Mid Upper A/G, W/OP, self bailed out (Landed Didcot) 9 hrs 10 mins
11 Dec 42 Lanc W4308 C – Sgt. Murray
Turin
14 small bomb container, 4 lbs Incend.
Bad weather. Severe icing. Dropped bombs due ice 47.25N 04.00E, Returned, 6hrs 05mins
20 Dec 42 Lanc. 4330 H – Sgt. Murray
Duisberg
2 x 1,000 lbs, 12 S.B.C., 4 lbs Incend,
Saw A/C shot down over target. Returned on 3 engines. Photo obtained. 4 hrs 15 mins
21 Dec 42 Lanc 4332 V – Sgt. Murray
Munich
14 SBC, 4 lbs Incend,
Encountered 2 night fighters. Heavy flak on Belgian coast. Photo obt. 7 hrs 45 mins
16 Jan 43 Lanc. 4816 – Sgt. Wendon
Berlin
1 x 4,000 lbs, 8 SBC, 4 lbs Incend., 10/10 cloud en route. Target clear. Very heavy flak target area. 7 hrs 35 mins. Photo obtained.
2 Feb 43 Lanc. 4330 H – Sgt. Murray
Cologne
1 x 4,000 lbs, 12 SBC, 4 lbs Incend. Moderate flak. Heavy Searchlights target area.   Photo obtained. 5 hrs 35 mins.
11 Feb 43 Lanc 4879 – P/O Knight Brown - Flew as bomb aimer.
Wilhelmshaven
1 x 4,000 lbs, 3 SABC, 30 lbs Incend., 9 SBC 4 lbs Incend. 10/10 cloud over target. Moderate/Heavy flak. 5 hrs 10 mins

On this trip as we were going in to bomb, the sky lit up for miles around. Someone earlier than us got the Navy Arsenal. Have read the destruction it caused. A complete wipe out for many miles radius.

13 Feb 43 Lanc. 366 C – P/O Knight Brown (Flew as B/A)
Lorient
5 x 1,000 lbs, 2 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 7 SBC, 4 lbs Incend. Visibility excellent. Intense light flak. Moderate very accurate heavy flak. Photo obtained. 6 hrs 05 mins.
14 Feb 43 Lanc 366 C – P/O Knight Brown (Flew as B/A)
Milan
1 x 4,000 lbs, 2 SBC, 30 lbs Incend, 8 SBC, 4 lbs Incend. Very clear all of route. Encountered night fighter on bombing run. Aircraft damaged. Crashed on landing. 8 hrs 40 mins. Photo obtained
25 Feb 43 Lanc 4330 H - F/Sgt. Murray
Nurnberg
1 x 4,00 lbs, 3 SBC, 30 lbs Incend, 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
4,000 lbs hang up. Dropped on Karlsruhe on return – Photo obtained,. 8 hrs 35 mins.
26 Feb 43 Lanc 4330 H – F/Sgt. Murray
Cologne
1 x 4,000 lbs, 4 SBC, 30 lbs Incend, 8 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Heavy flak. Large searchlight cones target area. Weather clear. Photo obtained.  5 hrs 05 mins.
28 Feb 43 Lanc 4330 H – F/Sgt. Murray
St. Nazaire
1 x 4,000 lbs, 4 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 9 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.,
Weather clear. Easy target. Camera failure. 6 hrs 00 mins.
1 Mar 43 Lanc 4330 H – F/Sgt. Murray
Berlin
1 x 4,000 lbs, 3 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 9 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.,
Weather good. Large fire target area. Caught in searchlights on way home. Acft. Badly damaged by flak. Photo Obt. 7 hrs 30 mins.
3 Mar 43 Lanc. 369 L – S/Ldr. Speare
Hamburg
1 x 4,000 lbs, 3 SBC x 30 lbs Incend., 9 SBC x 4 lbs Incend.
Engine trouble – Aborted. 2 hrs, 15 mins.
5 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Essen
1 x 4,000 lbs, 4 SBC x 30 lbs Incend., 8 SBC x 4 lbs Incend.
Intense heavy flak. Many S/Lights, Photo Obt. 4 hrs 35 mins.
8 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Nurenberg
1 x 4,000 lbs, 4 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 8 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Bombed Railway Station visually 11,000 ft. Large cones S/Lights. Phot Obt. 700 yds from centre of town. 7 hrs 25 mins.
9 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G F/Sgt Murray
Munich
1 x 4,000 lbs, 4 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Moderate heavy flak. Many S/Lights in target area. Photo Obt. 8 hrs 15 mins.
12 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Essen – Krupps Works
1 x 4,000 lbs, 3 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 9 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Intense flak and S/Light activity over target, 4 hrs 10 mins.
22 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
St. Nazaire
10 x 1,000 lbs armour piercing bombs. Very poor defence. Photo Obt. 5 hrs 30 mins.
26 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Duisberg
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
High level bombing on flares, 10/10 cloud. 4 hrs 25 mins.
27 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Berlin
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
10/10 cloud en route. Target clear. Defences usual standard. Phot Obt. 6 hrt 50 mins.
29 Mar 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Berlin
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Bad weather. 3 cold fronts. Climbed to 23,000 ft. Camera failure. 7 hrs 20 mins.
8 Apr 43 Lanc. W4879 C – F/Sgt. Murray
Duisberg
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
10/10 cloud en route. Over target. Heavy flak. Bombed on E.T.A. 5 hrs 40 mins.
9 Apr 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
10/10 cloud en route & target. Bombed PFF Flares. Heavy flak in Target Area.  4 hrs 20 mins.
13 Apr 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Spezia
5 x 1,000 lbs General Purpose, 2 SBC 30 lbs, 2 SBC 4 lbs Incend. Bombed 8,000 ft. Hit with light flak. Landed Harwell. 10 hrs 10 mins.
16 Apr 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Plzen
1 x 4,000 lbs, 3 x 1,000 G.P. bombs
Very low en route. Turned early on Danube. Unable locate target. Bombed Koblenz on way home. Photo Obt. By 4,00 lbs burst. 8 hrs 20 mins.

On this trip we were in and out of fog at a very low level. On reaching the Danube, I estimated another 10 mins to go but the B/A said he identified our nominated turning point. As B/A had been map reading throughout, the Pilot accepted his position. A later replot indicated my position correct – on ETA we were 28 miles N.W. of Target.
18 Apr 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Spezia
5 x 1,000 lbs, 6 SBC, 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC, 4 lbs Incend.
Encountered night fighter. Electrical storm on return route. 9 hrs 30 mins.
20 Apr 43 Lanc. W4783 G – F/Sgt. Murray
Stettin
1 x 4,000 lbs, 6 SBC x 30 lbs Incend., 6 SBC 4 lbs Incend.
Flew quite a lot at 100 ft. Shot up train between Stettin and Drasser Pt. Intesne light flak over Baltic Sea. Saw many A/cft. Shot down


That’s my effort Peter.

Our Crew

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After a raid on Duisberg on the morning of 10 April 1943.

Left to right:-  Sgt. Hodgen, W.O. Taylor, Sgt. Bentham, Flt.-Sgt. Kirby, Flt. -Sgt. Murray and W.O. Osborn.

 

 

F.Sgt. Jack Murray, DFM Pilot
Sgt. Ben Bentham R.A.F. Engineer
W/O Clarrie Taylor, DFC Navigator
W/O Tom Osborn, DFC Bomb Aimer
F/Sgt Jack Dodds * W/OP (later F/Lt, DFC – Killed on second tour)
F/Sgt. Owen Hodgen Mid Upper Gunner
F/Sgt. Jack Kirby, DFM Rear Gunner

* Jack Dodds was killed a month or so after finishing ops flying with a unit testing some new gunnery equipment.

 

Jack Murray and myself were finally posted to America with a group which formed the Liberator Detachment of the Pacific Ferry Command but due to political interference (American) we were only allowed one trip. Jack went to QANTAS and flew on the Indian Ocean crossings to Colombo. I finished up (literally) in a bad crash with 25 Squadron.

Jack continued with QANTAS and retired as a Sn. Capt B707 and I worked for Dept of Civil Aviation in the Air Traffic Branch and served in the Tower at Brisbane and Darwin and Perth then Senior Operations Officer Townsville, Darwin and Perth and retired as Check Controller Operations and Search and Rescue W.A. region.

Hope this might be of some interest.

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On 19 October 2004, Stuart Taylor, a good friend of Clarrie's advised me of Clarrie's death.

 

Dear Mr Dunn,

Have just read the details of Clarrie Taylor's service with 460 Squadron. It's a great website, and a credit to you.

As you are probably aware, Clarrie passed away during September, due to complications with the heart/lung problems he was suffering.

I knew him over some 45 years. This went from when he was a Senior ATC man at Perth airport in 1959 and I was a student pilot flight planning for cross country in a Chipmunk to his time as the Secretary of the Perth branch of the Retired Pilots Association, this year.

Over the years and many flight plans filed, Clarrie was a font of aviation stories/lore. One of these that always stuck in my memory was when he was an Air Traffic Controller in Darwin, in the mid 1950's. In the early (dark) hours of one morning Clarrie was trying to stay alert (there was not much air traffic through Darwin in those days). Suddenly, out of nowhere, a radio call came " Darwin, this is Air Force.......(Tail number of aircraft), declaring an emergency, and diverting to Darwin..." This was from a USAF Boeing B-50, now obviously inbound to Darwin. There was no flight plan or information about this B-50 held at the Darwin centre. Very curious, any flight, such as this would have provided some information. It turned out that this airplane had left Guam, en-route to Maralinga, where the Brits had just detonated a nuclear bomb. This was in effect a covert spy flight to 'sniff' radiation fallout and bomb products from the 'nuclear' cloud. Unfortunately for the American crew, one engine had failed on the way Maralinga, and a second engine had to be shut down on the way home. One engine out is one thing, but two out is serious. Hence the 'Darwin, here we come' call.

Clarrie said that as the aircraft stayed in Darwin for some time, until repairs could be effected, the crew and airplane were treated as a special event. A lot of fun. Wonder what the US Ambassador said in Canberra!

Regards, Stuart Taylor. PS no relation, to Clarrie.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I'd like to thank Stuart Taylor for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 28 December 1997

This page last updated 29 October 2018