Flying Officer K.W. Taylor (182572) DFM RAFVR
100 Sqn, 625 Sqn, 103 Sqn, 576 Sqn and 156 Sqn - 1943/44
S/L Mervyn R Attwater DSO DFC RAF and crew
Kenneth William 'Ken' Taylor was born on the 28th of August 1921 in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. At the time of his enlistment into the RAFVR as a trainee Wireless Operator / Air Gunner in 1941, he was working as a clerk and living in Haslingdon, Lancs.
At his Operational Training Unit, 1451556 Sergeant Kenneth Taylor became the W/Op on a crew captained by Flight Lieutenant Mervyn Richard Attwater RAF, from Arundel (later DSO DFC). After completing further training at 1662 Conversion Unit, RAF Blyton, they were posted to the Avro Lancaster equipped 100 Squadron based at RAF Grimsby on the 24th of August 1943. Kenneth flew his first operational sortie against Monchengladbach on the night of the 30th of August, followed by an operation against Berlin the following night. During September they attacked a series of heavily defended targets in German, including Berlin (3rd), Mannheim (5th), Munich (6th), Hanover (22nd and 27th), and Bochum (29th). In October they attacked Hagen on the 1st, Munich on the 2nd, and on the 5th they took part in a small diversionary raid on Ludwigshafen.
On the 1st of October 1943, 625 Squadron was formed from 'C' Flight, 100 Squadron, at RAF Kelstern in Lincolnshire. As a result, Flt Lt Attwater and his crew were moved across to the new unit on the 11th of the month. At 625 they flew one sortie against Hanover on the 18th of the month (the Squadron's first), and, for reasons unknown, were then posted again, this time to 103 (Bomber) Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds.
Upon his arrival at Elsham, Mervyn Attwater was promoted to the rank of Acting Squadron Leader and was made the Commander of 'C' Flight. In this capacity they flew ops to Dusseldorf (ED 913 - 3rd of November), Modane (JA 868 - 10th of November) and Berlin (JA 868 - 23rd and 26th of November). On the 25th of November 1943, 576 Squadron was formed at Elsham from 'C' Flight 103 Sqn (and 4 crews from 101 Sqn). Along with numerous other personnel, Squadron Leader Attwater's crew was posted to 'B' Flight of the new unit.
Unfortunately, on the 5th of December, Sqn Ldr Attwater fractured his jaw and was admitted to hospital. It appears that while he was away the rest of the crew were used as temporary replacements to fill gaps in other crews. Sergeant Taylor flew with Flt Sgt Thomas and his crew to Berlin on the 29th of December in Lancaster ND362 (UL-Q). Sqn Ldr Attwater returned to the unit in time for a sortie to Stettin on the 6th of January, Brunswick on the 14th, Berlin on the 27th, and again on the 28th. All ops were flown in Lancaster JA868 (UL-Y2), which, due to Flight Commander's privilege, was to become their regular aircraft.
On the 15th of February they bombed Berlin (accompanied by the Sqn CO), on the 19th Leipzig, and on the 25th Augsburg. Their last operation with 576 was to attack Frankfurt on the 18th of March.
After volunteering for a tour with the Pathfinder Force (PFF), Sqn Ldr Attwater and crew were posted to 156 (PFF) Squadron at RAF Upwood, Huntingdonshire, in March 1944. Attwater became ‘A’ Flight Commander and his crew at this time consisted of Pilot - Sqn Ldr MR Attwater DSO DFC, Nav - Plt Off DSS Potter DFC, W/Op - Flt Sgt KW Taylor DFM, Flt Engr - Plt Off A Burgess DFC, Bomb Aimer - Plt Off MA Grace DFC RCAF, Mid Upper A/G - Flt Sgt KW Harris DFM and Rear A/G - Plt Off AF Lock DFC
The crew's first sortie with the Squadron was in Lancaster III ND409 (GT-S) to Aachen on the 11th of April 1944, where they bombed the target at 2251 hours from 16,800 feet. On the 30th of the month they accompanied 142 other aircraft from 6 and 8 Groups to attack railway marshalling yards at Somain in France. On the 3rd of May Sqn Ldr Attwater took the crew to attack the Luftwaffe airfield at Montdidier. On the 19th they bombed a radar station at Mont de Couple near Cap Gris-Nez, and on the 22nd they conducted a night raid on Dortmund. On the 27th they attacked the airfield at Rennes in good visibility and on the 31st they bombed the railway marshalling yards at Tergnier.
On the 11th of June, Sqn Ldr Attwater acted as Deputy Master Bomber for the attack on Tours Marshalling Yards in France. On the 15th they bombed Lens Marshalling Yards and on the 16th they attacked a V1 site at Renescure. Sqn Ldr Attwater acted as Deputy Master Bomber for the daylight attack against a V1 site at St. Martin on the 21st and on the 23rd he acted as Master Bomber for another raid on a V1 site at Bientques.
July 1944 was a busy period for the Squadron, with a repeat of the same type of attacks conducted during the previous month. On the 7th, Sqn Ldr Attwater acted as Deputy Master Bomber for the attack on a V1 site at Biennais. They bombed other V1 sites at Chateau Bernapree on the 9th, Rollez on the 12th, and Mont Candon on the 17th, where once again Sqn Ldr Attwater acted as Master Bomber. The crew switched back to supporting the army on the 18th when they bombed tactical targets south of the city of Caen (Op GOODWOOD). It was all change again on the 23rd when the Oil Refinery at Donges was the target, where once again Attwater was Deputy Master Bomber. He acted as Master Bomber for the daylight attack on a flying bomb launch site at Coquereaux on the 25th. The final raid of the month was against Stuttgart on the evening of the 25th.
During August the crew operated against a V1 site in the Foret de Nieppes (5th) and on the 6th they conducted an artillery spotting sortie at Cabourg. The following day they took part in the bombing of German troop positions as part of Op TOTALIZE. On the 9th Attwater and his crew attacked another V1 site at Fort d'Englos and on the 11th the marshalling yards at Somain again. On the 12th the crew accompanied 14 other Squadron aircraft from 156 to attack Russelsheim in Germany, from which 2 of the crews failed to return to Upwood. They conducted another army support mission in Normandy on the 14th (Op TRACTABLE) and on the 15th they acted as Master Bomber for the attack on Eindhoven Airfield in Holland. They also acted as Master Bomber on the 18th when they bombed rail targets at Connatre. They returned to Russelsheim on the 25th and acted as Master Bomber for an attack on a V1 site at Mimoyecques on evening of the 27th.
The crew's last with the Squadron was in Lancaster III PB 177 to a German V2 storage site at St Riquier in France on the 31st of August 1944 (for which Attwater again acted as the Master Bomber). They were all 'screened' from Ops the following day, after completing a total of 424 operational sorties between them. Having completed 26 Ops with Main Force and 31 with the Pathfinder Force, Flt Sgt Taylor was commissioned on the 5th of August 1944 and left the Squadron soon after. The London Gazette records him as being promoted War Substantive Flying Officer on the 5th of February 1945.
The award of Flt Sgt Taylor's Distinguished Flying Medal was gazetted on the 17th of October 1944. His recommendation is as follows:
"Flight Sergeant Taylor has completed 43 operational sorties, 17 of which have been with the Pathfinder Force. He has taken part in numerous operations on German targets including 9 on the German capital. This N.C.O. is a resolute and efficient Wireless Operator who has always displayed outstanding keenness and tenacity during the many extremely difficult operations in which he has taken part. He is a member of one of the best crews in this squadron which have three times carried out the duties of Master Bomber by day and night. He is cool and efficient under the most harassing conditions and has set an example of devotion to duty of the highest order. I recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal
19th July, 1944."
Kenneth passed away in 2002 in the county of his birth. He was 81 years old.
Lieutenant Colonel J R D Hipkins AGC (RMP)