On 10 May 1944, the crew of B for Baker failed to return from an operation to Lille in France. As the next day dawned at Waddington and the survivors of the raid began to come to terms with what had been the worst night of the war for the station, a new crew was posted in to 463 Squadron. Led by 16203 P/O J.F. Martin, it was made up mainly by Australians. The Flight Engineer, one 1324017 Sgt P.D. Taylor, was the sole Englishman. This crew, flying Lancaster LM571 JO-E, would make eleven un-eventful trips, mainly to targets supporting the invasion in France, but would be lost on their twelfth, to Prouville on 24/25 June 1944. The bomb aimer would be the only survivor, and his six crewmates today lie in Bussuss-Bussuel Communal Cemetery in France. They were one of three 463 Sqn crews to be lost that night, while 467 Sqn lost two. Only the 10 May Lille raid was more costly.
I received an email last night from Phil Bonner, who was the Squadron Leader who showed me around RAF Waddington when I visited in 2009. Now retired from the RAF, he runs Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire and remains a key contact for me in the area. Phil passed on a query from the sister-in-law of Sgt Taylor, a Mrs Joni Taylor, who is searching for relatives of the Australians in this crew. He wondered if I might be able to help.
The full crew list is as follows:
Pilot: 16203 P/O J.F. Martin
Flight Engineer: 1324017 Sgt P.D. Taylor
Navigator: 415430 W/O B.E. Kelly
Bomb Aimer: F/S T.A. Malcolm
Wireless Operator: 417327 F/S G.W. Bateman
Mid-Upper Gunner: 424761 F/S L.G.L. Hunter
Rear Gunner: 408433 F/S B.R. Barber
The National Archives of Australia has digitised records for W/O Kelly and F/S Barber. Before enlistment Kelly was a ‘Junior Clerk’ with the Chief Secretary’s Department of the Government of Western Australia. His next-of-kin was listed as an aunt, Mary O’Grady of 70 Lindsay St, Perth, WA. Also to be informed of any news was Miss Valerie O’Sullivan, 45 London St, Mt. Hawthorn, WA. Barber was a bank clerk from Ulverstone in Tasmania. His next of kin was recorded as his father, Fletcher Bramwell Barber, 12 Richards Ave, Launceston, TAS.
I’ve pointed Phil towards the secretaries of the Queensland and the NSW Branches of the 463-467 Squadron Association, and in the meantime thought I’d try to publicise Mrs Taylor’s search online. If anyone has any leads that may be of assistance, please leave a comment below or drop me an email – details through this link.
© 2012 Adam Purcell
3 thoughts on “Sergeant Taylor”
I am the niece and God daughter of Tom Malcolm, the bomb aimer and sole survivor from Joe-E. He was my mother’s only brother and I have recently been given three photos of Tom with crew members, from Tom’s sole living sister out of the eight children. I have been trying to identify men in the photos. I have identified JF (Tony) Martin, the pilot, Bernard Kelly, the navigator, Tom of course, and believe I recognise the British flight engineer, GW Bateman.
After the plane was lost, Tom had some extraordinary experiences and was one of the 168 allied airmen sent to Buchenwald. His story is covered in the Colin Burgess book, ‘Destination Buchenwald’. Tom shared parts of his story with the family at this time but of course, my generation did not recognise the questions we should ask. He had spoken at length and with much grief to my parents immediately after his return and I think we sensed from them that we should be very sensitive in our conversations on Tom’s experiences. The war hit my mother’s family badly as my mother’s twin sister’s husband died in the Sandakan death marches.
I am very interested to learn more of Tom’s crew and would welcome information.
Fantastic – thanks for your post. I’ve sent you an email.
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