Debden mourns loss of Second World War hero

Bob Taylor on board the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, front row second from right, during the Second World War. Bob Taylor on board the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, front row second from right, during the Second World War.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
1:41 PM

The village of Debden is mourning the death of a war hero.

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Alfred Newton Taylor, known by all as Bob, was born at Easingwold, Yorkshire, on March 13, 1923. He was educated at Easingwold Grammar School and worked initially at Rowntree of York.

At the outbreak of the war Bob joined the Home Guard but in November 1941 he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service, the Fleet Air Arm, and trained as a Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG) in Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bombers.

He served with 818 Squadron RNAS on board the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn, providing air cover in Swordfish aircraft throughout 1942 for convoys en route for Gibraltar. On September 9, 1943, HMS Unicorn and 818 Squadron supported the allied landings at Salerno, Italy, before being redeployed to Ceylon in 1944 to join the Eastern Fleet.

In late 1944 Bob transferred to 849 Squadron RNAS equipped with Grumman Avenger Torpedo Bombers on board the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious as part of the British Pacific Fleet. He took part in the raid on the Japanese oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra on January 29, 1945 for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for gallantry.

After the war Bob returned to work for Rowntree at York but after moving to Southport Lancashire in 1955 he married his wife Joan and joined BP. He travelled extensively and at times lived in Australia, Nigeria and South Africa. In 1976 he joined Lonhro in London and settled in Debden.

In retirement Bob enjoyed golf and walking his dog. He was a long-serving member of Debden Branch Royal British Legion.

His funeral takes place at Debden Parish Church today (Thursday) at 12.30pm.

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