Operation: Armed Reconnaissance
Date: 08th February 1945 (Thursday) (1)
Unit: No. 485 Squadron (135 Wing - 84 Group)
Type: Spitfire LF Mk.IXE*
Base: B.77 Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands
Location: Onnen, Netherlands
Pilot: F/O. Donald Graeme Lane Taylor NZ/427048 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
* LF Mk.IXE Nomenclature:The 'LF' denoted that the aircraft was fitted with the Merlin 66 engine, the supercharger of which was designed to cut in at low altitudes to provide optimum performance for engaging the Fw-190. The 'IX’ originally denoted a ’stopgap' variant based upon the the Mk VC with the minimum modification required to fit the more powerful Merlin 61 to counter the threat of the Fw-190. The 'E' denoted the E-Type wing which was redesigned to accommodate the US Browning 0.5 inch (12.7mm) machine guns. The two 20mm Hispano cannons were moved outboard and the Browning’s were mounted in the vacated inboard spaces.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off with 11 others from the Squadron at 09:25 hrs on an Armed Reconnaissance operation when they spotted a train leaving the marshalling yards at Onnen. A police report for the region of Groningen reported that as Fg.Off. Taylor strafed the railway yards his aircraft struck a water tower and crashed into a double house in Tuindorp, Haren. Two German railway workers in the house were killed along with the pilot and the house was partly burned down. After the rubble was cleared the three bodies were recovered and temporarily moved to the mortuary at the general cemetery in Haren.
No. 485 Squadron 1941 - Standing, (L-R): French; P/O. Donald Stuart McGregor NZ/401280 (Killed 9 May 1944); Fl/Lt. Richard Barrett NZ/391324 (Killed 17 May 1944); F/O. William Arthur Middleton NZ/39928 (Killed 27 August 1941), Allan Shaw; Graham Howe Francis;, John Claverly Martin NZ/40313 (Killed 27 August 1941); Marcus Knight (CO); Francis Noel Brinsden NZ/40338 (Passed away 1993); Patrick Stewart McBride; Athol Gordon McIntyre NZ/36257 (Passed away 2011), Thomas Gordon Smith NZ/414692; Bengard; Neville; Gordon Ernest Erridge. Kneeling front, left to right: James William George NZ/40722 (Killed 23 June 1945); Murray; A.W. Morton; Hal Thomas; Richard John Bullen NZ/40753 (Killed 23 June 1941); Bill Crawford-Compton NZ/65500 (Passed away 2 January 1988); Jack Maney NZ/0240 (Killed 24 July 1941); James Kerrow "Jim" Porteous (aka 'Pranger'); Austin B. Smith; Harvey Nelson Sweetman NZ/40992 (Passed away 15 January 2015); and Kevin Desmond Cox NZ/401257 (Killed 18 June 1941).
The grave of the pilot sits in Haren General Cemetery, alongside three crew of Hampden AE185. The story of that loss can be read here.
At the foot of the only four commonwealth war graves within the cemetery a stone has been inspired with words from a Rupert Brooke poem "Safety". The full text of the poem can be read in our Poetry Section:
War knows no power. Safe shall be my going,
Secretly armed against all death's endeavour;
Safe though all safety's lost; safe where men fall;
And if these poor limbs die, safest of all.
(1) Please note: The Headstone did have the incorrect date of death inscribed. This date of the 10th February was the date he was buried. We are certain as to his date of death but quite rightly the CWGC requires official papers in order to alter the headstone. Information received from Colin Holmes, the nephew of Fg.Off. Taylor, confirms that the date was altered in April 2018.
(Above: Courtesy Colin Holmes) On the 4th May 2018 Colin attended a memorial service in Haren at the grave site of his deceased uncle. He visited both the railway yard and the site of the water tower as well as the house which has been rebuilt where he unveiled a plaque on its wall in memory of his Uncle.
F/O. Donald Graeme Lane Taylor. Haren General Cemetery. Plot 1. Row G. Grave 6. Born 31st January 1924. Son of George Graeme Lane Taylor and Eos Enid Taylor, of Cambridge, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 654 flying hours logged.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Mr. Dirk Munk who took the grave photographs for us and also researched the page for the Hampden crew buried next to the New Zealander, the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand. Thanks to Colin Holmes the nephew of Fg.Off. Taylor for the Police report, which was provided and translated by their guide, Dirk Monk, and for the image of the memorial plaque. Other sources as quoted below:
RS 08.05.2019 - Update to crash details and addition of plaque.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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