Flight Lieutenant John Taylor was born in 1920 and, at the time of this posting, is alive and well. He was flying a Halifax bomber when he was shot down as he describes in his narrative although he omitted to name the type of aircraft he was flying. The Halifax, affectionately known as the Halibag, went through many changes and modifications. It first flew in 1939 and was still in service when the war ended. The Halifax was a four-engine bomber fitted with Rolls-Royce V-12s or Bristol Hercules radial engines. It was 71½ ft in length and a little over 20 ft in height. The Halifax had a wingspan of 104 ft and,when fully-loaded, weighed 68,000 lbs. Its maximum speed was 312 miles per hour. [Readers who prefer SI units will have no difficulty converting the units given here.]
As John relates, he was a representative for a toy company before he enlisted in the RAF and, after emigrating to Canada with his family, he found work in the same field. During a toy trade show in Edmonton, Alberta, he met a representative from a German toy company when he recalled the name of the German toy manufacturer from his childhood in India and introduced himself. The meeting led to the two swapping stories of their war experiences over dinner.
Helmut, the German sales rep. said he had been a fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe and had shot down three allied aircraft: one in North Africa, one over Germany, and a third over France. John was interested in the aircraft Helmut had downed over France, naturally. He got the date, the time of the encounter and the aircraft shot down.
Helmut remembered it well. He identified the aircraft as a Halifax and the fact that he saw the inside starboard engine fall out of the wing, which he watched as the aircraft went down in flames. He also counted the crew leaving the stricken aircraft. John was astonished to hear the details of his own disaster, for Helmut, they agreed, had to have been the pilot who had shot him out of the sky. Their accounts matched and agreed it was a small world in which they should both be in the same business and to have met after the war. They got on well together and harboured no ill feelings, no animosity; they were only doing their jobs. Helmut visited John and his family, got on well together. Then he returned to Germany and, sadly, they lost touch with one another.
With sincere thanks to Julia, John's second daughter, for permission to post her father's story on this web site. Editor.