WWII Vet Who Helped Save 1,000 Members Of The HMS Ark Royal Dies Aged 98


Taylor, described by his family as a “noble gentleman”, served in the Royal Navy during World War Two. He was born on June 19, 1916, in High Street, Arnold and he served in the Navy between 1940 and 1947. He enlisted together with his four brothers, Kenneth, Billy, Francis and Teddy.

Taylor completed his training in Scotland. His sister Sylvia Claiborne, 94, remembered how much they feared for their lives whenever the Germans were firing on them. She said that they never had a letter from him for 2 year. John explained that he did write letters but they weren’t being posted because they didn’t want the Germans to know where their location was.

The convoy he was sent on, on the HMS Laforey and with HMS Lucifer and HMS Lightning, was providing food to the starving ones in Europe. Only five out of fourteen ships returned. But one of the most challenging rescue missions for John Taylor came in 1942 when the HMS Ark Royal went under the attack of a German U-Boat, about 50 miles off the coast of Gibraltar.

Taylor cruised the Laforey towards the Ark Royal. There is where he, together with his comrades, helped supply electricity on the abandoned ship and saved the lives of 1,000 members of the crew.

Sylvia remembered one of the ladies who called on her mother some time after that. She kept on asking if John was at home but his mother said he wasn’t and that they haven’t heard anything from him. Then the lady asked John’s mother to thank her son when he comes back, because he saved her son’s life. After the Ark Royal sank, John Taylor went back to Scotland until 1947 when he returned home to Arnold. He was several times awarded for his service. He received the British War Medal -1939-1945, The Africa Star, and the Defence Medal, the Nottingham Post reports.

He married his childhood friend, Edna and they had a daughter together, Janet, two grandsons, Timothy and James and four great grandchildren, Joseph, Abigail, Ella and Thomas. After the war, he worked at the Co-Op in Lower Parliament Street and later on became the manager of the Daybrook Post Office. He retired in 1980. Although he suffered from pneumonia, even during his final days he remained a bright and gracious person. Sylvia said he kept on smiling at all times and held her by the arm.

“He was always such a noble gentleman,” she said.

John’s funeral will take place on January 7, at St Mary’s Church in Arnold and at Bramcote Crematorium.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE