Benjamin Albert Taylor never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on May 31, 1918 in Washington. His parents James and Helen were born in Nebraska and Wisconsin, respectively. His father worked as an odd jobs laborer and later as a used car salesman after moving to Oregon. Benjamin had an older brother, older sister, two younger sisters and a younger brother. By 1940 Benjamin had completed seven years of schooling and was working as a millwork pressing operator. He learned to fly as a civilian and actually owned a plane.
The US Army Air Forces preferred college men for their pilots so Benjamin took the unusual step of going to Canada and volunteering for the RAF American No. 121 Eagles Squadron in late 1941. Although thousands volunteered, Benjamin was one of only 244 pilots who qualified to serve in the RAF. They flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires. Benjamin was wounded on his first operational mission in July 1942 while making low level attacks against German targets near Dunkerque. He was shot in the leg but made a safe landing back in England.
On September 29, 1942, he and the rest of the Eagle Squadron fliers were transferred to the US 8th Air Force. Benjamin ended up serving as a first lieutenant in the 325th Ferrying Squadron, 31st Transportation Group, which mainly used Douglas C-47s. While flying for the 235th FS, Lt. Taylor piloted General Eisenhower on a number of secret trips. Although given numerous chances to return home, Lt. Taylor stayed. He also trained bomber pilots while in England.
Lt. Taylor was returning from a mission over France on December 22, 1944 when he crashed his C-47 into the treetops while trying to land near Ransbury, England in foggy conditions. Lt. Taylor was one of three men killed, but two managed to survive the crash.
His grave is at Belcrest Memorial Park, Salem, Oregon.
Last year on this date I profiled B-17 radio operator Robert Buchanan. You can read about Robert here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100