A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER has finally found out the truth of what happened to her RAF hero uncle – 70 years after his fate was sealed during the Second World War.
Hartlepool woman Jean Mayes, 71, grew up believing her uncle, Sergeant George Taylor, an air gunner, was missing in action and buried in a farmer’s field in France.
But after conducting research, she has finally found out that George and his crew were shot down in a Lancaster Bomber near Vignory in France.
They are actually buried in the same Commonwealth grave in a Vignory communal cemetery.
Jean, who lives with husband Frank, a 70-year-old retired steel erector, in Macaulay Road, said: “It’s nice to finally be clearer on what happened to my uncle after all these years.”
She had tried to find out information about George by visiting a Hartlepool Headland Local History Group session at the Borough Hall, but she said this only had information about the Headland, while George had lived in Oxford Road with his parents Annie and George.
Jean said a woman there advised her to try the reference section at Hartlepool Central Library, in York Road.
There she uncovered more details about what happened to her uncle.
Jean was just two years old in October 1942 when her mother Isabel Taylor wheeled her in her pushchair to Hartlepool Railway Station to bid farewell to George, brother of her father Jim who was away fighting in India.
George, known as Judd, was himself off to war, and Jean remembers her mother saying: “Please come back”, to which George replied: “Of course I will.”
But Jean, a retired barmaid and ex-factory worker, said: “I was too young to know George and as time passed we were told he was missing in action and rumour had it that he and his crew were buried in a farmer’s field.
“The subject didn’t come up very often and now in my 70s I decided to find out more.”
She said unfortunately she never got any answers as most of the family had since passed away.
It was when she was at the Borough Hall that she started to make headway when she was advised to go to the Central Library.
There she found records which stated George, of 550 Squadron, died on July 13, 1944 and “was in the Lancaster Bomber which took off from North Killingholme, Nottinghamshire at 21.30 hours for an operation over France.
“On the homeward bound journey the aircraft crashed near Vignory 19 kilm NNW on the main road between Chourmont and Joinville.
“Seriously injured George died within hours of rescue and was buried along with his crew in Vignory communal cemetery.”
Using the library’s microfilm service, she also found an article in the Northern Daily Mail, the Hartlepool Mail’s predecessor, describing how it was not until a year after George’s July 13, 1944 death that word reached his parents that he had been killed.
The piece told how the couple had “received official news from the Armed Ministry that in view of the lapse of time and the absence of any further news regarding their son Sgt A/G G Taylor since July 13, 1944, they must regretfully conclude that he lost his life on that date”.
The piece also says George attended Church Square School, worked for Messrs Bottomley’s Stranton Works, and was also one of the most popular members of Hartlepool’s Church League, playing both football and cricket for the League of Youth.
Jean, mum to Denise Murphy, 47, and Peter Mayes, 45, and a grandmother of five and great-grandmother of one, said: “I feel relieved now I know.”