The War Service of

Thomas Tennant Taylor, 1892-1944

On the 24th August 1917 Thomas Tennant Taylor reported to St Leonards and thus began his flying career with the Royal Flying Corps (established April 1912).

Thomas Taylor was 25 when he embarked on his military career. I am intrigued as to why someone who was clearly eligible for service during WW1 had not been called up earlier perhaps it was because he was a married man. He had married Eva Maude Wilson in December of 1915 or was it because he was a dentist and that was a reserved occupation?

On the 25th August he was posted to Denham for officer training and commissioned 2nd Lieutenant (ground) effective 17th November 1917. Flying training followed with a posting to 51 Training Squadron at Waddington on the 28th November 1917.

51 Squadron had been formed at Thetford, Norfolk on 15th May 1916 as a home defence squadron, eventually specialising in night flying duties. The unit also provided flying training for newly qualified aircrew who were destined to join other squadrons in France. 51 Training Squadron was based at Waddington from 1st June 1917 until 4th October 1918.

Basic flying training was completed by March 1918, and T T Taylor was appointed 2nd Lieutenant Flying Officer on the 9th March 1918 (gazetted 11th April 1918).

The Air Force Bill which created the Royal Air Force had been given royal assent on the 28th November 1917 and the Royal Air Force came into being on the 1st April 1918. This exactly coincides with the training period of T. T. Taylor, he would have therefore have held a commission first in the army and then in the air force. His name appears in the first Air Force List (May 1918, entry 446, 453).

Upon appointment to a flying rank T. T. Taylor was posted to 51 Training Squadron based at Waddington. This was presumably for further training, perhaps "night flying" since this was a speciality of 51 Squadron. At some point during the next couple of months T. T. Taylor was posted to 13 Training Depot Squadron and then on the 13th June to 44 Training Squadron from here a posting followed to 48 Squadron, all based at Waddington.

Whilst with 48 Training Depot Squadron on 8th November 1918, he was promoted Lieutenant in the National Reserve (No 384). Hostilities ceased 11th November 1918.

The RAF did not forget T.T. Taylor, an entry in his record dated 12th June 1941 shows his address as "Helenslea" New Cumnock, Ayrshire, clearly they were checking his whereabouts should he be needed for service during WW2.

T. T. Taylor's active flying career came to an end on the 30th January 1919, but it was not until the 6th March that he was posted to Georgetown for dispersal and to the unemployed list on the 8th March 1919, 18 months after he had first reported at St Leonard's.

Census 339, which I assume was taken at the formation of the RAF, shows T. T. Taylor as being in A1 medical condition. This meant that from both a medical and training stand point he was considered suitable for combat duties.

Extracts from the RAF Service Record of Thomas Tennant Taylor

Date of Birth 3rd March 1892
Address (a) 22 Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

(b) "Nithsdale" West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

Next of Kin Mrs Thomas T Taylor, Wife, "Monthooly", West Kilbride, Ayrshire.
Civilian Occupation Dental Surgeon, 1910-1917, 22 Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

Number P J 21041

Date Unit From Which Unit To Which Comments or Notes
24/8/1917   St Leonards  
25/8/1917 St Leonards OCW Denham  
5/10/1917 OCW Denham 5 S of A Denham  
17/11/1917     Promoted 2nd Lieutenant, Ground "on probation"
28/11/1917 Denham 51 Training Squadron Waddington  
9/3/1918     2nd Lieutenant, Flying Officer
9/3/1918   51 Training Squadron Waddington On appointment as Flying Officer
1/4/1918 Formation of The Royal Air Force
1/4/1918     2nd Lieutenant, AP.S
  51 Training Squadron Waddington 13 Training Depot Squadron  
13/6/1918 13 Training Depot Squadron 44 Training Squadron Waddington  
    48 Training Depot Squadron Waddington  
8/11/1918     Lieutenant, National Reserve (384)
11/11/1918 Cessation of Hostilities
30/1/1919     Cessation of Flying
6/3/1919 48 Training Depot Squadron Waddington Georgetown For Dispersal
8/3/1919     Transferred to Unemployed List
12/6/1941     Note "Helenslea", New Cumnock, Ayrshire.



In margin, "British, RFC, R.A.F (National Reserve (384) 8/11/18)"

Under Special Qualifications

Knowledge of French

Since joining RFC: Types Flown, DH6, BE2E, Small, Armstrong-Whitworth FK3, and RE8.

T. T. Taylor Chronology of Squadrons with whom he served at Waddington

48 Squadron
  From Date In Date Out
48 Reserve Squadron Narborough 13/11/1916 1/6/1917
48 TS Ex 48 Reserve Squadron 1/6/1917 4/7/1918
48 TDS Ex 48 TS 4/7/1918 April 1919
48 TS Disbanded April 1919 4/11/1919


44 Squadron
  From Date In Date Out
44 TS Harlaxton July 1917 Dec 1919


51 Squadron
  From Date In Date Out
51 Reserve Squadron Wye 14/5/17 1/6/1917
51 TS Ex 51 Reserve Squadron 1/6/1917 4/10/1918


A History of 51 Squadron


No 51 Sqn was formed at Thetford on 15 May 1916 as a Home Defence Squadron. Initially the Squadron flew a mixed group of BE 2c, BE 2d, and BE 12s before specialising in night fighter duties with the first FE 2b, and later the Avro 504K, which was converted to a single seat night fighter. In addition, the Squadron used the DH4 and the Avro 504K to give night flying training to newly qualified aircrew destined to join other squadrons in France.

The Squadron disbanded in June 1919, at Sutton's Farm, Hornchurch.

51 Squadron Timeline 1916 - 1919
Dates Description Aircraft Equipment
Sep 1916 - May 1919 Home Defence Squadron BE2c / 2d / 12 / 12b , FE2b Avro 504 & 504K (from Jan 1918) Sopwith Camel Martinsyde    G100 Scout , DH4
Nov 1917 - Dec 1917 191 (Depot) Squadron BE2d , BE2e , FE2b , DH6
Dec 1917 - Jul 1918 191 (Night Training) Squadron BE2d , BE2e , FE2b , DH7



Copyright Grahame J Taylor June 2002