Summer service dress tunic : Captain P G Taylor, Royal Flying Corps

Unit Royal Flying Corps
Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number REL/00022.006
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Brass, Cotton drill, Gilded brass
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1916-1919
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Royal Flying Corps (RFC) officer's unlined khaki cotton drill service dress tunic with pointed cuffs, pleated breast pockets with triple pointed flaps and large expanding patch pockets below the front waist, with plain flaps. A brass belt hook is fitted to both sides of the waist. All of the gilded brass buttons are embossed with 'RFC' and the kings crown. The top button is missing. No badges are fitted to the tunic but remnant stitches on the shoulder straps indicate that officer's cloth rank insignia was once sewn onto them. A pair of eyelets at the outermost end of both shoulder straps would have had metal RFC titles attached to them. Two pockets with slit openings have been let into the right front facing of the tunic.

History / Summary

Patrick Gordon Taylor was born in Sydney in 1896. In 1915 he was appointed temporary lieutenant in 26 Battalion CMF, replacing a man who had joined the AIF. Keen to be on active service too, but rejected by the AIF, he travelled to England at his own expense to join the Royal Flying Corps. He was commissioned into the RFC on 12 August 1916 and trained as a pilot. He joined 66 Squadron, flying Sopwith Pup scouts. In July 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross and was promoted to captain, serving with 94 and 88 Squadrons. Taylor returned to Australia in 1919. During the 1920s he flew as a private pilot, completed an engineering course and studied air navigation. In 1933 and 1934 he was second pilot and navigator for Charles Kingsford Smith's Australia-New Zealand flights. He was navigator on Charles Ulm's Australia-England flights in 1933. Taylor and Kingsford Smith completed the first Australia to the US flight in 1934. In 1935 Taylor was Kingsford Smith's navigator for the King George V Jubilee airmail flight from Australia to New Zealand. Six hours into the flight the starboard engine failed and the aircraft turned back. When the oil pressure dropped on the port engine Taylor saved the flight by climbing out of the fuselage, edging along the engine connecting strut to collect oil from the starboard engine which he then transferred to the port engine. He repeated the process five times and the plane returned safely. For his courage and resourcefulness Taylor was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal. In 1939 Taylor made the first flight from Western Australia to Kenya. During the Second World War he ferried flying-boats from the US to Australia. In 1943 he joined the RAAF but transferred to the RAF in 1944 ferrying aircraft from Canada to Britain. He flew an RAF Catalina on a survey flight from Bermuda to Sydney. In 1951 he flew from Australia to Chile in another Catalina. He published eight books on his flying experiences. He was knighted in 1954 and died in 1966.