Ron Taylor's service as a member of Britain's special forces during the Second World War will be honoured in Brighton by way of a blue plaque at Carlton Hill Primary School, which is now on the site of his birthplace.
Ronald Gordon Taylor was born on 2 October 1916 at 29 Carlton Street, Brighton, to Thomas and Jane Taylor.
Ron attended St John’s elementary school in Carlton Hill, followed by Varndean Secondary School and Brighton Municipal Technical College, gaining an engineering degree. He moved to London for work and joined the Royal Engineers of the British Army in October 1939.
Soon commissioned, he served in England as a military bridging expert before, seeking a more active war, he volunteered for S.O.E. in October 1941.
He received paramiltary and parachute training in Palestine and was posted to No. 1 Special Force at Monopoli in Italy, briefed as one of a three-man team to be sent to the COOLANT mission, supporting Italian partisans fighting the Germans. The drop was on the night of 12/13 August 1944 and the team immediately started sabotage training for the partisans and carrying out operations against the enemy. In November 1944 orders were received to cease operations and to prepare for final efforts the following spring.
In December the COOLANT team accompanied the Italians in joining up with Yugoslav partisan forces and they were flown out from Črnomelj in Yugoslavia in February 1945.
Taylor was awarded a Mention in Despatches and the Italian Partisan Medal. Postwar he resumed his successful engineering career, returning to Brighton, marrying and starting a family before moving to Surrey. Having settled in later life in Buckinghamshire, in 2002 he moved to Dorchester, but died there on 10 December, aged 86.
Capt Ronald Taylor of SOE’s Italian Section (No. 1 Special Force)
Research, photos and additional information courtesy of the Taylor family, Paul McCue, IWM, Unicorn and the Richardson Collection
Scroll further down this page for recommended reading ... and for a special tribute to Capt Taylor click HERE
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: SOE and Italy 1943-1945 by David Stafford
In May 1945 Italy was liberated from Nazism and Fascism by the British Eighth and American Fifth Armies. By that time the Italian resistance movement had emerged as one of the strongest in Europe - crucially aided and abetted by the UK's Special Operations Executive.
As what Winston Churchill graphically described as the 'red-hot rake of the battle-line' advanced bloodily up the Italian peninsula, clandestine cells in the cities and partisan bands in the countryside fought to free their country from enemy occupation and shape the politics of Italy's post-war future.
SOE in Italy, known as No. 1 Special Force, parachuted in dozens of missions to supply the underground with weapons and ammunition, food and supplies. In a remarkable twist it also secretly collaborated with its former enemy, the Italian military intelligence service, and with the Italian navy, which used fast torpedo boats and rubber dinghies to land British agents on heavily defended beaches.
Based on recently released official files, documents retrieved from other agencies, diaries, memoirs and personal interviews, Mission Accomplished provides the first ever complete and authoritative account of Britain's secret war in Italy - the heroic exploits, the larger than life participants and the extraordinary, against-the-odds achievements.
BRIGHTON'S SECRET AGENTS by Paul McCue
Winston Churchill authorised the creation of a new wartime secret service, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), with the order “And now set Europe ablaze”. On behalf of The Secret WW2 Learning Network, an educational charity dedicated to revealing hitherto-secret operations to the current generation, Paul McCue tells a main story of four Brighton and Hove-born agents - which include Capt Ronald Taylor - being honoured with blue plaques.
He details the organisation’s creation and post-war demise, its training methods and the missions of the four chief subjects. He also covers three other agents, a special duties RAF pilot and the inspiration for ‘Q’, the inspired ‘boffin’ from the James Bond films – all of whom had links with the city.
Some enjoyed great success, others were doomed to failure and death, but all displayed the volunteer spirit and courage that saw Britain through the darkest days of the Second World War. Their stories, largely little-known, deserve to be told.
Paul McCue has been a part-time military historian and author for over 25 years. He has authored four books to date and regularly gives talks and presentations in England and France. He currently specialises in the French Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and he is working on a three-volume roll of honour for this Second World War secret service.
The WW2 Exploits in Italy with the SOE of Past Master Ron Taylor Online article
Click the button below
to download the archive report
Special Forces in Italy WW2
TARGET: ITALY - The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943 by Roderick Bailey
The cloak-and-dagger war fought by British secret agents against Mussolini's Italy has been little known - until now.
Target: Italy is the official history of the efforts of Britain's Special Operations Executive to strike at Fascist Italy in the Second World War and sever its alliance with Nazi Germany. Drawing on declassified documents, it reveals missions as remarkable as a plot to assassinate Mussolini and plans to arm the Mafia, and brings home the risks that secret agencies run when trying to undermine well-entrenched regimes.
A powerful tale of desperate daring, tragic sacrifice and long-held wartime secrets.