George Lane TAYLOR
My uncle, George Lane Taylor, was born in Kalgoorlie on the 18 th October 1919. He was the youngest son of Arthur Lane Taylor (from Victoria) and Johanna Taylor (nee Dowd, from County Kerry, Ireland). He had three older brothers – Frank, Stan and Kerry (my father) and two older sisters – Christina and Kathleen. His father was a miner who worked underground at Coolgardie. When gold was discovered in Kalgoorlie the family moved there and this was where George was born. Unfortunately, Arthur Taylor developed “miner’s disease” which resulted in his early death some years later.
George was educated (along with his brothers) at North Kalgoorlie Primary School. On the death of his father, it looked as though it would be necessary for George to leave school and find work. This was the time of the Depression and times were tough. His older brothers had married and moved away. My father, who was attending the University of Western Australia at the time, decided to discontinue his studies so that George could finish his education. Dad was fortunate to find work in Kalgoorlie and was able to support the rest of the family. George attended Christian Brothers College Kalgoorlie for secondary school and on completion of his schooling he sat the Public Service exam and was appointed to the Office of the Clerk of Courts in Bunbury.
George loved football and played for one of the local teams. He was also very interested in road cycling – his brother Stan competed in many races and George was his support crew. By all reports he was a good mixer and popular with his friends. My father often speaks of the “wonderful relationship” he had with his younger brother, even though there was seven years between them. My father described George as being a “great one for his mates” and it was this that prompted him to enlist with his mates at the outbreak of World War II. Many of them were posted to the 2/4 th Machine Gun Battalion.
The news of the fall of Singapore was a shock to all Australians but particularly those whose relatives had arrived on the Island only two weeks before. Initially there was some contact with letters and cards, but over time all contact was lost – but not hope. The surrender of the Japanese was greeted with great joy and everyone waited anxiously for the return of loved ones. However, it was not until February 1946 that the family was told of George’s death as a Prisoner of War. At the time, it was believed that he had died in Changi Prison. I first discovered that George had died on the second death march from Sandakan to Ranau on 7 June 1945 whilst trying to “put the pieces together” following my mother’s death. She had told me that she thought George had died on the death marches but the matter was never raised in my father’s hearing as he took the news of George’s death particularly hard and for most of my life we were never allowed to mention his name as it upset him so much. No photos of George were ever on display nor could any be found in any photo album. My father decided about five years ago to bring out the only photo he had of George – this is the photo above, taken just before George left for Singapore.
George’s army records show that he suffered from pharyngitis, tinea, and dengue fever – even before he left for Singapore. How he survived the jungles of Borneo for so long I do not know, but I am sure the support of his mates and his love of life kept him going until the end.
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