|Warant Officer 2 Douglas (Jock) Taylor. Painting by Geoffrey Mainwaring, 1957. AWM|
Today we honour three Victorian diggers from the 2/7th Battalion - and former Victorian Railway workers - who saved the lives of thousands by their bravery in April 1941. And two of these diggers were migrants from Scotland.
- Corporal A H Melville, VX4699, a green keeper of Merbein Victoria, born in Greenock Scotland 12 March 1905
- Corporal (then WO2) DR Taylor, DCM, VX 5449, a labourer from Melbourne, born in Aberdeen Scotland 14th August 1907.
- Private (then Sergeant) AK Naismith, DCM, VX4838, a tobacco grower of Gunbower Victoria, born Bendigo 10 March 1915.
The Greek railways had become disorganized as the Germans attacked and the Allies moved north then south through Greece. For example, the train bearing the 2/6th had stopped for nine hours on the night of the 14th-15th April south of Farsala because the crew feared air attack.
As the train bearing the 2/7th suffered sustained air attack on the following night while at Larissa, its crew fled. In the early hours of 16th April some Victorian railwaymen led by Corporal “Jock” Taylor, Corporal Melville and Private Naismith fired one engine and left it in the fire-box door open as a decoy to attack the German aircraft and, while he bombers attacked it, manned another engine 500 yards away and made up a train in which the battalion was loaded and continued on to Domokos. The unit diary states that this “simple strategy saved the Battalion considerable trouble.
Corporal Taylor, Private Melville and seven other volunteers again saved the battalion again 2 miles north of Domokos. On the morning of the 19th a train loaded with ammunition was in a siding at Sofhiades. The volunteers raised steam with the intention of taking the train through to safety. While under way, the train sustained an intense air raid, setting fire to the train. Corporal Taylor was blown from the engine room yet he and all volunteers survived and re-joined the Battalion.
|Distinguished Conduct medal issued during WW2, during the reign of George VI.|
Lest we forget.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
& Member, Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign Commemorative Council