George Anthony Morgan “Tony” Taylor GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 30/10/1917 Moree, Australia. d. 19/08/1972 Manam, Papua New Guinea.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 21/01 – 01/04/1951 Papua New Guinea.

George “Tony”Anthony Morgan Taylor (1917-1972) was born on 30th October 1917 in Moree, New South Wales, Australia, the son of George Taylor, a businessman, and Eileen May Taylor (née Morgan). He was educated at Maitland High School and Sydney Boys High School. He began his career as a staff trainee analytical chemist at the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. On 29th April 1942 he enlisted in 2/4 Ordnance Stores Company, Australian Imperial Force. His service number was NX95673. Taylor was based in North Queensland until May 1945 when his company was deployed to New Britain, initially to Jacquinot Bay and then, after the Japanese surrender, to Rabaul until October 1946.

George A M “Tony” Taylor GC

Taylor was demobbed on 8th January 1947 finishing his military service as a Warrant Officer 1st Class. He then enrolled at the University of Sydney in March 1947 graduating with a BSc in 1950. After graduation Taylor joined the Bureau of Mineral Resources as a Geologist Grade I on 20th March 1950. His first posting was in April 1950 as a vulcanologist, based at Rabaul, overseeing all volcanoes in Papua New Guinea.

He was working for the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources when Mount Lamington became active on 18th January 1951. Three days later there was a violent eruption; a large part of the mountain was blown away and steam and smoke poured from the cerater for a considerable time. The area of damage extended over a radius of 8 miles, while people near Higaturu, 9 miles away, were killed by the blast or burned to death. The eruption would kill 4,000 in total. Mr Taylor visited the crater by aircraft daily, and on many other occasions by foot. Sometimes he stayed at the volcano overnight. He risked his life to protect rescue parties and to obtain scientific data on the volcano.

On 22nd April 1952, following a recommendation by authorities in Australia, it was announced in the London Gazette of the award of the George Cross to Tony Taylor. He was one of just five Australian citizens to be awarded the medal between its creation in 1940 and 1972, when it was replaced in the Australian Honours System by the Cross of Valour. Taylor’s investiture was performed by Donald Cleland, Acting Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, on 24th November 1952 in the Memorial Cemetery in Popondetta.

After the eruption Taylor returned to Canberra to study the seismographical data he had collected. He married Lindsay Grace Barrow (née Hudson) on 4th April 1956. They had two sons and a daughter. In 1957 he was awarded a MSc from the University of Sydney. In February 1961 Taylor was appointed Senior Resident Geologist in Port Moresby. Taylor died on the island of Manam in Papua New Guinea on 19th August 1972 at the age of 54. He was acting head of the Australian Geological Survey Division at the time of his death. His ashes were buried at St John the Baptist Church in Reid, a suburb of Canberra. A plaque in his honour appears on the George Cross Memorial in George Cross Park in Canberra. His medals including his GC, Pacific Star, War Medal 1939-45, Australia Service Medal 1939-45, and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are in private ownership.