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Paintings by prisoner of war Ray Taylor come home to Ermysted's Grammar School
9:00am Sunday 26th January 2014 in News
Paintings by a former art master at Ermysted’s Grammar School, completed when he was a prisoner of war, have gone on display in the library at the Skipton school.
Ray Taylor painted fellow inmates in Marlag O prison near Dresden, Northern Germany, during his incarceration between 1942 and 1945.
They have been lent to the school by his daughter, Charlotte Oxley, of Skipton, and her husband Ken, chairman of Ermysted’s Old Boys’ Society, who have had them framed.
Mrs Oxley said: “We found the paintings when going through my father’s things – we didn’t realise they were there.”
Ray died at just 41 in June 1954, following a stroke after returning to Ermysted’s to teach at the end of World War Two.
He started his career there in 1938.
He had volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1940 and the following year took over as second in command of a motor gunboat.
His vessel was sunk in the English Channel and he was wounded in the head and leg.
With other crew members, he clung to a raft, spending 12 hours in the water before being picked up by a German ship and taken prisoner.
Later, for the way he rallied the survivors, he was mentioned in Admiralty dispatches.
His story of gallantry under heavy fire was later related in the book entitled The Little Ships by Gordon Holmes, which outlined the exploits of the gunboat sailors.
Also while in prison, Ray kept a diary and a sketch book crammed with information about life in the camp, which his family still treasures.
On his return to Skipton, with his wife Joan, he resumed work at Ermysted’s and played rugby for Skipton RUFC, but continued to suffer from the effects of being a prisoner of war.
Ermysted’s head teacher Graham Hamilton said: “We feel privileged that Charlotte and Ken have allowed us to display Ray’s work.
“It is an honour to celebrate his memory.”
The pupils were shown the paintings at a special ceremony last Wednesday.
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