LEIGH MP James Grundy has joined a campaign to commemorate brave pilots and navigators of the Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRU), who served during the Second World War. 

Formed on September 24, 1939, the PRU operated highly dangerous, clandestine photographic reconnaissance operations throughout the Second World War.

The purpose of the PRU was to provide up-to-date intelligence to strategically plan Allied actions in the war, and helped to capture more than 26 million images of enemy operations and installations.

Using flying Spitfires and Mosquitos, the intelligence gathered was used by all armed forces during the fighting, giving same-day intelligence on enemy activity. 

The intelligence was also used in the Cabinet War Rooms and was instrumental in the planning of major operations such as D-Day and the Dambusters Raid. 

%image('13960695', type="article-full", alt="The pilot's intelligence work was instrumental in major wartime operations such as D-Day (Pic: Pixabay)")

Due to the clandestine nature of their operations, with pilots often flying solo and unarmed and unarmoured, the death rate was nearly fifty percent.

In spite of their brave actions, there is no national memorial to the PRU.  

The ‘Spitfire AA810 Project’ has therefore led the campaign to establish such a memorial in central London.  

Among those who served, and died, in the PRU was Leigh-born Sergeant, John Taylor, who married Veronica Taylor in the town. 

Joining up in the middle of the war, John trained as a navigator before being posted to 140 Photo Reconnaissance Squadron flying Mosquitos.  

Moving into Europe post D-Day, John and his pilot Charles Longley were tasked with a photo reconnaissance mission to Krefield and Duisberg in 1944 but were mistakenly shot down by an American P47 pilot.

Taylor, aged 23, and Longley, aged 24, died in the incident over Leuven in Belgium and were both buried in Brussels.

%image('13742548', type="article-full", alt="James Grundy MP has supported the national campaign")

Supporting the campaign for a national memorial, Leigh MP James Grundy said: 

“I am delighted to support this fantastic campaign to commemorate those who served in the Photographic Reconnaissance Units.  

"This includes John Taylor, who served admirably under exceptionally difficult conditions, and who ultimately gave his life in service of our country. 

"I look forward to working with the Spitfire AA810 Project to establish this memorial and I look forward to being able to pay my respects there once it is completed."

If there is anyone related to John Taylor, or if anyone knows someone who served in the PRU during the war, you can go the Spitfire AA810 Project website here or get in touch with Tony Hoskins at Tony@spitfireaa810.co.uk.