Academic journal article
By Wildenberg, Thomas
Air Power History , Vol. 48, No. 3
On October 8, 1940, Flt. Lt. William E. G. Taylor, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, arrived at Northolt Airdrome west of London for a press conference announcing the formation of the Eagle Squadron--the first British fighter squadron in World War II composed entirely of Americans.  Formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, Taylor had just returned from a mission in the United States, to procure carrier fighters and recruit pilots for the Royal Navy.  While in Washington, he met Charles and Robert "Bobby" Sweeny, who were recruiting American pilots to fly for the Royal Air Force (RAF).  The Sweenys convinced Taylor to join the new organization and the three of them sailed to England that fall. Upon his arrival, Taylor immediately petitioned the British Air Council for a commission in the RAF, while simultaneously resigning from the Royal Navy.  This was not the first, nor the last time that Bill Taylor would resign from one service to fly with another.
Erwin Gibson Taylor was born on July 4, 1905, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where his father, an officer in the United States Army, was then posted. When he was four, the family moved to the Philippines where his father was sent to help quell the native insurgents who were fighting for the islands' independence from American rule. While in the Philippines, the family lived in the jungle in a house built on silts. Taylor remembered little else about life in the islands save for a particularly gruesome incident that left an indelible image on the youngster's impressionable mind. As he emerged from the house one morning, he found the sentry assigned to protect the family lying at the foot of the stairs with his head cut off. 
Willie or William, as he was called by the family, grew up in many places as the family followed their father from one military post to another. While Taylor was in high school he applied for and obtained an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. As Taylor recalled years latter, "I was headed for Annapolis and the Naval Academy. But I went down to South America on a freighter and was injured"  He never explained what he was doing on a freighter bound for South America, but the escapade cost him the opportunity to attend the Naval Academy Instead, he enrolled in the Guggenheim School of Aeronautical Engineering at New York University. While attending classes, Taylor met two naval officers, who were actively recruiting fledgling aviators for the Navy.  Enticed by the opportunity to fly, Taylor quit school at the end of the second semester to join the U.S. Navy. He enlisted on July 3, 1926, and was sent to Naval Air Station (NAS) Hampton Roads for flight training.  He successfully completed th e course of instruction in March 1927 and returned home in Queens, New York, to await his appointment as an ensign in the Naval Reserve and the official letter from Washington that designated him Naval Aviator No. 4407. 
Taylor spent the next six weeks wondering whether or not the Navy Department would assign him to active duty. When his orders finally arrived, the young aviator was thrilled to learn that he had been assigned to join the Red Rippers of Fighting Squadron Five (VF-5), one of the "hottest" in the fleet and the only fighter squadron then equipped with a full complement of aircraft.  When Taylor arrived in Hampton Roads, he found the squadron was flying the latest model Curtiss Hawk fighter, designated F6C-3. The Hawks were among the first aircraft capable of dive bombing, a technique that VF-5 had developed only a few months before Taylor's arrival in July. That fall, VF-5 was ordered to conduct the first experimental dive bombing practice against a moving target. Taylor was too junior to participate in the exercise, although he took his regular place in the routine practices leading up to the experimental bombing directed against a large barrel towed by the destroyer Putnam. …