Every so often, an event occurs on ARRSE that’s better than watching Anal Angels II with a fully-charged slab of Wifebeater, a bumper pack of Pringles and an extravaganza-sized box of man-sized Scotties immediately to hand. The wife & kids are packed off to bed, and up and down the land ARRSERs both young and old settle down for a memorable night’s entertainment – at someone else’s expense. I think Johnny Foreigner calls it schadenfreude... or something.
Graeme Taylor over the years had enjoyed a life of dashing dare. Having been a member of the Parachute Regiment and the SAS he moved on to the RMP and then back to ‘them’ at the request of ‘their’ CO for the Gulf War. His skills were needed for a special mission that only he could handle and he has the shemagh to prove it (and at only $50 it can be yours).
Claimed he had his Canadian wings after having done an exchange ex with the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
Was in the Iran/Iraq war on a Covert Mission to form an Observation Post, and was GASSED
Taylor finally reached the dizzy heights of WO1 and had completed over 5000 jumps. After serving his time Taylor, like most ex-types, could not rest and felt the need to join the Association of British Military Parachutists (ABMP) - a club for ex-airborne members and chosen civvies to keep up with single-stick, static line military parachuting.
Taylor - with his years of experience in the parachuting world - was welcomed with open arms by the other members of ex-airborne fraternity – and how lucky they were! Taylor, over the months, then started to show some disturbing signs having only completed 3 jumps with the club - these pay-as-you-drop jumps taking place at Texel in the Netherlands and Estonia.
He explained his low jump tally was due to an old injury he sustained on a secret mission (you won’t read about it as it's Top Secret) and he decided he would be best placed doing the RSM 'thing' on the DZ - running around on the grass, poking his cane and barking orders at the new recruits to the club, at times getting very red-faced. He even packed parachutes. Taylor ended up organising several trips.
The students feared him of course and at the end-of-course piss ups Graeme felt it was time to produce his SF wings from his wallet and tell the young pups how he wished he could wear them again but strict secrecy rules prevented it... wink wink, tap of the nose etc. Graeme would inform the new recruits to the ABMP that showing this was their rite of passage to ‘the brotherhood’ - his special way of saying ‘you’re now airborne!’
However the real ex-members of the paras started to ask Graeme questions after witnessing cracks in his story and after more and more of Graeme’s ‘special friends’ started popping up like wild fire. When asked the most basic of questions Taylor would say ‘You won’t find my records because I’m on the Top Secret list’, then when pressed further he would claim the person asking the questions was a Walter Mitty and should leave the group.
This is where Taylor would leave behind the jocular, affable persona and take on something more sinister. He would actively work to destroy the reputation of ex-members who doubted him to the point they began to leave the ABMP and set up their own club: The Pathfinder Group. Now where has this scenario cropped up before?
An Insider's View
Rob Krott, former US Army officer and author of Save the Last Bullet for Yourself describes a typical encounter with Taylor:
Sometimes you meet somebody and the bullshit meter immediately goes off. Taylor is one of these. I bumped into a group of Brits led by Roy Mobsby on Texel Island in 1996. (Note: I consider Roy to be a good friend now of over 12 years standing. He is a REAL paratrooper.)
On Texel I was in the PH Bar which is the skydiver/para hangout on the island. At some time I was approached by Graham Taylor who alluded to service in the SAS. It was quite obvious to me he was trying to impress me and the other Americans with vague yet blatant references to ‘service in THE REGIMENT’ and allusions to spec ops missions in the Gulf War. This included references to his camo shemagh which he was wearing with a SAS smock. When I admired the shemagh he offered to sell it to me for $50 remarking: ‘It's authentic, wore with my team on ops in the Gulf War’ (or words to that effect).
By this time we (myself and friends) had pegged him as a bullshit artist and were avoiding him. At some point he asked about the upcoming jump from a Dakota and he responded that he no longer jumped because he'd hurt his back on ‘an op with the regiment on a mission that can't be discussed’ (you may all roll your eyes here... we all did). I should mention that I was jumping with several American airborne soldiers who'd suffered multiple injuries in the past, at least one of which only had one leg!
Myself personally had already - in the previous 10 years of airborne status - suffered multiple vertebrae fractures in a skydiving mishap: a fractured hip and dislocated shoulder on a non-existent PLF; and compacted/crushed vertebrae at the L4 and L5 from being run over by an APC. I had just put away the crutches after only 3 weeks after a disastrous jump in El Salvador (see Col Holeman's Para Pages) which bruised me severely and a landing 2 days later on a piece of rebar in Honduras which destroyed my jungle boot and damaged my foot, I was jumping against doctor's orders which required crutches for 2 more months.
I mention this not to demonstrate any physical fortitude (or more likely stupidity, bad judgement, or ineptness) but to explain our attitude towards Graham's ‘excuse’ as to why he wasn't jumping and his apparent lack of a true airborne ethos. If you are going to talk the talk, then walk the walk... otherwise go take up Bridge. I mean really, if you're going to organize jump tours shouldn't you at least JUMP yourself? And from all outward appearances he looked healthy enough. His ‘bad back’ didn't seem to bother him whilst carousing in the pub... but he was noticeably absent on the drop zone.
And those 10 decrepit Americans in their 30s and 40s with multiple injuries and missing body parts made FIVE static line round jumps in less than 4 hours (we had 5 pre-packed chutes each!). I don't know what is more ridiculous, the claim that Graham Taylor is a veteran of the SAS, or the idea that somebody would actually believe it.
The Rot Sets In
Taylor’s slow demise into ridicule started when he joined the Ex-Airborne Forces forum. The forum has been at the centre of a number of outings of high profile walts. Normally they are found out in a few weeks and chucked from the site and then thrown to the wolves on ARRSE. Taylor, however, cunningly managed to slip the system by claiming compassionate reasons for not giving the date he completed his basic Basic Parachute Course. He gave his number and the date he signed on but just not that (never forgotten) piece of information: when he earned his wings. When pressed the reply was always the same: ‘It’s secret!’ Pity was felt and he was left alone.
Then a few weeks ago Taylor was back under the airborne microscope and this time there was no escape. An image appeared on ARRSE’s magnum opus thread A Walt For All Seasons which depicted Taylor sporting ally trops and a set of wings. Surprisingly, Taylor was a member of the ARRSE community – albeit a not very active poster – and soon responded (using the callsign ‘Sec1’) to the critique with much venom against the original poster ‘THESUNJOCK’, who, it should be noted, is the real deal and has form for outing walts.
The Wheels Come Off
Now, obviously knowing ARRSE’s track record with dealing with bluffers & charlatans, one would have thought that our Graeme would have nipped this in the bud tout de suite and PMd various details to appropriate parties to halt the inevitable witch hunt. Instead, Taylor chose to avoid this course of action and immediately launched a counter-offensive against ‘THESUNJOCK’ who had become aware of Taylor on the ‘Commando March’ – an annual fund raising speed march in the Scottish Highlands that is organised by the ABMP. Taylor basically accused the accuser of walting. An odd strategy - but one that we’ve seen before.
Taylor was on the defensive from Day 1, confining his initial onslaught to verifying if ‘THESUNJOCK’ was on the nominal roll for the march rather than just answering the simple bloody questions posed by various posters. Not a good start, especially as he was (by now) well known. There was therefore not much in the way of PERSEC issues to hide behind as a defence against repeated requests for basic information. Taylor then stated that there had been three previous attempts to discredit him and that the FOC (Fraternal Old Comrades) and an unnamed government department were involved in investigating his nemeses.
Let the Train Crash Begin
There was much to-ing and fro-ing, with Taylor admitting being an ex-para (but not an RSM) and former RMP, but denying any SAS connections. He then denied any jumps at Texel and denied it was him in the picture with one of the worst attempts of plausible deniability seen to date on ARRSE (Yes I am [wearing wings] but it's not a beret it's a flag and Being honest that picture was taken some years ago, so I can't rember if it was Brit wings on that shirt, but probably. As to belt? It would be a 58 pat. The maroon is a flag that the blokes were flying.)... and then contradicted himself a few posts on. It was pretty bloody obvious to anyone with half a brain cell what was going on, but much latitude ensued – certainly enough to give the silly old bugger a chance to de-excavate himself from the rapidly deepening hole he was digging for himself.
Again Taylor was asked for proof of his claims, and again he would give the same reply - with the same reasons for not divulging that little bit of information he knew would uncover his walting existence. He continued to throw smoke and direct counter-allegations against the original accuser. Once cornered he claimed that the MoD as well as Tayside Police, APC Glasgow and the Atomic Energy Authority (for some bizarre reason) were all investigating an individual (another ARRSEr) who knew more than Taylor would ideally have liked, and guarded threats were made.
Pleas for sanity were issued. ARRSEr ‘reni 77’ summed up the general mood: Sec1 you’re running out of road mate. Either confirm, put up, or paddle far out to sea on a beer crate and don’t look back because this will escalate far beyond your own periphery. This will trickle into every caveat of your life over time so tread carefully! Sage words indeed. Walticide is one thing, the Curse of ARRSE quite another.
The Horrible Truth
Anyhow, after a week of this marathon the moderators finally got the information they needed via secure channels. It turns out that Taylor had indeed enlisted in the Parachute Regiment in the mid-1960s but was discharged before completing basic training (thus technically nullifying his claim to both beret & badge). He never got as far as P Company. In fact, Blue Peter presenters had done more time in the NAAFI queue and got to go on P Coy.
Once thrown to the mercy of ARRSE Taylor made the basic walting mistake of posting in his defence – and badly. He was torn to pieces. A very sad episode and one that had discredited Taylor’s reputation and somewhat tarnished the otherwise laudable charity work that he’d undertaken for the ABF and the Commando Benevolent Fund.
All this, of course, would have been totally unnecessary had Graeme not took this path. He might even have got away with it had he not drawn attention to himself in such a fashion. Taylor also made another error that's not entirely restricted to his age group, i.e. a seeming lack of awareness regarding the power of the Internet - in particular the unforgiving behemoth that is ARRSE. Conclusion? Sad & avoidable. Let this be a lesson to others that would choose to deceive. Next!
- Read all abaht it here