Albert and Wanda Taylor at home in Comox. Albert was injured while parachuting on Friday the 13th in October of 1954.

Ominous date didn’t bother Comox resident

Albert Taylor had never been superstitious. So it didn’t bother him when told his unit, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, would be parachuting on Friday the 13th in October of 1954 in Okotoks, Alta. near Calgary.

That morning, his wife Wanda had asked him: ‘Aren’t you superstitious?’

‘No,’ Albert replied.

He was one of 20 men who would be jumping that day from a double-door C119 aircraft. Taylor was issued parachute number 13.

“It was my 13th jump with that unit,” the 88-year-old Comox resident said. “I was 13, 13 and 13. I was 13th in the stick.”

When the plane approached the jump zone, a red light came on. Everyone lined up with the first jumper in the door. The routine was to call out their number in descending order. The red light switched to green when the pilot flew over the target about 1,200 feet below. Everyone started piling out, but number 12 sat down in the doorway, with Taylor directly behind.

“I hooked my legs under his armpits,” Taylor recalled. “His chute opens, and mine opens, but collapses. He stole air from my chute. That knocks me (under the plane) over to the other door.”

With his chute still not open, Taylor landed on top of another parachute and slid down the nylon rope. From there, he slid off the chute. Using the cords, he slid further and grabbed his fellow jumper.

“We held onto each other. Before hitting the ground, I said, ‘OK?’ and he said, ‘OK, corporal.’

“We had a hard landing. I bounced with the ground, stood up and fell down again. I could feel nothing. He lay on the ground, groaning as well.”

Medics immediately arrived, loaded both men into ambulance and took them to the military hospital in Calgary.

“They took the chute off but left the packboard on me for support,” Taylor said.

X-rays determined his friend suffered a broken leg. Taylor fractured his back in two places. He recalls staff measuring him at 5 feet, 9 1/2” — before the accident, he stood 5’11.

“I was two inches shorter because of the jump.”

Taylor was also paralyzed.

He and Wanda were newlyweds on the day of the accident 63 years ago. Wanda recalls Albert had said he would phone when he got in from the jump. When he didn’t call, she decided to phone him. To her distress, the voice on the other end of the phone said, ‘Corporal Taylor’s in the hospital with a broken back.’ Her boss drove her to the hospital.

“I see his uniform has been cut off him,” she said.

Albert was placed in a Stryker bed, which would be turned hourly. Each day, a nurse would prick his toes with a needle, but he felt nothing. This went on for about three months, but one day he winced and felt the prick of the needle.

“She (nurse) said, ‘Corporal, you’re going to walk again’,” said Taylor, who had weights on his feet during those 90 days. “Those weights brought my height back (to 5’11).”

Wearing a body cast, Taylor underwent rehab for six months, after which his military duties were limited.

Before the accident, Albert had served in the Korean War. After the accident, he and Wanda spent a couple years in Germany on a posting. Later, they lived in Victoria, Whitehorse, Edmonton and Chilliwack. After he was discharged, the couple moved to Edmonton with their family. They have lived in Comox since 1989.

To this day, Taylor is still not superstitious.

Just Posted

A Tribe Called Red, Tanya Tagaq among artists featured in Indigenous music film

When They Awake coming to Stan Hagen Theatre for one night

CVRD moves to goal-setting stage for sewer service plan

Workshops planned for next week in Comox and Courtenay

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Comox connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Most Read