Meet Squizzy Taylor. Born and raised in the slums of Melbourne, Australia, his early life was not easy. At the tender age of 7 years, his mother (Lily) drifted into prostitution after his father (George) was killed during a disagreement at the local pub. Members of the "Razor Gang" were suspected but never charged. Times became tougher for young Squizzy when Lily was forcibly removed to a sanitorium for the mentally feeble after suffering mercury poisoning from a social disease cure. Mother and son were never to meet again. Lily died of complications in 1900.
Now orphaned, the authorities sent the child to the "SunnySide" Orphanage, a state run facility for homeless and disenfranchised boys. It was not a happy time where beatings, kerosene baths, poor nutrition and 14 hour work days combined to make life intolerable and hopeless. It was under these conditions that a benefactor entered Squizzy's life, a certain Leonard "Toe Cutter" Thompson. Leonard, posing as a benevolent philanthropist, was on the look out for young, cheap and suitable workers to man his "operation".
It was during his employ with Toe Cutter that young Squizzy was taught the finer points of SP bookmaking, extortion, pickpocketing, blackmail, bribes, pimping and sly grog shops. In order to fulfill his duties, he became familiar with, and to depend upon, his weapon of choice. The cut throat razor.
He blossomed as a petty criminal and flush with money and dames, he became a man of sartorial elegance. What one would call a flashy dresser. His nickname, Spiv, was bestowed upon him at this time. Life was good but becoming increasingly complicated. After political grumbling about rampant crime, the Police were no longer (officially) taking bribes and the politicians wanted action. The net was closing in on Toe Cutters operation. It was time to vamoose.
At the age of 21, Squizzy set sail for England to escape the heat. War was declared not long after his arrival. This presented the young gangster with excellent opportunities to scam the military and make some real money. To become a vital cog in the war effort. Supply and demand. To join up was for naive suckers. And so he began supplying dodgy low grade linen and cheap, untreated wood to the Aeroplane manufacturers. Always with a complicated method of delivery so as to make it almost impossible to track the origins should worst come to worst. Which it never did.
Mixing now with the upper class, Squizzy was living the high life. At one particular manufacturing convention a visiting aviator by the name of Ridley-Smythe suggested he learn to fly. Squizzy was interested but when told the cost of private tuition, immediately baulked. Despite his wealth, the poverty of his youth never left him.
And so, figuring the war couldn't last much longer and dissent becoming stronger to end it, Squizzy signed up with the RFC for free pilot training. And I get paid! Anyway, it'll all be over before I even get to the front, he thought.
And so, on the 11th November 1917, Squizzy was shipped to the front as a 2nd Lieutenant in No. 40 squadron, RFC.
And then the story really begins ....