THE extraordinary story of an undercover war hero has been revealed after he was honoured in his former home of Brighton.

Ronald Gordon Taylor, known as Ron, spent months behind enemy lines teaching rebels how to make improvised bombs.

They used these explosives to sabotage the transport of vital supplies as they were being taken to support Nazi war efforts on the front line.

Ron studied at Varndean Secondary School before earning a BSc degree in engineering from the University of London, choosing to study externally at Brighton Municipal Technical College.

On October 18 1939 he joined the Royal Engineers of the British Army just weeks after the Second World War began.

He quickly rose up through the ranks within the force and, as a result of his impressive service and advanced technical knowledge, he was chosen by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to take part in specialised training which would mark the start of his foray into covert operations.

Ron was posted to an RAF airfield near Haifa, in what is now Israel, and was tested in areas including parachute and paramilitary training.

A senior officer rated him either good or very good in all aspects of his training, but did say the operative “required further practice in silent killing”.

In 1944 Ron crept into enemy territory aboard an unarmed Dakota aircraft. He parachuted and landed in the Italian town of Canebola.

As he touched down, he was met by a particularly jolly Italian partisan who planted an enthusiastic kiss on each of Ron’s cheeks.

He was joined by colleague Lieutenant David Godwin and Corporal Michael “Micky” Trent.

Micky was recruited by the SOE in Palestine. His real name was Issack Michael Gyori, a Czech-born Hungarian Jew who could speak 12 languages, and he was key to the trio’s success.

The team were tasked with training Italian rebels in the use of explosives, which they then used against the enemy in a tactical operation organised by Ron and his colleagues.

Priority targets included a road and railway running from Venice to Austria which was being used by enemy forces to carry vital supplies to the front.

It was also used to transport “considerable quantities of war booty” which had been plundered by the Nazi and Italian forces on the front, as it was brought back to Italy.

The rebels used a type of small plastic explosive to wreak havoc on the enemy’s war efforts, leading to Ron being given a battle name by locals – Tenente Plastico, Lieutenant Plastic.

After three months of this mission operating successfully, a senior officer ordered Ron to stop operations and lead Italian partisans across snow-laden mountainous terrain to join forces with Yugoslavian rebels.

The revolutionary group trekked over the testing terrain for four weeks before reaching their target destination of Crnomelj in Yugoslavia, from where they were flown out by RAF planes.

For the remainder of the war “Lieutenant Plastic” continued to put his skills to good use, operating special operations air despatch missions from an American airfield in north-western Italy.

After victory was assured, Ron left the Army in 1946 but continued to work as an engineer in Italy.

He returned to Brighton in 1948 and, one year later married his sweetheart Betty Harding.

He worked in London for some time, commuting from his home in Hove, and was involved in several high-status engineering projects, including the building of the first hangar for a Boeing 747 aircraft at Heathrow Airport.

He set up his own engineering practice aged 59, acting as a consultant, and continued to work into his eighties.

In 2002, Ron moved to Dorchester in Dorset where he died just a few weeks later, aged 86.

Now Ron’s heroics have been remembered in his hometown as a plaque was unveiled at Carlton Hill Primary School in Sussex Street, Brighton, just metres from the house in which he was born.

The blue plaque was unveiled on Saturday in a well-attended opening ceremony. Many of those present were members of the Taylor family.

Ron also features in a book called Brighton’s Secret Agents by British war historian and author Paul McCue.

This tells the story of Ron, as well as three other Brighton and Hove-born agents who worked with the SOE.

Each one was given the instruction to “set Europe ablaze”.

Each of the four agents have since been honoured with blue plaques in the city after Mr McCue uncovered their hidden but critical contributions to the war effort.