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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. M M Stephens

 

Maurice Michael Stephens was born at Ranchi, India on 20th October 1919 and educated at Xaverian College, Mayfield, Sussex. He entered the RAF College Cranwell in September 1938. The course was shortened because of the war and Stephens graduated in December 1939 and joined 3 Squadron at Hawkinge in February 1940.


On 10th May the squadron went to France. Stephens claimed two Ju87's and a Do17 destroyed on the 12th, a Me109, a Ju87 and a Hs126 on the 14th, a Do17 on the 18th and a Do17 destroyed and a Hs126 and three other enemy aircraft damaged on the 20th. Stephens was made a Flight Commander on the 18th.

The squadron was withdrawn to Kenley on the 25th and went north to Wick.

Stephens was awarded the DFC and Bar (gazetted 31st May 1940).

 

 

In July 1940 Stephens flight moved to Sumburgh, was renumbered 232 Squadron on the 17th and he was promoted to take command. On 23rd August he shared in destroying a He111 eight miles west of Fair Isle, the squadron's first victory. Stephens was posted away on 30th September.


In December he volunteered for Greece and embarked on HMS Furious. On arrival in the Middle East he was diverted to the Western Desert and attached to 274 Squadron on 5th February 1941. After a while Stephens was posted to Turkey and flew with a Turkish Hurricane Squadron near the Bulgarian border. He probably destroyed two SM84's whilst there.


He returned to the Western Desert in November 1941 to command 80 Squadron. On 9th December Stephens was shot down in flames, wounded in both feet. He was about to bale out when the aircraft who had attacked him, probably a Me109 flew past. Stephens slipped back into the cockpit and shot it down. He then baled out and was picked up by Polish troops, who took him to Tobruk.

Stephens was awarded the DSO (gazetted 20th January 1942).


Fit again by March 1942, he was posted to HQ RAF East Africa at Nairobi. In August 1942 he returned to the Middle East and was attached to the US 57th Pursuit Group, training on P-40 Kittyhawks in Palestine. Stephens volunteered for Malta and was posted to 249 Squadron at Ta Kali in early October 1942.


On the 10th he probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged another, on the 12th destroyed a Me109 and shared another and on the 13th he destroyed a Ju88 and a Mc202 and shared another.


Stephens took command of 229 Squadron on 14th October 1942 and on that day claimed a Re2001 destroyed and two Ju88's damaged. On the 15th he destroyed a Ju88 and a Me109 but in the action his Spitfire, BR562, was damaged and he made a crash-landing on Ta Kali airfield. On the 18th he damaged a Me109.

Stephens was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 3rd November 1942) and took command of the Hal Far Wing.


He returned to the UK in June 1943 and went on a course at the Empire Central Flying School, Hullavington after which he was appointed CFI at 3 OTU in January 1944.

Stephens went to the USA in April 1945 on liaison duties.


He retired from the RAF on 10th November 1960 as a Group Captain.

He went on to work for Rolls-Royce, on retiring from them he settled in France but returned to the UK shortly before he died on 23rd September 2004.

 


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