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The Airmen's Stories - P/O E J Stevens

 

Eldred John Stevens was born at Brent Knoll, Highbridge, Somerset on 18th February 1916. He was educated at Kings College, Taunton and after leaving began training to be a chartered surveyor.


In early 1939 Stevens joined the RAFVR as an Airman u/t Pilot and began flying training at weekends at 20 E&RFTS Gravesend. Called up on 1st September 1939, he went to 1 ITW then was posted to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 18th February 1940.

 

 


With his training completed, Stevens was commissioned and sent to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum, where he flew Audaxes. On 23rd June 1940 he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down. After converting to Defiants he joined 141 Squadron at Prestwick on 25th July. The squadron converted to the night-fighter role at Drem and moved south to Gatwick on 24th October 1940.

Stevens went on detachment to Biggin Hill and Manston and at some time attacked and probably destroyed a He111 at night.

On 25th March 1942 Stevens was posted to 157 Squadron, then forming at Castle Camps. It was the first squadron to be fully equipped with Mosquitos. He was sent to CFS for an instructor's course on twins, after which he rejoined 157.


In September 1942 Stevens was posted to the Special Flight at Northolt to fly high-altitude Mosquito MP469. He took the aircraft to De Havillands for modifications and carried out gun and radar trials before being attached to the FIU at Ford. Stevens later moved to West Malling, attached to 85 Squadron.


He rejoined 157 Squadron in mid-1943. The squadron moved to Predannack in November and began anti-fighter patrols over the Bay of Biscay. In late March 1944 157 re-equipped with the Mosquito XIX and in early May it joined 100 Group Bomber Command at Swannington for bomber-support operations.

A month later the squadron was ordered to carry out anti-V1 patrols, flying from West Malling. Stevens was taken off operations in September 1944 after a four year tour.

He was made Liaison Officer to AA Command, 6 and 9 Groups. Shortly afterwards, Stevens was posted to Canada, to instruct on Mosquito single-engined flying at North Bay. He was subsequently appointed CO of the Ferry Unit at Dorval, Montreal.


Released from the RAF in December 1945, as a Squadron Leader, Stevens later went to live in France.

He died there on 13th February 1991 after a short sudden illness.

 



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