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Today in History




Name: William Samuel Stephenson
Military Cross (MC)
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
William Stephenson
Country: Canada
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 73
Victories: 12
Born: 11 January 1896
Place of Birth: Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died: 31 January 1989
Place of Death: Bermuda
 
 
As a Sergeant in the Canadian Engineers, William Samuel Stephenson was badly wounded during a gas attack in 1916. On 16 August 1917, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was posted to 73 Squadron on 9 February 1918. Flying the Sopwith Camel, he scored 12 victories before he was wounded in action, believed to have been shot down by Justus Grassmann, and captured by the Germans on 28 July 1918. In 1940 Stephenson was Winston Churchill's choice to head British Intelligence in the Western Hemisphere. For his counter-intelligence work during World War II, Stephenson was knighted and received the Presidential Medal for Merit from the United States. His biography, A Man Called Intrepid, was published in 1976.

"James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is...William Stephenson." Ian Fleming, The Times, October 21, 1962.
 
Military Cross (MC)
T./2nd Lt. William Samuel Stephenson, Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When flying low and observing an open staff car on a road, he attacked it with such success that later it was seen lying in the ditch upside down. During the same flight he caused a stampede amongst some enemy transport horses on a road. Previous to this he had destroyed a hostile scout and a two-seater plane. His work has been of the highest order, and he has shown the greatest courage and energy in engaging every kind of target.
 
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Lieut. William Samuel Stephenson, M.C.
   This officer has shown conspicuous gallantry and skill in attacking enemy troops and transports from low altitudes, causing heavy casualties. His reports, also, have contained valuable and accurate information. He has further proved himself a keen antagonist in the air, having, during recent operations, accounted for six enemy aeroplanes.
 
Victories
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 22 Mar 1918 1505 73 Sopwith Camel (B7302) Albatros D.V (DES) Marteville
2 24 Mar 1918 1040 73 Sopwith Camel (B6421) LVG C (DESF) Poeuilly
3 03 May 1918 1230 73 Sopwith Camel (D6476) Fokker DR.I (DES) Ploegsteert
4 09 Jul 1918 1205 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker DR.I (DES) W of Moncheaux
5 16 Jul 1918 2000 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker D.VII (DES) Roncheres
6 16 Jul 1918 2000 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) C (OOC) Roncheres
7 21 Jul 1918 2000 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker DR.I (DES) 1 NE of Oulchy le Château
8 22 Jul 1918 1810 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker DR.I (DES) Bazoches
9 22 Jul 1918 1815 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker D.VII (DESF) Bazoches
10 25 Jul 1918 1900 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker D.VII (DES) E of Courmont
11 25 Jul 1918 1945 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) LVG C (DES) 2 Cohan
12 28 Jul 1918 1400 73 Sopwith Camel (C8296) Fokker D.VII (DESF) NW of Fère en Tardenois

1 Shared with Maj R H Freeman (D1918), Capt Maurice Leblanc-Smith, Lt Gavin Graham, 2Lt K S Laurie (B7874), Lt William Sidebottom, 2Lt Robert Chandler, Lt J Balfour (D8114), Lt W G Peters (B5449)
2 Shared with 2Lt Norman Cooper
 
Books
A Man Called Intrepid
William Stevenson / Paperback / Ballentine Books 1978
The Quiet Canadian
H. Montgomery Hyde / Hardcover / Hamish Hamilton, London (1962)
 
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