12. Official Recognition

After the war, cities, towns, villages and institutions sought to honour those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. In Stephen's town of Ilkley, the names of those who had died in the second world war were added to those who died in the first.

Ilkley's memorial to those who died in World War 2. Picture taken in 2014, Stephen's name is highlighted.

In 1955 Stephen's former school, Pocklington, dedicated a memorial pavilion to its pupils who had died in both great wars. Looking at this picture of serenity, it is difficult to relate it to the horrors of war.

Memorial pavilion and Roles of Honour at Pocklington School [27]

It  is a matter of some shame that, after the war, the contribution made by Royal Air Force Bomber Command was not officially recognised. A planned campaign medal was never struck. Despite describing bombers as "the means of victory" in 1940, British prime minister Winston Churchill, did not mention the contribution made nor the cost endured by Bomber Command in his speech at the end of the war.

In June 2012 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled The Bomber Command Memorial located in Green Park in London. Then, in 2013, it was agreed that a Bomber Command Clasp would be issued in the same way as a Battle of Britain clasp had been previously issued. An application was made that Stephen be honoured with the Bomber Command Clasp. Eventually the news came that the application was declined as "his service was not with a Bomber Command Squadron". When researched it transpired that 142 Squadron was, at the time of Stephen's death, under the command of the Eastern Air Command. Furthermore, a letter from the Air Historical Branch (RAF) confirmed fears that the Bomber Command Memorial is similarly limited to those crews who operated from Britain. Bomber crews who operated from bases in North Africa, Italy, The Middle East and the Far East are not thus entitled to the Clasp and are not commemorated by the Bomber Command Memorial

It is saddening that the contribution made by Stephen, and his crew, continues to receive no official recognition. It is gratifying that Stephen's town of Ilkley, his former school at Pocklington, and the people of Polverara in Italy have provided fitting memorials that acknowledge his ultimate sacrifice.

As Stephen's nephew, I am determined that he, and his fellow crew members, will not be forgotten. Each year the Royal British Legion creates Fields of Remembrance. The main one is in the grounds around Westminster Abbey in London. Each year I arrange for a cross to be planted in his memory.

 

In 2012 Margaret and I had the opportunity to visit London to see the Field of Remembrance. It had been opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The scale of this annual memorial can perhaps only be appreciated by personal visit. This photograph only shows a small proportion of the thousands of crosses which are planted each year. Each cross represents a member of the armed forces who has made the ultimate sacrifice. The falling leaves of autumn seem to add to the scene.