In November 1950, Stephen's father received a small box in the post. The labeling indicates it had come from the Air Ministry. The box contained four medals which had been posthumously awarded to Stephen.

1939-45 Star

Italy Star

Defence Medal

War Medal 1939-45

It would seem that Stephen's parents were able to choose the inscription for his gravestone but that they never visited Italy to see his grave. In addition, Stephen's twin sister Margaret always longed to visit the grave and there exists a document in her hand writing where she has written notes on the location of the grave and also of the village of Polverara. In the event and despite visiting the Italian Lakes region, she didn't achieve her ambition.

Some years after the war very good friends of the family, Muriel Gordon and Betty Ward, were the first to visit Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa on behalf of the family. It seems that Stephen's mother had provided written details of the grave. Muriel wrote a letter dated August 14th (the post mark on the envelope is unclear but may be 1959) from the Grand Hotel Villa Balbi, Sestri-Levante. The letter is addressed to Stephen's mother only<>father had died in 1953. The letter also makes reference to the fact that the trip would have been too much for her; Stephen's mother suffered poor health in her later life. A second (registered) letter then enclosed four photographs of the cemetery and also a pressed flower taken from the foot of Stephen's gravestone.

 

 

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 world wars. Stephen's mother contributed towards its cost.  Looking at this picture of serenity, it is difficult to relate it to the horrors of war.  Between the two roles of honour, one for each world war, is the dedication "YOU THAT LIVE ON MID ENGLISH PASTURES GREEN REMEMBER US, AND THINK WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN".

 

It is a matter of national shame that, after the war, the contribution made by Royal Air Force bomber crews was not officially recognised.  A planned campaign medal was never struck.  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his famous speech to Parliament on 20th August 1940 in which he referred to members of Fighter Command as "the few".  He went on to recognise bombing as "the roads to victory".  At the end of the war, however, he did not mention the contribution made nor the cost endured by bomber crews.

Bomber Command was ultimatley honoured in June 2012 when 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 accordingly made that Stephen be honoured with the 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, who wore RAF uniform and flew in an RAF aircraft, continue to receive no official national recognition.

Each year the Royal British Legion creates Fields of Remembrance. The main one is in the grounds around Westminster Abbey in London. I am determined that Stephen will be remembered and I arrange for a cross to be planted in his memory.


As Stephen's nephew I visited Italy in 1997 to visit his grave and the place of his death as part of my research into his death.  I was subsequently invited to return in 2013 for the 70th Anniversary Commemorations.  Recognising the need to produce a permanent record I have also published a book.  The following links take you to the associated pages: