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Podcast show notes WWII

44 Coffee with Sidney 'Stevie' Stevens Lancaster Pilot - WW2 history podcast

"I came out of the clouds and the German fighter was there waiting for me ...

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"This thing was bumping up and down and sometimes you could lose 600 feet and you'd just drop vertically ...

Flt Lt Sidney Stevens completed far more than his quota of raids bombing industrial Germany in 1943.

Fighting Through Podcast - Episode 43 Stevie Stevens

 

A WW2 history podcast

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More great unpublished history! WWII

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Hello again

I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall and by now you know what this podcast is about so I’m going to dive straight in.

A few weeks ago I picked up on a posting in social media from Clair Ling. She said

“I have friend a best friend he is a WW11 Lancaster Bomber pilot age 97 and is a very precious man, he is in a nursing home who are looking after him extremely well.

But there is just one thing he is lacking and that is having people to talk to.

I go and see him almost every day but was wondering if anybody knew of organisations or people who would want to go and chat to Stevie

He is the most interesting man I know, the stories he tells are amazing and you leave wanting to hear more.

He has visitors he is not a lonely man - he just loves to speak to new people

Well I couldn’t resist the opportunity. I’ve travelled quite long distances to talk to some of my guests but to have one on my doorstep was an opportunity not to be missed.

So, today I’m talking to Flt Lt Sidney Stevie Stevens of 57 Squadron bomber command. You’ve had a brief insight into his adventures flying a Lancaster in the intro.

Stevie had a mini stroke down his right side not long ago but he’s recovering well and certainly he’s good enough to want to speak to me.

So we’ll be hearing about bombing ops over Germany, how Stevie turned the tables on an attacking fighter pilot and a fascinating insight into the activities of the famed 617 Squadron the Dambusters who were based at the same airfield as him. And we’ll even hear how Stevie had targeted the same steelworks that my Dad once stood right next to in post-war occupied Germany!

 

Feedback

Thanks to Thomas Edwards

For sending well wishes ... I listened to your 75 D-Day podcast yesterday as I drove to work. I always attempt to hear any program concerning Overlord every June 6th. The raw power and emotion from listening to the testimony of those that were there is a true treasure.

Grateful for ALL Allied troops who went forward on that Longest of Days...

 

Thomas Edwards, from North Carolina USA

 

Esther Parnham,

My daughter Alison directed me your podcast including your interview with Wilf Shaw. My dad Bill (Willie) Wright was a signaller in the Green Howards and landed on Gold Beach on D Day.

One of the photographs shows Wilf with his comrades at Marston House. My dad, Bill Wright is shown in the photograph seated on the front row RHS.

Wilf also mentions a couple of amusing anecdotes about my dad 'Ginger Wright'

 

My daughter and I are amazed at how much Wilf could remember and how well he related it when you interviewed him. I am sorry we were unable to meet Wilf before he died in 2018.  

Our generation owe so much to those that served and fought for their country and especially the many who were in their formative years.  

 

Thank you for recording all that you do

 

Kind Regards Esther Parnham, daughter of Bill (Willie) Wright, Barnsley, England.

 

Esther thanks so much for getting in touch. It’s so good to join up another dot in Dad’s wider story. And of course your Dad was the Ginger Wright who got several mentions in Wilf and Fred Zilken’s episodes, one in particular I recall when he mischievously hit a sergeant on the head with a shovel!

 

Rachael Witham, UK.

I think my grandad Walter Dakin served with your Father. I am blown away that I have found your father's book whilst researching my grandads D Day journey, like many, he never really talked about it. All I know is he marched onto Hamburg, was shot in the leg and what happened when his best friend was killed.  I have ordered the book with great interest.

I want to thank you and your father so much for the opportunity never let the Green Howard's heroic role in WW2 be forgotten in my family and share the book through generations. Kindest regards. Rachael Witham.

Rachael, I’m so pleased you got in touch and I did reply to your Facebook message but I’m not sure it got through. Anyway if you’re listening to this drop me a line with your address and I’ll post out a brand new souvenir postcard I’ve just had printed to use as a bookmark. And that offer applies to anyone listening. The postcard has the FTP logo on the front and loads of photos of various podcast characters on the back.

And Rachael if you can recall the details of your Grandad’s experiences, I’d love to share them with everyone listening to the podcast – that’s about 6000 per episode and climbing.

Frenchman Sebastien Chaveron has been in touch

Hello Paul, I am a new listener of your podcast and appreciate it very much. I am from Dunkirk and my grand father was serving on an anti aircraft battery in the french army during the war. He arrived in Dunkirk in june 1940 but couldn’t get across the channel.

He was taken by the germans, and finished the rest of the war as a POW in germany. I don't know too much about his life during this period, and I regret I didn't ask much before he passed away. Your podcast is amazing, providing so many details about this period. It is an excellent addition to History, making it so realistic. Thank you so much for your work, carry on, and if you need me to help you looking for something in northern France, I will do my best! Sebastien

You know it’s always great to hear from any listener with a story to tell and it’s especially good to hear from French people. Do you know that French villages got absolutely blasted on D-Day and the rest of the Normandy campaign and some 20,000 French civilians were killed. And of course many French families were affected by the fighting around Dunkirk in 1940. So right now my little brain’s working overtime thinking of questions I’d like to put to Sebastien and maybe his friends. We’ll see what come of his kind offer. For now Sebastien, Au revoir et Merci!

 

From youtube channel

Sean Maio

My step grandfather, John Cummer, was a Gunner's Mate on one of the American Landing Craft Infantry LCIs that landed UK troops on Gold Beach (his ship was carrying the 50th Northumbrians). He retired an Officer and was the man who swore me into my own service in the Navy, and I had the very great privilege to escort him on a trip to the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

We managed to bring him to the place where his ship grounded on D-Day. Thank you for remembering, and for sharing your father's perspective of that historic day.

Thanks for that input Sean - great stuff! Those Marines were made of stern stuff and there's even a possibility your Dad escorted my own Dad's Landing Craft! So my heartfelt thanks for his contribution if he did.

What a job those Marines did. I know in Dad’s memoirs one of the LCA’s in Dad’s flight was blown up by a mine when it drifted off course during the attack. And often these craft made repeat journeys back to these shell-strewn beaches.

And Sean I wonder if you’ve read the story about Cpl. George Tandy RM on D-Day. He was Coxswain of LCA 786, 539 Assault Flotilla landing on Gold Beach. When his boat was being launched the steering wheel was accidently torn off and he had to steer without the wheel! He got the DSM.

This is the testimonial by his son from the BBC people’s war website.

My late father, Cpl. George Tandy RM on D-Day, was Coxswain of LCA 786, 539 Assault Flotilla.

When his boat was being launched the steering wheel was accidently torn off. Knowing the importance of getting his troops ashore, he climbed over the stern of his craft and steered the boat in rough seas to Gold Beach by pushing the rudder with his boot and instructing his mate on the use of the throttle, arriving only seconds late.

 

When he returned for more troops he was ordered back on board SS Empire Halberd to warm up. He told me that he was so cold that the tepid water they put him in felt scalding.

 

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts and was also told that he would be awarded the Croix de Guerre 2nd class by the French, although this was never received by him.

 

Later on he was greatly flattered by being guest of honour at the inauguration of the new 539 Assault Squadron recognised as being a missing asset after the Falklands conflict.

 

When Dad passed away after a long gruelling illness he was cremated locally, but we were requested to take his ashes to Stonehouse barracks in Plymouth. We were taken out on a modern day LCA, then transferred onto a Landing Craft Tank where the RM Padre said a few words over Dad's ashes and we then put Dad back to the place where he always said he should be at the end of his days.

 

CWGC podcast

There’s a new war podcast out from the CWGC called The Legacy of Liberation, as historian Glyn Prysor and heritage expert Lucy Kellett explore the commonwealth war graves of the Second World War, reflecting on the events and people behind various gravestones.

Interesting to anyone who wants an overview of the Normandy campaign, Monte Cassino, the famed Great Escape and more … There’s a link in the show notes.

 

Over to Sidney Stevens now– usually known as Stevie

So, today I’m talking to Flt Lt Sidney Stevie Stevens of 57 Squadron bomber command. You’ve had a brief insight into his adventures flying a Lancaster in the intro.

Stevie had a mini stroke down his right side not long ago but he’s recovering well and certainly he’s good enough to want to speak to me.

So we’ll be hearing about bombing ops over Germany, tackling German fighters and some observations on the Dambusters raid. And was it one of Stevie’s bombs which pulverised the area my Dad was serving as a police officer in post war Germany.

Stevie sparked into life the second I got into the room so no time for formalities and I have to say he warmed up even more as the coffee session proceeded.

Stevie what a lovely old chap you are and thank you so much for not only picking up the baton to serve your country so well, but also making time to speak to me. And thanks to Clare Ling of Norwich for putting word out about Stevie – Clare you and Stevie between you definitely get this months How Good is That award. And thanks to those other people who kindly offered their time to pop and see him.

 

 

Next episode

Recently I paid a visit to Normandy with my Dad’s old regiment, the Green Howards, now part of the Yorkshire Regiment and I want to share the experience with a commentary of some of the places we visited. I’m going to be putting some videos onto my YouTube channel and photos in the show notes.

And I’ve got some great music to share with you. Regular listeners will know I’ve been on the search for some marching music to use in the show occasionally and I think I’ve found it right under my nose, but now I can’t get it out of my head!

Also bubbling under is an episode on war poetry featuring a poignant poem from a young German soldier to his sweetheart- also something from a modern day poet who styles himself Yorkshire Prose. If you want to learn more about the meaning of Owt, Nowt and Goin Downt Pub, you must listen in because there really is some great material.

And I’m slowly preparing an episode on the 1982 Falklands war, so if anyone has any stories or tributes on that, please do get in touch. Hello to Mandy on that one if you’re listening!

 

WW2 and WWII

You’ve been listening to the Fighting Through Podcast, Episode 44 Flt Lt Stevie Stevens. Great Unpublished History

Thank you for your support and thanks so very much for making the time to listen to me. Please do hear me next time.

Next episode

 

 

 

For now, thank you so much for listening. Please do hear me next time.

 

 

PS

One final story from Stevie which came left of field after an innocuous question.

 

 

I'm Paul Cheall

 

 

WW2 and WWII, World War II and more

WW2 and WWII

http://www.Fightingthroughpodcast.co.uk

 

 

 

WW2 WWII

If you want to comment on or share what you've heard so far you can do so via the contact page at ftp.co.uk. Whether you're after social media or feedback you'll find all the links there. You might have ideas or even contributions to the show.

 

If so I'd be delighted to hear from you. In particular if you’ve enjoyed listening and you think other people would enjoy it, please rate the series on iTunes or your usual service provider as doing this does help raise the profile of the podcast in the search engines etc.

 

Notes:

Stevie’s wife passed away 16 months ago and played a part in the legendary dambusters raid on the hydro-electric dams in the heart of industrial Germany in 1943. They burst the dams using the famous bouncing bombs invented by Barnes Wallis and flooded the Ruhr valley.

She was a radio telephone operator in support of the crews in the raid and was involved in guiding them home and safely down onto the airfield.

Maureen was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They’d been married for 70 years and had a son, Adrian.

She also guided Stevie back from a bombing mission over Germany to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. That’s when he’d first heard her voice and fell in love with her.

Stevie carried on flying for the RAF after the war and took part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948 as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin tried to cut off the German city.

He also trained as a teacher and taught maths at schools across Norwich, including the Norman, Avenue and Earlham schools.

 

DFC citation:

Pilot Officer Sidney George STEVENS (149614),

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 57 Squadron.

This officer has displayed great skill and determination throughout his tour of operations. One night in October, 1943, he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig. On the outward flight violent electrical storms were encountered. Although the air speed indicator became useless and other equipment was rendered temporarily unserviceable, Pilot Officer Stevens went on to complete his mission. His persistence in the face of trying circumstances was most praiseworthy.

 

 

 

Crew names

 

Navigator E G Howes

Engineer Eric Blanchard DFC

Mid upper gunner J G L Martin – George Lee Martin from French Africa

Rear gunner John George Lee

Rear gunner Smith

CWGC Legacy of Liberation podcast Telegraph article on Guy Gibson Dam Busters Marine Tandy's heroic D-Day story Listen to podcast with Overcast Other players Sidney Stevens Lancaster veteran WWII podcast Sidney Stevens and wife Maureen getting married during WWII Sidney Stevens wife Maureen Sidney Stevens WW2 Lancaster bomber pilot Sidney Stevens and Paul Cheall - What fun we had Sidney Stevens Lancaster veteran remembers - WW2

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