Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour

 

 

Stevie Stevenson by Fred Gray

 

It is with great regret that the AEA has to report the passing of one of the most accomplished members to have served in 9 Parachute Squadron. Steve (Stevie) Stephenson passed away at his home in Durrington, on 25th February 2019, aged 85.

At the age of thirteen years and seven months, he was enrolled at the Gordon Boys Military School, an establishment with a reputation for toughness. In 1949, aged 16, he progressed to Harrogate Army Apprentice School, as a 'Boy Entrant', before joining 9 Para Squadron in 1951. After his Para selection and a parachute course, he settled into normal squadron life.

In 1956, the Suez Canal became a major world event when the Egyptian President, Abdul Nasser decided to nationalise the Canal. The outcome was a war involving Britain, France and Israel. At the time, Steve was languishing in the Squadron Armoury and was not one of those selected for the forthcoming active service. Only by pure luck did he manage to get his name onto the nominal role of 3 Troop, who were going to take part in the parachute assault at El Gamil airfield, to take back control of the Canal. Many of those who had been detailed for the assault were apprehensive, but Steve could not wait to see action. Many years later, having left the Army, Stevie wrote a book, "Operation MUSKETEER", describing his experi­ence during the days before and after the assault. Personally funding its publication, he sold hundreds of copies, donating all of the proceeds to the charity, 'Help for Heroes'.

On the return of the Squadron in November 1956, Steve made the decision to attempt Special Air Service (SAS) selection. There were two other soldiers on Selection at that time, but Steve was the only soldier to pass, much to the surprise and awe of the Selection Leader, due to Steve's small stature! He joined 'B' Squadron at the start of a 17 year association with Regiment during that period he served in Malaya, Oman and Dhofar, to name but a few.

In 1959, he met his future wife Maggie, a marriage that was to last until his recent passing. Steve briefly left the Army in 1963 and bought a small bungalow in Gloucester. He became a Charge Hand in the Nylon-Spinners Factory but was firmly persuaded by his old Commanding Officer that 'civilian life was not for Steve'. The Commanding Officer's plan came to fruition and in the Spring 1964, Steve rejoined the Army and was posted to Germany to assist in the setting up of the Rhine Army Parachute Association (RAPA) in Detmold. After two years in Germany, much to his surprise, he was posted to Singapore to become a Clerk! This was not a position that suited Steve's skill set, and he applied to rejoin the SAS and once again, found himself on Selection. During the next few years, Steve carried out many tasks, one of them being part of the High Altitude, Low Opening (HALO) course at Abingdon.

Whilst carrying out the Chief Instructors role at Netheravon Para­chute Centre, Steve and Maggie purchased a plot of land on the River Avon. With hard work and determination, they turned a formal local 'unofficial' local tip into a magnificent property, in which to raise their family of one daughter and two sons.

During the period from 1972 to 1978, Steve was part of an elite team operating down on the South Coast. He left the Army in 1978 and was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal on the last day of his Service!

Once Steve had retired from the Army, he joined Control Risks - a kidnap and ransom company - set up by former SAS colleagues. During the next 8 years, Steve enjoyed a colourful and exciting career.

Not bad for a boy who was considered 'too small' at the beginning of a very remarkable career.

 

 

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