Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Billie Stephens was 'WWII hero'

I refer to the Ulster Log (Saturday Review, May 19) and the feature headlined 'A daring WWII hero indeed ...'

Eddie McIlwaine wrote of 'Billy Stephenson', the raid on St Nazaire, his command of HMS Campbeltown, his capture and subsequent escape from Colditz.

He should have been writing of Billie Stephens. He was, indeed, involved in the St Nazaire raid, but was skippering a small motor launch on the port bow of HMS Campbeltown.

His launch was badly hit, Stephens ordered his crew to abandon ship and he was captured after the ensuing battle.

He escaped twice and was then sent to Colditz. He had the shortest sojourn of any PoW at Colditz - he escaped after three weeks.

Stephens' father was a timber importer. After the war, he rejoined the family business and became chairman of the Northern Bank and the Northern Ireland Tourist Authority.

PHILIP DONALD

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