Flt Lt Richard Playne Stevens - Nightfighter Ace

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Flt Lt Richard Playne Stevens - Nightfighter Ace's Geni Profile

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Richard Playne Stevens

Death: December 1941 (32)
Presumed dead Dec 1941 in Action
Immediate Family:

Son of Sidney Agar Stevens and Isabel Dora Wilson
Husband of Mabel Olive Hyde
Father of Private and Frances Mary Stevens
Brother of James William Stevens; Laurence John Stevens; Robert Francis Stevens; Philip Arthur Stevens; Mary Helen Stevens and 1 other

Managed by: Susan Mary Rayner (Green) ( Ryan)
Last Updated:

About Flt Lt Richard Playne Stevens - Nightfighter Ace

Birth: Sep. 11, 1909 Tonbridge Kent, England Death: Dec. 15, 1941 Bergen op Zoom Municipality Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

Richard Playne Stevens was the one of the most successful night fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. Now, he is the one of forgotten heroes of the RAF.

He was born in Tonbridge, Kent, England in September 1909. When he was 19, he left the Hurstpierpoint College after he won a shooting a cap at Bisley. He went to work to a cattle farm to Austarlia, then joined the Palestine Police. Soon he returned to England and settled in Shoreham and married with Olive Mabel Stevens, who paid flying lessons for him. His instructors felt, he had a nature sense for the flying. After many training, he got a job in the Northeast Airlines, where he flew air taxis and freights. Then he went to the Wrightways Air Services flying night mails and newspaper to Paris. In Europe, the situation began worse, and he gave himself with his De Havilland Dragon as a target over London at night, to test the searchlights and artilleries. On 26th July 1937 he joined to a RAF Auxiliary Squadron. On 10th April 1940 he was accepted by the RAF and he flew test flying for the air defences with D.H. Rapids. He had made many attempts to trasfer to an operational squadron, and on 26th October 1940 he was posted to the 56. Operational Training Unit. He had already more than 400 flying hours, and it was very uncommon amongst the other young pilots. What's more, with his 32 years, he was older than most of pilots in the RAF. Unless he was the oldest member. After a conversion training to Hawker Hurricane, he was posted to 151. Squadron to Digby. After the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe changed their tactic to night raids on cities, airfields, power plants, aircraft industries, etc. It was decided, that some of the day fighter squadron would have converted to night fighter squadron. One of them has been the 151. Squadron. The Squadron moved to Wittering, where they joined to the 25. Squadron, which squadron's Beaufighters operated with the new A.I. Mk IV radar. On the night of 15-16 Januray 1941 Plt Off Stevens took off from Wittering with a Hurricane Mk Ia (V6934) at 01.00 hours on an operational patrol; as there was little activity in the sector, he was vectored to the London area, where a raid was in progress. He noticed that there was heavy anti-aircraft fire at 20,000ft and climbed to the centre of the activity. At 01.35 he saw a Dornier 215 leisurely flying south, he quickly got into position and delivered a stern attack. The Dornier returned his fire and attempted to escape by diving steeply to port. Stevens followed it down and after a 15 minutes chase shot it down. The WAAFs in the control room heard a triumphant scream which was the first of many from this particular pilot. Stevens flew back to the capital and soon found a Heinkel over West London at 17,000ft, he closed to 50 yards and it a four second burst, soon afterwards he saw two of the crew bale out the aircraft rolled over and dived into the sea off Canvey Island. Once again the control room staff were left in no doubt of the outcome of the attack. When he landed back at the airfield there was great excitement at his debriefing - it was 151's first success and only the third time a pilot had destroyed two enemy aircrafts in one night.

On 4th February Stevens was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Stevens was a very experienced and determined pilot. His daughter had been tragically killed in a Luftwaffe night raid, and from this time the war became Stevens's personal vendetta against the german pilots. He had deep hatred towards the german aircrews, and he determined, that he would shoot as much enemy planes as he could. He frequently fired into the cockpit area, and often he took bursts into the bomber after it had not had any help. He fired so extremely close distance, that his Hurricane suffered damage frequently. On one occassion, he was so close to a He-111, when it exploded, his Hurricane was covered in debris and human blood. After he landed, he refused to have removed them. His fellows admired and respected him. He was a modest man and did not drink hard drinks. His tactic was the same: to fly where the AA guns and searchligths were active, search the enemy planes, get as close as it can and take hard bursts. On another occassion, he shot down a He-111. The german pilot tried to land with his damaged bomber, but Stevens was still behind him. The german was on his final approach, when Stevens took a long burst into the bomber. As he commented his action:" I helped him to the landing with his remained ammunition." Certainly the bomber blew up.

Many successess followed. A probable Ju-88 on 12-13rd March, two He-111s on 8-9th April (a double victory again), a Ju-88 and a He-111 on 10-11th April (the third double victory), a He-111 on 19-20th, another two He-111s on 7-8th May, and he calimed a He-111 as probable destroyed on 10-11th May. On 2nd May 1941 he was awarded a Bar to his DFC. On 13-14th June 1941 Stevens shot down a He-111, on 20-21st damaged another and on 28-29th July and 5-6th October he destroyed Ju-88s. In November 1941, he was posted to the 253. Squadron at Hibaldstow. This squadron was the one of the first which introduced the night intruder flight, flying over the continent to enemy airfields, to wait for the landing and taking off german bombers. On 12nd December 1941, he received notification that he had been awarded the Distinguished Sevice Order, but sadly he could not hold the bright medal in his hand. On the night of 15-16th December 1941, Stevens took off a night intruding with a Hurricane Mk IIC (Z3465) towards Gilze-Rijen area, Holland. But he failed to return. In the morning of 16th December 1941, the germans discovered a wreck of a Hurricane near of the german airfield, Hulten. The pilot was still in the seat in the harness. A Ju-88 wreck laid 600 meters from the Hurricane. This Junkers was shot down on the night of 15th, about 21.38 hours. Stevens had claimed 14 victories, and this was his last, his 15th victory. He got all of his victories without radar or any help! The germans did not managed to shoot him. As he followed his last victim, he flew too low, and hit the ground. Stevens was buried in the Breda (Zuijlen) Cemetery. In 1945 he was reburied at Bergen-Op-Zoom. He rest in grave 23. B. 4.

Bio submitted by Gabor Nagy of Hungary, 19 April 2006.

Inscription: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Note: 87639


Burial: Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery Bergen op Zoom Bergen op Zoom Municipality Noord-Brabant, Netherlands Plot: 23. B. 4.

Maintained by: IWPP Custodial Account Originally Created by: International Wargraves ... Record added: Dec 19, 2005 Find A Grave Memorial# 12727664



Flowers left for Richard Stevens

65 years ago, on this day, you claimed your last victory over Holland, and brought down another nazi german bomber, who had killed your daughter. On this day God called you, and now you and your lovely daughter are together forever above in the heaven. Although, the history of the aviation almost forget you, but you live in every peoples' heart who thank the peace for such men like you.Dear Stevens, I will never forget you!May Rest In Peace. - Gabor N

Added: Dec. 15, 2006 



He was a Flight Lieut. (#87639) with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 253 Squadron who at the age of 32 died in the Netherlands December 25, 1941. He is recorded at the Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery (23. B. 4). He was the son of Sidney Agar and Isabel Dora Stevens and husband of Olive Mabel Stevens of Barwick..

Tunbridge Wells War memorial: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Kent/TunbridgeWellsWW2-W.html


The Night Aces By Lee Brimmicombe-Wood

  1. 2. Richard Playne Stevens


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