Monday, April 3, 2017

William S. Stephenson

was born on January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). 
In January 1916 while serving as a sergeant in the Canadian Engineers he was badly wounded during a gas attack. Upon his recovery, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 16 August 1917 and was posted to 73 Squadron on 9 February 1918.

Flying the Sopwith Camel Stephenson scored 12 victories before being shot down and made prisoner by German troops, managing to escape in October 1918.
By the end of the war, he had reached the rank of Captain and had been awarded the Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross. 

His Military Cross citation read; 
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When flying low and observing an open staff car on a road, he attacked it with such success that later it was seen lying in the ditch upside down. During the same flight he caused a stampede amongst some enemy transport horses on a road. Previous to this he had destroyed a hostile scout and a two-seater plane. His work has been of the highest order, and he has shown the greatest courage and energy in engaging every kind of target.
His Distinguished Flying Cross citation read;
This officer has shown conspicuous gallantry and skill in attacking enemy troops and transports from low altitudes, causing heavy casualties. His reports, also, have contained valuable and accurate information. He has further proved himself a keen antagonist in the air, having, during recent operations, accounted for six enemy aeroplanes.

During World War II, Stephenson would play a prominent role as the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere and was best known by his wartime intelligence codename Intrepid. He is considered to be one of the main real-life inspirations of James Bond. Ian Fleming himself once wrote, "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is ... William Stephenson." Stephenson passed away on January 31, 1989 at age 92.

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