21.07.1941 No.59 OTU Hurricane I W9112 Sgt. George "Geordie" Stevenson
Date: 21 July, 1941 (Monday)
Unit: No. 59 Operational Training Unit
Type: Hawker Hurricane I
Base: Crosby on Eden, Cumberland
Location: Lowther Hill, South Lanarkshire, Scotland
Pilot: Sgt. George (Geordie) Stevenson R/71742 R.C.A.F. Age 26 Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
Whilst on a training flight it is believed that Sgt. Stevenson became disoriented in low cloud and poor weather over the hills of South Lanarkshire and flew into the side of Lowther Hill, one of the highest points in the range at 2,375 feet.
The exact cause of the crash is unknown and it was not until two days after he had taken off at 18:10 hours from his base at Crosby on Eden that the wreckage was discovered.
Pencil portrait of Sgt. George "Geordie" Stevenson in the cockpit of his Hurricane by Scottish artist Kevin Moffat commissioned by a friend for Georges' nephew Andrew Smart
Sergeant George Stevenson
George Stevenson or “Geordie” as he was known to the family was born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire on 26 November 1914. Schooled at Darvel near Kilmarnock, he came to Canada with his mother and three sisters in 1928 to join his older brother who arrived in Canada some time prior, his father having died some four years earlier.
Settling in the Owen Sound area, George worked as a painter for four years until he secured an apprenticeship position as an Assistant Butter Maker for Mr. J.R. Dobie at the Meaford Creamery in 1935.During his time at the Creamery, George attended the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph, Ontario and gained his diploma in Dairy Chemistry and Bacteria expecting to return to the Creamery upon discharge from the RCAF.
George enlisted on 20 August 1940 at Toronto stating on his Attestation Paper that he wanted to be trained for aircrew as an Air Gunner. This was a little unusual as so many recruits enlisted to be pilots and ended up being “washed out” as Air Gunners!
After ten days at No.1 Manning Depot he was posted to No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario until 8 November
Last photo of George taken at Downsview with his wee nephew Edward Gow prior to his departure for the UK
1940. It was during this time that he was recommended for pilots training and on the 28 November attended No.1 Initial Training School at the Eglington Hunt Club in Toronto until 4 January 1941. The remark on his pupil report card reads, “Fairly good pilot material with good fighting spirit. Steady and can be depended upon,” with the notation that he was to be passed to No.10 Elementary Flying Training School at Mt. Hope, Ontario.
At Mt.Hope, George trained on Fleet Finch II aircraft accruing 65 hours of flight time by the time he graduated on 21 February 1941. The Chief Flying Instructor commented, ”Flying average, lots of intestinal fortitude, cool in emergencies, should make good combat pilot”.
George then had a short stay at No.1A Manning Depot, Picton while he awaited his posting to a Service Flying TraingSchool (SFTS). This would come on 5 March when he progressed to No.6 SFTS, Course No. 22, at Dunnville, Ontario culminating with the award of his Pilots Flying Badge on 16 May 1941 and promotion to the rank of Sergeant. The remarks on his report state, “Progress good due to effort, navigation only fair, an average pilot with no outstanding faults”.
A good pass mark, but with perhaps, a weakness that would later come back to haunt him over the hills of Scotland.
George was then stationed at No.1 “Y” Depot, Halifax and after 12 days pre-embarkation leave sailed for the UK on 4 June 1941.
Arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 30 June, he would be posted to No.59 Operational Training Unit at RAF Station Crosby on Eden on 14 July 1941.
Sadly, just 7 days later he would lose his life in the crash of his Hurricane fighter.
Photograph of the lands of George's birthplace taken from the top of Lowther Hill at the approximate coordinates of the crash site
Cross made and erected at the crash site by Jim Eagles of Ayr, Scotland a good friend of Andy Smart's who also commissioned the pencil portrait of his Uncle George.
We have recently been contacted by Virginia Elliott, Treasurer of the Leadhills Miners Library Museum. Leadhills is a small village located near the crash site.
Displayed in the library is a propellor blade retrieved from the wreckage of Sgt. Stevenson's Hurricane. Mounted and made into an umbrella stand, it stood for many years outside a local hotel until it was ultimately restored and donated to the museum.
Be sure to visit the Library if you are in the area.
George Stevenson, centre with friends. Location unknown possibly during training at Dunnville
Can you help with their identification?
Leadhills Miners Library Museum , Leadhills, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Wee Walking Tours Image
Sgt. George Stevenson. Carlise (Dalston Road) Cemetery, Cumbria. Ward 11 Section P Grave 15. Son of George and Margaret (nee Graham) Stevenson, of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.
Researched and written by Colin Bamford for Sgt. George Stevenson's nephew Andrew Smart and dedicated to all the family members.
Photographs of Sgt Stevenson, Lowther Hill, Memorial Cross and Grave Site courtesy Andrew Smart.
Photographs of propellor, coloured portrait and friends courtesy Virginia Elliott, Leadhills Miners Library
Carlise Dalston Road Cemetery photo courtesy CWG