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RAAF October 25, 1945
|Pilot F/Sgt Edmond McLeod Stevenson, 432589 (MIA / POW, died, BR) Dubbo, NSW
Ditched January 13, 1945
Built by Supermarine in the United Kingdom as model FL Mk. VIII (Low Altitude Fighter). Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) as Spitfire FL Mark VIII serial number JG549. Disassembled and loaded aboard SS Ajax as cargo and shipped overseas to Australia arriving April 7, 1944.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Spitfire Mark LF.VIII serial number A58-419. On April 26, 1944 reassembled by 3 Air Depot (3 AD). Assigned to the reserve pool for the 14 Air Repair Depot (14 ARD) for coolant pipe repairs. On September 14, 1944 assigned to No. 457 Squadron with code ZP-Y. Nicknamed "Blondie". On December 10, 1944 assigned to No. 452 Squadron part of the 1st Tactical Air Force based on Morotai Island. On December 21, 1944 assigned to 22 Repair Salvage Unit (22 RSU) for service then returned to the squadron.
On January 13, 1945 at 4:46pm took off from Pitu Airfield (Pitoe) on Morotai Island piloted by F/Sgt Edmond M. Stevenson as one of twelve Spitfires led by Group Captain Caldwell on a mission against targets of opportunity on the northwest tip of Halmahera Island. Over the target area, this Spitfire was flying as the wingman for W/O Byrne with his radio transmitter unserviceable. He suddenly disappeared over Termate Island. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Immediately, W/O Byrne searched for this aircraft and spotted the tail section above water ditched in shallow water just off shore near Dyawboelaon on Termate Island. No trace of Stevenson was observed and he radioed air-sea rescue to search for him.
On January 14, 1945 during the late morning, Beaufighters escorted a PBY Catalina that searched for Stevenson without success and in the afternoon six Spitfires from the squadron continued to search for him.
On January 16, 1945 Spitfires searches for Stevenson continued without success. On January 17, 1945 in the morning, two Spitfires continued to search Termate Island without results. On January 18, 1945 searches continued with four patrol missions. On January 19, 1945 two Spitfires conducted a morning search without results.
Fate of the Pilot
Afterwards, Stevenson was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and possibly detained on Halmahera Island. He died in captivity on April 14, 1945.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of Stevenson were recovered. On October 25, 1945 was buried at at Morotai Cemetery on Morotai with military honors. Also buried that same day was Flt Lt. Benjamin B. Newman pilot Spitfire A58-654 KIA August 2, 1945. Later, his remains were exhumed and transported to Ambon Island for permanent burial.
Stevenson was officially declared dead on April 14, 1945. He is buried at Ambon War Cemetery at 28. D. 2.
NAA Unit history of number 452 Squadron - April 1941 to November 1945 (NAA: A9186, 137) pages 309, 314-315
(Page 309) "Unit History Sheet Sheet 3 Form A.51 Details of Operations"
"13 Jan - F/S Stevenson 1646 [take off] crashed into sea near Ternate and taken prisoner of war"
(Page 314) Operational Record Book (ORB) Unit History Sheet - January 11-18, 1945
"Jan 13 - F/Sgt. Stevenson, flying as No. 2 to W/O Byrne, suddenly disappeared over Ternate Is. They were flying at 5,000' and as F/Sgt. Stevenson r/t. was u/s at the time, no explanation can be given. His Spitfire was found by W/O Byrne just off shore in the shallow water with the tail visible, but no sign of the pilot was seen. All A. S. Rescue procedure was in operation and hope is felt for his recovery."
(Page 315) Operational Record Book (ORB) Unit History Sheet - January 19-28, 1945
ADF Serials - Spitfire A58-419
WW2 Nominal Roll - Edmond M. Stevenson
CWGC - Edmond McLeod Stevenson
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