25 August 2014

Article Review - Medal News - Two Gurkha Officers: Part II - May 2014

Article Review - Medal News - Two Gurkha Officers: Part II - May 2014

After the previous post on Colonel R.W.G. Stephens was published, a magazine I had ordered online almost a month previous finally came in the mail. It had a four page article on Robin Stephens written by Chris Bilham.

Review
Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens  (from Imperial War Museum)
Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens
(from Imperial War Museum)
The article was quite extensive and stitched together the scanty facts of Robin's life into a relatively cohesive whole. The author provided context to the various events in Robin's life such as the background to the Third Afghan War and the history of Camp 020. The article made a passing reference to Josef Jakobs: "[of the 16 spies executed during WWII] one was a serving member of the German Army and was executed by firing squad in the Tower of London".

I had hoped that the article might fill in some of the gaps in Robin's life. In some areas it did, in others, the holes remained.

A few interesting tidbits came to light in the article. The author stated that Robin divorced his first wife, Phyllis Gwendoline Stephens because of her adultery. Robin's marriage to his second wife, Joan Dowling, was mentioned but no date was provided for the auspicious event. The article provided a bit more information on Robin's adventures after World War 2, and his service as Security Liaison Officer in West Africa. The enduring mystery as to when and where Robin passed away, however, remains a mystery, as does the identity of Robin's mother.

Robin W.G. Stephen - Medal Grouping - left to right:  OBE, War Medal, India General Service Medal, 1939-1945 Star  France & German Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945  (From Medal News - May 2014)
Robin W.G. Stephen - Medal Grouping - left to right:
OBE, War Medal, India General Service Medal, 1939-1945 Star
France & German Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945
(From Medal News - May 2014)
The article also noted that Robin was awarded an OBE (Officer of the British Empire), an achievement that was apparently not published in the London Gazette. An image of Robin's medals was provided which was a very helpful piece of information. Previously, one could attempt to decipher Robin's awards from the above black and white photo on which his medal ribbons were displayed.



Robin's medal ribbons (close-up)  (from Imperial War Museum)
Robin's medal ribbons (close-up)
(from Imperial War Museum)

Based on the article, Robin's medal ribbons correspond to:

top row (l to r) OBE, British War Medal, India General Service Medal, 1939 to 1945 Star

bottom row (l to r) France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939 to 1945, and an unknown ribbon

Interestingly, Robin seemed to be wearing an extra medal ribbon on his uniform, the lower right ribbon.The only medal that appears to match the washed-out colours of the ribbon seems to be the Atlantic Star, but that was only awarded to Air Crews and seems unlikely for Robin. Another mystery, albeit a small one.

Review Score
4.5 out of 5 - The article was very well written and researched and included some helpful information on Robin Stephens.

References
Two Gurkha Officers, Part II - Chris Bilham - Medal News, Vol 52, No. 5, May 2014, p. 28-31. 

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