Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Stephenson

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Godfrey Vaughan Stephenson


Unit : 1st Airborne Divisional Signals

Army No. : 53662

Awards : Officer of the British Empire, Olav Medal.


Tom Stephenson was born on the 16th December 1912, and was commissioned in the Royal Corps of Signals as a Second Lieutenant on the 1st September 1932. He was promoted to full Lieutenant on the 1st September 1935 and was an Acting Captain at the outbreak of War. In June 1940, he served as a General Staff Officer 3rd Grade (G.S.O. III) at the War Office, where he was still based when he was appointed G.S.O. II and promoted to Major in September 1941. Promoted to Acting Lieutenant-Colonel in January 1944, he was placed in command of the 1st Airborne Divisional Signals during the following month.


During Operation Market Garden, he flew in a Horsa glider from R.A.F. Fairford on Sunday 17th September 1944, safely landing on L.Z. "Z". The Signalmen initially set up with Divisional Headquarters on the edge of one of the landing zones, but enemy patrols later forced them to operate from within the gliders around the zone. The move towards Oosterbeek began on the following day, and by Tuesday 19th September, Stephenson and his men were established in the Hartenstein Hotel, where they remained until the withdrawal on the night of the 25/26th September.


For his actions at Arnhem, Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson was received an OBE. His citation reads:


This officer has commanded the Divisional Signals since 12th January 1944. His work in training and preparing his unit before the commencement of operations was first class. As a result of his energy, a high standard was reached and the efficiency of the unit was well tested in the operations at Arnhem from the 17th to 25th September 1944. Throughout this battle Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson displayed drive and initiative and he spared no effort to maintain communications by all available means. There is no doubt that the work produced by this officer is deserving of the highest praise.


For operations in Norway after the War, Stephenson was awarded the Olav Medal.


As Officer Commanding the Divisional Signals, this Officer was responsible for all military communications in Norway and for the wireless link to UK. He had to deal with personnel of many nationalities and the smooth working of these communications was in no small part due to the hard work and enthusiasm of this Officer.


On the 20th January 1946, Stephenson served as G.S.O. I at GHQ India. On the 17th May, he held the same post at the Canadian Army Staff College, where he remained until the 16th December 1948. On the 8th January 1953, he was G.S.O. I with General Headquarters Northern Army Group, holding the posting until the 8th February 1955. From the 14th July to the 30th November 1955, he again served as G.S.O. I with the War Office. Tom Stephenson retired from the Army on the 27th April 1959.



My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.


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