Sgt. John Stevenson

(S/N 5382330)

Sgt. John Stevenson aged 22 years, formerly of the 2nd Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (having returned from a tour of India in July 1940, joined 'A' Company of the 5th Special Services Battalion (renamed No.6 Commando) on 1st February 1941 reporting to the Battalion HQ at Cameron House, Arden, Balloch. and was billeted with the Auchterlaise family in Station Road, Dumbarton before being sent to the Commando Special Training Centre (STC) at Lochailort as an Instructor. Following a period of time spent at STC Lochailort Sgt. John Stevenson was transferred to the STC Achdalieu and then onwards to the STC Achnacarry where he was posted as a Company Sergeant Major (CSM).

In July 1942, CSM John Stevenson was posted to 'A' Company of the 2nd Bucks Battalion at Castledawson, Northern Ireland and in May 1943, following on from a fatal grenade accident that killed Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) East, he was promoted as Acting RSM (A/RSM). Later that year A/RSM John Stevenson was transferred to the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command Battle School where he utilised his significant special services training in the instruction of air crew in escape and evasion warfare tactics, reporting to RSM R.J. Coombes DCM. However, on the eve of D-Day, CSM John Stevenson was transferred to the 1st Bucks Battalion of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry at Petworth, Sussex, and made the D-Day landings early on 6th June 1944 via SWORD Beach.

CSM John Stevenson would go on to take an active part in the Battle of Normandy, Ardennes Offensive, Rhine River Crossing and conquest of Germany. He eventually finished his military career in the late 1960s as a Major and having earned an MBE and DCM.

The DCM Citation (14th April 1945) reads: “Company Sergeant Major Stevenson landed by glider east of the (River) Rhine on 24th March 1945 . The same night he was placed in command of a platoon of which the platoon commander had become a casualty.  The platoon was on the east bank of the River Issel.  The enemy was very close, and was supported by SP Guns.  It was quite obvious that the position would rapidly become untenable unless the platoon could impose its will upon the enemy.

Throughout the night and following day, Company Sergeant Major Stevenson took all forms of offensive action, directed to the domination of that part of the battlefield.  He succeeded so well that his position was held against heavy odds.  The enemy made several attempts to break in, but all were defeated.  Small parties which did infiltrate were promptly destroyed.  In order to draw the enemy’s fire and to manoeuvre them on to his own killing ground, Company Sergeant Major Stevenson repeatedly exposed himself without thought of personal safety.

His courage and cheerfulness inspired the whole platoon.  It was very largely due to his infectious leadership that a most important position was held under great difficulties at a critical time.”

Picture & Information Courtesy of Mr. Mark Stevenson