‘Tomorrow May Never Come’ is the biography of Lancaster pilot Flt Lt Sidney ‘Stevie’ Stevens DFC AE*. Stevie’s is an incredible story of a young boy from Devon who, as 19 year old volunteering in Air Raid Precautions in London, returned home from his shift to find his home completely obliterated through bombing by the German Luftwaffe. Stevie looked skywards and vowed from that very moment to become a Bomber Pilot and to get retribution for the devistation caused.
Following his acceptance into the RAFVR, Stevie had a fascinating and unique journey through his flight training programme. Sent to America and on the fringes of the Mohave Desert he rubbed shoulders with both the famous, and the glitz and glamour lifestyle of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Successfully gaining his wings Stevie returned to the UK and succeeded in his desire to be selected as a Bomber Pilot. Converting on both the Vickers Wellington and Avro Manchester ‘heavies’, he was then trained on the iconic Lancaster before his Operational posting to No. 57 Squadron at RAF Scampton on 1st May 1943.
Weeks after his posting Stevie (unknowingly at the time) witnessed the take-off of the historic Dambusters Raid by the famous 617 Squadron, also then based at Scampton, as he was held on the runway during a training exercise. Following the Sqn’s move to RAF East Kirkby in August 1943, Stevie completed 28 sorties – facing the gaunlet of flak and enemy fighters over both Germany and Italy up to the end of October 1943. Despite many eventful sorties, he paid the debt he owed and returned home safely with all of his crew on every occasion – something he was enormously proud of.
During this same time, Stevie had a wartime romance with Cpl Maureen Miller – an R/T Operator based at Scampton, whose calming voice over the R/T during Stevie’s training at Wigsley had captured his attention. He courted Maureen at Scampton, also posted coincidentally there in May, and who was in the control tower and guided Guy Gibson and the returning 617 Lancasters home on that historic morning of 17th May 1943.
Stevie and Maureen married, and having added son Adrian to the family, spent a near 74 very wonderful and happy years together.
Following Ops Stevie was immediately awarded the DFC and posted as an Instructor, still aged only 21. With the need for more night bomber pilots; and Stevie having displayed both his flying and leadership capabilities in the previous 6 months, he was selected as an ideal candidate. Various Instructor postings followed which were both still incredibly hazardess and full of incident.
Released from service in 1947 he remained in the RAFVR before returning home to Norwich, Norfolk where he trained to become a teacher and taught Maths at schools across the region where he was hugely popular with his pupils, who continued to write to him decades after his retirement. Following the death of Maureen, just a day before their 74th Wedding Anniversary in 2017, Stevie later suffered a minor stroke and spent his last years in Saxlingham Hall Care Home, Norfolk.
I was hugely fortunate to get to know Stevie and spent many evenings in his room overlooking the Norfolk countryside, capturing his story in his own words; complimented by the enormous wealth of meticulous documentation, letters, notes and photographs Stevie had kept or recorded. Sadly Stevie passed away in April 2020 during the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic – but alongside his son Adrian, we made the promise we would complete the book as his legacy and co-wrote his self-titled biography ‘Tomorrow May Never Come’.
The book will be officially launched on Monday 30th August 2021 at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, located at Stevie’s old RAF station of East Kirkby. We are there as part of their Lanc, Tank and Military Machines weekend where there will also be Lancaster and Mosquito Taxi runs, and I have secured a Flypast by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (subject to weather/serviceability). We hope to see you there and will be a fitting tribute to Stevie and his comrades!
To order Online please visit the publisher website here: (TBC WingLeader)
Signed copies will also be available directly from myself – please just use the Contact/Order form to get in touch with your details.