A Beaufighter, a Badge and a Bible

Having known Lt. Steve Stevens DFC.  I remain in total awe of his generation.  I met him in Wothing in England and Steve was 96 bed-ridden, in pain and weak – but he was no less the man, and this featured image says everything about him.

A Beaufighter

10419987_398890630280675_310774668078404600_nHere a SAAF Bristol Beaufighter TF Mark X of No. 16 Squadron South African Air Force flown by Lt Steve Stevens releases its rocket projectiles at an enemy target in the town of Zuzemberk, Yugoslavia.

The photograph was taken by Lt. Schonveld flying just behind Lt. Stevens (SAAF 19 squadron) who’s Beaufighter is in view while attacking a target in Zuzemberk Feb 1945. Schonveld was a keen photographer and positioned his AC in a perfect position behind Stevens to capture this epic shot with the nose camera, but he flew a bit too close and ended with dents in his wings from spent 20mm shell cases from Stevens’ plane.

This photograph is epic and being published in many writings. It shows the aircraft, fired rockets and target simultaneously in a perfect balanced setting, indeed very rare. There is a copy of this in Stevens’ book “Beaufighter over the Balkans”.

Both SAAF 16 and 19 Squadrons had unofficially mounted F.24 camera’s in the nose of their Beaufighters which took photographs during their attacks so that PR aircraft did not have to over fly later to asses the battle damage. The F.24 was a PR camera so it took really good quality photographs.

Written by Peter Dickens. Image Copyright: Imperial War Museum. Information Tinus Le Roux and Sandy Evan Haynes.

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