Bob Stephens was born into a Naval family in early 1924. His father was a native of Plymouth England and joined the Royal Canadian Navy as an apprentice engineer during World War 1. His career progressed between WW1 and WW2 but history records that Bob’s father played a crucial role during WW2 during which Canada’s navy became the third largest in the world. By the end of the war Bob’s father had become the RCN Chief Naval Engineer with the rank of Rear Admiral.
Bob joined the RCN in mid 1941 as a Naval Cadet. He served four years of WW2 with the royal Navy qualifying for a degree in marine engineering and operationally participating in Arctic convoys to Russia. Post war because of his high academic standing, Bob was selected for and obtained a post graduate degree in engineering. Next was an operational tour in Korea as the Engineer Officer aboard HMCS Huron. Following promotion to Captain, Bob was selected to attend the one year course at the Imperial Defence College in London. Following a series of demanding appointments, Bob’s final challenge was as a Vice Admiral being Canada’s Military Representative to NATO HQ in Brussels. Bob retired from the services in 1978. Following an enjoyable period in the commercial world in Canada, Clo and Bob emigrated to the UK taking up residence at No 9 Church Street in Madingley.
Bob played a significant role in the creation of the “Admiral’s Medal” established in 1985 and awarded annually to those who make outstanding achievements in Canadian Maritime activities.
On a personal level during his Naval career the Admiral was a devoted husband and father to a daughter and three sons. Yet in retirement he and his wife Clotilde experienced the ultimate disaster of losing children – their daughter in Mozambique and a son in the UK. They were faithful attendees at St Mary Magdelene Church in Madingley.
Whilst committed to the Navy and his family, he found time to publish in 2011 a most remarkable book on the history of his family. His personal collection of poems was documented in 2002 under the title “Leaves in the wind”.
Robert St George Stephens was a fascinating mixture – a warrior, a historian, a raconteur, and quite uniquely a poet.
The Admiral died on 9th April 2019 closely following Clotilde’s funeral on 29th March.
Written by Rolfe Monteith, April 2019
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