Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1945, Squadron Leader Ian Grahame Stewart D.F.C., A.F.C., 65 (East India) Squadron, Royal Air Force, was killed in action near Sognefjord in Norway.
The son of a banker, he was educated at Lancing College, during which time he joined the Officers’ Training Corps and was on the school’s football and tennis teams. In May of 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Artillery, transferring to the Royal Air Force the following year.
In February of 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service with 225 Squadron in North Africa, the citation for which reads in part: “Flight Lieutenant Stewart has completed numerous reconnaissance and bombing sorties in support of the army…superior forces of enemy fighters were encountered but Flight Lieutenant Stewart, displaying great skill, successfully returned to base with valuable information. His skill and courageous work has set a splendid example.” Promotion to Acting Squadron Leader came in January of 1945 along with the command of 65 Squadron at R.A.F. Peterhead, and two months later the award of the Air Force Cross. He had amassed over one thousand hours of wartime operational flying.
On the day of his death, flying P51 Mustang Mark IV rKH732, he was protecting a formation of Mosquitos headed for Sognefjord where a German tanker was reported to be sheltering. The tanker could not be located despite an extensive search of the area. In the meantime, German flyers arrived and what was described as “one enormous dogfight” took place with sixty aircraft from both sides participating. Squadron Leader Stewart became detached from the main force and was in a fight with Oberleutnant Fritz Kohrt, a veteran of the Russian front and Commanding Officer of JG5, and novice flyer Leutnant Eberhard Lemmel, who wrote in his combat report that he shot Squadron Leader Stewart’s plane into the sea. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Ian, from Alverstoke, Hampshire, was 26 years old and married with a two-year-old daughter.