Stanley Joseph "Scarlet" Shewell


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Scarlet Shewell

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Wings Presented at St. Hubert

St. Hubert, Que., 19 Dec. 1941 - (CP) - Wings were presented today by Wing Commander J. G. Kerr, officer commanding, No. 13 Service Flying Training School to graduates from many parts of the Dominion and the United States.
Men from Ontario in the wings parade included: D.R. Beardall, Weston; R.J. Bell, Leaside; R.G. Brown, Toronto; R.A. Carr, Toronto; W. Clymer, Toronto; J.H. Cook, Weston; G.H. Ferriday, Toronto; J.E. Fiegehen, Toronto; W.H.D. Hanchett, Ottawa; J.W. Hawkey, Ailsa Craig; J.W. Hoba, Thorold; A.A. Ince, Toronto; E.G. Ireland, Beeton; H.G. Johnson, Ottawa; W.S. Lindner, Norval; J.A. Livingston, Toronto; T.J. Masters, Toronto; J.A. McWilliams, Toronto; L.F. O'Leary, Seaford; A. Pensa, London; H.G. Reynolds, Windsor; S.J. Shewell, Owen Sound; E.J. Smith, Toronto; A.J. Stewart, Hamilton; J.F. Stokes, Toronto; F.W. Thompson, Windsor; M.L. Tushingham, Toronto; W.V.H. Webster, Toronto; H.S. Wells, Galt.


Stanley Joseph “Scarlet” Shewell (J/16103) was born on 13 October 1919 (Thanksgiving Day) at home on the family farm in Bentinck Township of Grey County, Ontario, Canada. Stanley was one of eight children born to Thomas and Margaret. He grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario where he attended St. Mary’s School and Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute.

Stanley enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in late 1939 and attended the Commonwealth Air Training Program. After reporting to the Manning Depot in Brandon, Manitoba, Stanley was selected to be trained as a "pilot" candidate. He was sent to No.1 Initial Training School in Toronto, Ontario and upon completion was posted to No.20 Elementary Flying Training School in Oshawa, Ontario. At the conclusion of this training, Stanley was selected for the fighter pilot stream and was transferred to No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Camp Borden, Ontario and [then to] No.13 SFTS St. Hubert, Quebec, where he received his wings on December 19, 1941. At some point, probably on leave after EFTS, Stanley married his childhood sweetheart Miss Mabel Warren on 16 September 1941.

Stan and friend with a Harvard trainer
Stan & a friend pose with a Harvard trainer. Probably at SFTS Bordon

After receiving his wings, Stanley was posted overseas to Britain in January 1942 where he was attached to the Royal Air Force (RAF) and commenced operational training on spitfires. It is not known at what stage in his training that Stanley obtained his nickname “Scarlet” but given his shock of unruly red hair it was inevitable. Upon completion of operational training on spitfires he was assigned to 249 RAF Squadron which was stationed in Malta. In July 1942 he participated in the 24th Club Run named Operation Pinpoint [1] where 31 spitfires were flown from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to resupply fighter aircraft and pilots to the besieged island of Malta.

During his 7 month tour in Malta, Scarlet flew with distinction with the Takali (Ta Qali) Wing of 249 RAF Squadron with Canadian mates "Junior" Moody and ace "Screwball" Beurling. In the book entitled Malta Spitfire, The Buzz Beurling Story, Beurling recounted the numerous flying adventures they had together defending the skies over Malta. In a newspaper interview Beurling also describes a battle where the pair engaged 16 enemy fighters while on convoy duty.

In early 1943 Scarlet was transferred, along with Junior, to the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) of RAF Fighter Command at RAF Duxford [2]. The role of the AFDU was to perform comparative trials and developed tactics which would be effective against the enemy.


Shewell, unknown & Bill Douglas on the wing of a spitfire during a lull in action at Takali Airfield, Malta. (Shewell-Meloshe collection)
They were also tasked to carry out a variety of tests and evaluations on a wide range of fighter aircraft, aircraft modifications and new equipment prior to it entering Allied service [3]. Testing and evaluation was also performed on captured enemy aircraft.

In July 1943 both Scarlet and Junior were posted to 610 RAF Squadron located in Bolt Head, Devon where they continued to fly spitfires and train for the D-day invasion.  On 2 October 1943, at the age of 23, Scarlet was killed during a photo-reconnaissance mission [4] when his Spitfire Mk Vc, named the “KENYA DAISY”, stalled and crashed near the town of Ivybridge, Devon in an area called the Western Beacon [5]. In discussions with Stanley’s brother-in-law, RCAF Senior Supervisor Francis “Frank” Meloshe, it was learned Stanley was on a photo-reconnaissance mission of sites that had sustained bomb damage when he crashed. He was scheduled to depart on 18 October 1943 for leave in Canada.

Stanley’s brother-in-law, Senior Supervisor Frank Meloshe, MBE, RCAF Auxiliary Service,
stands in the middle of the 3 men on the right. (RAF G.961)

This mini biography on Stanley was inspired by my visit to his grave site in 2005 as part of a personnel pilgrimage to honour the serviceman in our extended family [7] that never came home.  As time goes on, memories fail and history fades into darkness. However, with some time and effort it is possible, if only for a moment, to bring the past into the daylight and share their remarkable stories of dedication and sacrifice.  

Richard H. Pragnell


Sgt. Pilot S. Shewell Aided P.O. Geo. Beurling Drive off 16 Axis Planes
Canadian Air Ace of Malta, Now in England, Tells of Victory He
and Owen Sounder Had Over Axis Raiders

Owen Sound, Nov. 1942 — Sgt. Pilot Stanley Shewell, well known Owen Sound young airmen, who is now seeing action at Malta, receives prominent mention by Pilot Officer George Beurling, D.F.C., leading Canadian air ace, for his part in the victory the two of them scored over 16 German and Italian planes in fighting off a raid from the Mediterranean base. Sgt. Shewell is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wood Shewell of this city, while his wife is the former Miss Mabel Warren, also of Owen Sound.

P.O. Beurling, who is now in England on his way back to Canada for a well-earned rest after his 29 victories in downing enemy planes, describes the battle in which the Owen Sound flier took part, as taking place while on convoy duty last August 29.

The opposition was sixteen German and Italian fighters” he declares in a way easy to tell that this was a story he relished. “The fellow in the other plane was Sergeant Stanley (Scarlet) Shewell of Owen Sound” he said. “We stuck around and played around with them for a while and I shot one down”. “We kept on making dirty passes at them until they all beat it. I think they were scared after I shot down the one. They had figured we’d be easy.

Beurling hasn’t the usual scorn for Italian fliers, possibly because he hasn’t thought of it, but he has no respect for the Germans. “The Huns are yellow” he said. “Unless they have all the advantages of height, speed and position they won’t attack. Not one in 100 of them knows what it is to attack from underneath”.  The day he and Shewell fought sixteen enemy planes this entry appeared: “One 109 destroyed. Own hood shot away”. He hadn’t mentioned the damage to his own machine when telling of the battle.

Sergeant Shewell trained at Brandon, Toronto, Camp Borden, Oshawa and St. Hubert’s Quebec, where he received his wings. He went overseas in January.


Pal of Beurling Gets Promotion

Stanley Shewell  
Owen Sound, 5 Dec. 1942 — A veteran of the battles of Malta, and companion of the leading Canadian flyer, Pilot Officer George Beurling, D.S.O., D.F.C., Pilot Officer Stanley Shewell recently received his promotion, according to word received by Mrs. Shewell Thursday. Going overseas Pilot Officer Shewell has in January of this year, been reported in many operations at Malta. He received special recognition from Pilot Officer Beurling for his bravery when, as companions, they shot down several Italian planes.

P/O Stanley Shewell


Commissions Given Airmen Overseas

London, 28 Dec. 1942 - (CP) - Royal Canadian Air Force overseas headquarters announced the commissioning of the following Ontario airmen:
R.C. Payne, R.L. Reeves, J.B. Schults, J.L. Davidson, M. Pettit, J.H. Ballantyne, R.J. Elliott, J.J. Flood, E.J. Tucker, R.S. Eustace, J.P. Wheeler and T.E. Oliver, Toronto; K.H. Owens, O.A. Taylor, J.F. Murphy and B.L. Whaley, Ottawa; D.N. Row, Almonte; S.O. Hill, Port Arthur; W.J. Robbins and J.M. Morrice, London; D.A. Weskett, Woodroffe; J.H. Dowding, Sarnia; S.J. Shewell, Owen Sound; J.A. Hutchinson, Port Dover; K.A. Decher, Kitchener; H.J.F. Kerr, Russell; L.J. Tomb, Niagara Falls; W.B. Begy, St. Catharines; S.J. Abel, St. Thomas.


Killed In England – F.O. Stanley Shewell

Owen Sound, Oct. 5, 1943 — Son of Mr. and Mrs. Tomas W. Shewell, who was killed in England on Saturday according to notification received early Monday by his wife, the former Miss Mabel Warren, also of this city.  The popular airman had been flying in operations from Britain since last December, but prior to that time spent seven months at Malta where he distinguished himself in battle with great Canadian ace, George Beurling
  Stan Shewell


Air Casualties

Ottawa, 8 Oct. 1943 - (CP) -The R.C.A.F. reported tonight in its 701st casualty list of the war, containing 60 names, that eight men have been killed on active service overseas, while 21 others are missing on acive service after air operations overseas. Following is the latest list of casualties with next of kin:

Shewell, Stanley Joseph. FO, killed on active service overseas. Mrs. A.M. Ruthven [sp](wife), Chatham, Ontario.

([sp] Wife's maden name was actually Mabel Irene Warren. They were married and lived in Owen Sound.)


No Known Victories

I'd like to point out that Scarlett fought during the hardest part of the battle of Malta, the summer of 1942. He flew with George Buerling in 249 squadron when the Island was being pounded daily by overwhelming numbers of German and Italian fighters and bombers. By anyone's account, those Allied pilots defending Malta were either damn good fighter pilots or dead. The lack of any official claims should not take away from the fact that this guy was a badass.




Thanks to Richard Pragnell for the article, photos & newspaper articles

[1] At 0500 hrs 14 July 1942 Eagle embarked with its precious cargo of 32 Spitfires, with six Sea Hurricanes for fighter protection of the force, and sailed with Charybdis, Cairo, Westcott, Wrestler, Ithuriel, Antelope and Vansittart. The force was spotted by enemy aircraft at 0830 hrs and reported back to their base. Despite two such reports, at 0613 hrs on 15 July the first flight of eight Spitfires took off from Eagle, to be followed by three more flights. One Spitfire crashed on taking off; the pilot was saved but the plane was lost. The remaining 31 Spitfires in all landed safely at Malta and the ships arrived back at Gibraltar on the morning of 16 July.  maltagc70.com RAF

[2] Form 540, Operations Record Book, 263 Squadron, RAF WARMWELL, Summary of Events, page 148, E.R. Baker, Squadron Leader, Commanding. In July 1943 Shewell and Moody were posted to the 263 RAF Squadron from AFDU and then posted away to 610 RAF squadron. RAF Duxford is located near the village of Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. In February 1976it became an outstation of the Imperial War Museum.

[3] wikipedia.org

[4] From hand written notes and conversations with Stanley’s sister Pearl and her husband Senior Supervisor Francis (Frank) Patrick Meloshe, MBE, RCAF, Auxiliary Service - Overseas Headquarters, Knights of Columbus. Frank was stationed in Britain during the war and attended Stanley’s funeral in Bath at Haycombe Cemetery. Shewell-Meloshe Family Archives.

[5] The presentation spitfire “KENYA DAISY”, serial no.AB453, was sponsored by the Kenya Pyrethrum Growers and the Digo Local Native Council under ‘Buy a Spitfire Fund’ (spitfiresite.com). Spitfire production records indicate that the spitfire stalled and crashed near Western Beacon, Ivybridge in Devon, 2 October 1943 (www.spitfires.ukf.net). The Western Beacon is a hill that overlooks the town of Ivybridge; its peak can be seen from almost anywhere in the town.

[6] Photos of Stanley’s Final Resting Place, Stanley’s Memorial (Silver) Cross/wings/cap badge/lapel pin and Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Section courtesy of Richard H. Pragnell.

[7] R/85469, F/S (Pilot), RCAF, Henry Millan Russell: 218 Sqn. RAF, MIA, August 27, 1942, presumed dead.
J/88232, F/O (Pilot), RCAF, Jack Glen Millan Fisher: 192 Sqn. RAF, MIA, November 27, 1944, presumed dead.
J/92258, F/O (Pilot), RCAF, Maxwell Alvin Russell: 117 Sqn. RAF, MIA, June 26, 1945, presumed dead.
443040, Private, Duncan Daniel McMillan, 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, KIA, July 18, 1918.

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