WW2 pilot and social media star Sydney Stevens dies aged 98

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media captionStevie Stevens flew 29 missions during World War Two

An RAF World War Two Lancaster bomber pilot, who gained fans from around the world following a social media appeal by his friend, has died aged 98.

Sydney "Stevie" Stevens, of Saxlingham Nethergate, Norfolk, went on 28 missions during the war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 2019 his social media appeal featured on BBC Look East and sparked interest from around the world.

Mr Stevens died at the weekend. His death has not been linked to Covid-19.

Friends said Mr Stevens had been unwell for some time.

Electrical storms

One of the things he said he was most proud of was that in all of his 28 missions he did not lose any of his crew.

Flt Lt Stevens was in 57 Squadron Bomber Command.

The Distinguished Flying Cross citation states: "This officer has displayed great skill and determination throughout his tour of operations.

"One night in October, 1943, he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig.

"On the outward flight violent electrical storms were encountered. Although the air speed indicator became useless and other equipment was rendered temporarily unserviceable, Pilot Officer Stevens went on to complete his mission.

"His persistence in the face of trying circumstances was most praiseworthy."

image captionSydney "Stevie" Stevens lived at Saxlingham Hall Care Home in Norfolk

In 2019 his friend Clair Ling, from Saxlingham Nethergate, wrote a post on Facebook asking whether anybody had time to pay her neighbour a visit as he lived in a care home.

'Lucky to meet him'

Mr Stevens had a busy social diary thereafter with interest being shown from people as far afield as Australia who wanted to hear his stories.

Ms Ling paid tribute to Mr Stevens: "Everybody who knew him just loved him. If you were lucky enough to meet him, he was a lifelong friend."

After the war Mr Stevens settled in Norwich where he worked as a maths teacher.

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