Remembering Sir William Stephenson at Canada Day

Editor: Langley municipality has the best Canada Day Celebrations, with no less than two events — one at Fort Langley and one at the Langley Events Centre.

This year, the Langley airport-based Canadian Museum of Flight brought their replica First World War-era Sopwith Camel biplane to Fort Langley.

Here is where I started a series of conversations about the topic of Canadian innovators.

One of the museum’s experts explained how new air force pilots typically only had five hours of flight training in the Camel before being sent on missions into enemy territory in the First World War — this being due to the escalation of the war.

The death toll was horrible, with many pilots not lasting past their first mission.

But amazingly, there were the new pilots who lasted the entire war. These pilots gathered information quickly on their own, outside of their training.

And they often broke the rules when they felt it would result in their survival.

They often went out on their own, unauthorized, missions and flew the Camels up to 15,000 feet before dive attacking the enemy planes at up to 160-mph.

This was far higher than the 5,000-foot ceiling and faster than the 100-mph rating of the Camel.

This brought us to the second topic, that of the Winnipeg-born Canadian, Sir William Stephenson.

He also had flown the Sopwith Camel in the First World War and had scored 12 victories before being shot down and captured.

Years later he became an innovator and successful businessman and became worried about the Nazi govern ment after many business trips to Germany.

He more than likely remembered the horrible death toll of the war and decided it was time to innovate. His new method of winning the war was to gather intelligence and use individual operatives, which would be more efficient than the army. He is the real man behind the James Bond fiction stories and became the head of British Intelligence.

It is quite likely that the Allies won the Second World War largely due to the more efficient and less bureaucratic methods devised by Stephenson.

Ben Wiens,

Langley