In the mid 1930's, William Stephenson, a Canadian businessman living in Britain, started reporting to anti-Nazi elements in Britain about the ominious military buildup of Adolf Hitler and his Fascist regime which he saw on his business trips to the continent.
Strangely, records of Stephenson's businesses during that period, such as Earl's Court and Shepperton Film Studios, have lost all concordance of company ownership.* Back in Canada at that time, Stephenson's relatives and friends - including his mother - stopped hearing from him. For the most part, from the mid thirties on - they never heard from him ever again.
In the words of Bina Ingimundson (1904-2004), Stephenson's cousin - " I really don't know what happened, with Bill, when he disappeared. He's the only one who's ever, completely, ignored the family. Whether there was some reason for it, I don't know. If there was, certainly my father never mentioned it, or nobody in the family ever mentioned it. But I know that he was concerned about the family, at one time. And ...we all loved him. We all thought the world of Bill...”
In summer 1940, new British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent a secret agent to the United States to try and get help for a beseiged Europe...
*The studio has record of Alexander Korda, and British Lion, purchasing the studio from Stephenson in 1946.
In this photo from left: Charles Farquhar, Julianna Stephenson (Stephenson's step sister who later died as a result of an injury occurred on the ship on the trip back to Canada) William Stephenson, Jane Farquhar-Olsen, and Margaret Farquhar.
All friends from Winnipeg, Canada - in London, England, 1924.
It is one of the last known pictures of William Stephenson before he 'disappeared'...
On the same trip Stephenson took this picture of his friends and sister in his car.
“I’ve also spoken to Alan Taylor (AJP Taylor Beaverbrook biographer) and there is no evidence Stephenson even knew Beaverbrook, let alone Churchill.”
Sir David Hunt in The Times of London February 18, 1989
"He was a close friend, a really genuinely close friend of Beaverbrook. No question about that. I've been in Beaverbrook's house in Jamaica and they were absolutely 'like that' he said crossing his fingers'."
Roald Dahl in The True Intrepid p.242
The Queen Mary struck a U-boat, Bayly was told and the Americans were gleaning information from it. This was not 'need to know' information that needed to be shared with Beaverbrook. Stephenson sent Bayly to chat and not tell Beaverbrook what the huge thump the ship felt was.
"I almost perspire when you mention U-boat and I think of me spending the afternoon with Beaverbrook and not telling him what the Queen Mary had hit"
Pat Bayly The True Intrepid p.321
On the left ducking out of the picture; Stephenson at Atlantic Conference in Newfoundland, in August,1941.
This picture has been described as the only time Bill Stephenson was photographed during World War II.
Re Quebec: "Well sure he was there...It would be very odd if he wasn't. When you say "at," there's a great deal of difference in being at [as] a member of the delegation, which he wasn't, and "being at," being called and coming up, or being important enough to say, I'd like to see you while in Canada."
Joan Bright Astley, Manager of the British delegation to the Big Three WWII Conferences, The True Intrepid p.223
Following the Atlantic Conference, Churchill stopped in Iceland.
With the hat – Bill Stephenson in the background (?)
Bill Stephenson - to the right of the horse (?)
(Hugi Hreiðarsson research)
“Great-grandpa Donald had migrated from Aberdeen in Scotland way back in 1780. He married another Scot, Jean Campbell. They had a son, William Victor, who married Christine Breckman.
Her forebearers came from Norway.
Billy was born in 1896, on January 11, the coldest day in recorded history in that bleak part of the American continent."
A Man called Intrepid
January 11, 1896 wasn't the coldest day ever in Winnipeg. According to newspaper weather reports at the time "...it was a typical winter day in Winnipeg."
The True Intrepid
William Stephenson was born January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, as William Samuel Clousten Stanger.
He later became better known as William Samuel Stephenson, born January 11, 1896 - a man called Intrepid."
For more info see The True Intrepid
The formative years of Stephenson's upbringing and family in Manitoba described in the books 'The Quiet Canadian', 'A Man Called Intrepid' and obituaries were proved to be fictitous.
The True Intrepid
William Stephenson and his extended family near Lundar, Manitoba in 1920.
Clockwise from far left: step mother, Kristin (Breckman) Stephenson, Juliana Stephenson, 'Lulu,' his step sister - holding Bill Hodgins, Johinna Hodgins, Lillian Stephenson, step father Vigfus Stephenson, Margaret Hodgins, Stephenson with fedora and Victor Hodgins.
Bill Stephenson's mother in the Icelandic Manitoban paper Lögberg-Heimskringla thanks two Icelandic Canadian families for 'adopting' William Clouston Stanger - and for taking care of him.
Hugi Hreiðarsson research
Back in Winnipeg
Stephenson later called stories of his can opener business, “apocryphal”.
Winnipeg Tribune, Canadian Press Wire story, July 7, 1954
An editorial missive from Stephenson sent to Montgomery Hyde, via Dick Ellis said “All references non existent tin opener must be eliminated”
Hyde file 1/6 Churchill College Cambridge, The True Intrepid p.36
Stephenson died in Bermuda January 31, 1989.
The media reported he had no family in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg Free Press, February 3, 1989
Bill and Mary Stephenson's grave site in Bermuda. No dates or years of birth are recorded.
George Johnson (former Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba)
“ I said to Derek (Bedson, Stephenson's friend) you know if you’re talking to Sir William. Tell him I’ve heard these stories of his origin, and I know the Breckmans and Steffannsons. And three days before he died, I got an acknowledgement thanking me for my greeting”
The True Intrepid p.118