A. H. “Pete” Stevens

Dr. (Lieutenant Colonel) Arnott Hume “Pete” Stevens, MD

1919-1985

Yopung Canadian Army officer wearing a kilt in a formal seated portrait. Lieutenant A. H. (Pete) Stevens, Essex Scottish Regiment in Toronto, back from the UK at the end of 1944 for medical treatment. Photo was taken in early 1945.
Lieutenant A. H. (Pete) Stevens, Essex Scottish Regiment in Toronto, back from the UK at the end of 1944 for medical treatment. Photo was taken in early 1945.

My father was born in St. Catharines, Ontario. Although his legal name was Arnott Hume Stevens, he was known as “Pete” to everyone including his parents and his wife even though it was not one of his legal names. He also added the ancestral name MacGregor informally at some point. 

Why did he chose “Pete” when it was not one of his actual names? He told me that when he was a young child, a school friend would stop by the house on the way to school and call out to him, yelling “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr-nut! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr-nut!”  Dad said “Call me Pete.” Surprisingly, he was universally known as “Pete”, even to his parents!

He served as a cadet drummer with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, then was commissioned as an officer with them by 1939. He served with them in St. Catharines, Ontario, Nanaimo BC and overseas in Newfoundland which was not yet a part of Canada. 

Two officers standing in uniform on the dock. Army ttruck behind them Officer on right with helmet and respirator (gas mask) etc. On the dock at Nanaimo. With the Lincoln and Welland Regiment on the dock at Nanaimo, British Columbia circa 1942 - Lieutenant A. H. Stevens on the right.
With the Lincoln and Welland Regiment on the dock at Nanaimo, British Columbia circa 1942 – Lieutenant A. H. Stevens on the right.
WWII Canadian Army officer leaning against his mopotorcycle. Lieutenant A. H. (Pete) STEVENS Lincoln and Welland Regiment. 1942 in Newfoundland with his new Harley-Davidson WLC motorcycle DND number 42-1-5561
Lieutenant A. H. (Pete) STEVENS Lincoln and Welland Regiment. 1942 in Newfoundland with his new Harley-Davidson WLC motorcycle DND number 42-1-5561

He became Aide-de-Camp to General Page, General Officer  Commanding “W” Force (of the Canadian Army) in Newfoundland.

Young officer typing at a code or cypher machine. Lieutenant A. H. Stevens typing on a code or cypher machine (?) - X in Saint John's, Newfoundland in 1942. At Winterholme, with Force "W" Headquarters.
Lieutenant A. H. Stevens typing on a code or cypher machine (?) – X in Saint John’s, Newfoundland in 1942. At Winterholme, with Force “W” Headquarters.

Photo  captioned simply as “X” in his album. Machine appears to be a cryptographic machine. He was

authorized to photograph anything that he wished.

CONVOY 24 March 1942 on board H.M.C.S. Malpeque. Photos by Lieutenant (Army) A. H. (“Pete”) Stevens, Lincoln and Welland Regiment.

Anxious for action, like so many young soldiers at the time, he transferred to the Essex Scottish Regiment which had lost virtually all of its officers at the Dieppe Raid in August 1942. Dad was especially happy that this regiment, originating in Windsor Ontario near where his mother’s family came from, wore the tartan of the Macgregor Clan – which is one of our ancestral families.

Formal group portrait of the officers of the Essex Scottish Regiment, taken in 1943 in England. They has rebuilt the regiment after the heavy losses at Dieppe in August, 1942. Essex Scottish Officers in 1943 - Lieutenant A. H. Stevens is in the back row, 6th from the left. Lieutenant Freddy Tilston is 8th from the left. Tilston later was awarded the Victoria Cross for extreme bravery in battle.
Essex Scottish Officers in 1943 – Lieutenant A. H. Stevens is in the back row, 6th from the left. Lieutenant Freddy Tilston is 8th from the left. Tilston later was awarded the Victoria Cross for extreme bravery in battle.

Brown World War 2 Canadian army battledress jacket and hat. Lieutenant A H Stevens Battledress (1 of 2) Essex Scottish 2nd Canadian Division 1943
Lieutenant A H Stevens Battledress (1 of 2) Essex Scottish 2nd Canadian Division 1943
Photo of two Canadian World War II army officers in uniform standing in a scottish garden. 1943 July Lieutenant A. H. Stevens & his uncle Eric at Nairn, Invernesshire
1943 July Lieutenant A. H. Stevens & his uncle Eric at Nairn, Invernesshire
Lieutenant A. H. Stevens in the U.K. 1943 with Dieppe rifle
Lieutenant A. H. Stevens in the U.K. 1943 with Dieppe rifle

Lieutenant (pronounced “lef-tenant” in Canadian and British armies) A. H. Stevens in 1943 while doing battle  training in England. The rifle is a 1918 Lee Enfield SMLE (No. 1 Mk. III*) which had been used on the Dieppe Raid in August 1942 by the Essex Scottish, brought back by a wounded survivor, found, written off, and then got working by Dad. He had been trained in marksmanship by his father Capt. W.A. Stevens who had been a Musketry Officer in WWI fir the 2nd Canadian Division and the Royal Flying Corps (Canada). Dad carried this rifle in preference to an issued Thompson Sub-machine Gun  for several reasons. The rifle was lighter, more accurate and he would not stand out to enemy snipers as an officer as much. He then carried it in training (shown above) and on operation(s) with No. 4 Commando when he was attached to them.  This rifle, sling, P1907 bayonet, scabbard and frog were brought back home in 1944 and are still in the family.

Brown World War 2 Canadian army battledress jacket and hat. Lieutenant A H Stevens Battledress (1 of 2) Essex Scottish 2nd Canadian Division 1943
Lieutenant A H Stevens Battledress (1 of 2) Essex Scottish 2nd Canadian Division 1943

In 1943 he was attached to No. 4 Commando and was wounded in September 1943 on a small Commando raid near St. Pierre Èglise on the Cherbourg Peninsula in France, West of the future D-Day invasion beach codenamed UTAH. As he was getting back into the landing craft, he was hit in a leg by a piece of shrapnel. This wound eventually took him off active duty and limited his career options as a surgeon.

 

 

Lt AH Stevens 1943 CO Patch as issued JPEG

 Combined Operations patch issued to my father in 1943 and which he kept as a souvenir. This is the “as issued” Naval trades badge ‘in the standard tombstone’ shape. Army Commando soldiers usually trimmed these to a circle shape. These C.O. patches were worn  in pairs, with the Tommy gun pointing forward. The one shown above is for the left arm. The bird symbolizes the air force, the anchor the navy and the Tommy gun the army – all working together as “Combined Operations”. 

Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife carried by Lieutenant A. H. Stevens of St. Catharines, Ontario. This is a knurled grip model, made by Wilkinson Sword, and with his name on the blade in a scroll.
Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife carried by Lieutenant A. H. Stevens of St. Catharines, Ontario. This is a knurled grip model, made by Wilkinson Sword, and with his name on the blade in a scroll.

 Dad’s Wilkinson F-S Fighting Knife that he was issued while serving with No. 4 Commando in 1943. No. 4 Commando gave him a chit and sent him to Wilkinson Sword in London England to pick up a knife. The clerk there asked if he would like his name on it, for a small fee, and he agreed. His name, city and province were etched onto the blade by Wilkinson  Sword staff in London. (Colin Stevens’ collection)

My No. 4 Commando web page.

The leg wound became infected and although he returned to Canada fro treatment at Hamilton, and served as an instructor at Brockville Officer Training Centre, he was eventually released from active service by Christmas 1944.  

Young officer wearing a kilt on the left and old officer on right in uniform addressing him.
Lieutenant A. H. Stevens in Essex Scottish uniform (returned from overseas). Canada’s Governor General, the Earl of Athlone is on the right. 1944 Hamilton Ontario.

 Left to right: Lieut. A. H Stevens, Governor General of Canada the Earl of Athlone, unknown man. Hamilton, Ont. 1944. Dad is wearing a 21 Army Group patch under his Essex Scottish shoulder title. The kilt it the Macgregor tartan. I have the battledress blouse, kilt and sporran that appear in this photo. Dad had cut off the 21 Army Group patches, and I have replaced these two with other originals that I was able to obtain.

Dad became a Doctor after WWII. He joined the Militia after WWII and served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC) He served as 2ic of the Medical Company in Halifax) and later served as Medical Officer at HMCS Chippawa in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His final rank was Lieutenant Colonel.

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Stevens in mess kit in Vancouver BC in the early 1970s
Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Stevens in mess kit in Vancouver BC in the early 1970s

Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Stevens. He is wearing the collar badges of his ‘family’ regiment the Lincoln & Welland Regiment. Photo taken circa 1970

He married Estelle and they had five children: Colin, Dave, Mary, Marj and Rob.

In his civilian career Dad trained to be a doctor (GP) at the University of Toronto. He interned at Regina General Hospital (1951) and then practiced in Campbell River, BC and St. Catharines, Ontario. He wanted to become a neuro-surgeon, but his war wound prevented that. He then joined the Federal Government and served with Health and Welfare in Ottawa. While there he made several trips to the Arctic on board the supply ship C. D. Howe. On one occasion he was flown by Weldy Phipps in by tiny aircraft on a pioneering rescue flight in the dead of winter. After landing, he had to travel by dog-sled. An Inuit (Eskimo) village had an epidemic and could not wait for the spring thaw. Dad was able to stop the epidemic. 

Dad then took a posting to the Canadian Embassy in London, England. After being there a couple of months, we moved the Rome, Italy where he served at the Embassy. 

He later took the job of Port Medical Officer for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later still we moved to Winnipeg, and he later took the job of Port Medical Officer for Vancouver, BC until his retirement. 

Dad’s hobbies included photography (he was excellent at this), fencing, shooting, sailing, curling, electronics (he built radios etc.), fishing, carpentry (he built much of our furniture), stamp collecting (as a youth), reading etc. The first thing he did when he moved into a “new” house was build bookshelves and a darkroom for photography.

His ashes are in the MACGREGOR & STEVENS family plot at Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines, Ontario.