Stanley Gordon Stilling
1912/01/16 - Sydney New South Wales
Occupation Civil Servant
Enlisted Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
1937/03/26 - Granted Short Service Commission as Acting Pilot Officer on probation, Royal Air Force (London Gazette 34383)
1937/12/21 - Acting Pilot Officer on probation, appointment confirmed as Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force (London Gazette 34467)
1939/06/21 - Promoted from Pilot Officer to Flight Officer, Royal Air Force (London Gazette 3461)
1940/09/03 Promoted from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force (London Gazette 34970)
1941/01/12 - Squadron Leader, Royal Air Force
Stanley’s will of 1940/10/17 states his residence as Singapore.
When Japan entered the war, Squadron Leader S. G. Stilling was a member of 205 Squadron RAF based in Singapore. Members of the squadron who escaped from Singapore after the Japanese invasion ultimately ended up in Australia and the squadron disbanded on March 31, 1942. Squadron Leader S. G. Stilling was awarded a DFC in March 1942.
After arriving in Australia and with considerable experience on flying-boats, Squadron Leader Stilling seems to have been “borrowed” by the RAAF and posted to the RAAF’s Seaplane Training Flight where he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Catalina Flight in July, 1942 and after the Seaplane Training Flight had been renamed 3 Operational Training Unit, he was appointed Commanding Officer of 3OTU in January, 1943.
He was posted to 20 Squadron RAAF as Commanding Officer on March 29, 1943 (p343 of 20 Squadron History) and some time before the end of May 1943, he was promoted to Wing Commander. (He signed off the month of May 1943 as Wing Commander, p366 of the Squadron History).
Wing Commander Stilling failed to return from an anti-shipping strike and was presumed to have died on October 1, 1943. At the time of his death, he had been the Commanding Officer of 20 Squadron RAAF for about 6 months.
His failure to return from the operation and his presumed death are noted in the Squadron History on p425: “2/10/43 Wing Commander S. G. Stilling DFC (RAF) and crew of A24-67 missing on operations”.
By the time S.G. Stilling was killed, many of the Catalina operations involved mine-laying. He died on a shipping strike with torpedoes. The RAAF had experimented with torpedoes in 1942 but from squadron correspondence which is available at the National Archives of Australia, the squadron leadership (11 & 20 Squadrons) didn't like the idea much, probably, because the results weren't seen to be worth the risk. Mining was much better value in time and risk. Sadly S.G. Stilling's death tended to prove the point.
1st October 1943
Air Operations: (No. 20 Squadron Catalina aircraft A24-67), Pomelaa, Celebes (Sulawesi). Body unrecovered.
Son of Stanley William Matheson Stilling and Ada Stilling.
Husband of Beryl Adele Stilling, of Coogee, New South Wales, Australia.
Australian War Memorial
Commonwealth War Grave Commission
KEW Files:- WO 361/1626