Donald was born on 6th December 1899 and he attended Ilford County High School between 10th September 1912 and 15th June 1915. He had previously been a pupil at Highlands School, Ilford.
His family lived at 21 Clarendon Gardens, Ilford. His father, Edgar, was employed as an accountant to a business firm. Upon leaving school, Donald found a job in a clothing warehouse.
Donald is reported as missing in the last War edition of the school magazine, Chronicles, in the Autumn of 1918. It is noted that ‘2nd Lieut. D.E. Stephens, R.A.F., was posted as missing on the 16th of August.’ The magazine includes a letter from Donald’s Squadron Captain, who describes him as ‘plucky and cheerful’ and tries to give hope that he has been taken prisoner rather than been killed. He writes, ‘He was last seen on the 16th in a machine gliding down well over enemy territory, the machine being apparently quite under control. We…think the engine or propeller may have been hit.’ As a trainee, Donald was being flown by an experienced pilot, named Lieutenant Kilbourne. In such cases, the R.A.F. dropped a note over enemy territory, asking for information about missing pilots. It is apparent from the letter that the captain expected a reply within one to three months.
Research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Ilford County High School started life as the Park Higher Grade School in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford. It was renamed Ilford County High School (or initially County High School, Ilford) in the years after the school’s management was transferred from Ilford School Board to Essex Education Committee in 1904.