As it turned out, Stocky would be in Italy for only a few more days, and he never led 274 Squadron over Italy again. The whole squadron was ordered back to England. Stocky had now flown 278 sorties in the war, and had shot down more than 20 enemy planes. It was April 1944, and he was still only 22 years old. After a ten-day leave, Stocky’s squadron, 274, and two other squadrons, 80 and 249, formed a new Spitfire squadron at RAF Station Hornchurch, on the east side of London.
During this time, Stocky led 274 Squadron on sweeps over German-occupied France and escorted bombers as they hit bridges and enemy aerodromes . He was flying a beautiful new plane, the latest Spitfire model. But the RAF pilots saw no enemy aircraft. It was as if the Luftwaffe had disappeared.
Adapted from: Hehner, Barbara. Desert Hawk: The True Story of Stocky Edwards, World War II Flying Ace (Kindle Locations 59-61). HarperCollins Canada. Kindle Edition.