STEWART, ROBERT JOHN
Name: Robert John Stewart Rank/Branch: Navigator/Royal Air Force Unit: Age: Home City: Great Britain Date of Loss: 18 January 1991 Country of Loss: Iraq Loss Coordinates: Status: Prisoner of War Status in 2002: Released POW (see text) Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Tornado
Other Personnel in Incident: Thomas N.C. Elsdon; Robert M. Collier (both released)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Updated by the POW NETWORK 2002.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: On January 16, 1991, Allied forces began concentrated air strikes on Iraqi military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. The United Kingdom had the second largest military contingent of troops after the U.S. with 35-40,000 troops, 75 Tornado fighter/bombers, and sixteen warships.
Three airmen - Flight Lieutenant Robert M. Collier, Wing Commander Thomas N.C. Elsdon, and Navigator Robert J. Stewart - were crewmen of Tornado GR1 fighter/bombers which flew in the early strikes of the war. Collier and Elsdon were on one of the aircraft and Stewart on the second. If there was a second crewman with Stewart, that information has not yet been released. On January 18, 1991, Collier, Elsdon and Stewart were shot down and declared missing.
Beginning on January 20, Allied POWs began to appear on Iraqi television and radio making "peace statements." The men were clearly under great duress and apparently had been tortured. Despite condemnation from world leaders, the propaganda continued. Then during the last week of January, Iraq announced that it would no longer show Allied POWs on television. Many observers fear that the lack of media - even propaganda - will keep the POWs an international secret, limiting the chances the world community will demand their release.
According to national television, all Coalition POWs were released by March 6 except for one Kuwaiti. It is assumed that Collier, Elsdon and Stewart were among those released. U.S. media did not focus on British and other Coalition POWs to the extent that all names were immediately known.