The Airmen's Stories - P/O G H Russell
Graham Herbert Russell, whose parents and grandparents were all born in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, was born on 22nd May 1917 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, where his parents owned a rubber estate. He was educated at Bedford School, followed by an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering at Wolseley Motors Ltd, Birmingham.
He married Esmé Isobel Bennion In December 1940 and they had two daughters, Ruth born in September 1941 and Brenda in October 1942.
He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in June 1939 and was assigned to 236 Squadron in December 1940, where he remained until July 1941. He flew Blenheims throughout the Battle of Britain whilst he was stationed at St. Eval, Cornwall and shot down a Heinkel 111 on 23rd September 1940, a Dornier 18 flying boat on 25th September and a Dornier 24 flying boat on 6th November 1940.
Above (L to R): Sgt. E Pert, Sgt. K Hutchins, Russell.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in November 1940. His citation reads:
Early in November l940 P/O Russell was engaged on a reconnaissance of Brest. Despite a box barrage of about 600 bursts and intense light anti-aircraft fire which caused him to descend to twenty feet over the harbour, he succeeded in obtaining valuable information regarding the disposition of ships in the harbour and enemy aircraft on the aerodrome of Brest-Guilers. On the return flight he attacked a Dornier 24 flying boat which was destroyed after a short engagement. He has consistently shown great dash and initiative, and his example has been an inspiration to his fellow pilots
After the war he was a garage proprietor in St. Ives until he sold the business to Shell in 1965. He was also a Lloyd’s Underwriter and commodity dealer. He served as a St. Ives borough councillor for three years. He was a Freemason of St. Ivo Lodge.
His sporting interests included gliding, shooting, sailing and golf. Always enjoying challenge and adventure, he sailed the Atlantic at the age of 58 as crew on a yacht with four others.
Russell died suddenly from a heart attack on 15th December 1981 aged 64.