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The Airmen's Stories - Lt.(FAA) G F Russell


Before Russell's birth his parents were living in China where his father was a merchant, two daughters being born there. His mother returned to the UK for his birth and Godfrey Frederick was born in London in late 1917.

His parents were Gardiner Christopher Frederick Russell (1878-1944) and Constance Doris Boyce Russell (nee Hawkins 1891-1958).

His father was still in China at the time of Pearl Harbour, shortly afterwards he was interned in Weihsein detention camp, this was situated in Shandong Province south of Beijing. He died there in February 1944.

Russell entered the Royal Naval College Dartmouth as a cadet and passed out on 1st September 1934. He was rated as a Midshipman in the Executive Branch on 1st May 1935.



Above: in Midshipman's uniform.

He was attached to the Fleet Air Arm on 6th March 1939 and carried out his elementary flying training at 20 E&RFTS Gravesend. Russell went to No.1 FTS Netheravon for No. 3 Course, which ran from 8th May to 4th November 1939.

Above: his photo mis-captioned.


He moved to 759 (Fighter School) Squadron for deck-landing training on HMS Argus. On 4th February 1940 Russell joined 804 Squadron.

He was posted from 804 to 803 Squadron on 23rd May 1940, flying operations over Norway from HMS Ark Royal.

He was wounded flying a Skua. A bullet grazed his right hand, struck his navel and was deflected by his parachute release disc. It then disappeared over his right shoulder, undoing his harness as it went.

Russell rejoined 804 Squadron at Hatston on 22nd June 1940, flying Sea Gladiators on dockyard defence. He was appointed 'B' Flight Commander on 27th June. The squadron was under RAF Fighter Command control during part of the Battle of Britain.

On 20th September 1940 Russell, with Blue Section of 804, embarked on the carrier HMS Furious by air and carried out fighter patrols 100 miles off Trondheim, Norway.

The section disembarked by air from Furious and rejoined 804 at Hatston on 23rd September.

In December 1940 Russell was posted to 802 Squadron, forming at Donibristle for service aboard HMS Audacity.

On 13th December he was flying Martlet AL251 on a delivery flight from Abbotsinch (HMS Sanderling) Glasgow to Donibristle (HMS Merlin) Fife.

It crashed at on the slopes of Beinn Bheula, west of Loch Goil.

Russell was killed. He was 23 and is buried in Section A, Grave 46 at Douglas Bank Cemetery, near Rosyth in Scotland.


Above image courtesy of findagrave.




On 25th April 1945 Russell's eldest sister Sybil married Wing Commander Charles Nevil Overton, who had served with 609 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.


Additional research and above image courtesy of Peter Overton.



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