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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. H a'B Russell


Humphrey a'Beckett Russell was born on 1st September 1913 and attended Marlborough College from 1927 to 1931. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training course on 27th January 1936.

With his training completed, he was posted to 9 FTS Thornaby on 4th April and joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 11th October 1936.



Russell went to SHQ RAF Biggin Hill on 13th July 1938. He rejoined 32 Squadron on 14th August 1940 and was appointed 'A' Flight Commander on the 16th.

He destroyed a Me110 on the 18th. During the combat over Biggin Hill a cannon shell exploded in his cockpit. Russell baled out, seriously wounded in the leg and was admitted to Edenbridge Hospital. His Hurricane, V7363, crashed at Skeynes Park Farm, Edenbridge.

In April 1941 Russell took command of 32 Squadron. He was posted to 118 Squadron at Ibsley in October 1941 as CO and led it until January 1942. Russell commanded 128 Squadron at Hastings, Sierra Leone from August 1942 to 8th March 1943.

Back in the UK he took command of 164 Squadron at Fairlop.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 19th May 1944).

On 28th May 1944 he led a rocket attack on a radar station at Fruges, SE of Boulogne in Typhoon JR515. He achieved a direct hit but on his climb-out was hit by flak.

He baled out over the village of Torcy and was taken prisoner.

He stayed in the RAF postwar, retiring on 17th February 1958 as a Wing Commander.

Russell died on 15th February 1983.


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