Sadly Wing Commander S P Russell Passed Away

Revd Pip Clements just sent this comment…

Sadly Wing Commander S P Russell passed away towards the end of November 2012 at Sibbertoft Manor Nursing Home, Northamptonshire aged 96 years after a very full life running the family foundary business and being Chairman of Leicester Aero Club and regaining his private pilot’s licence at the age of 67 yrs.

He lived for many years at Blakeney, Norfolk. A Service of Thanksgiving, following private cremation, will take place on Thursday 6th December at St. Giles Church, Medbourne, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 8EB at 12 noon.

Revd Pip Clements

Distinguished Flying Cross. 23 April, 1943

Acting Squadron Leader Samuel Philip RUSSELL (73011), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 23 Squadron.

This officer has completed 41 sorties. Whilst serving in the United Kingdom, he participated in numerous attacks on lines of communication in France and Belgium, causing the destruction of seven locomotives. In the Middle East he has executed many sorties, involving attacks on rail and road transport, causing much destruction. In March, 1943, Squadron Leader Russell made a successful attack on a destroyer. Some days later he pressed home a vigorous attack on a medium-sized merchant vessel, setting it on fire. In addition, he destroyed an E boat. This officer has displayed inspiring leadership, great courage and keenness.

Russell was CO of 23 Squadron, as Wing Commander from December 1944 to 1946

Comments from readers

Rest In Peace Wing Commander Russell, we will always be indebted to you and your brave comrades … 605 and 23 shared many friends and fought many battles together, you will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to your friends and family.

Ian Piper
No 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Phil Russell was my last CO at 23 Sqdn, and Phil I’ll miss you, but will likely see you soon at that big squadron mess in the sky. Say Hi to Sticky and the guys. You were the best!!!!! It’ll be nice to fly the Mosquito again!

Cricket 34 ( George Stewart)

George Stewart DFC

George Stewart

Yes, time is running out for us —— but, he made it to 95! Well, he’s an inspiration to me. I wonder when he quit flying? For myself, it’s my 88th coming up Dec. 27, and I’m still in the left hand seat. I wonder if he got to see the Queen dedicating our Bomber Command Memorial? I attach a picture for you. I’m on the right hand side getting ready for that occasion.

Dick Perry, Flt.Lieut. (Retired), 218 Squadron

Richard Perry

Dick Perry

Logbook Cover

This is my 100th post on this blog about 23 Squadron. It all started in April 2010 when I wanted to pay homage to this pilot.

Eugene Gagnon’s logbook was put in the garbage by his sister after  Eugene died in 1947. His war medals including a DFC were also “disposed” of…

This is not Flight Lieutenant Eugene Gagnon’s logbook.

Courtesy Al Bowie

Eugene Gagnon was buried with full military honours in 1947, then the people of Bromptonville slowly forgot all about him.

Except two people.

Eugene Gagnon’s nephew who had many pictures and shared them with me… like this one of his uncle taken in 1941 when he was learning to fly.

Courtesy Jacques Gagnon

And Marcel Bergeron, a 84 year-old man, who wanted to keep Eugene’s memory alive.

Marcel Bergeron contacted me back in 2010 and he wanted my help to learn more about Eugene’s war years.

Courtesy Marcel Bergeron

This is Marcel Bergeron who was 20 at the time at the scene of the plane crash.

Eugene Gagnon died on October 21, 1947 when a Sherbrooke Airways Republic Seabee he was flying lost power over Windsor Mills in Quebec.

Marcel took these pictures of the crash scene and the funeral, and he had a few newpaper clippings paying homage to the pilot.

Now Eugene Gagnon is not an unknown pilot anymore. We know he flew 33 night missions over Europe as a night intruder Mosquito pilot.

Since 2010, Flight Lieutenant Eugene Gagnon has been on a ongoing mission to reunite 23 Squadron airmen and ground crew.

Courtesy W.C. Phil Russell via Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

 

Priority One

I have been digressing enough on my other blogs.

The one about RCAF No. 403 Squadron mostly

More than 100 articles.

I know I will be posting more.

But I’ve got to set my priorities.

So Priority One will be writing a chapter in Peter Smith’s manuscript about 23 Squadron.

I can’t let him down.

He gave so much to pay homage to these fine young men who gave so much.

Collection Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Men like Sticky Murphy, George Stewart, Paul Beaudet, Arthur Cockayne, Tommy Smith, Phil Russell… and Gene Gagnon.

Collection Jacques Gagnon

Semper Aggressus

Paying homage to Wing Commander Russell

I have not written that much about Wing Commander Russell.

There is very little information on the Internet about him.

I found this in a forum…

Distinguished Flying Cross. 23 APRIL, 1943

Acting Squadron Leader Samuel Philip RUSSELL (73011), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 23 Squadron.

This officer has completed 41 sorties. Whilst serving in the United Kingdom, he participated in numerous attacks on lines of communication in France and Belgium, causing the destruction of seven locomotives. In the Middle East he has executed many sorties, involving attacks on rail and road transport, causing much destruction. In March, 1943, Squadron Leader Russell made a successful attack on a destroyer.

Some days later he pressed home a vigorous attack on a medium-sized merchant vessel, setting it on fire. In addition, he destroyed an E boat.

This officer has displayed inspiring leadership, great courage and keenness.

Russell was CO of 23 Squadron, as Wing Commander from Dec 1944 to 1946

Wing Commander Russell is the person who owned this picture…

This is what is written in the back.

Wing Commander Russell wrote it for us in 1945.

This picture was taken most probably in July 1945 and not in September because Flight Lieutenant Eugene Gagnon DFC was sent home and we have pictures of him with his friends and family dated August 12, 1945.

Eugene Gagnon never went back to England. He would die in a plane crash on October 21, 1947 near Windsor Mills.

W/C S. P. Russell D.F.C. centre seated with mustache (photo property of S. P. Russell)

We owe him so much.

If there was very little information on the Internet about him, now there is a little more.

Lest we forget