Warrant Officer (Pilot) David Malyon Russell
David Malyon Russell was born in Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand, on the 2nd September, 1916.
He began his service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 29th September 1940, and joined pilots’ course 6c, No.3 Service Flying Training School, at Ohakea on 20 Dec 1940. Having gained his “wings”, he embarked for Britain on the 29th April, 1941, and was posted to No.58 Operational Training Unit, before joining No.485 Squadron, at RAF Kenley, in February 1942.
A fighter sweep between Hardelot and Sangatte on 4th May brought triumph and tragedy to 485.
The Squadron took off at 1900hrs for Rodeo 18, making a Wing rendezvous over Kenley. While still climbing, they were attacked by four enemy fighters but saw them off. Over the Forest of Boulogne, they were engaged by 20 FW190’s. Flight Sergeant Robson shot down a FW190 and Flight Lieutenant Mick Shand claimed a probable, but Pilot Officer Johnny Checketts and Flight Sergeant David Russell (flying Spitfire Vb, BM196), were hit. Both pilots turned for home and stayed with their damaged aircraft for as long as they could before baling out into the icy waters of the English Channel. While Checketts was picked up from his dinghy in an hour, Russell was in the water for several hours before being rescued by a friendly trawler. He died of exposure that evening.
David Malyon Russell was the son of John and Beatrice Hawes Russell. He left behind a wife, Violet Ada Russell (nee Surridge), of Manurewa, Auckland. Sadly, the family also lost David’s older brother, Leading Aircraftman John Wilfred Russell, who was one of 14 passengers and crew who perished when a PBY Catalina of No.6 squadron, RNZAF, was lost without trace between Fiji and New Zealand, on 5th June, 1943.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.