Blair Dalzell "Dal" Russel

RCAF  W/C  -  DSO, DFC & Bar, Order of Orange-Nassau w/ Swords, CdeG w/ Silver Star

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Montreal, London Lads Add to Fine Record of Canadians
Battle German Hordes in Skies on Fringe of London

(By Sam Robertson, Canadian Press Staff Writer)
A Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Station Somewhere in England, 5 September 1940 - (CP Cable) - Canada's Hurricane fighter squadron patrolled its "beat" on the fringe of London today with new zip and confidence after meeting an even number of Goering's raiders and giving them a severe lacing.

On Even Terms
A dozen scrappy members of the R.C.A.F. unit commanded by S/L Ernest McNab, of Regina, caught the same number of Nazi fighters and fighter-bombers "just where he wanted them" in a brush three miles over southern England and took less than two minutes to deliver a knockout blow.
Two and maybe three German planes were destroyed. Most of the others felt the sting of the Canadians' fire and aeroplane splinters fell like confetti. They quickly turned tail for home. Perhaps they were able to reach there.
A blond young skylarker from London, Ont. (Dal Russel), who shot down one Nazi in flames and clipped the wings of another, returned to the station with the main brace of one wing shattered by Messerschmitt cannon fire.

Veteran Scores
The other certain kill went to a veteran flyer (Deane Nesbitt) who is a member of a prominent Montreal family of financiers. Two bursts from his eight guns caught the Messerschmitt Jaguar "smack in the belly." It fell like a fiery comet.
The toll taken by McNab's men boosted the total bag for the 19 days they have been in action to at least ten enemy planes definitely destroyed and about half as many probably destroyed. They have ripped bursts into at least as many again and have seen the steel splinters fly off.

Lost One Man
Against this creditable box score, the Canadians have lost one man, Pilot-Officer Robert Edwards, of Cobourg, Ont. Before he was killed in the Canadians' first operation as a unit late in August, he had sent a big Dornier bomber and its crew of four crashing to earth and had smashed a couple of bursts of lead into a second bomber.
Six members of the unit have had to bail out of their planes, but two of them have already returned to action.
Flying Officer "Kewpie" Hyde, of Montreal, was missing for a while after Saturday's sharp scrap in which nine Hurricanes faced almost 50 Germans and shot down four of them. He later turned up in a dressing station far from home. He and three others at present are holding down cots, but won't be out of action long.
Flying Officer Bill Sprenger, of Montreal, escaped by parachute "when my instrument board started exploding in my face." He figures a cannon shell burst in his cockpit.
Sprenger was chasing a couple of Jerries at 20,000 feet when another popped him from behind and shot away his controls. His Hurricane had plummeted a mile before he slipped out of the emergency hatch.
"Took me seven minutes to drift down," he said. "Only that morning I'd read of Germans shooting an English flyer through the heart while he was parachuting.”
"I was plenty relieved when two of our boys circled round me and convoyed me to earth."
Sprenger figures he is the squadron's "No. 1 lucky hound."
German machine-gun fire nicked his right foot and left leg, but left only blood blisters.

Fell for Mile
When Flying Officer Vaughn Corbett, of Montreal, kissed his flaming plane good-bye his 'chute' harness fouled and he fell a mile head first. While still about a mile above the earth he righted himself and landed smack in a hospital ground.
Flying Officer Eric Beardmore, still another Montrealer, thought he was in for it when two Germans "got on my neck, shot away a square foot of my tail and made my left wing look like a piece of Swiss cheese."
His elevator control and airspeed indicator were gone but he landed without being hurt.
"There's nothing holds together like those Hurricanes," he said. "As long as your engine is turning and you can land."
Squadron Leader McNab and his boys have already shown themselves a gang of real thoroughbreds and the way they are standing up to the stiff test makes it obvious [missing text].
They are at action stations for four hours, subject to [?another/available?] call-up for the next hour then back to the station poised for immediate action for another four. The squadron's doctor, C. Rankin, of Halifax, says the "unit's health is high-pulse normally."

No Nerves
There is no sign of nerves when the flyers loll about the action when writing letters home, rea- [? missing text?] -ning tales and sipping sof- [?t drinks?] and I mean soft drinks.
At present they get a [?day off?] after four days' duty. [?They'll?] get more shortly. Six young officers of the R.C.A.F. Army Co-operation squadrons are [?really?] "sweating for action," [?one?] of them put it, and their request for transfer to the fighter squadron was granted.
They are Pete Brown and Pete Lochnan of Ottawa; Jack Pattison, Toronto; Charlie Trevena and Bob Norris, Regina, and Bruce Millar, Penticton, B.C.
They have had a thorough course of training at an R.A.F. fighter station since leaving the army co-operation units.
They'll be up there banging away at the Nazis any day now.
The boys were sitting around in their hut when the station's operation post telephoned: "On your toes, boys." The cryptic message meant the Nazis were coming in, though still some distance away. Then, in a few minutes, came the word that sent them racing to their Hurricane fighters and off to battle.

"Scramble, Angels"
"Scramble, angels, 18," said the man who answered the phone a second time. It meant to get up to 18,000 feet.
They lifted off the ground in four groups of three. Only the faint drone of motors reached those waiting anxiously below. Then they started coming back, one at a time.
"Red," from Montreal, was out of his cockpit first, a grin on his face telling of the success of the battle three miles in the sky.

Dive Into Raiders
The Canadians had found an even dozen German Messerschmitt fighters, Jaguar fighters and bombers. The sun "at their elbow," as the redhead put it, "and smack in Jerry's eye," they dived into the raiders.
The London boy, a blond, rugged-jawed youth of 20, burst through the circle the Nazis formed and poured his machine-gun bullets into several machines. One went over in flames, another rolled over "like a very sick gull," but the second one didn't count except as a "probable." The successful Montrealer, saw flames break out in the Messerschmitt he hit "smack in the belly" with two bursts.

"Duck-Soup" Battle
Every one of the Canadians got into the fray before the Germans turned tail for home. Eleven of the R.C.A.F. squadron checked in at their own station. Flying Officer Bill Sprenger came down on another aerodrome, from where he telephoned the squadron to put its worries at rest. Bill had set his machine down to cool off an overheated motor.
The boys called it a "duck-soup" battle, duck soup, because it was 12 against 12 and the last time they were out nine of them had fought 50 Germans and, even at these odds, shot down four without losing a man.
They went on to lunch after all the planes checked in and then back to their huts to wait again for the words: "Scramble, angels."


Born in Toronto, 9 December 1917
Son of Blair and Mary Russel
Home in Westmount, Quebec
Enlisted 15 September 1939
Trained at Trenton and Camp Borden
Promoted to F/O, 18 May 1940
Promoted to F/L, 1 August 1941
With No.1 (F) Squadron, 28 May 1940 to 26 Feb 1941
Promoted to S/L, 1 January 1942 
Repatriated to Canada
C/O No. 14 Squadron, Sea Island, B.C., summer 1942

Flew a black Black-Cross painted Hurricane for the
1942 James Cagney movie "Captains Of The Clouds"

He went overseas again in December 1942
Commanding 411, 402, and 416 Squadrons
Promoted to W/C, 8 July 1943
Headed Nos. 17 and 127 Wings, July to Oct. 1943
At RCAF Overseas HQ, 20 Oct. 1943 to 1 May 1944
Reverts to S/L, 1 May 1944 to take command of 442 Sq.
He wanted to lead a squadron during the "Big Show"

Brother Hugh (in 443 sq) is KIA 16 June 1944 *
He is buried at St. Charles De Percy War Cemetery

Promoted back to W/C, 15 July 1944
CO of 126 Wing (15 July 1944 to 27 January 1945)
Returned to Canada
Released 3 July 1945
Associated with the postwar RCAF Auxiliary


From the London Telegraph Obituary: Russel arrived in England in June 1940 with No 1 (RCAF) Squadron, the first Canadian unit to see action. Flying Hurricanes, it was declared operational in mid-August, and within 10 days Russel shared in the destruction of a Dornier bomber over Gravesend.

He was based at Northolt, and was involved in some of the fiercest fighting of the battle. Over the next few weeks he accounted for another five enemy aircraft, including two downed and one shared on the same day - September 27; and he probably destroyed two others and damaged three more.

His ground crew nicknamed him "Deadeye Dick" and painted the Ace of Spades on his Hurricane for luck. In October he was awarded the DFC, one of three bestowed on members of No.1 Squadron (RCAF) and the first to be awarded to the RCAF in the war.

Russel sent telegrams home regularly, writing in mid-September: "Cigarettes and food arrived. Many thanks. Got my third Hun yesterday. Heinkel bomber. Love to all." But although almost every telegram asked for food and cigarettes, a later letter revealed the less cheery reality: "In the thick of a fight you haven't time to think much. Your mouth is dry as cotton and the palms of your hands are dripping wet as you try to get the enemy within reach of your eight guns and keep another fellow off your tail."

Russel was born in Toronto on December 9 1917 but his family moved to Montreal shortly afterwards. He was educated at Trinity College School at Port Hope, Ontario, where he was better at sport than his studies. He learned to fly at the Montreal Flying Club, and by the end of the first week of the war he and most of his colleagues had joined the RCAF.

After the Battle of Britain Russel was sent back to Canada to assist with recruiting, but soon returned to flying, being promoted to command a fighter squadron equipped with Kittyhawks (right). After being disappointed at not being sent to the Aleutian Islands to fight the Japanese, he came back to fly Spitfires in England in December 1942.

Given command of No 411 (RCAF) Squadron at Redhill, with the primary role of providing escort for bombers attacking targets in France, he was then promoted, at 25, to command No 126 Wing, equipped with three Canadian Spitfire squadrons.

Russel's wing carried out 64 sorties as close escort, in which more than 500 bombers were taken to targets from Rotterdam to Cherbourg without a single bomber being lost to enemy fighters. Russel led many of these sorties himself, attracting high praise from the commanders of the bomber force.

At the end of his tour in November 1943 he was awarded a Bar to his DFC. He then spent six months developing tactics at 83 Group HQ , but by the spring of 1944 he was anxious to return to operational flying.

Following the loss of a Canadian squadron commander, he asked Johnnie Johnson, the RAF's highest scoring fighter pilot and wing leader of the Canadian Spitfire Wing, for command of No 442 (RCAF) Squadron.

  Dal Russel in front of a P-40

Johnson had a very high regard for the blond, curly-haired Russel, considering him to have "all the attributes of the popular conception of a fighter pilot", adding that he was "a great favourite with the ladies". But Russel had to drop a rank to take command immediately.

Johnson's Spitfire Wing was at the centre of operations leading up to the invasion of Normandy. On June 10, just four days after the Allied landings began, Army and RAF airfield engineers had completed the first landing strip at St Croix-sur-Mer (B6) in Normandy. Johnson sent Russel and his wingman to check the airstrip, making them among the first to land in France.

Two days later Johnson led his three squadrons to B6, from which operations deeper into France began. Russel shared in the destruction of a Focke-Wulf fighter and damaged a second fighter, but most of his sorties were against ground targets.

During this hectic period he learned that his younger brother, Hugh, had been shot down nearby and killed flying with another Canadian Spitfire squadron (443).

In July Russel was once again promoted to wing commander and took command of the four Spitfire squadrons of No 126 Wing [401, 411, 412 & 442]. He led them during the devastating attacks in the Falaise pocket and then in support of the advancing Allied armies as they pushed forward through France, Belgium and Holland.

His squadrons destroyed more than 700 transport targets and tank concentrations; and on October 4 one of his pilots shot down a Messerschmitt 262 fighter, the first jet to be downed by a fighter.

Shortly afterwards it was announced that Russel had been awarded the DSO for his "masterly leadership and fine fighting qualities when his example had inspired all".

Six days later he was summoned to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI decorated him with his DSO, DFC and Bar.

Russel continued to lead his wing in intensive operations as it advanced into Holland. Based at the former German airfield at Volkel, his squadrons flew into Germany attacking road and rail targets.

After completing 256 operational sorties in three tours of duty, one of the few Canadians to do so, he was finally grounded at the end of January 1945. He had never been shot down, although a stricken German fighter, shot down by Johnnie Johnson, almost hit his Spitfire.

Russel, who was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords and the Czechoslovak War Cross, was released from the RCAF in July 1945.

He worked for Canada Wire and Cable, Canadair Aircraft Company and Sperry Gyroscopes before he and his wife bought a linen store in Montreal. In retirement he enjoyed salmon fishing but, although invited to hunt by friends, he never liked shooting after the war.

"Dal" Russel died on 20 November 2007, three weeks shy of his 90th birthday. His wife predeceased him, and he is survived by two sons and a daughter.


Squadron Leader And Two of His Pilots Awarded Coveted D.F.C.

Daring and Skill of Canadians Bring Reward —
Formation Destroyed 30 German Planes in Few Weeks

London, 10 Oct. 1940 — (CP Cable) — Squadron Leader Ernest McNab, of Regina, and two members of the Royal Canadian Air Force squadron he commands have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the daring and skill with which they are helping beat back the German air attacks on Britain.
Flying Officer Rod McGregor and Flying Officer Dalzell Russel, both of Montreal, are the pilots who are honored with their "Chief."
The Canadian formation which has destroyed 30 Nazi bombers and fighters in less than the seven weeks it has been in action, thus wins its first awards for valor.


RUSSEL, F/O Blair Dalzell (C1319) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.1 (Can) Squadron
Award effective 25 October 1940 as per London Gazette of that date.

Flying Officer Russel has personally destroyed five enemy aircraft and has assisted in the destruction of a sixth. He has shown great keenness to attack the enemy.

Dal Russel sporting his DFC after the Battle of Britain




Crew Pastes Ace of Spades In ‘Deadeye Dick's' Plane

(By D. E. Burritt) With the Royal Canadian Air Force in Scotland, 6 January 1941 - (CP) - The alarm bell sounded somewhere across the muddy field and three youths in blue jumpers, rubber boots and woolen toques leaped down from inspecting the Hurricane's motor. There was a momentary flurry which ended with one lad in the cockpit and the other two standing by, a drizzling rain beating in their faces. Suddenly the plane began roaring, a red flare shot into the air and. pilots appeared from nowhere.
The two men standing on the ground grabbed a parachute that had been left handy on the wing of the plane and helped harness it on to the tall youth with fair, wavy hair who came racing across the mud, wearing his regular uniform, sheep-lined boots and yellow life jacket.
In the cockpit the other youth in overalls sat nursing the motor until the pilot climbed up on the wing and was ready to squeeze into the narrow seat. In a couple of seconds F/O B. D. Russel of Montreal was strapped to his seat and, with his head and face covered by helmet and oxygen mask, sent his plane plowing through mud and Water that bordered the airport.
As the Hurricane was joined by two others, piloted by F/L Bev Christmas and F/O G. G. (Kewpie) Hyde, both of Montreal, another flare warned hovering aircraft to keep their distance. The flight turned suddenly into the wind and roared away like a clap of thunder.
The alarm had been sounded only as an exercise. It was just an every-day occurrence, and they came back again, disappointed at failing to sight the enemy.
Russel's plane was wheeled back into "action" position and one of the ground crew pulled out a duster to wipe away the mud from a spot on the fuselage to reveal a playing card — the ace of spades.
The card was pasted and shellacked there by the ground crew who hoped it would bring "plenty of luck" to Russel, to whom they referred as "Deadeye Dick." There was no special reason for the pseudonym, other than "he's brought down some Jerries and has won the D.F.C. But they didn't apply it in front of Russel. “He might not like it, because he's a very modest chap.”
Russel had leaped from the plane and had disappeared only a few seconds before the crew were back on their perches, again examining everything from engine to rudder. "This is one part of the game where no chances are taken," explained one youth, his face hidden by a mask of grease and black oil. "This crate gets more attention than a spoiled baby."
After watching the crew at work you readily understand what the rigger meant. And if you didn't, Leading Aircraftman Victor King of Westmount, Que., was ready to explain further. In his quiet way king told of his duties as "fitter," especially when the plane returned from battle.
Numerous patches where bullets had punctured the fabric were outlined by the 20-year-old "fitter" who rammed his long screwdriver into the leg of his rubber boot and used both hands to measure off a big square section that had been blown out by a cannon shell. He was pretty indignant about that and smoothed over the patch as if it were newly added. But he found some solace in something he had been told.
"I don't think we'll be bothered by many more of those," he said, "now that we're adding cannon to our fighters."


"There is nothing to compare with the excitement of plunging into an air battle like that. Your mouth dries up like cotton wool. Flying Officer Dal Russel, of Montreal, who was in my squadron, was chewing gum when he went into his first scramble. He had to pick bits of gum from the roof of his mouth afterwards." - Quoted from an Ernie McNab article entitled, "Initial fight with enemy is memory that remains." - Hamilton Spectator, May 7, 1941


Pays Tribute To British Endurance
Flying Officer Says Help Is Coming To Britain From All Who Love Freedom

This is the first of two articles by Flying Officer B.D. Russel, D.F.C., in which he pays tribute to the magnificent heroism of the British people in the face of ruthless bombing attacks.

(By Flying Officer B.D. Russel, D.F.C.) 19 May 1941 - I have just come back from England. London is deeply scarred but still standing. The little villages are battered but brave. The countryside of England is no longer sleepy and peaceful. It is an armed camp peopled by a race which has proved in the last year that it can take every foul blow the world's outlaws can deliver and face the enemy with redoubled resolution.
England's quiet lanes shelter anti-aircraft batteries. The broad highways are channels for moving troops and supplies. The green fields swarm with soldiers ceaselessly drilling to repel any invasion. The broad meadows are home to a steadily growing air fleet. Each day and night fighter aircraft swarm into the sky to brush aside Hun raiders. The Italians are no trouble at all. Each day and night heavy-laden bombers lift off English earth to spread destruction across the channel - in Germany - and even in far-off Italy.
England fights on. Those gallant people have faced with unfailing fortitude the most prolonged, unrelenting and terrific bombardment any people have ever been called upon to undergo. Homes shattered, families wiped out, they still carry on with their individual parts. One shred of comforting fact sustains every sore heart. "We are not alone." No - they are not alone. Help has been forthcoming in steadily increasing volume from every quarter of the family circle - from all corners of the British Commonwealth of Nations and from the people of the United States of America, who also treasure freedom.
Pre-War Flyer
I am not a graduate of the British Empire Air Training Plan. I date back to private flying in Canada before the war. I joined the Montreal Light Aeroplane club and learned the fundamentals of flying from veteran flyers of the first Great War, then earning a living as flying instructors. I completed my flying tests in 1938 and flew from time to time just for the fun of it. On that same aerodrome at Montreal was stationed No. 11 (Fighter) Squadron of the active auxiliary air force. These boys, who were week-end flyers, were doing their training on little Fleet biplanes, which were slow and light primary trainers.
I was commissioned in that same squadron on September 15, 1939, and started intensive training. The Royal Canadian Air Force at that time had a strength of about 4,500 officers and men, including the auxiliary squadrons. Today the Royal Canadian Air Force has more than 50,000 officers and men in service and in training.
When I finished my course, I thought for a while that I was going to be made a flying instructor, but was overjoyed to hear finally that I was going to England in immediately with a fighter squadron. This was No. 1 Fighter Squadron, a composite unit made up of the No. 115 auxiliary squadron seasoned by a few regular Royal Canadian Air Force pilots of No. 1 Fighter Squadron of peace-time days. We had Hurricane fighters, but we were on the way to Britain before I personally had a chance at one of them.
Get New Planes
Just after our arrival we received a visit from Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, then the officer commanding the fighter command. When he found out our Hurricanes were a couple of years old he insisted that we have new ones, since many improvements had been made in the interval.
The next day there were 18 brand new Hurricanes of the latest type delivered to our aerodrome, much to our delight. They were wonderful to fly, and we plunged into our final training with enthusiasm. We had learned formation flying in Canada, but we practiced formation flying in our new Hurricanes until we had accomplished the precision of drill square maneuvers. We had plenty of instruction in tactical maneuvers, of which, I am afraid, I cannot tell you, and we staged mock dogfights with all comers.
Pilots must become accustomed to the particular type of aircraft which they will try in action, whether it be a fighter or a bomber. In our own final period of training, like all other fighter pilots, we became so used to our Hurricanes that they were very nearly a part of us. We flew by instinct - without consciously handling the controls.
Flying a fighter becomes just as automatic as driving a car. You use your clutch and brake pedals without thinking of it beforehand. When you are in the thick of a fight at 20,000 feet and traveling at nearly 400 miles an hour through a sky filled with hostile aircraft, you haven't time to think about much but keeping the other fellow off your tail, avoiding collision and getting a German within the reach of your eight machine-guns. You try to draw a bead on him and watch out behind at the same time. Your mouth is as dry as cotton, somehow, and the palms of your hands are dripping wet.

Tomorrow Flying Officer Russel tells of the great air battle over Britain in which the Nazis lost 185 planes in a single day.


Mass Formations Proved Vulnerable
Loss of 185 Planes in One Day During Battle of Britain Made Nazis More Cautious

In this second article by Plying Officer B.D. Russel. D.F.C., he tells how the Germans were blown from the sky as they attempted mass daylight raids over England.

(By F/O B.D. Russel, D.F.C.) 20 May 1941 - A fighter squadron of 12 aircraft is divided into two flights of six each and then again each flight is split into two sections of three aircraft each. The squadron leader leads the first flight and his second in command leads the other flight, so our squadron leader and his second gathered a little experience before leading us into battle. They went up on fighting patrols with Royal Air Force squadrons. No.1 Canadian Fighter squadron got the nod on August l6, but I am sorry to say that we didn't encounter an enemy aircraft. We made a headlong dash for one lone plane, but it turned out to be British. Two days later we had our first scrap and knocked down three big Dornier bombers. We were full of confidence then - and so busy that the days just seemed to march by.
Some days were quiet and some were extremely busy, as you can imagine. I kept a diary from time to time, so perhaps I can quote from it concerning a typical quiet day and then a busy one.
This is the entry for September 28: "Cold, cloudy and windy. Dawn readiness again. Nothing doing then and the weather looked so poor that most of us went back to the mess, washed up and spent the morning writing letters. In the afternoon the King came to see us down in the dispersal hut and asked us a few questions. He shook hands with all of us. We were at readiness once more, but nothing happened. A gang of us went over to the Old Mill for dinner, which was accompanied by the usual bombing and ack-ack fire."

Down Nazi Plane
The next day was quite different. The diary says: "Cold and windy with broken clouds. We kept being called to readiness and put back to available all day. The first scramble came about 9 o'clock and most of us had missed breakfast. We joined up over the aerodrome with another squadron and proceeded in the direction we had been instructed to. There was a great flock of aircraft above us, going north, but one dropped out and was about at our altitude so we all went into line astern and gave him the works, one after the other, several times. I got four attacks in. Several men jumped out of the enemy aircraft. Finally it winged over and went straight down, exploding as it hit a couple of houses. We all had so many cracks at this fellow that we called it the Squadron Victory."
The diary continues: "Some of our boys got together afterward and ran into some Messerschmitt 110's which quickly went into a protective circle. That was duck soup for us and we shot down three before the others beetled off home.
"The next show took place at noon at about 20,000 feet, where we got jumped by 109's from above. They came down quickly, but we saw them first and all managed to get out of the way. Gordie McGregor (he was our squadron leader at the time) managed to get in one burst which caused some damage to one of them. We all got safely home.
"Yet another scramble came at 3 o'clock. We led in a big sweep south of London, nicely intercepting 15 or 20 Dornier 215's with a lot of ME 109's escorting above. We got in quickly without being seen at first and went in to the attack. Suddenly I saw two big bombers right above me and going in the same direction. I pulled the stick right back and let go with my guns for about seven seconds, first on one, which did a wingover, and then a short squirt at the other. By this time my engine had quit and I was in a spin. Also the 109's were about in great numbers, so I let her spin off a few thousand feet, coming out behind a 109 going south at full throttle and just out of range.

All Tired Out
"I chased him for a while, but it was no go as I had to watch my own tail. We arrived home one by one, all very weary, so got to bed right after dinner."
We were often very tired - especially when Jerry was coming over in large numbers every day. We were in several fights every day. It was important to wear your uniform. If you were shot down you would have a tough time without your uniform to convince the home guard waiting on the ground to receive you that you were British and not German.
In those days the men on the ground crew worked just as hard as we did. We were constantly coming down to refuel and rearm. It took them only from five to eight minutes to replenish your fuel tanks, put in fresh ammunition belts for each of the eight machine guns and change your oxygen bottle, not to speak of making minor repairs and adjustments. Then they worked half the night with shielded flashlights to make your aircraft ready again for the next day's flying.
Our biggest show was on September 15, when the Royal Air Force officially reported 185 enemy aircraft shot down. Actually, of course, there were many more which could not be confirmed. Others were damaged and most certainly failed to reach home. No. 1 Canadian squadron was up four times that day. We had a couple of trips in the morning. The first was just after dawn, but it was just a patrol without action, but we could see Jerry massing up over France. We were sent up again about 10 o'clock to intercept a raid, but we missed it and were bothered by some 109's from above who took a poke at us and scampered away.
In the afternoon about 2 o'clock they called out the entire wing, that is, the Polish and the English squadrons as well as ours.

In Great Fight
As we approached the south end of London we saw a huge formation of bombers off to the left guarded by German fighters. British squadrons were just attacking them. We kept on climbing because we knew this was not the bunch we had been sent up to intercept. Then we saw our particular quarry. There were more than 100 bombers with squadrons of fighters above and behind and on either side. It was quite a sight. The big black bombers were coming on about nine or ten abreast, stepped up in succeeding rows like a big stairway. Our Polish squadron went up above after the fighters and the English and ourselves took on the bombers. When we were wheeling into position we saw another German formation of the same size as ours, but other squadrons of ours were coming up to engage them.
That day certainly broke Jerry's fondness for mass formations. He never came over again in such numbers. Besides all the aircraft lost, he lost their trained crews, while most of the R.A.F. pilots shot down came down on home soil by parachute to fight another day. I know that our squadron records during the period I was with them showed 15 pilots saved by parachutes.
When things quieted down after the big show, our squadron went to a quiet sector, near a famous golf course. We had a great time with tennis, golf and parties until we went back on to a busy station again.
We saw action again, but nothing like those of the dying days of summer, when the air force fought Goering to a standstill. We have better aircraft, better armament, better training and better spirit than our enemies. The boys over there are convinced they can handle anything Jerry thinks up.

Tomorrow Flight Lieutenant J. P. Desloges will take up the tale of the R.C.A.F. activities over England.




'Nazi Fighter' Stunned Halifax


Ace Canadian Air Fighters Are Named by Winnipeg Flier

Winnipeg, March 2, 1942 - (CP) - Wing Commander J.A. (Alex) Kent of Winnipeg, member of a Royal Air Force squadron that shot down numerous Nazi planes during raids and over the Channel, said here today that Wing Commander Mark (Hilly) Brown of Glenboro, Man., killed in action, "was one of the best fighter pilots in the R.A.F. and still heads the list of Canadian aces" in this war.
Speaking before members of the Canadian Club, Wing Commander Kent told of how the Manitoban distinguished himself in several actions against the enemy as flight commander in the R.A.F.'s No. 1 Fighter Squadron.
Other Canadians whom he named as great fighters were members of No. 1 Canadian Fighter Squadron — Wing Commander E. A. McNab, Regina; Wing Commander Gordon McGregor and Squadron Leaders Dal Russel, Hartland Molson and Paul Pitcher, all from Eastern Canada.
He told how he and other British pilots drilled a squadron of Polish pilots. "One day (August 30, 1940) the Polish squadron was practicing intercepting enemy raiders when they actually ran into a lot of Nazi planes. The fighters gathered around and got the trainees out of trouble except for one Polish airman (Lt. Ludwik Paszkiewicz), who dashed across, shot down a Dornier 17 and then rejoined the squadron. The R.A.F. officers thought it was just lucky (According to post-war research, the plane identified as a Do 17 by Paszkiewicz was a Messerschmitt Bf 110).
The next day however, the Poles shot down six Messerschmitts for no loss. Then the R.A.F. officers decided the Poles had trained enough and the squadron was allowed to go into action, which they did with a vengeance. Flying Hurricanes, the Poles shot down 130 enemy planes in the next six weeks," Wing Commander Kent said.


April 4, 1942 - ...one of the aircraftmen had been stationed at the same station as Flying Officer Blair Dalzell Russel, D.F.C., Montreal flier who recently came back to Canada on leave with Wing Commander McNab, "A good bloke, a regular guy," was the way the R.A.F. flier described the Montrealer, and told a story of how F/O Russell bailed out over Yorkshire. "He wears no goggles or helmet, you know," said the aircraftmen, "only his flying boots for equipment. He's a born flier."


Went Into Action Two Years Ago, Canadian Fliers Have Won 6 DFC's
Proud Record Compiled by Only R.C.A.F. Unit in Battle of Britain

By FLYING OFFICER BASIL DEAN, R.C.A.F. London, 17 July 1942 - Canada's first fighter squadron to precede overseas - the only R.C.A.F. unit to serve during the Battle of Britain - has just celebrated its second anniversary. It was two years ago in June that the squadron landed in Great Britain.
Since that day, it has carved out a fine name for itself in the Battle of Britain. It accounted for a considerable number of German raiders, and since then took a leading part in the great daylight sweeps over Northern France which Fighter Command has been staging during the summers of 1941 and 1942.
Today it is commanded by Squadron Leader Keith Hodson of London, Ont., former chief instructor at the service flying school in Moncton, N.B., with 2,000 flying hours in his log book. A former commanding officer, who was moved recently, is Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, an R.A.F. pilot who was awarded the D.F.C. for his work with the squadron. Two other members of the squadron got D.F.C.s at the same time - Flight Lieutenant Eugene (Jeep) Neal of Quebec City and Flight Lieutenant Ian (Ormie) Ormston of Montreal. Seven decorations in all have been awarded to members of the squadron.

Two Squadrons Merge
The squadron was born from the amalgamation of two pre-war Canadian squadrons, No. 1, which was based at Calgary, and No. 115, which had its headquarters at Montreal. The boys first got together on the boat early in June, and by the time they landed at an English port, were fairly well acquainted. First, they were at "A" for a couple of days after landing, and then went to a station in the vicinity of "B" for three weeks. July 7 saw them at "X," not far from London. It was at the latter station, they say, that "we found out what the war was all about."
A day or two before they were scheduled to leave for still another station Jerry came over to leave his visiting card with the Canadians.
"That night we really got a pasting," the veteran members of the squadron recall. There were no casualties, however, although a bomb went right through the orderly room. Some members of the squadron will tell you that this bomb was the only "good" one the Nazis have dropped in the whole war. It destroyed, it seems, many squadron records, including the crime sheets. All petty offenses any one had committed prior to that date, therefore, were wiped out and forgotten.
The squadron moved on to another station according to schedule, however, and it was at this new station, Aug. 26, that it first went into combat as a unit. A few days previously Squadron Leader (now Group Captain) Ernest McNab, who later won the D.F.C., went on an operational trip with another squadron "just to see what it was like," and managed to shoot down an enemy aircraft. The first action as a squadron, however, was on Aug. 26 and it was the date they lost their first pilot, Flying Officer Robert Leslie Edwards.
It was a grand record for the first time out, however. The squadron was ordered to intercept twenty-five enemy bombers raiding Britain, and they did so with a vengeance. They destroyed three Do215’s and damaged three others, and pretty well broke up the formation.
In the show that day were a number of pilots whose names have since become bywords in Canada in this war. There were Flight Lieutenants G. R. McGregor, A. Dean Nesbitt and V. B. Corbett, and Flying Officers Jean Paul Desloges, H. de M. Molson and D. B. Russel. Including the squadron leader, six of these men now wear the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Two of the first Focke-Wulf 190's shot down by Allied airmen went to the credit of the squadron on Nov. 22, when the total score was four destroyed, one probable and four damaged. On that day Flight Lieutenant Ian Ormston, later to become a flight commander and holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, got his first enemy aircraft. It was the first aerial combat, too, for another who was to become a Flight Commander with a D.F.C., Flight Lieutenant E. L. (Jeep) Neal. Flying Officer H. A. (Hank) Sprague was reported missing in that day's operations, and is now a prisoner of war.
Then on Feb. 12 of this year the squadron took part in the "Scharnhorst do," up the English Channel, and in this affair raised a score of two destroyed and two damaged. Many times, this spring and early summer, they have gone out over the Channel or over France without seeing an enemy. At other times he has fled home.
While many former members have gone to other squadrons, the "Newcomers" still carry on. There is Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, who has destroyed two enemy aircraft and helped destroy another, besides between two and three damaged on his board. There is Ian Ormston, who destroyed two and helped destroy another, besides a probable and a damaged. And there are many others.


Quebec Pilot Says Town Almost Wiped Out By Wicked Onslaught

London, 21 Aug. 1942 — (CP) — A smashing aerial victory for one of the Royal Canadian Air Force Spitfire squadrons which participated in the attack on Dieppe was reported last night by two returning members of the squadron. Squadron-Leader Chadburn, of Aurora, Ont., commanding officer of the squadron, reported in a broadcast interview that his squadron shot down three enemy machines, probably destroyed another and damaged at least six.

Shoot Down Three
All the pilots in Chadburn's squadron returned safely, he said.
Specifically, Chadburn said, the squadron shot down three 190’s, probably destroyed a Junkers 88, damaged five Junkers 88's and damaged one Messerschmitt 110.
F/L Russel, of Westmount, Que., another member of the squadron, told F/L Jack Beach, the interviewer, how he shot down one aircraft when the enemy pilot "wasn't looking."
"It was pretty shaky all around," he said. "I was very lucky.
"I got him when he wasn't looking and I think he was probably a fairly green pilot."
Asked how Dieppe looked from the air, Russel said:
"There was fire all over. The town was really shaken. There's nothing left of it at all, I believe."
He said the Canadian pilots "did an excellent job all the way through."
He said he might have bagged another plane, but "ran out of ammunition and I don't know what happened to that one."
Air and land co-operation was perfectly timed, Russel said, and "everything worked out well." He believed the presence of Canadian land troops gave the pilots added confidence.
Chadburn said it was "the biggest show this squadron has ever been on. We had quite a good time, I'd say, all the way through."
The B.B.C. announcer said Beach had been "out all day" recording the interviews with the Canadians, believed to be the first authentic report of the assault from fighting airmen.




Check out a photo with Dal & his 416 Squadron pilots in May 1943


Airmen Who Met Huns During Battle of Britain
Paved Way For Offensive
Some of Canada's First Aces of This War Still Are in Action 
- Pilots Now Seek Out Enemy Over His Own Territory

(Written for the Canadian Press by F/L Basil Dean, R.C.A.F.)
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, 8 Sept. 1943 — (CP) — There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their way to fame, the battles were over British soil. Now, with greater numbers of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.

Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honour and glory in those grim days three years ago are still flying. W/C B.D. Russel, D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain, was then P/O Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron, which arrived in England in June, 1940 - just in time to get trained for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab, now is G/C Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F. fighter station.
In Sicily, S/L Stanley Turner, D.F.C. and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the R.A.F.’s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by W/C Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which destroyed 63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other squadrons.
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F. before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over Dunkerque.

Most Efficient
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal, if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron—apart from the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian) - was P/O W. L. McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who was reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first (2nd -jf) Canadian ace of the war.
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14 Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft, the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and Spitfires, queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dorniers. I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians P/O J.B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria, B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; F/L Turner had five; so had P/O N.K. Stansfeld, D.F.C., Vancouver. P/O H.N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North Battleford, Sask., and P/O N. Hart had four each. Altogether Canadian pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total of 65 credited to the squadron. Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership. McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight, Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, F/L G. R. McGregor and Russel were each awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains; Russel is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves. One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, F/L R.A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding leadership" on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed 21 enemy aircraft for the loss of two pilots killed. The total bag during September was 48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303 Polish squadron, in which another Canadian, F/L (now W/C) John Kent, Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.



Ottawa, 16 Nov. 1943 - (CP) - W/C Blair (Dal) Russel, D.F.C., Westmount, Que., veteran R.C.A.F. fighter pilot of the Battle of Britain, has won the bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross in recognition of his work escorting bomber missions overseas, the R.C.A.F. announced tonight.
Also announced were D.F.C.s for F/L R.D. Phillip of 207 Strathmore Blvd., Toronto, and F/O D.A. Alcorn of St. Stephen, N.B.
Russel, a member of the first R.C.A.F. fighter squadron to go overseas, was awarded the D.F.C. in October, 1940, when his score stood at 5½ enemy aircraft destroyed. He returned to Canada in 1941 to take command of a fighter squadron and went overseas again early this year to lead a fighter wing.
Phillip, a fighter pilot, is credited with two enemy planes destroyed and others damaged, in his citation, "This officer has displayed marked ability in leading his flight over enemy territory. His exceptional keenness and fine fighting spirit have set a magnificent example to all. He has destroyed at least two enemy aircraft and damaged others."


RUSSEL, W/C Blair Dalzell (C1319) - Bar to DFC - No.126 Wing
Award effective 11 November 1943 as per London Gazette dated 16 November 1943 &
AFRO 113/44 dated 21 January 1943.

This officer as Wing Leader has led his wing on a large number of escort sorties without the loss of a single bomber to enemy fighters. The high praise earned by the wing for its skill is largely due to the great devotion to duty and ability displayed by Wing Commander Russel.

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/8992 has recommendation dated 2 September 1943. He was credited with a total of 91 sorties (169 hours 25 minutes operational time, of which 64 sorties (91 hours) had been flown since previous award.

Prior to the middle of April, the Redhill VB squadrons had operated as an appendage of the Kenley IX wing. Squadron Leader Russel as Commanding Officer of 411 was deputed to act as VB Wing Leader by the Station Commander in the middle of April. Since then, Squadron Leader Russel has built up the VB squadrons at Redhill into a most efficient escort wing which, since the middle of April, has carried out 64 sorties as close escort or escort cover, in which over 500 medium bombers and [on] one occasion 30 Fortresses have been taken into and out from targets from Rotterdam to Cherbourg without the loss of a single bomber to enemy fighters. Although, as close escort and as cover, the wing has been bounced several times, the fine formation and discipline for which Wing Commander Russel is largely responsible have discouraged the enemy on most occasions from pressing home his advantage, and the wing has lost only two pilots against two Huns destroyed and three damaged.

The Air Vice-Marshal commanding the Group added (26 September 1943):

The wing this officer has ld has been almost solely employed on close escort or cover duties and has carried out these duties with much efficiency and sucess. Although less spectacular than other fighter roles, the Wing has earned high praise for its devotion to its task and its skill, the credit for which is largely due to Wing Commander Russel.




Post-Mortems Promote Teamwork in Air Force

By F/O IVERS KELLY Somewhere in Britain, 23 Feb. 1944 (Special) - It’s the same with any group of men operating together, whether as a football or hockey team, or as fighter pilots working in unison 30,000 feet above the earth. A "get-together" after a match, or an operation, in the more deadly game of war, at which mistakes, ideas and tactics are discussed, makes for a better showing the next time the team takes to the field or the skies.
And so it is with the fighter pilots of the R.C.A.F. fighter wing, in England commanded by W/C Robert Wendell (Buck) McNair, D.F.C., and two Bars, of North Battleford, Sask., native of Nova Scotia, and destroyer of 17 enemy aircraft.
"The Chief," as the men call Winco McNair, is successor in command of the wing to another great Canadian flier of this war — W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C, and Bar, of Montreal, who boasts the splendid record of not having lost a single bomber to enemy fighters during six months of close escort over enemy territory.


Canadian Fighter Pilots Tell How Land Troops Press Inland
Reports Given After Third Sortie Over Invasion Beachheads
Saw Tanks Approaching Town of Caen, 10 Miles From Sea

Somewhere in England, 6 June 1944 - (CP Cable) - Canadian fighter pilots, returning from their third sortie of the day over the invasion beachhead, reported a few hours before dusk tonight that Allied land troops were penetrating inland from their beachhead, particularly around Caen.
Saw Fires At Caen, 10 miles inland from the sea, the flyers said they saw fires.
The airmen added that they had seen tanks approaching the town from both sides - Germans from the south and Allied tanks from the north.
"It looks as if fierce fighting is going on around there," one flyer said.
The airmen, who had been flying since early morning, said they still had not encountered any opposition in the invasion area. A smattering of cloud which appeared at noon cleared and the weather was beautiful this afternoon.
Wing-Cmdr. Johnny Johnson, an R.A.F. ace leading a Canadian fighter wing, returned from his third trip to the beachhead area and said "I am getting a bit tired sitting down in my cockpit."
His wing saw only one enemy aircraft during the day but it was off in the distance.
But the best news was about the way the land attack was going.
Squadron-Leader "Dal" Russel, of Montreal, said the "troops on the beaches seem to be having a comparatively easy time."
"We could see patrols moving out and not meeting much opposition," Russell added.



By LOUIS V. HUNTER. Somewhere In England, 6 June 1944 - (CP) - Flying unchallenged in their third sweep of the day over the new Allied beachhead on the shores of France, Canadian fighter pilots returned tonight to report Allied troops apparently engaged in heavy fighting around Caen, 10 miles from the sea, while other freshly landed troops penetrated inland from the beaches.
The Canadian fighters, who learned of D-Day only in a pre-midnight briefing last night, have been flying since early this morning. They were wished "Good hunting" by Group Capt. W. R. MacBrien of Ottawa, commander of a Canadian fighter sector, but the only targets they found were those on the ground. Only one German plane was sighted throughout the day. It was off in the distance and was not engaged.
Back from their latest flight, the Canadian fliers said fires were seen at Caen, and that it appeared tanks were converging on that town from either side - Germans from the south and Allied armor from the north. One flier said it looked as if fierce fighting were going on around the town.

"All Right Lads"
Group Capt. MacBrien informed the fliers about 11:30 o'clock last night of the impending invasion, saying simply;
"All right lads, pay attention. As you probably know already, tomorrow is D-Day."
They had been given a previous hint the big day was almost at hand when the wings and fuselages of their Spitfires were painted with black and white stripes so they could be identified easily over the beachhead.
In the briefing tent there were whistles of amazement as the invasion operation was outlined to them by their group captain, known affectionately as "Old Bill." You could see he knew the invasion plan almost by heart for only once or twice did he ever have to refer to the file of secret documents in his hand.

Word About Targets
The pilots were told that the beachhead targets were being showered with 12,000 tons of bombs from 2,000 Allied planes, mostly four-engined bombers. They were told other things, too, and were given figures concerning either the ground or the air operations in France, but for security reasons these cannot be revealed.
At the conclusion of the briefing, Group Capt. MacBrien read a message from Gen. Eisenhower, supreme invasion commander, instructing the fliers to attack only military targets and spare Frenchmen who were friendly to the Allies.
During their unchallenged flights over the beachhead they could see the troops on the shore, and Sqdn. Ldr. Dal Russel of Montreal said they seemed "to be having a comparatively easy time."
"We could see patrols moving out and not meeting much opposition," he said.
Earlier they had reported shelling going on at the beachhead and "lots of armored stuff on the beach," with more being put ashore from landing craft.



3 August 1944 - Another Hamilton fighter pilot has achieved the enviable record of four enemy planes destroyed and a score more damaged and probably destroyed. He is F/L George W. Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Johnson, 102 Beechwood Avenue, who knocked down another Hun fighter over Normandy battlefields yesterday. F/L William Olmsted, son of Major R. I. Olmsted, M.C., and Mrs. Olmsted, and F/L Jack Bamford, D.F.C., share the record of four "certain kills” F/L Bamford is now missing.
According to a Canadian Press dispatch from France, "three German aircraft were destroyed over the battlefronts yesterday by Canadian Spitfire pilots flying from Normandy bases. One fell to F/L R. R. Bouskill, of Toronto; one to F/L R. H. Cull, of Alberta, and one to F/L Johnson.
Now into his second tour of operations, F/L Johnson has scored at least three of his kills since D-day. 
He was posted overseas last June after having served for a year as instructor in Canada. He was awarded his wings at Dunnville. Employed in the offices of the Steel Company of Canada, prior to his enlistment, he attended Prince of Wales School and Central High School of Commerce. His father is a Great War veteran.
According to today's dispatch from overseas, the Canadians are members of a squadron commanded by S/L Charlie Trainor, of Charlottetown, and their victories raised to 92 since D-day the score of the wing led by W/C Dal Russel, of Montreal. An individual victory was marked up Wednesday by F/O Terry Saunderson, of Dorval, Que., who forced a German pilot to bale out at 3,000 feet.



By HAROLD MAYES. With the Tactical Air Force in Belgium, Sept, 27, 1944 -(Reuter)- W/C Johnny Johnson, Britain's leading fighter pilot, shot down his 38th German aircraft today as the Canadian fighter wing he commands destroyed 14 planes and damaged six in fierce battles along the Rhine east of the Holland salient.
Up to lunch time today, Johnson's wing had brought its total of German planes destroyed in 1½ days to 23.
Another Canadian Spitfire wing, led by W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C. and Bar, of Westmount, Que., has a total of 30 planes shot down in 2½ days, 20 of them by a squadron led by S/L Dean Dover, D.F.C., of Toronto.
Four Canadian pilots got two kills each today. One of them, F/L Rod Smith, D.F.C., of Regina, attacked an Me-109 out of a formation of 10 German fighters with a four-second burst from 150 yards and saw it crash into the Rhine. Twenty minutes later he shot down another Me-109 as it was diving in an attempt to bomb the vital Nijmegen Bridge.
The pilot of the plane was seen to drop out, but the parachute did not open.
Smith yesterday destroyed two FW190's and now is credited with 11 planes destroyed.
The Germans, who are operating in formations up to 50 strong, are taking a terrific beating in every combat. Although the totals are smaller because fewer German aircraft are engaged on a percentage basis, tactical air force pilots now are rivaling the first Battle of Britain days.
The Germans still seek security in large numbers, but their pilots are proving no match for those of the Allies.
Yesterday some German fighters trying to give close support to their troops between Arnhem and Nijmegen were operating at deck level while others gave cover at between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. But with continual harassing by Allied fighter patrols, they met with little success.
The only time during the day when the Germans were on the winning side in a single air battle was when 30 of them pounced on six rocket-firing Typhoons, two of which are missing.
The Germans are using a mixed bag of aircraft at night in attacks on the salient area.
One Ju-87 was shot down last night, and the previous night an Me-109 was destroyed.
By day they are using some jet propelled Me-262s, which are a purely experimental type for bombing missions. Yesterday one was damaged by Spitfires.
With their road and rail links being attacked day and night by the Allied air forces, the communication problems for the Germans trying to defend their own country may soon approach a state of chaos.
The attacks on communications are being carried out without switching a single aircraft from tactical obligations in the immediate battle areas.
The whole weight of Allied air supremacy now is being used in a manner never previously achieved.



London, Sept. 29, 1944 - (CP) - Spitfire pilots of three Canadian fighter wings destroyed at least 28 German aircraft today, raising their score for the week to more than 80. The RCAF reported from Belgium that pilots of a Belgian-based wing under the command of W/C W.R. MacBrien of Ottawa, shot down nine German planes and damaged two others. A Reuter News agency correspondent in a field dispatch credited wings commanded by W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C., of Westmount, Que., and W/C J.E. (Johnny) Johnson English-born leader of a Canadian wing, with 10 and nine, respectfully. F/L Gordon Ockenden of Edmonton, F/L Gordon Smith of Nelson, B.C., and F/O R.A. Hodgins of Ottawa each scored double victories as MacBrien's wing smashed up German formations of fighters over Nijmegen, Holland, near the northern tip of the British 2nd Army's corridor through Holland. Single kills were credited to F/O A. J. Horrell of Windsor, Ont., F/O K.M. Langmuir of Toronto, and F/L Cap Foster of Grimsby, Ont. F/L B.T. Gilmour of St. Thomas, Ont., and F/O F.R. Kearns of Quyon, Ont., each claimed to have damaged an enemy plane. Foster's victory was a "revenge" kill. The Grimsby pilot was forced to bail out behind the Allied lines Sunday when an ME-109 blew up the engine of his Spitfire, but today he got another ME-109 in his sights and brought it down with a four-second burst. "I was pretty mad and thinking of what happened to me the other day," Foster said. "He blew up, and I had to dodge the debris. I guess things are evened up now." Names of the scorers in the wings commanded by Russel and Johnson were not immediately available.


Canadians Bag 19 Enemy Planes

With the Tactical Air Force, Belgium, 29 Sept. 1944 - (Reuter) - Two Canadian Spitfire wings of the tactical air force accounted for 19 of 22 enemy aircraft destroyed from dawn to early afternoon today in operations over Western Europe.
One wing, led by Wing Cmdr. Dal Russel, D.F.C., of Westmount, Que., shot down 10. Nine fell to the wing commanded by Wing Cmdr. J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, the English-born leading Allied ace.


Eight Ontario Fliers In Latest Honor List

Russel portrait  

Ottawa, 5 Oct. 1944 - (CP) - The RCAF tonight announced the award of 26 decorations, including a Distinguished Service Order and a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, to RCAF Personnel serving overseas. The DSO was awarded W/C B.D. Russell, DFC, of Westmount, Que., after his squadrons obtained outstanding success under his leadership, said the RCAF. The Bar to the DFC went to S/L H.C. Trainor, Bedford, P.E.I., reported missing Sept. 19, for outstanding leadership and fighting qualities. The recipients:
Wing Cmdr. B.D. Russell, Westmount, Que.
Bar to DFC
Sqdn. Ldr. H.C. Trainor, Bedford, P.E.I.
Sqdn. Ldr. G. F. Arbuckle, 930 Queen St. E., Toronto.
Sqdn. Ldr. R. Bannock, Edmonton, Alta.        etc...


RUSSEL, W/C Blair Dalzell, DFC (C1319) - Distinguished Service Order - No.126 Wing
Award effective 3 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 2637/44 dated 8 December 1944.

In recent intensive air operations the squadrons under the command of Wing Commander Russel have completed a large number of sorties. Within a period of three days a very large number of enemy transport vehicles were attacked of which 127 were set on fire and a bigger number were damaged. In addition, four hostile aircraft were destroyed and seventeen tanks and nineteen other armoured vehicles were damaged. By his masterly leadership, sound judgement and fine fighting qualities, Wing Commander Russel played a good part in the success achieved. His example inspired all.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9159 has recommendation dratted by G/C G.R. McGregor on 15 August 1944 when he had flown 290 sorties (460 operational hours) of which 73 sorties (110 hours) had been since his previous award.

During daylight of August 12th, 13th and 14th, pilots of the fighter wing led by this officer flew 420 sorties over enemy territory in Northwestern France. In attacks on enemy transport vehicles, the Wing amassed the outstanding score of 127 Flamers, 77 Smokers and 199 damaged. In addition during this three-day period, four enemy aircraft were destroyed and 17 tanks, 19 armoured fighting vehicles and two aircraft were damaged.

These exceptional results are very largely due to this officer=s excellent leadership, sound judgement and courageous fighting spirit. These qualities have inspired every pilot in the Wing.

He is most strongly recommended for the Distinguished Service Order as an immediate award.

This was endorsed by successive officers and approved on 26 August 1944 by Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Allied Expeditionary Air Force.



With the RCAF Bomber Group In Britain, 31 Oct. 1944 – (CP) – Group Headquarters today announced the appointment of new commanders for two Bases.
G/C J.L. Hurley of Ottawa assumes command of one base, comprising three operational bomber stations, and is promoted to the rank of air commodore. Formerly he was director of organization at RCAF headquarters in Ottawa. Also promoted air commodore is G/C F.R. Miller, of Ottawa, who assumes command of a base with three stations housing heavy conversion units and one housing an air crew battle school. It was additionally announced that W/C C.C.W. Marshal of Kingston, Ont. has been, appointed to command of the Tiger squadron. He formerly was a flight commander in the Porcupine Squadron.
S/L Bill Olmsted of Hamilton, Ont., was named commander of an RCAF fighter squadron in Belgium in a fighter wing led by W/C Dal Russel of Westmount, Que.



An Advanced RCAF Airfield in Holland, Nov. 22, 1944 - (CP) - Here's the record of a hot day's operations by two RCAF Spitfire squadrons operating as fighter-bombers.
Four enemy fighters destroyed, a fifth probably destroyed; enemy rail lines cut at 20 points; a direct hit with a bomb on a road bridge; one locomotive destroyed, 22 damaged and put out of action; six freight cars destroyed; 28 damaged; two anti-aircraft railway cars destroyed, and two damaged; four barges damaged; seven transport vehicles destroyed, two probably knocked out and seven damaged.
The squadrons are commanded by S/L Dean Dover, DFC, Mount Dennis, and S/L William Olmsted, DFC, Hamilton, in a wing directed operationally by W/C Dal Russel, DFC and Bar, of Montreal.
F/L Don Laubman, DFC and Bar, of Edmonton, brought his bag to 15 German aircraft destroyed as a result of the day's encounters.
F/O's Don Goodwin, Maynooth, Ont., and Neil Burns, 196 Eglinton Ave., Toronto, took off on a weather reconnaissance flight, but returned an hour later after disabling six locomotives, destroying six freight cars and cutting two rail lines. They encountered a perfect setup for dive-bombing — two trains passing one another — 10 miles east of Deventer. They scored direct hits on both, severing the parallel lines and destroying six cars. Then they returned and strafed both locomotives.
En route home they damaged four more engines by cannon and machine-gun fire. Olmsted's men had the most success against trains, disabling 18 of 23 Locomotives and all but three of 34 freight cars.


Canadian Fighter Unit Downs 201 Nazi Planes

An Advanced R.C.A.F. Airfield in Holland, 18 Dec. 1944 - (CP) - Fliers of a Canadian Spitfire wing under Group Captain G. R. McGregor and Wing Commander Dal Russel, both of Montreal, became the second to pass the 200 mark in German aircraft destroyed since the wing’s formation, when they shot down a pair of FW190's over Geldern in Germany.
First to establish the mark was the wing commanded jointly by Group Captain W.R. MacBrien of Ottawa, and Wing Commander Johnny Johnson, whose fliers shot down five aircraft Oct. 8, raising their total to 202, and subsequently to 207. The McGregor-Russel wing's total stands at 201.
The two Canadian units have destroyed 314 Huns between them since D-Day, scored more than 15 probables and damaged upwards of 200. In addition to crippling German road and rail transport with dive-bombing, as well as machine-gun and cannon offensives.
The first Jerry destroyed by McGregor-Russel pilots, July 19, 1943, was a FW190, joint victim of Squadron Leader Ian Ormston of Montreal, and Squadron Leader Bob Hayward of St. John's, Nfld. Since then many aces have been born within the wing. The most recent being Flight Lieutenant Don Laubman, of Edmonton, with 15 destroyed; Squadron Leader R.I. Smith, Regina, 11 destroyed; Flight Lieutenant W.J. Banks and Flying Officer D.R. Jamieson, both of Toronto, each with eight destroyed.




Down Seven of Enemy in One Day, But Poor Weather Halts Hunting

(By F/O James P. Rennie, D.F.C. War Correspondent for the Spectator and Southam Papers) On the Western Front, 26 Feb. 1945 - Eagerly, almost impatiently, these youthful Canadian Spitfire pilots raced through their noonday meal. One hour before they screamed their deadly little craft into base to report seven Jerry fighters destroyed and two damaged. Now, just one more "kill" would bring the wing's total bag to a nice round figure of 300. But the weather was deteriorating fast.

Brisk Scrap
Even as a mess guest I sensed this electric atmosphere on entering the room. After five minutes with the pilots I wanted that one additional kill as earnestly as any man in the place. But, as so frequently happens in flying, the weather-man won. Sorties ended for the day at noon. The Luftwaffe was safe for another few hours.
Flyers of the all Canadian fighter wing displayed obvious disappointment. In two sorties before noon they had encountered Jerries twice and for the first time in weeks the enemy showed willingness to fight. This delighted our airmen, who saw it only as bad judgment, for both scrambles cost Goering eight fighters destroyed and three damaged. All our Spits returned safely.
Twelve pilots figured in the sweep which knocked out seven enemy aircraft in a brisk eight-minute scrap. They were patrolling north of the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heart, when more than 40 FW-190's and ME-109's were sighted at 8,000 feet. After eight minutes of mad scramble, the Jerries sped for home. Seven of their number had hit the deck in flames.

Share Destruction
Between gulps of coffee F/L R. B. Barker, of Vancouver, described his two kills and one probable. Quick bursts of cannon fire finished both.
"I followed my first one down to see him hit the deck in flames," he said. "My second just broke up in the air."
Credited with two kills each during the forenoon's work were F/L Ken Trumley, of Toronto, and F/O Ernest Baker, of London, Ont. The other victim fell to F/L Don C. Gordon, D.F.C., of Vancouver. Earlier in the day F/O Harold McLeod, who lives near Summerside, P.E.I., returned from a sortie near Bohxen to report one kill and one probable.
Mixing it this way with the Luftwaffe warms the hearts of these young flyers. But as a unit giving air support to our ground forces they have other important and hazardous functions. These additional jobs are done with equal tenacity but the all-out enthusiasm just isn't there. Such enterprises as diving through flak at 400 miles an hour to wreck enemy trains and motor transport doesn't pack the thrill. At least that's what pilots say.

Prefer Combat
"Yes, a fighter pilot always prefers an enemy fighter to trains or dive bombings." said their 24-year-old wing commander (Dal Russel -jf). This blond, chunky product of Minnedosa, Man., ought to know. He has completed three operational tours, one of them in Malta. Along the way he's collected the D.S.O. and two D.F.C.s.
Typical of these fighter boys is F/L Bill Banks, D.F.C., of Leaside, Ont. Bill has 11 kills to his credit in addition to four trains and 40 motor vehicles destroyed or damaged. But he looked none too happy as he walked into the mess. Two days ago he finished his operational tour with a dive bombing sortie on railways deep inside Germany. Now he is faced with what he considers the horrible fate of spending some months as ground instructor in England. "Bill is really browned off," the wing commander said with a laugh.
When that 300th kill is recorded, F/O D. F. Church, of Peterboro, will be ousted from his place of eminence in the mess. To him fell the honour of bringing the wing's count to 250. Competition is keen for this next one.

Leading Squadron
Enthusiasm in this gang starts at the top. Their group captain beamed when his telephone rang and he learned of the morning's eight victories.
"Good show. That makes it 299 eh?" he said, all smiles. He turned from the phone to relay the good news to his second in command and myself.
This wing made up of Canadians from Halifax to Victoria, is leading all other Spitfire wings in battle successes. They have fought Jerry in the air and aided our ground armies since a few days after D-day. In that time they have operated from 10 bases, always moving eastward immediately behind the army. Their present home is in Holland. They hope to be on a German drome soon.
It was mid-afternoon when I left them. All of us were sorry that weather had halted activity on one of their good days. "Sure wish we could have got that other one for you today," a pilot grumbled as I waved them good-bye.


Victories Include :

31 Aug 1940
4 Sep 1940

15 Sep 1940
25 Sep 1940
27 Sep 1940

22 Jun 1944
10 Aug 1944
one Do17
one Ju88
one Me110
one He111
1/2 Do17
one Me109
one Me110
1/2 Me110
one Do17

1/2 FW190
one Me109

W Gravesend
Near Grinstead &
Near Dungeness
SW of London
12M N of Tangmere [1]
S of Kenley (shared w/ 303 sqn),
Near Gatwick,
Kenley - E Grinstead [2][a]
Hastings-Bexhill [b]

Argentan [3]

4.5 - 3.5 / 2 / 4


[1] Shared with Otto "Pete" Peterson
[2] Shared with Pete Lochnan
[3] Shared with John Marriott of 442 Squadron

[a] Dal's combat report for 2nd sortie of 27 September: "I was flying Green 3 in Search Section when we sighted bombers and [I] was attacked by 1 Me. 109 from the starboard beam. In dodging out of his way I joined with three 109s flying in line astern. I gave No. 3 about 3 seconds burst and he fell off to the left and baled out; as he was doing so, I could not see any material damage although my burst must have hit him as I was directly beneath him and about 70 yards behind him when I fired. In my break-away I lost considerable height and I was successful in joining with Caribou leader. We climbed to attack Me. 109s which were flying in a defensive circle over Biggin Hill area. We attacked from N.E. against the circle. I got separated in this attack and attacked a smaller group, which were slightly lower to the south. I attacked a Me. 110 from slightly above and behind in a tight turn, gave him about 8 seconds burst which started the port engine on fire.
He fell away and about 4 Hurricanes set on him and he crashed somewhere in the vicinity of E. Grinstead. At this point another Me. 110 broke away and about four of us set on it. He crashed about 10 miles south of my first one in a clearing between a lot of trees. My first landed in a field behind quite a big house near a small town with a cement road running in front."

[b] Dal's combat report for 3rd sortie of 27 September: "I was Blue 2 in Search section. After attack on bombers over Croydon area I broke off and lost considerable height. I then gained height and chased enemy formation to the coast. Attacked e/a over coast. Was able to get a long burst in opening at about 500 yards. In the middle of my burst the e/a seemed to rear upwards and to the right but settle down again: I was forced to stop shooting as a Hurricane cut across in front of my sights. The e/a was smoking badly when I started my attack and continued smoking until he disappeared in the mist with two other Hurricanes still attacking him."

About this combat [b], The RCAF Overseas Volume 1 says : "It is interesting to note that while the Canadian pilots claimed one destroyed and five damaged, when the wreckage was surveyed it was found that five had been destroyed and one damaged."


RUSSEL, F/O* Blair Dalzell, DSO, DFC (C1319) - Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (Fr.)
Award as per Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947 & 
AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947.

* NOTE: The rank requires an explanation; Russel reverted to Flying Officer on 19 November 1946 and was not reappointed to Wing Commander rank until 13 July 1948.


RUSSEL, F/O Blair Dalzell, DSO, DFC (C1319) - 
Officer, Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords (Netherlands)
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 23 January 1948 & 
AFRO 81/48 dated 6 February 1948.

Public Records Office Air 2/9293 has recommendation drafted when he was a Wing Commander: In operational command of No.126 Wing, Royal Air Force [sic], stationed at the aerodrome Volkel from September 1944 until February until April 1945, through his excellent work has greatly contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands.


21 Canadian Airmen Decorated by Czechs

Ottawa, 23 Jan. 1948 - (CP) - Recognizing the co-operation between Canadian and Czech fliers during the war, Czechoslovakia has conferred decorations on 21 serving and retired members of the RCAF, it was announced tonight.
The Czechoslovak War Cross, 1939, was awarded to five officers, all of whom served in the Battle of Britain. The Czech Medal for Bravery went to 12 others, while four officers won the Czech Medal of Merit, 1st Class.
Wing Cmdr. P. S. Turner of Toronto, who served with the RAF in the Battle of France, Dunkerque and the Battle of Britain, won both the War Cross and the medal for Bravery.
Already a holder of the DSO and the DFC, he destroyed 14 enemy aircraft and for a time commanded the City of Windsor Squadron No. 417 at Malta. Later he headed No. 244 Wing and then transferred to the RCAF. He now is stationed at the Joint Air School at Rivers, Man. Other winners of the War Cross are: Group Capt. G. R. McGregor of Montreal and Winnipeg; Group Capt. E.A. McNab of Regina; Sqdn. Ldr. B. E. Christmas of St. Hilaire, Que., and FO. B. D. Russel of Montreal.
There were no citations accompanying the awards, presented in each case to Canadians associated in some way with the Czech war effort.
Group Capt. McNab, 41, a son o£ a former Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan, was the first Canadian flier to receive an award in the Second Great War. That was on Oct. 4, 1940. Following service overseas, he returned to Canada and commanded No. 4 Service Flying Training School in Saskatchewan.
Group Capt. McGregor was among the first three RCAF pilots to get the DFC. A fighter pilot like the others who won the War Cross, he headed an overseas fighter station, saw service in the Aleutians, and later commanded No. 126 Wing.
FO. Russell, who holds his present title as a member of the auxiliary air force in Montreal, formerly was an acting wing commander and led a wing overseas.


RUSSEL, F/O Blair Dalzell, DSO, DFC (C1319) - War Cross, 1939 (Czechoslovakia)
Canada Gazette dated 24 January 1948, and 
AFRO 81/48 dated 6 February 1948.


Retired Airmen Receive Awards

Ottawa, May 17, 1951 - (CP) - Two retired officers of the R.C.A.F. were decorated by Netherlands' Ambassador A. H. J. Lovink yesterday for their part in the liberation of Holland late in the war.
G/C Paul Y. Davoud, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Toronto, who commanded No. 143 Wing, Royal Air Force station at Eindhoven from September 1944 to December 1944, was given the commander's cross of the Order of Orange Nassau, military division.
W/C Bair D. Russel, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Montreal, who was operational commander of No. 126 Wing, R.A.F., at the airfield at Volkel from September 1944 to February 1945, was given the officer's cross, the same order.
Their citations said their "outstanding work contributed in a large measure to the liberation of The Netherlands."
The investiture took part at the Mariposa Street home of the Netherlands' ambassador.




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