Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal J B Russell (37125)

John Bernard                b: 13 Apr 1916                     r: 30 Apr 1969                     d: 8 Aug 1978

CB – 13 Jun 1964, CBE - 1 Jan 1960 (OBE – 10 Jun 1954), DSO – 10 Nov 1942, MiD - 8 Jun 1944.

Act Plt Off: 15 Mar 1935, Plt Off: 15 Mar 1936, Fg Off: 15 Sep 1937, Flt Lt: 15 Sep 1939, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1940, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1942, Act Gp Capt: 3 Jul 1944?, Wg Cdr (WS): 3 Jan 1945, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Act Gp Capt: 1 Jun 1954, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1954, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1960, Act AVM: 4 Feb 1963, AVM: 1 Jul 1963.

30 Mar 1935:           U/T Pilot, No 5 FTS.

29 Feb 1936:           Attended School of Air Navigation, (Specialist Navigation Course).

10 Oct 1937:           Attended School of Naval Co-operation.

10 Jun 1938:            Instructor, School of General Reconnaissance.

12 Dec 1940:           Staff, Directorate of Flying Training.

17 Dec 1939:           Training Officer, RAF Eastchurch

 8 Apr 1940:             Training Officer, RAF Hucknall

xx Aug 1941:            Flight Commander, No 502 Sqn. (Whitley)

xx Apr 1942:            Officer Commanding, No 172 Sqn.

xx xxx 1942:             Staff, ?

xx Jun 1943:             Officer Commanding, No 612  Sqn. (Wellington XII/XIV)

xx Jan 1944:             Attended RAF Staff College.

 5 Jul 1944:              Senior Personnel Staff Officer, HQ Middle East Command.

xx xxx 1945:            Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1948:            Staff, British Joint Services Mission, Washington.

13 Feb 1951:           Staff Officer, Directorate of Navigation and Control

xx xxx 1953:            Staff Officer, Directorate of Operations (3).

xx Mar 1954:           Staff Officer, Ministry of Supply.

 1 Jun 1954:             SASO, HQ No 19 (Reconnaissance) Group.

xx xxx 1957:            Staff, HQ RAF Malta.

 1 Jan 1960:             Director of Operations - Maritime, Navigation and ATC.

 4 Feb 1963:            SASO, HQ Coastal Command.

 1 Apr 1966:            Deputy Controller, National Air Traffic Control Service.

In April 1942 he formed a new anti-submarine squadron, No 172 equipped with the Wellington VIII.   He took temporary command of No 612 Squadron, also equipped with Wellingtons, when it's new CO was tragically killed when his aircraft dived into the river at Barnstable.  However, another replacement, posted in from his old unit, 172, was also killed in a flying accident, and Wing Commander Russell found himself back at the helm, remaining for six months.

From 1969 to 78, he was UK Representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"RUSSELL, John Bernard, W/C (37125, Royal Air Force) - No.172 Squadron.

This officer has performed an arduous task in training the squadron he commands in methods of attack against U-boats.  On one occasion on a flight over the Bay of Biscay, Wing Commander Russell executed a skilful attack on a submarine surfaced on the water.  His leadership has proved most inspiring."

(Source - Air Ministry Bulletin 8479)

Recommendation: -

"He has had an arduous task of training the Squadron in the use and development of the “Leigh Light”. He has set an inspiring example to his squadron by his leadership, and his was one of the first crews to become operationally efficient. At 03.40 hours on 16 June 1942, he was on patrol in the Bay of Biscay when he sighted an enemy submarine on the surface. By means of the “Leigh Light” he carried out a very sound, and it is hoped, successful attack. He has completed 24 sorties, involving 108 hours by day and 96 hours by night operational flying."

(Source - Website of Dix-Noonan-Webb for auction of 7 March 2007)

This page was last updated on 12/03/24©

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