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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RAF Crest
28.02.1945 631 Squadron Henley I L3276 P/O. William H. Russell

Operation: Anti-Aircraft Co-operation exercise

Date: 28th February 1945 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 631 Squadron (70 Group)

Type: Hawker Henley I

Serial: L3276

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Towyn, Caernarfonshire, Wales

Location: Mouth of River Dysynni, Wales

Pilot: P/O. William Henry Russell NZ/40987 RNZAF Age 25. Killed


With the great research carried out by Errol Martyn on the Royal New Zealand Airforce losses we have been able to compile this page. If you have further information and or photographs we would welcome contact from you.

On the 12th August 1941 485 squadron were tasked to escort 6 Blenheims to the shipyards at Le Trait in France. Taking off from RAF Redhill at 17:35 hrs with 7 others. Whilst flying Spitfire IIa P7970 OU-D he was shot down and captured over Northern France. Treated at a German hospital for injuries. Sadly German doctors had to amputate his left arm above the elbow. After two years in captivity he was repatriated to England in October 1943. On return and following further treatment and fitted with an artificial limb he was retrained as a pilot for non combat duties. During the same Circus the squadron lost another pilot, 24 year old Sgt. George Marchant Porter 931283 from Wellington, New Zealand. Flying Spitfire IIa P7788 OU-E attacked by enemy fighters during the return trip from France when he went missing.

Then, on the Wednesday 28th February P/O. Russell was taking part in Anti-Aircraft Co-operation exercise when after about an hours flying the pilot experienced a problem at about 15:00 hrs. He returned to go back to the base but the engine then failed and he started to lose height. He decided to ditch in the mouth of the river Dysynni but at the last moment he lost control and dived into the water.

Later investigations concluded that he may have lost control whilst lowering the flaps as he had an artificial limb he would have had to hold the control column between his knees.

Burial details:

P/O. William Henry Russell. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 269. Son of John Henry Russell and of Martha Russell (nee Jones), Llanfairfechan, Caernarvonshire. 456 Flying hours logged (51 of these on the Henley) and had completed 39 operational sorties whilst with 485 Squadron.


Sgt. George Marchant Porter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 50. Son of George Marchant, and of Amy Porter (formerly Marchant), of Petone, Wellington, New Zealand. 220 Flying hours logged and on his 9th operational sortie.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 02.01.2018

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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