Click on the image to enlarge
Pilots of No. 442 Squadron RCAF in front of the Spitfire Mk. IX. Standing in the middle (with the visible striped T-Shirt) is Sqn/Ldr Blair Dalzell “Dal” Russel. The exact time and location of this photograph could not be established, but Russel was commanding this squadron between 1 May to 15 July ’44, which gives a hint about the time frame. Under his command the unit flew in support of the D-Day landings, being among the first units to move to the provisional B-3 landing ground in Normandy on June 10,1944.
Dal Russel was one of the most accomplished Canadian fighter pilots of the war. He enlisted already in September 1939 and arrived in England in June 1940 just in time to take active part in the Battle of Britain, for which he was awarded a DFC. Later in the war, he was promoted to W/Cdr and actually took a cut in rank to return to perational duties as a commander of No.442 Squadron. Russel was also famous for his luck: during the 286 operational sorties during the war he was never wounded, which gained him a nickname “Deadeye Dick”.
F/L Arnold Roseland of Y2-K Spitfire fame is at far right. [Pat Murphy coll.]