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Martin, Richard John Russell

1939 - 1945 Star
1939 - 1945
1939 - 1945 War Medal
1939 - 1945
War Medal
Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Richard John Russell Martin (908624)
Died on Tuesday 10th June 1941, aged 24
45 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Son of James and Ethel Martin, of Hurst, Berkshire.
Buried:Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery
P. 73.

Russell Martin was born on 20th November 1916 in Hartley Witney to James and Ethel (née Cator) Martin. In 1939 Russell was living with his parents in Cameron Cottage, Haines Hill, Hurst and was working as a chemist's assistant.

Russell joined 45 Squadron on 21st April 1941 as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, along with fellow crew members Norman Pinnington (Pilot) and Howard Irving (Observer). At that time the squadron was based at Fuka, Egypt, flying Blenheim Mk. IV bombers in defence of Tobruk and against the advancing Afrika Corps.

As well as bombs, 45 Squadron began in May 1941 to drop steel spikes on enemy landing grounds to impede movement on the ground. Russell's crew flew 'spiking' missions on 13th and 15th May but on both occasions had to abandon their flight due to technical problems. On 20th May 1941 the German invasion of Crete commenced with paratroopers landing on the airfield at Maleme. 45 Squadron was diverted to the defence of the island and on 27th May Russell's crew was part of a three plane mission to 'spike' Maleme.

Unfortunately their Blenheim Mk. IV no. Z5896 crashed on take-off from Fuka and burst into flames. Flying Officer Pinnington and Pilot Officer Irving were killed instantly, while Russell Martin was bravely rescued from the burning wreck by ground crew. Russell suffered extensive burns and died in hospital in Alexandria two weeks later. He now rests in the Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery. His fellow crew members are buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery.


Russell Martin at Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery
Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery
Short toil
Eternal rest
image: © Ralph McLean - South Africa War Graves Project

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon