The other day, I was clearing out the basement (or rather shifting things around to give the impression of clearing out), when I came upon a small box of stuff of my late dad's. Inside the box were a few letters tied with string and which, on opening, seemed to be correspondence from a university friend of his, Bill Russell, serving at the time (1941-1943) in the RAF.
The last of these letters, dated 25th July 1943, was from Bill's parents in Bulawayo and was, it seems, a response to a letter of condolence. (BIll was declared missing in action on July 9th, 1943.) The second last letter, and presumably the last received from Bill, was dated 18th June, 1943, though a note from my father records it as having been received on 3 August.
I have not yet been able to find anyone else who knew, or knew of, Bill Russell. I will post any information that I do find. In the meantime, here is the letter from Bill’s parents referred to above. If anyone has any further information, please feel free to email me.
s/m J.J. Schwartz
S.R. Supply Corps.
PO Box 1383
s.m. J.J. Schwartz
Dear Mr Schwartz,
Kindly accept the thanks of wife & myself for your very kind letter of sympathy during the period of anxiety and sorrow. The sad news of our dear old Bill has been a great blow. We however hold out great hopes for his safety.
Although we have not had the pleasure to meet you, Bill often spoke to us about you. We were aware of the fact that you were pals. I should like to write a long letter, but at the moment you can quite appreciate our feelings.
I do hope that you will call on us whenever you are in Bulawayo. I shall be esteemed if you would let any of Bill's other pals know, there may be some at the university.
I quite agree with you that Bill was a fine type of lad. He always did his best in everything he undertook.
Again thanking you sincerely.
I can assure you we appreciate your letter.
W. A. Russell
Rhodesia Herald 20 July 1943
ROLL OF HONOUR
RHODESIA AIR CASUALTIES
The Minister of Air regrets to announce the following Rhodesian casualties:-
Flight Sgt. Pilot William Allen Russell, missing as the result of air operations on July 9, 1943.
Flying Officer Frederick Michael Furber, missing, beleived a prisoner of war, as the result of air operations on July 9, 1943.
Sgt. Air Gunner Rufus Isaac Gruber, who was previously reported missing, believed killed in action, is now officially presumed to have been killed on November 9, 1942.
Flight Sgt. Pilot Russell, son of Mr. W. A. Russell, of Bulawayo, was born at Braamfontein, Transvaal, on June 17, 1920, and before the war was studying law at Cape Town University. He attested in May 1941, received preliminary training in this country and proceeded to the Middle East in December the same year.
Flying Officer Furber was born on July 23, 1922, at Queenstown, Eastern Province, and educated at Plumtree School. After receiving preliminary training in this Colony, he proceeded overseas in September, 1941, having attested in February, 1941. His parents, Captain and Mrs. F. W. Furber, live at Selukwe.