Russell Bannock seemed to come on the aviation scene at the right time. It was just before the Second World War that he earned his commercial pilot’s licence. Mr. Bannock, who was born in Edmonton, Alta., had been flying in Vancouver when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, (RCAF).
The RCAF needed instructors and Mr. Bannock was appointed as an instructor at Trenton, Ont. Eventually, he was seconded to the Royal Air Force Ferry Command and ferried aircraft, some through Gander, from June to August 1942.
The RCAF, still in need of experienced instructors, assigned him to Arnprior, Ont., as chief instructor. He asked several times to be assigned overseas, and finally his request was granted in 1944.
In June 1944, Mr. Bannock was flying the de Havilland Mosquito bomber with No. 418 Squadron, and in short order destroyed his first German aircraft.
In October 1944, he was promoted to Wing Commander.
Mr. Bannock became very successful in destroying the German V-1 flying bombs launched against London and southern England, and on one mission he shot down four V-1s in one hour.
By April 1945, Mr. Bannock had destroyed 11 enemy aircraft and 19 flying bombs.
On Oct. 4, 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with the following citation:
This officer has completed numerous sorties including several attacks on enemy airfields on which he has caused much disruption. He is a highly efficient flight commander and has shown much skill and initiative in the planning and execution of his missions. His successes include the destruction of many flying bombs, three of which he destroyed in one patrol.
On Jan. 9, 1945, he was awarded a Bar to DFC with the following citation:
This officer has displayed outstanding ability, great determination and devotion to duty. Within recent months he has completed a number of sorties against airfields, some of them far into enemy territory. His sterling qualities were well evidenced one night in September 1944 during an attack on an enemy airfield. Over the target Squadron Leader Bannock shot down two enemy aircraft. In the second of the fights his own aircraft was damaged by flying debris. One engine failed but he flew his aircraft several hundred miles back to base where he effected a safe landing.
“In June 1944, Mr. Bannock was flying the de Havilland Mosquito bomber with No. 418 Squadron, and in short order destroyed his first German aircraft… By April 1945, Mr. Bannock had destroyed 11 enemy aircraft and 19 flying bombs.” -
On Aug. 8, 1945, Mr. Bannock was awarded the Distinguished Service Order with the following citation:
As squadron commander, Wing Commander Bannock has proved to be an outstanding success. Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross he has destroyed a further seven enemy aircraft bringing his total victories to at least eleven enemy aircraft destroyed and others damaged. He has also destroyed nineteen flying bombs by night. In addition he has caused considerable disruption to the enemy's lines of communication. Under this officer's inspiring leadership his squadron has obtained a fine record of successes and reached a high standard of operational efficiency.
After the war, he joined the de Havilland Aircraft Company as chief test pilot.
Mr. Bannock was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in1983. His citation read:
“His inspiring leadership as an instructor and fighter pilot in World War II, his unusual skills as a test pilot, and his corporate business leadership have all been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”
Reference: Oswald, Mary, They Led the Way, Wetaskiwin: Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, 1999. ISBN 0-9684843-0-1