Russell Bannock, born in Edmonton in 1919, had worked as a
commercial pilot before the Second World War even got
After entering the Royal Canadian Air Force, he received his
wings in 1940 and was appointed flight commander. Bannock was an
instructor at Trenton, Ontario before he began flying for the
Royal Air Force Ferry Command in June 1942.This posting ended in
In September, Bannock became a chief instructor at the Flying
Instructor School at Arnprior, Ontario. Bannock then formally
requested to go overseas and his request was granted in 1944
when he was transferred to Number 60 Operational Training Unit
based in Ercall, Shropshire, England.
Once Bannock’s operational training was complete, he was
transferred to 418 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
flying intruder missions over Europe in the
de Havilland Mosquito.
He quickly achieved his first victories and was promoted to the
rank of flight commander. Soon he was promoted again to wing
commander, and in October 1944, took full command of 418
Bannock was primarily responsible for shooting down German
V-1 "flying bombs" that were causing havoc in London and
southern England. On one mission alone he shot down four V-1s in
one hour. Another of his talents was carrying out intruder
missions against enemy airfields, for which he was awarded a
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). A bar for his DFC was added
for his effective missions against the V-1s.
Bannock was transferred to 406 Squadron in November 1944 as
the commanding officer, and was awarded the Distinguished
Service Order (DSO) as an outstanding leader.
By April 1945, Bannock was given the title, "The Saviour of
London," for destroying 11 enemy aircraft and 19 and one-half
V-1 "flying bombs." He was also acknowledged as the RCAF’s top
night fighter during WWII.
Bannock later became the director of operations, RCAF
Overseas Headquarters, in London in May 1945. He remained in
this position until September 1945 when he attended the Royal
Air Force Staff College.
Retiring from the air force in 1946, he accepted a position
at de Havilland Aircraft Company as chief test pilot and
operations manager. He was the first to fly prototypes of
aircraft like the Beaver and other short take-off and landing
aircraft. In 1950, Bannock took the position of director of
military sales, and later became vice president. He remained
with de Havilland until 1968 when he established his own
consulting business, Bannock Aerospace Ltd.
In 1956, Bannock was appointed an associate fellow of the
Canadian Aeronautical Institute. He was chairman of the Canadian
Aerospace Industries Association’s Export Committee from 1964 to
1968, and was its director from 1976 to 1977.
Bannock also held the positions of president of the Canadian
Fighter Pilots Association, the director of the Canadian
Industrial Preparedness Association, and the Canadian Exporters
Association. He was known as the second highest scoring Canadian
fighter pilot of the Second World War.