Flight Sergeant Russell George Salter, the son of George Salter and Lucy Salter (nee Ryan), was born at Inglewood in Queensland on 9th May 1915. He was educated at the Acland State School before attending the Toowoomba Grammar School where he completed the Junior Public Examination. He applied for aircrew training in the Royal Australian Air Force on 27th May 1941. He had previously served in the Citizen Military Force for one year as a Trooper in the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. After leaving school he was employed as a Transport Driver. He was enrolled in the Reserve of the R.A.A.F. on 31st May 1941 after swearing the statutory oath of allegiance and he was awarded Reserve Badge No. 3622. At the age of 26 years and 5 months he was enlisted into the Citizen Air Force of the R.A.A.F. at No. 3 Recruiting Centre in Brisbane on 12th October 1941 after giving an undertaking that he would serve for the duration of the war and an additional twelve months. His physical description at the time of his enlistment was that he was 5 feet 8 inches in height and weighed 128 pounds. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He stated that he was of the Roman Catholic religion. He gave his next of kin as his wife, Mrs Eunice Agnes Salter, residing c/- J. Robinson, Brighton Terrace, Sandgate, Queensland. In 1948 his wife was shown as residing at “Homeward Vale”, Jondaryan, Queensland.
Flight Sergeant Russell Salter was allotted the service number of 414601 and he joined No. 3 Initial Training School at Sandgate in Queensland on 12th October 1941. He joined No. 1 Air Observer School at Cootamundra in New South Wales on 2nd April 1942. He joined No. 1 Bombing & Gunnery School at Evans Head in New South Wales on 29th June 1942. He joined No. 1 Air Navigation School at Parkes in New South Wales on 22nd August 1942. After completing his training at Parkes he was awarded the Air Observer Qualification Badge and promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant on 17th September 1942.He joined No. 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate on 18th September 1942 and he was transferred to No. 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park in Sydney on 2nd October 1942 to prepare for movement overseas on attachment to the Royal Canadian Air Force for continuation of his training. He embarked from Brisbane on 3rd October 1942. He was remustered as an Air Navigator (B) on 23rd October 1942.
Flight Sergeant Russell Salter, disembarked in Canada on 28th October 1942 after his arrival in Canada, joined No. 1 General Reconnaissance School at Sunnyside in Newfoundland. After completing his training at Sunnyside he joined No. 1 ‘Y’ Depot at Halifax in Nova Scotia to prepare for movement England on attachment to the Royal Air Force. He embarked from Canada on 29th December 1942 and after disembarking in England on 8th January 1943 he joined No. 3 Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre at Bournemouth later that day. He was promoted to the rank of Temporary Flight Sergeant on 17th March 1943. He joined No. 3 (Coastal) Operational Training unit at Royal Air Force Station Haverford West on 30th March 1943. He joined No. 172 Squadron at Royal Air Force Station Chivenor for operational duty on 2nd June 1943. No. 172 Squadron was an anti-submarine squadron that operated with Vickers Wellington aircraft.
Flight Sergeant Russell Salter was the Air Navigator and crew member of a 172 Squadron Royal Air Force Wellington bomber MP 630 that was lost at Ashford, Barnstable, United Kingdom at 2.45 a.m. on 13th August 1943 when it flew into a hill in bad weather whilst making its approach to an airfield killing all six members of its crew. At the time of his death he was 28 years of age. He was buried with full service honours in the Heanton Punchardon Churchyard near Taunton in England on 17th August 1943.
The Commanding Officer of No. 172 Squadron wrote the following letter to Russell Salter’s wife on 13th August 1943:
Dear Mrs Salter, it is with deep regret that I have to confirm Air Ministry cable informing you that your husband, Flight Sergeant Russell George Salter, was killed as a result of a flying accident on 13th August 1943. Your husband took off on an operational flight on the evening of 12th August 1943, and at the completion of the flight was approaching the aerodrome when for some unknown reason crash landed in the vicinity and although assistance was available soon after the accident, owing to its violent nature, it was not possible to recover the body of your husband. A search party has been instituted however, and it is hoped under the circumstances surrounding the whole casualty, to hold a communal funeral from this station, details of which will be forwarded to you as soon as they are available. If you are in any difficulty, or I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to write at once. Although your husband had only been with the squadron a short time he proved himself an efficient member of his flight, and was popular amongst all ranks, by whom he will be missed. Please accept on behalf of the squadron and myself, our deep sympathy with you during this anxious and sad time. Yours sincerely, Wing Commander R.G. Mussom.
His headstone in the Heanton Punchardon Churchyard contains the family inscription “In Loving Memory Of A Beloved Husband”.
Flight Sergeant Russell Salter, for his service during World War 2 was awarded the Air Observer Qualification Badge, the 1939/1945 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939/1945. His name is commemorated on Panel No. 129 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and locally on the Toowoomba Grammar School World War 2 Honour Board.
Toowoomba Grammar School archive records show that he enrolled as a day student on 1st July 1928 and left the School on 29th December 1932. His parent was shown as Mr George Salter of Acland. He passed the Junior examination in 1930 in seven subjects.
Australian War Memorial Honour Roll