Sergeant Russell Bruce Douglas Shield, the son of James Albert Shield and Barbara Ann Shield (nee Byth), was born at Brisbane in Queensland on 2nd August 1920. He was educated at the Toowong State School before attending the Toowoomba Grammar School. Whilst a student at the Toowoomba Grammar he served in the Cadet Unit. At the age of 19 years and 10 months applied for Airman entry into the Royal Australian Air Force as a Fitter on 4th June 1940. At the time of his application he was unmarried, employed as a fourth year Apprentice Fitter at the Brisbane City Council Tramway Workshop in Brisbane and residing at “Walmer”, 27 Jephson Street at Toowong in Brisbane. His physical description at the time of enlistment was that he was 5 feet 9 inches in height and weighed 132 pounds. He was enlisted as a Technical Trainee into the Citizen Air Force of the R.A.A.F. at No. 3 Recruiting Centre in Brisbane on 7th August 1940 after swearing the statutory oath that he would serve for the duration of the war and an additional twelve months. He had a fair complexion, green eyes and fair hair. He stated that he was of the Church of England religion. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Mrs Barbara Ann Shield, residing at 27 Jephson Street, Toowong.
Sergeant Russell Shield joined No. 3 School of Technical Training at Ultimo in Sydney where he was trained in basic engineering skills. He attended No. 19 Fitter (Armourer) course at Point Cook in Victoria during the period 9th January until 3rd April 1941. He was then transferred to No. 1 Bombing & Gunnery School at Evans Head in New South Wales. He was transferred to No. 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate in Brisbane on 24th September 1941 to prepare for overseas service with the R.A.A.F. He embarked for overseas service in South East Asia from the port of Sydney in New South Wales on 29th October 1941 and joined the R.A.A.F. at Sembawang on Singapore Island.
Sergeant Russel Shield was evacuated from Singapore prior to the surrender of the Allied Forces and he disembarked from the ship at Fremantle in Western Australia on 5th March 1942 where he joined No. 5 Embarkation Depot at Perth. He was transferred from No. 5 Embarkation Depot to No. 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate in Queensland on 31st March 1942. He joined No. 9 Squadron on 17th April 1942. He was promoted to the rank of Temporary Corporal on 1st May 1942. He attended No. 14 Junior Armament Instructor’s Course at the Hamilton Armament School during the period 7th September until 7th October 1942. Upon completion of his course of training he joined the staff of the Armament School at Hamilton in Victoria. He was promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant on 1st December 1942.
Sergeant Russel Shield was a passenger in a Wirraway aircraft A20-283 on a non-operational flight and he and the pilot was killed when the aircraft crashed at the Hamilton aerodrome 8th January 1943. The aircraft had stalled on turn and spun in from 100 feet. Sergeant Shield died within an hour at the Base Hospital. Both men were buried in the Hamilton Public Cemetery on 9th January 1943.
At the time of his death the Commanding Officer of the Armament School, Wing Commander Waddy, wrote the following letter to his father:
Dear Mr Shield, My staff, both officers and men, and the members of the Armament School, R.A.A.F., join with me in expressing the sincere sympathy felt by us all for yourself and the members of your family for the tragic loss of your son. Since Doug (sic) joined the Armament School staff after doing his course in September, he has established himself with those who knew him as a splendid, clean living young man and as a valuable instructor. After being fortunate enough to escape from Singapore, it seems doubly hard that he should fall to a training accident, Yours Sincerely B.C. Waddy.
A subsequent Court of Inquiry into the flying accident concluded that Sergeant Ramsay, the pilot of the Wirraway, was to blame for the accident for disobedience of Flying Orders. Sergeant Russel Shield’s name is commemorated 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 30th January 1934 and he left the School on 6th December 1935. His parent was shown as Mr James Albert Shield of Toowong. He received the Headmaster’s Prize for Shooting in 1935 and was awarded Colours. At enlistment, he was working as an Engineering Apprentice with Brisbane Tramways.
Australian War Memorial Honour Roll