A CENTURY ago when the foundations of the RAF were newly laid, the family name of Russell was synonymous with gentlemen’s tailors and outfitters in Teignmouth.

When Philip, the fifth child was born, the Russell’s business was in Fore Street.

Philip belonged to the RAF Boys’ Service at 17 then joined the RAF proper in 1936 as an apprentice aircraft fitter (ground crew).

He spent most of the Second World War in North Africa and had the unusual experience of having a rendezvous in the desert with his brothers Bob and Frank, serving with the British Army.

Unluckily for Philip, he was heading back to North Africa just as Victory in Europe was declared and that delayed his homecoming by six months. He chose to make a career of the RAF rising from NCO to the rank of flight sergeant – a senior non-commissioned rank and serving for 22 years.

The work he did on engines caused hearing loss and he was discharged in 1958 with a weekly service pension amounting to the sum of £2/10/61/2d (around £2.55).