RCN Proud: From Lincolnshire to Halifax

RCN Proud: From Lincolnshire to Halifax

By Vincent Joyce,
Pictou County Military Museum

David Russell served in the Royal Navy/Royal Canadian Navy for nearly 30 years. SUBMITTED

David Russell was born on May 28th, 1929, in Kirton, North Boston, Lincolnshire, England. When he was 14 years old, he served in the British Army Cadet Force during the Second World War from 1942 to 1946.

Mr. Russell joined the Royal Navy on December 3rd, 1946, and then the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in September of 1954. He first took his training in HMS Riely in England, and his Canadian Navy training at HMCS Cornwallis and HMCS Stadacona in Nova Scotia.

The courses that David took were Basic Seaman (Battleships), Submarine Training in HMS Dolphin in Gosport, England, Canadian Submarine Training in Halifax, Canadian Navy Senior Leadership (Instructor), and Sonar (both sea and air).

The ships and submarines that David Russell served on were the battleships HMS Howe, HMS Duke of York, and HMS Pelican, and submarines HMS Broadsword, HMS Tally-Ho, HMS Astute, HMS Trespasser, HMS Turpin, HMS Totem, and HMS Andrew. He then transferred to the RCN and served in HMCS Tapir, HMCS Talent, HMCS Trespasser, HMCS Alderney, HMCS Artemis, and HMCS Onondaga as a Coxswain. David’s first two ships were HMCS Skeena and HMCS Annapolis. Then, after these ships, he served as a financial counselor in HMCS Stadacona, Nova Scotia, from 1970 to 1972. 

The countries, oceans, and seas that Mr. Russell served on were many. A few were England, Canada, the Atlantic Ocean, Lebanon, Malta, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Persian Gulf.

For his service, Mr. David Russell was awarded the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Jordan Service Medal (Commemorative), and the Canadian Forces Decoration and 2 Bars. He also earned the NATO and the United Nations Medals but did not apply for them.

David was discharged in August of 1975, and his rank was Master Warrant Officer. His trade at discharge was Weapons Tech. David was married to Doreen Nelson from Boston, Lincolnshire, England, for 63 years. Mr. Russell also served as a volunteer with the Royal Canadian Benevolent Fund for many years.

Some interesting facts about Mr. Russell: He was transferred to Canada on relief, and after 15 years in Canada, David was finally sent back to HMS Dolphin, England, from where he was first sent to Canada. During those 15 years, he was a Sonar Operator, and one of the best in the RCN. He was transferred to HMCS Shearwater to the Helicopter Service, Royal Canadian Air Force, as a Sonar Air Operator.

Mr. Russell had a special invitation to attend British Admiral John Fieldhouse’s funeral in 1992 at Westminster Abbey, which was also attended by the late Queen Elizabeth II. Admiral Fieldhouse was a good friend of David, and they served on many ships together. 

At the time of this interview, Mr. Russell is 93 years young and resides at the Camp Hill Memorial Veterans Building in Halifax.

RCN Proud profiles focus on former or current Royal Canadian Navy personnel with at least 12 years of service. If you would like your story told or have a suggestion for a future profile, please contact Vincent Joyce at