smruss.jpg (17582 bytes)

Sidney Michael Russ alias O'Brien


He enlisted in the RAAF as Sydney Michael O'Brien. He was born as Sidney Michael Russ on 29 March 1909 at Priory Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in England. He joined 460 Squadron RAAF and was killed in a raid to Dortmund on 4 May 1943 in Lancaster W4818 flown by Desmond Nelson Jaekel. He is shown as Sidney (not Sydney) Michael Russ on the Commonwealth War Graves site.

The following is an entry from the Diary of Flying Officer Cliff O'Riordan of 460 Squadron:-


Tuesday, 4. Ops. Dortmund. Good show. 19 Kites in from Breighton. Jaekel's crew missing and 5 Kites from Holme. Jaekel's observer, Russ, used to be a bullock driver and timber fettler in Queensland. Quite a character.

Sidney Michael Russ has quite a famous connection. He was the eldest son amongst the nine children of a doctor, and the grandson of a German furrier. Sidney was to become the role model for the character of Captain Jack Aubrey (Royal Navy) in the Aubrey - Maturin series of 20 novels written by the famous author Patrick O'Brian. This series of novels was about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars.

pob02.gif (26530 bytes)

Patrick O'Brian

pob01.jpg (64755 bytes)

One of his many novels

So why would the famous author Patrick O'Brian use Sidney Michael Russ as a role model for Jack Aubrey? Patrick O'Brian was actually born Richard Patrick Russ. He was the younger brother of Sidney Michael Russ of 460 Squadron RAAF. As indicated above, Sidney Michael Russ enlisted in the RAAF as Sidney Michael O'Brien.

Patrick O'Brian's true identity only became public knowledge in 1998. His use of the name O'Brian was probably prompted by his elder brother's use of the identity of Sidney Michael O'Brien. Notice that Patrick used O'Brian and Sidney used O'Brien.


pob03.jpg (22552 bytes)

Patrick O'Brian


All of the above information came to light when on 25 October 1998, my good friend Bruce Rayner in the UK advised me that he had some information on a Sydney Michael O'Brien alias Michael RUSS of 460 Squadron who was killed with all the crew of Lancaster W4818 on night of 4 May 1943 over Dortmund, Germany. Bruce had found the reference to Sydney Michael O'Brien in an article on Patrick O'Brien the author in the Daily Telegraph of 24 October 1998.

Then 10 months later on 23 August 1999, Jeanette Egan discovered Bruce Rayner's e-mail about Sydney Michael O'Brien in an earlier version of this home page. Jeanette was helping Stanley Charles Russ to find information about his father and whether he had any other relatives. Via this home page Stan had discovered that his father was killed in action in 1943 in a Lancaster bomber of 460 Squadron. Stan had only meet his father twice when he was very young. Stan also discovered that indeed he did have other relatives. One of them being a very famous uncle, Patrick O'Brian.

Although Sidney had enlisted in the RAAF as Sydney Michael O'Brien he was buried and is shown on the Commonwealth War Graves site as Sidney Michael Russ. I have searched out the possible crew members that were killed with Sidney Michael Russ using the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour database. Those found in the AWM database were as follows:-

Desmond Nelson Jaekel (Pilot)
John Lawrence Barry
Eugene John Candish
Alan Hilton
William Williams
Sidney Michael Russ

I later found out, with the help of John Currie, that William James Turpin (Engineer) was the other member of this crew.

Once I had determined the likely crew I did a search of the Commonwealth War Graves site which revealed the following details:-


In Memory of


Flying Officer
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 5th May 1943. Age 32.

Son of Charles and Jessie Naylor Russ, of Ealing, Middlesex, England.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 6.

The cemetery is 5 kilometres south west of Kleve. From Kleve take the Hoffmannallee from the town centre, which becomes the Materbornerallee. This road enters Reichswald Forest and becomes the Grunewaldstrasse. Follow the directions for Gennep, and on entering Reichswald Forest the cemetery is situated 500 metres on the left.


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 5th May 1943. Age 19.

Son of Wilhelm Heinrich Benjamin and Elsie Alwin Banks Jaekel; husband of Marie Hilda Jaekel, of Montacute, South Australia.


Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 1.


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 5th May 1943. Age 23.

Son of Thomas William and Clare Maud Barry, of Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 2.


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 5th May 1943. Age 22.

Son of Leslie and Margaret Hilton, of Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 5.


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 5th May 1943. Age 26.

Son of William Sydney Williams and Lily Isabel Williams, of Stawell, Victoria, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 3.


In Memory of


Flt. Engr.
460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
who died on Wednesday, 5th May 1943.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 8.


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Tuesday, 5th May 1943. Age 21.

Son of Harold John and Ruby Adelaide Candish, of Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 3. A. 4.



Subject:   Info on 460 Sqdn
Date:           Sun, 25 Oct 1998
From: (Bruce Rayner)

Hi Peter,

I have info on Sydney Michael O'Brien of 460 Sqdn. He is alias Michael RUSS born 1911. He was a 'timber contractor' at Innisfail when war started and he obviously joined up locally.

Killed with all the crew of Lancaster W4818 on night of 4 May 1943 over Dortmund, Germany.


Bruce Rayner <>



Subject:      Info on 460 Sqdn
Date:               Mon, 26 Oct 1998 18:28:01 GMT
From:    (Bruce Rayner)

PD> How do you know this info?

It was part of the write up on one Patrick O'Brian, an author. He is apparently famous for his novels of the sea. This article may have
resulted from an article and letters in the Daily Telegraph comparing him to C S Foreter who wrote the great 'Hornblower' stories.

I thought you might be interested. it was Daily Telegraph dated 24 October 1998. Book section.

I will hold on to it until you say otherwise......


Bruce Rayner <>



Subject:   Fw: 460 Sqdn
Date:           Tue, 27 Oct 1998
From:          "Bruce Rayner"

Hi Peter,

Now on my Internet e-mail. I have just read yesterdays newspaper (The Daily Telegraph Saturday 24 October 1998) and you might be interested in what I have found. Perhaps you have it already of course.......

RAAF Sqdn 460 stationed at RAF Breighton, Yorkshire, UK during 1943 and World War II.

Pilot Officer Sydney Michael O'Brien was a navigator on 460 Sqdn. Real name was Michael RUSS, born 1911.

(see brothers details below)

Michael was working at Innisfail as a 'timber contractor' when war broke out. He trained to be a navigator ...and died with all the crew of Lancaster W.4818 over Dortmund on 4 May 1943.

He was the brother of Patrick O'Brian RUSS, now known as novelist Patrick O'BRIAN. Patrick was medically unfit for WWII active service and became an ambulance driver in the East End of London. He there met his second wife , the former Frieda Mary Wicksteed. She had married in 1934, Dmitry, Count TOLSTOY MILOSLAVSKY. Their son is Count Nicholai TOLSTOY, who has himself been much in the news in recent years.

Hope you find that of some use for your web page on 460 Sqdn.

Bruce Rayner



Subject:    Re: Sidney Michael RUSS
Date:             Wed, 25 Aug 1999 00:28:45 +1000
From:           "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

I am a friend of Stanley Russ and I am helping him to locate information on his Dad.

The only child and son of Flying Officer/ Navigator Sidney Michael RUSS, who is Stanley Charles Russ wishes to know anything about his Dad who was in 460 Squadron who was killed in action 5th May 1943 over Dortmund, Germany.

Stan has only found out three days ago that his father died back in 1943 and did not know anything about. He only met him twice when he was very young.

He has been searching for over a year. We have been lucky enough for a gentleman to email and tell us the news.

Is there anybody who knew him and maybe has a photo of him please Stan would be very grateful. (Can anyone help Jeanette?)

Kind Regards




Subject:    Re: Sidney Michael Russ
Date:             Fri, 27 Aug 1999 23:19:08 +1000
From:           "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

I would like to enquire about the ' Photograph of the 460 Squadron in 1942 or before April 1943 ?' which was donated by Elva Dimsey, sister of F/Sgt. Ronald Gooding on your 460 squadron pages on the internet.

If there could possibly be names to faces on the photograph available hence one being Sidney Michael Russ ?

Hoping to hear from you soon. (I'm afraid I can't help with names - can anyone else assist? - Peter)

Kind Regards




Subject:     Re: Sidney Michael Russ
Date:              Sun, 29 Aug 1999 20:07:09 +1000
From:            "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

Please, Peter is it possible to have a web page where people can answer directly, emailing another person, sort of like putting enquiries on a bulletin board asking about the squadron members.

Is it possible to put a question on there for me asking any member of the 460 squadron if they knew Sidney Michael Russ better known as "Michael" please, who died on 4th May 1943 ???

It is OK to put my email address on the web. Maybe that's a way for me to contact such wonderful people who may know something.

Kind Regards




Subject:   Sidney Michael RUSS 460 Sqdn
Date:           Tue, 24 Aug 1999 19:52:19 +0100
From:          "Bruce Rayner" <>


Remember the clipping I sent to you from the 'Daily Telegraph' a while back?

It has had a response!!!! I am sure you would be interested for your records and so I am passing on the message below which I received today 23 Aug 1999. You may be able to help more than I can......................the spirit is willing here but the contacts are weak!!

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeanette Egan <>

To: <>
Date: 23 August 1999 18:45
Subject: Re: Sidney Michael RUSS

Dear Bruce,

Saw you letter on the internet on the 460 squadron page. When I saw the page I could not believe it !!!


Bingo !

My friend, Stanley RUSS is the son of Sidney Michael RUSS who would dearly love to know more on his father who was in the 460 squadron bomber command who died 5th May 1943 killed in action over Dortmund, Germany. He is buried or his plaque of memorial in Reichswald War Cemetery, Germany.

He only saw his father twice in his life when he was very young and knows not much about him. It is possible to find out more ? Do you know if Sidney Michael had other family ? Please !! If so we are prepared to share information on Stan's side.

Please do you know who I can contact to follow information up ?

Some one mention the newspaper article. Please would I be able to view the article on the internet ????

I wonder if there is other members of the Russ family to help us ? I would be very grateful if you could please get us in touch. May be have a photo of Sidney Michael Russ if that is possible.

Hope to hear from you real soon

Kind Regards




Subject:   Sidney Michael Russ
Date:           Tue, 24 Aug 1999 20:16:49 +0100
From:          "Bruce Rayner" <>

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeanette Egan <>
To: <>
Date: 24 August 1999 02:59
Subject: Re: Sidney Michael Russ

Dear Bruce,

Saw your letter on the Internet Oct 1998 and I have a friend, Stanley Charles Russ who is the only son of Sidney Michael Russ and wishes to know more about his father.

Can you help him ?

By the way Sidney was not born 1911. Stan has a copy of Sidney's birth certificate.

Stan met his father twice when he was very young.

We didn't even know about Sidney enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force and as you say under another name of Sidney Michael O'Brien although he died under the name Sidney Michael Russ. We have yet to find that out.

Stan only found out three days ago that his father died on the 5th May 1943 killed in action over Dortmund, Germany. It was a big shock !!!!!! but he is OK now.

I was the first time Stan heard of his father being a timber contractor in Innisfail in Queensland.

Please if you know any more we would love to know.

Amazing the things a person can find on the internet. Now Stan knows more information about his father found on the internet. Wow!

Can you help me please does Sidney have other family ?

Hope to hear from you very soon

Kind Regards




Subject:   The RUSS Family
Date:             Fri, 7 Jan 2000 16:46:50 -0000
From:          "Bruce L Rayner" <>

Hi Peter,

Last year I sent you some information on a chap named Sidney Michael RUSS who was in your R.A.A.F. 460 Sqdn.

I have a little more information for you.

His father was Charles RUSS, a venerologist specialising in gonnorrhoea, and his grandfather was a furrier from LEIPSZIG, Germany. Charles RUSS fathered  nine children by his first wife, Jessie. In 1922 he remarried, to ZOE (UNKNOWN).

Sidney's brother, Richard Patrick RUSS born 12 Dec 1914, (was eighth of the nine children), in Chalfont St Peter, Buckingham, U K.

Richard Patrick RUSS assumed the name of Patrick O'Brian by deed poll in 1945. He became a celebrated author of historical naval novels. He died early January 2000.

There is more peripheral information on Patrick O'Brian in the obituary in the Daily Telegraph dated 7 Jan 2000.

Will you let your other interested parties know?

Best Wishes




Subject:    Jeanette Egan here.
Date:             Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:05:15 +1100
From:           "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

Could I please have a good site to view the RAAF 460 Squadron Military War Medals.

1939-1945 STAR.
WAR MEDAL 1939-1945.

Kind Regards



Subject:     460 Sqn
Date:              Mon, 03 Apr 2000 02:49:10 -0700
From:            Jeanette Egan <>

Dear Roger,

I had come across a small book titled: Barbed Wire and Footlights by Frank Taylor, R.A.F. 608 and 217 Squadrons who was in Stalag Luft III for a couple of months in 1942 and in several other camps through the war.

On page 93, While in Stalag Luft VI there was an address from the Commandant of Heyderkrug;

"British prisoners it is my duty to inform you that a few days ago seventy six officers broke out of Stalag Luft III but fifteen of them never returned to camp, they were shot and killed after recapture!"

His group of prisoners were engaged in an aimless 800 kilometre march from camp to camp to avoid the Russian Advance.

Also he noted ; on page 95 "As POWs we were always optimistic and hoped for the best, but by now we realised that, as the war progressed and the German retreat from Russia accelerated, their lines of communication were being stretched to the limit and transport of any description was at a premium, so accommodation for prisoners on the move was bound to deteriorate until eventually there would be no form of conveyance left. In fact I am still amazed that the goons didn't walk out on us at Heydekrug and leave us to the mercy of the Russians. The only answer I can come up with is that either, they must of thought they still had a chance of winning the war, or if the worst came to the worst they might keep us in reserve to be used as hostages."

So I think he shared your opinion and his book gives you a feel of their plight.

Kind Regards
Greg & Jeanette



Subject:    Very well done !
Date:           Thu, 27 Apr 2000 01:49:53 +1000
From:          "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

I would like to congratulate you on a job well done on your homepage and especially the Sidney Michael Russ/O'Brian page.

I love it.

Kind Regards




Subject:     Very well done !
Date:              Thu, 27 Apr 2000 21:45:22 +1000
From:            "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much. I will look forward to the newspaper clippings in the mail. Yes by all means copy them.

In due course I hope to obtain permission from the son of Sidney Michael Russ so you will be able to have his photo on your homepage.

Yes I have been following Patrick O'Brian's movements with eager up till he passed away in January.

Kind Regards



Subject:    Sidney Michael Russ service record.
Date:             Sun, 30 Apr 2000 13:20:07 +1000
From:           "Jeanette Egan" <>

Dear Pete,

I think this file will get to you this time even I have had problems.

This is Sidney Michael Russ's service record and we thought that it goes along with his photo. If you wish to leave it as is thats ok but if you wish to type it that is ok also.

Kind Regards



raaflogo02.jpg (7265 bytes)



rsm02.jpg (13133 bytes)


Sydney Michael O'BRIEN (aka RUSS)


Flying Officer




11 October 1942 (this should have read 1941)


28 August 1942



General Duties/Navigator


  MUSTERINGS: Aircrew V 11-10-1941
   Aircrew V (Observer) 30-11-1941
Aircrew II (Observer) 31-01-1942
Air Navigator




  PROMOTIONS: Aircraftman 11-10-1941
   Leading Aircraftman 31-01-1942
Pilot Officer 28-08-1942
Flying Officer




  3 Recruit Centre Brisbane 11-10-1941
  3 Initial Training School Sandgate 11-10-1941
  2 Embarkation Depot Bradfield Park 28-02-1942
  Embarked Melbourne 21-03-1942
  Disembarked Canada 18-04-1942
  5 Manning Depot Lachine 18-04-1942
  5 Air Observer School Winnipeg, Manitoba 26-04-1942
  Embarked Canada 03-10-1942
  Disembarked United Kingdom 18-10-1942
  RAF Station Bournemouth 18-10-1942
  27 Operational Training Unit Lichfield 03-11-1943
  1656 Conversion Unit Lindholme 10-03-1943
  RAF Station Lindholme 30-03-1943
  1656 Conversion Unit Lindholme 14-04-1943
  460 Squadron




Missing air operations believed killed on 5 May 1943


Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany
Plot 3, Row A, Grave 6

  HONOURS AND AWARDS: 1939-1945 Star    . 
  Aircrew Europe Star  
   Defence Medal  
   War Medal 1939-45  
   Australia Service Medal 1939-45





Subject:     Stalag Luft III
Date:              Fri, 28 Apr 2000 07:50:32 -0700
From:            Jeanette Egan <>

Hi there Roger !

My husband, Greg is the avid reader of war books of which he enjoys hearing their own accounts which haven taken place from their point of view and it was he that quoted from "Barbed Wire & Footlights ". We the lucky generation don't know what real war is about. So I guess we can only read about what really went on.

I will leave it up to him when he has time to describe a few other war books he has read and there are plenty of them. He searches them out at second hand bookshop dealers. No second hand bookshop is left with their bookshelves unsorted.

Kind Regards



Subject:  A photo of Jessie Goddard mother of SM Russ & Richard Patrick Russ aliases O'Brien.
Date:      Tue, 16 May 2000 20:32:11 +1000
From:     "Jeanette Egan" <>


Here is the photo of Jessie Goddard, mother of Richard Patrick Russ alias Patrick O'Brian and Sidney Michael Russ alias O'Brien.

Kind Regards

ICQ # 51924742

jessie.jpg (53354 bytes)

Jessie Goddard


Back to 460 Squadron home page


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 30 October 1998

This page last updated 30 October 2018