Russell Keith McAdams

This post is written by his son Dave.

Russell Keith McAdams
Service # R99754
Posted to 403 Squadron June 13, 1942
Posted to 6 MFPS February 22, 1944 from 128 AF HQ and promoted to L/Cpl
Arrived France June 30, 1944

My father had few stories about the war and he seemed to focus on a few funny stories or daily things while in England.  Even then, there was not much discussion of the time spent overseas.

Some of the stories we recall are as follows.

While still in Canada, a film company arrived at or near Uplands.  Hal Wallis and Jack Warner had been approached in Hollywood to undertake a “patriotic film.” Captains of the Clouds was produced with the full cooperation of the Royal Canadian Air Force to promote enlistment in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.  Dad reported that he and some others were assigned the duty of taking still images for promotion of the film.  He did not mention if he met James Cagney or others involved in the film.

We have this image of him in uniform outside some tents.  Location unknown.

Russell Keith McAdams 3

There is a menu that he kept that is a drawing with the menu and the faces of a number of people including my dad added to the menu.  The menu is a photograph that was signed “Goober” and must show members of a unit possibly while in Ottawa area but there is nothing to indicate location.

He is the person looking over the fence at the bottom right.

Russell Keith McAdams 2

Dad also mentioned that one of the group had died after drinking after shave repeatedly after they were notified they were heading overseas.

While overseas he spoke of attending crash sites of both allied and axis planes and photographing the crash.  He brought a leg compass, possibly the model AK 39 from a German aircraft that we still have and there was a clock from a dash that was taken by a dishonest watch repair person.

He spoke often about the challenges of landing Mosquito aircraft.  He mentioned he had to photograph a number of crashes and that the aircraft often burned so there was little to photograph.  He thought they were a great aircraft but landings and takeoffs were a challenge for some.

He also spoke of bartering film ends to locals once the large films from the aircraft had been tripped to fit civilian cameras.

He mentioned trading a container of peanut butter to an American group for some other food but failed to mention that they had found a dead rat in the peanut butter container.  I imagine they were not too popular after that trade.

He spoke in general about loading film for reconnaissance aircraft and putting cameras in planes.  Also the task of developing film from numerous recon flights.  We are not sure if he flew on any recon flights.  This image seems to show him in a flying suit with a British F.24 camera, possibly with a 5″ lens fitted.

Russell Keith McAdams

Once story spoke of swimming at a beach which we assume was in France shortly after they arrived while waiting to head inland.  After swimming at the beach they were greeting by an officer who advised him and his companions that the beach had not been fully cleared of mines.

The story that started our research was never told to family as far as we know.  When Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel was in the news in Canada, my father was speaking to a close friend of mine and dad was visibly upset.  His comment was something to the effect of “if Zündel had seen what I saw at Bergen-Belsen, there would be no doubt of what took place”.  Bergen Belsen was never mentioned again.

We wonder now if this explained why he did not continue working in photography after the war and did not take large numbers of photos of family or family trips.

After he passed away in 2000, we were able to request his records of service and later we requested the microfilms of the 5 MFPS 6MFPS Operations Record Book.  5MFPS record reports on May 3, 1945 “combined liberty run to Belsen Camp by 5 and 6 M.F.P.S” and then on May 4, 1945 “second combined liberty run to Belsen Camp to accommodate further personnel” .  This would seem to confirm he was likely at  Bergen Belsen and witnessed what transpired there. We hope additional research can be done at Canadian War Museum or the Imperial War Museum London.

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9 thoughts on “Russell Keith McAdams

  1. This is an extraordinary story.

    I understand why he never took to photography after the war, and the entries about Bergen Belsen say it all. General Eisenhower was so shocked at the conditions of the prisoners at Bergen Belsen and other camps, as well as the piles of corpses that he ordered thousands of German civilians to be paraded through the camps so that for generations and generations no one would be able to deny what had happened.

    Clearly, your father was a part of the group responsible for transporting those German civilians to the camp, and for photographing them so that the evidence would be available to generations after the war. It was precisely so that we could deal with the Ernst Zundels of the world that we relied on what your father did, on discovery of the SS, Gestapo and Nazi war crimes.

    • We all understand why he was so upset when the name Zundel popped-up in the news.

      Thanks for commenting Dean.

      Lest we forget

  2. This is also worth noting…

    He spoke often about the challenges of landing Mosquito aircraft. He mentioned he had to photograph a number of crashes and that the aircraft often burned so there was little to photograph. He thought they were a great aircraft but landings and takeoffs were a challenge for some.

    George Stewart told me all about crash landing on Mosquitoes. Landings and takeoffs were a challenge for some unexperienced pilots. They had to get over 130mph on take-offs because if an engine failed, it was sure death.

  3. Dear Pierre,

    I hope my words find you well. Feel free to pass along my email address to Dave McAdams regarding his post below. I would be happy to share information with him regarding his father and Bergen-Belsen.

    All the best,

    Mark

  4. Dave,

    That’s an amazing wartime story about your dad and some nice research on your part.
    The real heroes of the war never talked much about their experiences. I only heard my father talk about the war in detail and visiting the camp at Bergen-Belsen only once in my life. That was on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. He gathered the whole family together and he talked about the war for about 4 hours. I thought the most amazing stories he told were during the liberation of Paris.

    When I was young, he would sometimes get together with his war buddies. Nobody really understood what they were talking about. One minute they would be laughing their heads off and rolling around on the floor and the next minute they would be crying like babies.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Mark White

  5. I’m Heinz Johannsen,

    I have two photos of a vehicle park somewhere in Germany 1945.
    All trucks are from 5 MFPS RCAF.
    I would love to share if interested.

    Best regards

    Heinz Johannsen Germany

    • I wrote you an e-mail.
      You can send them at my e-mail address.
      I will post them on the blog.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Pierre

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