A woman’s journey to uncover the fate of seven RCAF crewmen who perished in the Second World War.
For most of her life, Lisa Russ knew little about her second cousin, Robert “Bud” George Alfred Burt. All she had were two grainy photos, a poem Bud had written shortly before his death, and the knowledge that he was a tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber during the Second World War. It was only when Russ—a self-described “discouraged modern-day war bride”—found herself displaced, unemployed, and homesick in Australia that she began to search for a deeper connection to her family back in Canada and stumbled upon the remarkable story of Bud and his fellow crewmen, who were shot down en route to Stuttgart, Germany, in March of 1944.
Just nineteen at the time of his death, Bud was one of the bomber boys of Lancaster II, a member of 408 “Goose” Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Although he was but one of tens of thousands of long-forgotten Allied soldiers who perished in the War, for Russ he became an emblem of courage and sacrifice. Last Flight to Stuttgart is a riveting story, told in parallel timelines, of one woman’s quest for remembrance of a brave crew and their ill-fated mission. For every leader who has his story told, there are many thousands of servicemen whose stories never come to light. This book honours the marginalised by telling their story.
Born in Brampton, Ontario, Lisa Jean Russ taught primary and secondary school in Canada and the UK before moving to Australia. Inspired by her family’s military history, she has spent the past seven years volunteering with the Australian Army Military Intelligence Museum, Queensland, and Army Museum Duntroon, Canberra. Russ holds BAs from Carleton University (Art History and English, hons, and Psychology, hons) and a BEd from Nipissing University. She is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Heritage, Museums, and Conservation at the University of Canberra, with the intent of earning a PhD.
Last Flight to Stuttgart puts readers in the cockpit along with the brave heroes who flew in World War II. It weaves a tale of one woman’s desire to better understand her military family history, but also pays homage to the lesser-known servicemen and women who risked their lives. This well-researched read blends memoir and military history as a beautiful and meticulous act of remembrance.- Kelly S. Thompson, author and former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces
Last Flight to Stuttgartis two stories. The first tells of seven young men bound to a common fate in the flaming wreckage of a bomber on a dangerous night mission over Germany in the late winter of 1944. The second is a personal search for the characters and personalities that lie behind acts of heroism. The result is a fitting and personal memorial to these ordinary heroes, whose names and acts of valour might otherwise be lost to the ashes of the past. Lisa Jean Russ’s journey is a reminder to all of us of the importance of keeping these stories alive.- Keith Ogilvie, author of The Spitfire Luck of Skeets Ogilvie
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