George Frederick Russell

Date of birth: 9th April 1888
Place of birth: Galway, Ireland
Service No.: 26247
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment / Division: Canadian Infantry / 1st Quebec Regiment
Battalion: 14th Battalion
Died: 4th May 1917 aged 29 years
Death location: Friedrichsfeld, Germany

Life before the War
George was born in Galway Ireland on 9th April 1888 to Captain John (1850 – 21/03/1931) and Mary Ann Russell (nee Tarrant 1852 – 1917).  His parents were married in Pershore, Worcestershire in 1875.  When George died his parents were living at ‘Coomassie’, Park Road, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire.  His father John served in the 2/23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was involved in the Third Ashanti War 1873-1874.  He was awarded the Ashanti Medal and may have also received the clasp ‘Coomassie’ which was awarded to those present at Amoaful.

Whereabouts of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were as follows, which would explain the different birth places for the children:

1873 Gold Coast, West Africa (Ashanti War)
1874 Gibraltar
1880 England
1883 Ireland

George was one of 12 children born to John and Mary. George’s siblings were:

Arthur (b.1876) Born in Gibraltar
William (b.1879) Born in Gibraltar
Arthur S or H (b.1879) Born in Gibraltar
Gwendolen Marie (1881 – 10/04/1941) Gwendolen was born in Plymouth and married William George Colquhoun in Romford in 1911.  William was killed in action on 31st May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland aboard HMS Tipperary.
Charles Edwin (1883 – 24/03/1953) Charles was born in Pembroke and enlisted, aged 14, in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 6th April 1897. He served in Africa, as a Drummer, from 23rd October 1899 to 4th February 1903.  Charles was wounded on 24th July 1900 and, on 7th October 1901, he became a prisoner of war.  He was awarded the Queen and King’s Africa Medal.  His marriage to Mabel Kate Harmes took place in Southampton in 1909.
Edith Maud (1884 – 1926) Born Templemore, Ireland
Ernest Edward (1886) Born Cork, Ireland
Beatrice F (20/01/1890 – 1964) Born Hawarden, Wales. Married Wilfred O Dowle in Southampton in 1915.
Louisa Annie (1893) Born Hawarden, Wales
May Winifred (1895) Born Hawarden, Wales
Alice Mary (29/11/1897 – ) Born Middleton, Lancashire

On the 1881 census there are a John and Mary Russell living with their two sons, Arthur and William, at the Military Barracks, Millbay, Plymouth.  The place of birth for George’s mother Mary is recorded as Gibraltar but later census records state that the birthplace was Gloucester.  However the 1881 census seems to be correct as George’s sister Gwendolen was born in Plymouth that same year.  George’s father is still serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and is a Sergeant.

The 1891 census shows George’s parents are living at 61 Roundhill House, Hawarden,Wales.  The eldest two sons are not on this census so may have died.  George’s father is still a Sergeant and working as an Instructor of Volunteers.

In 1901 the census shows that the family has moved to 33 Clifford Street, St Mary’s, Southampton.  The occupation of George’s father is ‘Commissionaire (late Army)’.

At the time of the 1911 Census George’s parents are living at 46 Cromwell Road, Southampton and this is also the address on George’s Canadian Attestation papers for his next of kin.  His father is employed as a Messenger for the Army.  Living at the address are George’s sisters Edith, Beatrice, Louisa, May (known as Winifred) and Alice.  Edith and Beatrice are working as Map Colourers at the Ordnance Survey.

There are a few people named George Russell who emigrated to Canada before 1911 so it has been difficult to confirm which of these is this serviceman.

Military History
George was working as Switchboard Operator when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Valcartier, Quebec on 22nd September 1914.  Valcartier was the primary training base for the First Canadian Contingent in 1914.  His enlistment papers showed that his next of kin was his father, John, of 46 Cromwell Road, Southampton.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was formed in Canada from August 1914 onwards.

By the end of the war, more than 250 Canadian battalions had been formed.  Although most battalions made it as far as England only a few served in France and Flanders.  The others were usually disbanded at a Training Depot in England and the men sent as reinforcements to the CEF in France.

George died on 4th May 1917 from his wounds whilst he was a prisoner of war at Gefangenenlager (Prison Camp), Friedrichsfeld, Germany.

In the Canadian C E F Commonwealth War Graves Register there is an Exhumation and Burial Report for George’s burial.  He was originally buried at the Cemetery of Westerholt and his final resting place is at Cologne South Cemetery, Rhine Province, Germany.  Grave reference: Plot 16, Row B, Grave 18.

 

Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published.: 5th June 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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