Russell, Frederick Arthur. Died 26th Nov 1918

Frederick Arthur RUSSELL was born in Rugby on 28 January 1889 and his birth was registered there with those names in Q1, 1889.  He was the eldest son of William Knibb Russell (b.c.1863 in Rugby) and Charlotte Hannah, née Leeson, Russell (b.c.1862 in Braunston).

The Russell name goes back to Scotland.  William Knibb Russell’s father, Matthew, came south from Darvel, Ayr.  In 1861, Matthew, now aged 27, was a grocer and living at 60 Warwick Street, Rugby with his wife, Elizabeth Jane, née Ensor, and his brother in-law Robert J. Ensor.  The Ensor family were from Newbold on Avon.

In 1891 the Russell family were living at 18 Stephen Street, Rugby.  Frederick was 2 years old and his father, William, was a ‘general labourer’.  His mother, Charlotte’s father, Frederick’s grandfather, was also living with them.

By 1901 they had moved to 25 Rowland Street and Frederick’s father was now a ‘plasterer’.  There was another son, Frederick’s brother, Ernest Henry who was four.  Elsie E Morris, a nine year old ‘niece’ from Long Buckby was in the house, and Charlotte’s father, now 84, was still with them.

In late 1909, Frederick married, as Arthur Frederick, in Rugby with Esther Mary Watkins, who was from Flecknoe – she was three years older than Frederick.  They married at the Baptist Chapel, on 4 December 1909, and by 1911, had moved to live at 11 Dale Street, Rugby.  Frederick was now a ‘postman’ and they had a three month old daughter, Esther Jessie Russell, who had been born on 1 January 1911.

By 1911, the rest of the family had moved to 29 Benn Street, Rugby, and Frederick’s father had become a ‘laundryman’ – indeed he was the owner of a laundry.  His wife was a ‘laundress’, and three of the four girls lodging with them were each described as a ‘laundress’.  Frederick’s brother, Ernest Henry, was a ‘grocer’s apprentice’.  The family would still be living in the same house after the war.

With War declared, and as a married man, Frederick would not have been expected to join up with the first volunteers.  He continued working as a postman until late 1915, and then probably into mid-1916 until he had to report to Plymouth for duty.

Frederick Arthur Russell’s army Service Record survives – it is somewhat complicated with many medical entries, as Frederick seems to have been wounded several times.

He was ‘attested’ at Rugby into the Royal Garrison Artillery on 9 December 1915 for the ‘Duration of the War’, whilst still a postman, aged 26 years and 11 months, 5ft 9ins tall, 168 lbs, of very good physical development and now living at 6 Benn Street, Rugby, nearer the rest of his family.  He was of ‘C of E’ religion.  Whilst ‘attested’ he was not required for a while, but he ‘rejoined the colours’ on 28 August 1916, from which date his service was reckoned and he was posted to ‘3 Depot’ as a ‘Gunner’ No: 116560 and then ‘Approved’ on 30 August 1916 at Plymouth.

His gave his wife’s name, Esther Mary née Watkins, as his next of kin – she was at home at 6 Benn Street, Rugby.  The Baptist Minister signed the various documents for the family.

His service dates and service periods were summarised as follows:

Yrs : Days
Home         9.12.15 to 23.1.17             1 :  46
BEF           24.1.17 to 19.4.17                   86
Home         20.4.17 to 21.6.17                   63
BEF           22.6.17 to 30.8.18              1 : 70
Home         31.8.18 to 26.11.18                 88
Total                                  2 : 353

When he arrived at the Citadel, Plymouth, on ‘29.8.16’, he was revaccinated, he then had a TAB inoculation on ‘11.9.16’, and he left the Citadel and was posted again on 18 September.  He passed his ‘Signalling 2nd Class’ on 13 December 1916.  He was posted to ‘2 Depot’ on 17 January 1917 and a week later on 24 January 1917, he was posted to the B.E.F. in France, and was then posted to 146 Heavy Battery from Base on 10 February 1917.

Just over two months after his arrival in France, he was wounded on 11 April 1917, ‘WO Cas List – Wd 11-4-17 [Action] N of Kin … WO Cas List – GSW Lt. Thigh Sev.’ [Gunshot wound left thigh, severe] and he was ‘Adm ? Cas/n? Gen Ho Etaples 13-4-17’ [Admission to Canadian General Hospital, Etaples].

He was ‘invalided to England’ on 17 April 1917, and again posted to ‘2 Depot’ – presumably as an administrative device – and then ‘Wd adm to Eastern Gen Hos Cambs’ [Wounded admission to Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge].  It seems that he recovered fairly quickly as he was posted to the ‘Res Bde’ and ‘4 Res Bgd’, both on 14 May and then promoted Bombardier on 28 May 1917 – however, this seems to have been an error and was corrected to Lance Bombardier on 30 May 1917!  He was sent back to ‘Base’ in France on 22 June 1917 to the ‘4 Res Bty’, and then from ‘Base’ to ‘135 Heavy [Battery] … in the field’ on 30 June 1917.

He became due for leave in UK (via Boulogne) from 1 to 15 March 1918, but a few months after his return to France, he became a casualty again apparently on 10 August 1918 – it seems due to an accident – possibly when dealing with a heavy artillery piece, ‘WO Cas List – NYD – Fract Tibia & Fibular R, Severe adm 1. (Presby USA), Gen H Etretat 22/8/18’ [Fractured Tibia and Fibula right, severe, admitted to No 1 (Presbreterian USA), General Hospital Etretat,[1]  22 August 1918].

There were various administrative notes, but after a few days at Etretat, on 30/31 August 1918, Frederick was evacuated back to UK for treatment on the ‘Ambulance Ship St Patrick’ – and posted away from the battery – ‘WO Cas List – Sick Adm – Lord Derby W Hos Warrington 31-8-18 to 9.11.18 simple fracture – accidental’ [This was for treatment at the Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington] – it seems the break was the a result of an accident – accidents still happened in war!

He was then posted back to the Depot at Catterick Camp, presumably to recuperate and then to await re-posting, but on about 20 November 1918, whilst at this posting at the ‘RA & Tank Corps, Catterick’, he was admitted to Catterick Military Hospital.

His Medical Case Sheet gives typed up notes on his condition, which give an indication of the severity of the ‘Spanish Flu’, which before the advent of antibiotics, killed many more people, both civilian and military, all around the world, than did the battles of WWI.

‘21 Nov – Admitted, complained of general pains, headache and malaise two days ago.  Cough.  On admission Temp. 102.  Sod. Sal. Gr.x 4 hourly.  Pulse 100.

22 Nov – Headache.  No marked change.

23 Nov – Condition worse.  Temp.102.

24 Nov – Temp. risen. Resp. more rapid.  Abdominal pain and distension.  Inhalation of Benzine.  Cough severe.

25 Nov – Temp. 103.4. Pulse 80.  Condition serious.

26 Nov – Very cyancsel.[2]  Pulse strong until the last.  Resps. Laboured.  Stimulants given.

Died from Broncho Pneumonia.  The result of Influenza contracted during ordinary Military Service.

No P.M.  Nothing of special Medical Interest to investigate.’

Another handwritten note states that ‘The above person died whilst serving’.  He died just six days after being admitted from ‘Influenza and Bronchitis’ at 7.00pm on 26 November 1911.   

An entry also states ‘Hippowell Camp, Catterick – Docs reporting death 26-11-18 – Influenza & Bronchial Pneumonia.  Office – Note of Sympathy to next of kin.’

His body was returned to his family and he was buried in a family plot No: B.298 in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.  This is a family plot without a CWGC Headstone.  He is interred with ‘Bdr F.A. Russell, RGA’ on one headstone and with his parents alongside, together with William Watkins, his father-in-law, who died on 8 November 1924.

It was said by his family that Frederick died as a result of being gassed at the front, but that is not discernible from available records.  Whether or not this was the case, he should have been entitled to a CWGC gravestone.[3]  He is in any case recorded as a war death by the CWGC – perhaps the family had the option of a gravestone and declined.

Frederick Arthur Russell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and his widow acknowledged their receipt on 1 November 1921

He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on a headstone around the family plot at the Clifton Road Rugby Cemetery, Rugby (right);[4] and at the Baptist Church, where he is remembered as F Arthur Russell – the Memorial Tablet is above the Minister’s vestry in the Church, and inscribed

‘This tablet and the organ in the Church are erected to the memory of those members of this Church who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1918, whose names are given herewith also as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the many others from this Church who served in the war.’
‘On waters deep in the treacherous mud.
On rock bound heights and burning sand.
They poured the offering of their blood.
They kept the honour of the land.’

Frederick’s ‘Will Form’ dated 19 January 1917, gave his wife’s name and their address.  Final ‘disposal’ was dealt with by the army on 3 February 1921.

It seems his effects were sent to ‘Mrs A Watkins, 6 Benn Street’ – the army initially used his widow’s maiden name in error.  The effects were listed as,
‘Watch, ring, wrist strap, cigarette case & lighter, scissors, purse, pipe, cigarettes, razor (in case), belt, pocket wallet, letters, photos, 3 treasure bags, parcel (unopened), writing pad, field message, wool helmet, mirror, disc.’

On receipt of these, his widow wrote to the War Office,
‘Dear Sir, I am writing to ask why the money order for £1-8-1 ½ d, 1 Franc piece, 1 5 Frank note was not forwarded to me with the other effects of my late husband.  I know they were sent to the Records in D???? from Military Hospital Catterick Camp, Yorks, Dec 5th 1918.  I have a list of all the effects so shall be very much obliged if you will kindly see to this for me, hoping I shall hear soon, Yours truly, E M Russell.’

His widow, Esther Mary Russell, was authorised to receive a pension.  She later re-married with James Albert Tame on 18 September 1923 at the Baptist Church, Rugby.   Esther was then 38, a widow, and had moved to 37 Benn Street, Rugby.

James was 50, a widower and estimating engineer (of 40 York Street, Rugby).  He was born 4 April 1873, son of James Ottoway Tame and Rosetta, née James, Tame.  He had married Kate Cook on 31 July 1897 and they were both living in Kingston on Thames in 1901, but had moved to ‘Strathmore’, Temple Street, Rugby before 1911.

Frederick and Esther’s daughter, Jessie Ester Russell, never married, but served in the WRNS during WW2.

Frederick’s younger brother, Ernest Henry Russell, who was born in 1896, also served in WW1.  He was probably a grocer’s assistant with the Co-Op at the time of his enlistment and later had his own shop, E. H. Russell, the Family Grocer, at 10 Henry Street, Rugby, opposite the Rugby Theatre.  He was a Private, No:266698, and was a signaller (or involved with communications) with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He was gassed, but survived, and sent to Somerset for treatment and recuperation.  There he met Dorothy May Hollyman from Clevedon and they were married in 1923.  Their grandson remembers him telling of repairing broken field telephone lines with paperclips.  Ernest died aged 77 in 1974.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick Arthur RUSSELL was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson.  Further information was provided by Martin Taylor,  Frederick Taylor would have been his Great Uncle had he survived the War.  The article is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2018.

 

 

[1]      It was at this hospital that Arthur GREATREX, from Rugby, was treated, prior to his death on 10 November 1918 – see ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 10 November 1918.

[2]      Implies a blue colour, particularly of the lips, a symptom when insufficient oxygen was reaching the body.

[3]      Qualifications for inclusion.  The Commission only commemorates those who have died during the designated war years, while in Commonwealth military service or of causes attributable to service.  Death in service included not only those killed in combat but other causes such as those that died in training accidents, air raids and due to disease such as the 1918 flu pandemic.  The applicable periods of consideration are 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921 for the First World War … The end date for the First World War period is the official end of the war, … Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_War_Graves_Commission#Qualifications_for_inclusion.

[4]      Photograph provided by Frederick’s great-nephew, Martin Taylor.

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