Robert Russell


Aug 20, 1897

Born at Belfast Ireland to Robert and Eliza (nee McCutchen) Russell


Oct 25, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Number 59859 (temporary number 223)

Ø      Next of kin given as Mrs Elizabeth Russell (mother) of Belfast Ireland

o       This was later changed to Miss Sarah Russell (sister) of RR#4 Warkworth Ontario

Ø      Previous occupation given as On Farm

Ø      Previous military experience given as 4 months in PWOR (Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment) at Kingston

Ø      Religion given as Wesleyan

Ø      Assigned to “B” Company

o       This was later reorganized into “A” Company

o       Later he was assigned to the Machine Gun Section

Robert lied about his age on attesting, stating that he had been born a year earlier as he was too young to enlist


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama at Montreal Quebec



May 15, 1915

Disembarked at Devonport England and proceeded to the West Sandling Camp, near Hythe Kent


May 28, 1915

Admitted to the Moore Barracks Canadian Military Hospital at Shorncliffe diagnosed with Influenza


Jun 28, 1915

Transferred to Monks Horton Hospital at Kent and diagnosis changed to read Pleurisy


Jul 25, 1915

Discharged to duty from hospital


Sep 1, 1915

Reported to be AWL (Absent Without Leave)


Sep 3, 1915

Reported for duty from being AWL 

Forfeits 3 days pay and sentenced to 20 days Detention


Sep 8, 1915

Granted 10 days remission of his 20 day Detention sentence


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St Seiriol at Folkestone



Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked at Boulogne France and proceeded to St Omer


 Apr 25, 1916         A letter written home to his mother

On Active Service

Somewhere in Belgium

April 25, 1916 

Dear Mother  

Just a few lines to you to let you know I am still in the land of the living and am lucky to be in it to.  We have had a hard time Mother over here but I am in the best of health only for my nerves are a little shaken.  I hope this finds you all in the best of health.  I am in the trenches now and expect to get a rest soon.  I am hungry now Mother.  Have had nothing to eat for 24 hours.  We can only get out at dark so the German snipers can’t get us.  It has been raining for the last few days here.  Well Mother I haven’t much to say so I guess I will close hoping to hear from you soon. 

                                    From your loving Son 


59859 R Russell
Machine Gun Section
21 Batt Canadians BEF
London England


Aug 10, 1916          A letter written home to his mother 

On Active Service

Aug 10th, 1916

 Dear Mother  

Just a few lines to you to let you know I am alive and well yet.  I guess you were wondering why I have not wrote to you before now.  I had a letter wrote to you three weeks ago and did not get it away.  I am in the best of health and hope this finds you all the same.  Well Mother the war is going on fine, the allies are doing fine in the drive on this front.   The Germans are getting badly beaten and I don’t think the war will last any longer than Christmas and hope not.  We will soon be out here a year now and we don’t care how soon it is over.  I had a letter from Sarah and she is getting along fine.  Well Mother ten more days and it will be my birthday and I will have to spend it here hoping not to spend another one here.  Well mother there is no news here much so I guess I will close hoping to hear from you soon.  Best regards to all.  I will try and write soon again. 

From your loving son 



Oct 25, 1916

Awarded the Good Conduct Badge


Nov 25, 1916

Granted 10 days leave


Dec 8, 1916

At duty from leave


Mar 15, 1917

Admitted to No 2 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) diagnosis reads Influenza


Mar 16, 1917

Transferred to No 6 CFA and diagnosis changed to read PUO (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin) which is a fever of unknown cause 

On the same day was transferred to the CCRS (Canadian Corps Rest Station)


Mar 22, 1917

Transferred to No 13 CFA


Mar 27, 1917

Transferred via No 18 AT (Ambulance Train)


Mar 28, 1917

Admitted to No 26 General Hospital at Etaples


Apr 6, 1917

Transferred to No 6 Convalescent Hospital at Etaples


Apr 7, 1917

Transferred to No 5 Convalescent Depot at Cayeux


Apr 30, 1917

Discharged to the CBD (Canadian Base Depot) at Havre


May 14, 1917

Rejoined the 21st Battalion from hospital


Jun 30, 1917

Appointed to rank of Acting Lance Cpl without pay


Aug 18, 1917

Promoted to rank of Cpl to replace Cpl Glover 636120 who had been appointed to rank of L/Sgt


Nov 26, 1917

Granted 14 days leave


Dec 13, 1917

Rejoined the Battalion from leave


Jun 20, 1918          Killed in Action

Bellacourt Military Cemetery
Riviere France

Above is from the 21st Battalion War Diary


Oct 13, 1920

1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medals were sent to his sister, Miss Sarah Russell at Campbellford Ontario

The Death Plaque (Dead Man’s Penny), Scroll and Memorial Cross were sent to his mother (now remarried) Mrs Chambers, Tillysburn Strandtown, Co Doron, Ireland



Photos of the Dead Man's Penny, Memorial Cross and the letters are reproduced here with the permission of the owner, Mr Glen Davis

Cpl Russell is honoured on the Memorial Wall at Kingston Ontario

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