CWG: Lance Corporal Harold Russell

Lance Corporal Harold Russell

Harold Stanley Russell was born in 1895, the third of six children to carpenter Henry Russell and his wife Mary. The family lived in Sherborne, Dorset, and this is where Harold grew up; by the time of the 1911 census, he was working as a hairdresser in the town.

While Harold’s military records are not readily available online, his last few weeks can be determined through the local press of the day.

He enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment in the summer of 1915, but was attached to the Wiltshire Regiment when battalions went to France in May 1916.

Lance Corporal Russell’s Lieutenant wrote to his parents to report on Harold’s injury:

[He] was wounded by a bomb on the morning of July 28th while on duty in the trenches. “At the moment of writing I do not know if it is a very serious case, but I do know he will lose the use of his left hand. He was a most popular fellow, and always willing to do his part nobly with a brave heart, and nothing grieved me more than to see him in pain. His wants were immediately attended to, and I suppose by now he is under treatment in the hospital. He is being well cared for, and the authorities will let you know how he is progressing.

Western Gazette, Friday 4th August 1916

A week later, the newspaper reported an update:

Lance-Corporal Harold Russell… is now at the Leicester Military Hospital in a critical condition. His parents were telegraphed for on Friday last, and visited him. They found he had been very seriously wounded by a bomb whilst on duty in the trenches in France. His injuries are in the chest and right arm, while his left hand has been amputated. [He] was acting platoon-sergeant at the time he was wounded, and had taken part in three battles. After being wounded he walked one and a-half miles to the dressing-station, but afterwards collapsed. His parents returned to Sherborne on Tuesday as he was slightly better, but were telegraphed for again on Wednesday.

Western Gazette, Friday 11th August 1916

The day of the second article, Lance Corporal Harold Russell lost his fight for life, dying in a Military Hospital in Leicester. He was just 21 years old.

The next week, the young soldier featured in the newspaper again, with an 80-line report on his funeral being featured on the Roll of Honour page.

Harold Stanley Russell lies at rest in the cemetery of his home town, Sherborne.

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