No. 3/13322, 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Tuesday 31 July 1917 (aged 28)
No known grave
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium (Panel 40)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
John Russell was born on 16 December 1888 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards and he was a son of John and Jane (Jinnie) Russell (nee Miller, sometimes Millar) who were married on 17 April 1876 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). John Russell from Movilla Street was a son of John Russell, a labourer. Jane Miller from Greenwell Street was a daughter of Robert Miller, a weaver.
The Russell family lived in Greenwell Street and Wallace’s Street No. 2 before moving to Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards.
John Russell worked as a woollen weaver and he and Jane had at least ten children including:
Jane (born 6 November 1877 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
Esther (born 1 January 1883 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 25 October 1884 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
David (born 13 December 1886 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
John (born 16 December 1888 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
Sarah (born 31 December 1890 in Wallaces Street, Newtownards)
Alexander (born 6 June 1896 in Queen Street, Newtownards)
The children were baptised in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church. Alexander was the first of the two Russell brothers to be killed in action.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War John Russell worked as a painter. He and Jane Quinn were married on 1 May 1915 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. Jane Quinn, a servant from Killearn, was a daughter of Robert Quinn, a labourer.
John Russell enlisted in Newtownards, joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was then transferred to either the 1st or 2nd Battalion.
Corporal John Russell went to France on 17 June 1915 and was transferred to the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 36th (Ulster) Division. He was killed by enemy artillery fire on 31 July 1917 while at his post in a trench taken that day from the Germans. On 3 August 1917 Corporal John Russell was buried on the battlefield. At the time of his death John’s wife Jane and their daughter Mary lived in the townland of Killearn, Newtownards.
Jane Russell placed a For King and Country notice in the 25 August 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle – just two weeks after she had placed a similar notice for her brother Rifleman Tommy Quinn (No. 13411). Jane’s notice for her husband contained the verse:
How little I thought when I said good-bye
It would be the last parting between you and I;
I loved you in life, you are dear to me still,
But in grief I must bend to God’s holy will.
Corporal John Russell (No. 3/13322) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
Rifleman Alexander Russell and Rifleman John Russell are both commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).