No. 12167, 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Killed in action on Wednesday 28 October 1914 (aged 18)
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France (Grave III. A. 18)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Thomas Russell was born on 9 August 1896 and he was a son of Andrew and Eliza Russell (nee Bell) who were married on 24 June 1875 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church St Mark’s). Andrew Russell from East Street, Newtownards was a son of Andrew Russell, a labourer. Eliza Bell from West Street, Newtownards was a daughter of Joseph Bell, a labourer.
The Russell family lived in Robert Street and later at 18 Mark Street, Newtownards.
Andrew Russell Senior worked as a general labourer and before that he had been a soldier in the South African War. He died of pneumonia on 17 June 1906 (aged 54).
From census details it may be concluded that Andrew and Eliza Russell (nee Bell) had at least eleven children:
Andrew (born 4 July 1876 in Circular Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 24 June 1878 in South Street, Newtownards)
Andrew (born 12.00 pm 2 November 1882 in West Street, Newtownards)
Eliza (Lizzie, born 1.00 am 3 November 1882 in West Street, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 16 January 1885 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 1 January 1887 in Mark Street, Newtownards; died of hydrocephalus 25 May 1890)
Agnes (born 4 May 1889 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 18 November 1891 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
Jane (born 19 November 1892 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
Thomas (born 9 August 1896)
William (Willie, born around 1902/1903)
From Press reports in 1914 it may be concluded that they had two other sons, Joseph and John. It was reported in the Press that, at the outset of the Great War, five of Eliza Russell’s sons were on active service:
Joseph Russell, Royal Irish Rifles, formerly Royal Irish Fusiliers
John Russell, Royal Irish Rifles
Andrew Russell, Cameron Highlanders
Samuel Russell, No. 6800, ‘C’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Thomas Russell, Highland Light Infantry
Andrew was the first of the two Russell brothers to die.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Thomas Russell worked as an apprentice. He enlisted in 1913 and shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he was wounded in the cheek. Private Thomas Russell returned to the fighting line and it was reported in the Press that he had been killed in action at Saint Julia on 28 October 1914.
Private Thomas Russell (No. 12167) was 18 when he died and he was buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
FROM HIS MANY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
Private Thomas Russell (No. 12167) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).
In the 7 November 1914 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle the Editor published a letter from Thomas Russell’s brother, Rifleman Samuel Russell (No. 6800), to his mother. At the time Samuel was in No. 2 Military Hospital, Beckett’s Park, Leeds recovering from severe gunshot wounds to his shoulder and he was not aware that Thomas had been killed. Rifleman Samuel Russell was wounded on 25 October 1914 during fighting in the trenches at La Bassee. Many of his comrades lost their lives or were very severely wounded. At the same time his brother John was in hospital at Stobcross, Glasgow in Scotland and his brother Joseph was in hospital at Leicester.
Private Thomas Russell’s mother, brothers and sisters placed an In Memoriam notice in the 30 October 1915 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Although we are in a far-off land,
And your grave we cannot see,
As long as life and memory last
We still remember thee.