Frederick James RUSSELL MM
Rank: Corporal
Number: 58824
Unit: 92nd Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 3 July 1916
Age: 27 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France

The Russell family originated from the South West of England and were living in Portland, Dorset when the Census was taken. Frederick's father, Cornelious, was a foreman ganger on the railways and it's thought the family had moved fairly regularly in connection with his work. Frederick had two older sisters, Elizabeth and Ada, who had been born in Dorset but Frederick was born in Langley, Derbyshire in 1888. In the mid-1890s, the family were living in Middleton, north of Manchester, when his sister, May was born.

At some point, Frederick moved to Cheadle where, in 1910, he got married. Within a couple of years, their only child was born and he was named after his father. They lived at 178 Stockport Road, Cheadle. Frederick enlisted into the Army at Stockport in Decemeber 1914, leaving his job at Clay's bleachworks. After training, he went overseas in July 1915.

Later in that year, he was acting as a Lance Corporal and won the Military Medal. He received a message from Major General I Maxse, commanding his Division "I have read with great pleasure, the report of your regimental commander and brigade commander regarding your gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field on 21 December 1915." The details of Frederick's act of bravery are not recorded. However, his unit's War Diary makes mention that troops were working to improve the defensive system when an enemy mine was exploded, blowing up about 30 yards of the trench. It is reasonable to surmise, therefore, that he risked himself to rescue his mates or, in some other way, acted courageously during the incident.

The Way Diary does not mention any casualties on the day Frederick was killed. The Battle of the Somme was in its third day and there was, presumably, little time to write up the details. The handwritten diary does look as though several days have been written up together. It refers to two Sections of Engineers working in Montauban Alley (a German trench captured on 1 July), improving the defences and another section engaged in road-building so that the artillery could move up. This was still very much a battle area and easily within range of the German artillery. 

After he was killed, his commanding officer wrote "...........Your husband was one of the very best of our NCOs and was marked for early promotion. I often took him with me when doing dangerous work as I always felt perfect confidence when I had his cool nerves and good judgement to rely on. He died splendidly encouraging the men under heavy shellfire to continue their work........."

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