Private Samuel Ernest Russell

 

Samuel Ernest Russell was born on 11 May 1896 in King Street, Ballymena, County Antrim, the last of three children of flax dresser George Russell and his wife Lizzie (née Lockhart). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Patrick Place, Ballymena, with his parents and brothers and working as a commercial clerk at the Ballymena and Harryville Co-op Stores.

Russell enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 18 January 1916 (regimental number unknown). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.40913). The formal transfer took place on 7 December, and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

On 4 July 1917 he was slightly wounded, but after treatment at a casualty clearing station was able to return to his battalion. He was wounded again, in his right calf, on 31 July on the first day of the Passchendaele offensive, when the 1st Battalion took part in heavy fighting on the Westhoek Ridge. Their casualties for the day were six officers killed and seven wounded, and 30 other ranks killed, 145 wounded and 18 missing.

Evacuated to the UK for treatment, on 20 June 1918 Russell was discharged as no longer physically fit for military service due to his wound (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was awarded a pension, his level of disability rated at 30 per cent.

After the war Russell lived in Australia and New Zealand before returning to Ballymena, where he trained as a solicitor, later working in Belfast. He died on 28 September 1940 at a private nursing home at 110 Royal Avenue, Belfast.

 

Belfast News-Letter, 30 September 1940

 

Russell's brother James Lockhart Russell also served in the war, in the North Irish Horse and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.