Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Cecil Charles Hunter Barr (serving as Rifleman Charles Russell)



Cecil Charles Hunter Barr was born in the early months of 1899 in the village of Rillington, Norton, Yorkshire, the second of three children and only son of timber merchant Charles Archibald Grant Barr and his wife Annie (nee Lythgoe).

By 1911 the family was living at 35 Regent Park Terrace, Headingly, Leeds, Charles still in the timber business.

In mid-May 1915 Barr enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment (No.20553). He must have lied about his age, as he was only 16 at the time. On 16 December 1915 he was sent to France, where he joined the 10th Battalion, which had gone to France a couple of months earlier.

During the latter part of 1916 Barr's true age was discovered and he was sent back to England. At the beginning of December he was transferred to the 2/8th Battalion, Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) (No.326099). A number of underage boys returned from France were sent to this regiment at the same time.

In January 1917 the 2/8th Battalion was sent to Dublin. This did not suit Barr and he deserted soon after, making his way to Bray, County Wicklow, where he enlisted in the Corps of Hussars. To avoid apprehension he changed his name to Charles Russell and stated that he was from Rathdrum in County Wicklow. From there he was posted to the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.2416), between 12 and 18 April 1917.

At the end of August 1917 he obtained a transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.20187). After a short time with a reserve battalion he was sent to France where he joined the 1st Battalion in the field.

On 21 March 1918 the 1st Battalion was on the St Quentin front when the German Spring offensive began. During the retreat over the following week they sustained severe casualties – the battalion war diary records 31 other ranks killed, 248 wounded, 155 missing and nine wounded and missing.

Private Barr was among the dead. He was killed on 24 March in the fighting around Cugny and Villeselve. As he has no known grave, he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France, Panel 74.



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