Private John Francis Russell


John Francis Russell was born on 13 March 1894 at 2 Camden Place, Dublin, the fourth or fifth of five children of carriage trimmer James Russell and his wife Maria (née O'Hanlon). The family moved to Belfast between 1901 and 1911. At the time of the 1911 Census, John was living at 15 Farnham Street, Belfast, with his parents and three surviving siblings, and working as a showcard writer.

Russell enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 26 August 1916 (No.2250). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France later that year or in the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Russell, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Russell was issued regimental number 41460.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

In late 1917 or the first half of 1918 Russell fell ill and was evacuated to the UK for treatment. He was discharged on 7 August 1918, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). Russell was granted a pension due to the illness – described as 'trench feet syncope' and also as 'neurasthenia' – his level of disability assessed at 40 per cent in April 1920 (down to 1-5 per cent in July 1922).