RUSSELL, Wilfred
(Service number 6/3452)

First Rank (1) Private; (2) Sergeant Last Rank Private


Date 16 April 1884 Place of Birth Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Enlistment Information

Date (1) 8 August 1915; (2) 20 June 1917 Age (1) 31 years 3 months; (2) 33 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment (1) Orari Gorge; (2) Margate Hotel, Christchurch
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status (1) Single; (2) Single
Next of Kin (1) Duncan RAE (friend), Orari Gorge, Woodbury; (2) Duncan RAE (friend), Orari Gorge, Orari
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information (1) Height 5 feet 11½ inches. Weight 170 lbs. Chest measurement 33½-37½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair dark. Sight normal. Hearing & colour vision both good. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. Scars both legs - excised varicose veins. Fit. (2) Height 5 feet 11 inches. Weight 172 lbs. Chest measurement 34-37 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Illness - malaria 5 years ago. Free from hernia, varicocele, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Varicose veins - slight. Vaccinated (left). Good bodily & mental health. No fits. Bullet wound on outer & inner aspect of left thigh. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) 8th Reinforcements; (2) New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) Canterbury Infantry Battalion; (2) 34th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company
Date (1) 13 November 1915; (2) 8 February 1918
Transport (1) Willochra or Tofua; (2) Ulimaroa
Embarked From (1) Wellington; (2) Wellington Destination (1) Suez, Egypt; (2) Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date (1) 1 March 1917; (2) 18 April 1919 Reason (1) No longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

25 September 1916 - wounded in left thigh in Action; 27 September admitted to No.1 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples; 28 September embarked for England & admitted to 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea. 28 October 1916 invalided to NZ per H.S. Maheno from Southampton [& struck off strength NZEF]. 23 October 1918 - gunshot wound to head; embarked for England & admitted to Walton; 2 November transferred to Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch. New disease supervened – recurrent varicose veins; 8 November admitted to NZ General Hospital at Hornchurch. 6 December 1918 discharged to Codford.

Post-war Occupations



Date 10 May 1962 Age 78 years
Place of Death Waihi
Memorial or Cemetery Waihi Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block RSA, Plot 109
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Wilfred Russell was born on 16 April 1884 at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, the son of Wilfred and Mary Russell, as recorded on his personnel file. He enlisted twice for service with the New Zealand Forces – on 8 August 1915 at Trentham, and on 20 June 1917 at Christchurch. In 1915, when Wilfred was a labourer for the Tripp Brothers at Orari Gorge Station, he was single and declared that he had been previously rejected as unfit for the military forces on account of varicose veins. In 1917, he named his parents, stating that both were born in Ireland and that both were deceased. Wilfred himself had been two years in New Zealand, suggesting that he had arrived not long before enlisting in 1915. While his address was Margate Hotel, Christchurch, he was again a labourer for the Tripp Brothers at Geraldine. He was still single and was volunteering for the 33rd Reinforcements, having been medically examined in August 1915 at Geraldine, having served with the 8th Reinforcements, and having been rejected on accounts of the wounds received.

Medically examined on 19 July 1915, Wilfred Russell was 5 feet 11½ inches tall, weighed 170 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 33½-37½ inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes grey and his hair dark. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed, and his teeth good. Free from diseases, vaccinated, and in good bodily and mental health, he was deemed fit. He had scars on both legs where varicose veins had been excised. The second medical on 20 June 1917 at Christchurch was similar but included records of illness and of his wounding. He was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 172 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34-37 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes brown and his hair dark. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. He had been ill with malaria 5 years ago; he was free from hernia, varicocele, haemorrhoids and inveterate or contagious skin disease, but had slight varicose veins. In good bodily and mental health, he was assessed Class A. He bore a bullet wound on the outer and inner aspect of his left thigh.

Of Roman Catholic affiliation, he named a friend as next-of-kin on both occasions – Duncan Rae, Orari Gorge. Private Wilfred Russell embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 8th Reinforcements on 13 November 1915 at Wellington. Having disembarked at Suez on 20 December 1915, he joined his battalion at Ismailia on 9 January 1916 before embarking at Port Said pe the “Franconia” for France on 6 April. In July 1916, while at Armentieres he forfeited one day’s pay and was awarded ten days of field punishment for absence without leave. A casualty list issued in October 1916 noted that Private Wilfred Russell had been wounded on 28 September and had embarked for England. He was in fact, wounded in Action on 25 September, in the Field, suffering a wound to his left thigh. He was admitted to the No. 1 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples on 27 September and, embarking for England per the “Cambria” the next day, was admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital at Chelsea.

A complement of invalided soldiers returned to New Zealand by the hospital ship “Maheno”, which left Southampton on 28 October 1916 and was expected to arrive at Wellington on 14 December 1916. The list of those on board included 6/352 Private Wilfred Russell (Canterbury Mounted Rifles), labourer, of Orari Gorge. While in Wellington, in between service stints, Australian-born Wilfred Russell, a labourer and soldier, got a mention in the NZ Police Gazettes, when he was fined £1 for using obscene language on 1 February 1917. He had also been arrested by civil police for being drunk but was discharged when he was brought before the court. He was discharged from war service on 1 March 1917, being no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in Action. He intended to head back to Orari Gorge Station at Woodbury, Geraldine.

The second time round, it was as Sergeant that Wilfred Russell embarked, leaving with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment of the 34th Reinforcements for Liverpool, England, per the “Ulimaroa” on 8 February 1918. He had been promoted to Corporal in August 1917 and then to Sergeant in November. Disembarking at Liverpool on 29 March, he marched in to Brocton. Lance-Corporal Russell marched out to Sling on 20 April and proceeded overseas, as a Private, on 14 May. He was appointed Lance-Corporal again on 15 September.

A hospital and progress report published at the beginning of November 1918 stated that W. Russell, 6/3452, Orari, was not a serious case. Lance-Corporal Wilfred Russell, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, had been wounded on 23 October 1918. Having suffered a gunshot wound to the head, he embarked for the UK two days later and was admitted to Walton. On 2 November he was transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch. Discharged from there when a new disease supervened – recurrent varicose veins, he was admitted to the NZ General Hospital at Hornchurch on 8 November and discharged to Codford in December.

Returning Draft No. 219 which brought home 1,139 of all ranks was due early in March 1919 by H.M.S. Port Melbourne. Among those returning was L.Cpl. Wilfred Russell, Orari. Leaving London on 26 January, the “Port Melbourne” steamed via Panama. On his return he was granted a sick-leave certificate for one day. Private Wilfred Russell was finally discharged on 18 April 1919, being no longer physically for war service, and went to Dunedin. He had served in Egypt and Western Europe so, in 1921 (by which time he was in Dunedin), he received the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The Otago Daily Times of 28 June 1919 carried the following advertisement – “LOST, Returned Soldier’s BADGE (No. 6/3452). — Finder please communicate with Secretary, Returned Soldiers’ Association.”

Wilfred Russell married Lillian Rotchfort in 1919. They were to have a son, Wilfred George Russell, who served in World War Two and whose grave in Waihi Cemetery is marked with a services plaque, and two daughters, Eileen May and Iris. Wilfred and Lillian lived firstly in Dunedin, moving in the mid-1920s to Christchurch, in the mid-1930s to Wellington. By 1943 Wilfred was a pensioner, he and Lillian then in the Auckland area. Lillian was at the Hutt Hospital in 1954 and Wilfred at Waihi by 1957. Wilfred Russell died on 10 May 1962 at Waihi, aged 78 years, and was buried in the RSA section of Waihi Cemetery, a services plaque marking his grave. Lillian, “a devoted wife and mother”, had died in 1957 and was buried in Waihi Cemetery. Both were Roman Catholic burials.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [04 November 2014]; NZ Marriage & Death indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [02 May 2014]; Waihi Cemetery headstone transcriptions (South Canterbury Branch NZSG records) [02 May 2014]; Waihi Cemetery burial records (Hauraki District Council) [04 November 2014]; Otago Daily Times, 19 October 1916, 28 June 1919, Star, 18 November 1916, NZ Times, 20 November 1916, 2 & 8 November 1918, Timaru Herald, 14 December 1916, Auckland Star, 25 February 1919, Dominion, 25 February 1919 (Papers Past) [18 May 2017; 07 & 11 January 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [18 May 2017; 07 January 2023]; NZ Police Gazette, 14 February 1917 [12 January 2023]; Waihi Cemetery headstone images (Find A Grave) [07 January 2023]

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