3/1279 Charles Henry Russell - New Zealand Medical Corp
Born on 7th November 1881, Charles’ birth was registered in the Hastings districts of Sussex, England.[i]
Charles like many other single men came out from the United Kingdom, at the start of the 20th Century, to find work in mental institutes and hospitals around New Zealand.
By 1913 Charles was employed as medical attendant in the Porirua Mental Hospital where he also lived. Like many of
the young English and Scottish employees of the hospital he was also a member of the hospital’s soccer team being
in the team that won, in 1913, the Charity Shield and were runners up in the Wellington First Division Championship.[ii]
The 1913 Hospital Team [iii] Charles Henry Russell standing 1st left
On 24th September 1915 Charles Henry Russell enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) as
3/1279 Private Russell, New Zealand Medical Corps.
Private Russell’s military records show he arrived in Egypt in December 1915 and was sent s reinforcements to the Training Battalion in Zeitoun.[iv]
The withdrawal of ANZAC forces from the Dardanelles resulted in the focus of training now being for the France and the Western Front. Private Russell was, in March 1916, attached to the 2nd Battalion Otago Infantry prior to the Otago’s embarking for France. The New Zealand Division including the Otago Regiment moved into the Western Front where
they entered trenches to the south-east of Armentieres. This was considered a ‘quiet sector’ for the New Zealand
Division to develop the art of trench warfare. The New Zealand Division would lose 2500 men, nearly 400 of them killed
by the time it was relieved mid-August 1916.[v]
One of these casualties was Private Russell, his military record notes, on 4th June 1916 he suffered gunshot wounds
(GSW) to the face and right leg and he was sent to the rear and hospital. The wounds were not serious as Private Russell remained in hospital for a month before returning to the No 1 Field Ambulance as the New Zealand Division prepared
for involvement in the Battle of the Somme. The New Zealand offence was launched on 15th September 1916 with the
2nd NZ Brigade assault to capture trenches in front of Flers.
The rain would turn the battle field into a muddy
horror which often resulted in stretcher bearers
taking up to three hours to bring casualties to the
casualty clearing stations.  There was a physical
impact on men under the constant demands and
conditions at the Front and Private Russell was
admitted to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station
(CCS) with Myalgia.
Myalgia, or muscle pain the most common cause is
the overuse of muscle groups but can be brought
on by majortrauma or chronic tension all of which
Private Russell was exposed to.
Private Russell returned to duty and winter in
the trenches and was involved in all the major
battles of 1917 and 1918 being finally evacuated
to England at the endof the war when in December
1918 he had influenza.
Private Russell remained in hospital until April 1919
when he was shipped back to New Zealand and discharged as ‘termination of period of engagement.’[vi]
Charles returned to work at the Porirua Hospital and also to playing soccer for the Hospital team he was member of the team that won, in 1921, the Wellington First Division championship.[vii]
There is no record of Charles marrying and he died in 1963.[viii]
Archway Archives New Zealand - Military Files: 3/1279 Private Charles Henry Russell
Papers Past Online
Mental about Wests
NZ BDM Online
The encylolopedia of NZ 1966 Online
1913 Porirua Mental Hospital winners Charity Shield: Pataka Museum
1913 Porirua Menatl Hospital (cropped) C Russell: Patala Museum
Test and background - 1917 Stretcher bearers Third Battle od Passchedael. Wikipedia
[i] www.freebdm.org.nz
[ii] Mental about Wests : 1913 Hospital team
[iii] Players from the 1913 who served with the NZEF: C Russell, J Willis, H Heath, P Roots, G Hughes, W Skinner
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/1279 Private Charles Henry Russell  
[v] The New Zealand Division : The Encyclopaedia of NZ 1966.
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/1279 Private Charles Henry Russell
[vii] Mental about Wests: 1921 Hospital team
[viii] Internal Affairs BDM: Death Charles Henry Russell (81) 1964/39585

1917 Third Battle of Passchendale