2657 L/CPL Harry Milton Russell
1st Infantry Battalion
Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Belgium
3rd Machine Gun Battalion

Harry Russell

The British Army cap was favoured by many Australians heading off to war. Australians soon became to prefer the individuality of the slouch hat however.

January 2 to March 25
March 26 to May 20
May 21 to July 15
July 16 to September 9
September 10 to November 4
November 5 to December 31

1st Australian Infantry Battalion


The 1st Battalion was the first infantry unit recruited for the AIF in New South Wales during the First World War.

The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. The battalion took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves, and served there until the evacuation in December. Its most notable engagement at Gallipoli was the battle of Lone Pine in August.

Roll call of D Company, 1st Battalion, at Hell Spit after the fighting at the landing.

The bodies of fallen Australian soldiers lie on the ground over which the 1st Battalion advanced in its attack on Lone Pine.

During 1916, Harry Russell's commanding officer in 1st Battalion D Company was Capt. Price. His diary makes occasional references to him.

Philip Howell-Price had been an officer of D Company, 1st Battalion since being promoted to Lieutenant the day after the first landings at Gallipoli. Mentioned twice for 'acts of conspicous gallantry' during these early days at Gallipoli, he received severe wounds during the battle of Lone Pine, not returning to his Company until just before the withdrawal in December. It is unlikely that Harry had much to do with Howell-Price until he was made Captain of D Company in Egypt prior to embarking for the Western Front in March 1916.

Harry enlisted on June 23 1915 and embarked for the front on August 9. This photo was taken shortly before Harry's departure from his family.
On July 30 1915 it was decided an Australia Day would be celebrated across the country and funds would be raised to help the Australia Division of the Red Cross continue to provide their services. Ribbons were sold as part of the fundraising. Examples of these ribbons can be seen in this photo of Harry with his family.
On Harry's immediate left is his brother in law Herbert Leslie Prior.
Herbert Leslie Prior didn't survive the war. Find out more HERE

Left Australia for Egypt 9 August 1915
Arrived at Pt Suez 10 September 1915
Left Egypt for Anzac 22 October - arrived at 9.20 pm 2 November
Left Anzac sick 15 December arriving at Luna Park 27 December

This brief paragraph on 1915 in his 1916 diary provides a wealth of information on Harry's movements from the time he departed Australia on 9th August 1915 until his evacuation from Gallipoli on 15th December 1915.

Left Australia for Egypt 9 August 1915

The troopship 'RUNIC'

Unbeknowns to Harry and any other soldiers on board the RUNIC as she departed Australia, the Battle of Lone Pine had been raging on the ANZAC Peninsula for several days, ending on AUG 9. This was the last major battle at Gallipoli and resulted in the stalemate that ultimately saw the Allied withdrawal.

Arrived at Pt Suez 10 September 1915

Also unbeknowns to Harry and any other re-inforcements to the 1st Battalion on board the RUNIC, their battalion had left Anzac the day before their arrival at Pt. Suez for a rest on the island of Lemnos. They were not to return to Anzac until September 29th. Shortly after on November 2nd, Harry Russell finally joined his battalion.

The diary of Lieutenant B.W. Champion is a very detailed record of his part in The Great War. It also gives us a much more detailed account of daily activities in the 1st Battalion than does Harry's brief entries in his diary.

Left Egypt for Anzac 22 October - arrived at 9.20 pm 2 November

Lieutenant Champion also left Egypt for Anzac on 22 October, arriving at the same time as Harry. The excerpts below detail the time they left the island of Lemnos, until they joined their Battalion at Gallipoli.
1/11/15. Today the 1st November, we disembarked into lighters, and then into a fast turbine boat, the "Osmania". We waited until the huge "Mauretania" steamed into harbour; she was a hospital boat and the biggest ship I have ever seen. Soon we were out to sea on our biggest adventure - off to Gallipoli, and creepy feelings started to trickle up and down my spine. We were packed like sardines, and if the boat had been torpedoed, not 1/4 would have been saved. We passed a monitor, slowly creeping along escorted by two destroyers. These monitors are funny-looking boats, more like flat barges only with a huge gun in front. They draw very little water and can stand in close to shore where the warships cannot go, and bombard the shore defences, etc. At dusk we passed Embros, the island on which Head Quarters is situated and at 7.30 p.m. came close to a large tongue of land covered with tiny twinkling lights. Out of shell-fire, we anchored, and small iron lighters came alongside and took us off. These lighters were like flat tanks and we were shut below like rats in a trap. Anywhere in the open it wouldn't have been so bad, but down below it was terrible.

Soon a steam pinnace came along (how I admired the Snotties in charge!) and towed us to a pier, where we disembarked in a heap on a narrow beach, smothered in walls of provisions. Tiers on tiers of cases of biscuits, ammunition, etc., so that the beach was walled across time and time again. So here we were on the Peninsula at last! In the distance could be heard rifle fire, and very occasionally a shell came in our direction.

Stores at ANZAC Cove

Struggling along in the dark, loaded like camels, over rough unknown land, passing holes in the ground from which one caught a glimpse of light as the waterproof sheet covering the entrance moved in the breeze, we came to realise that at last we were on the mysterious Peninsula.

We had the impression that everywhere were men with muffled voices, and that we had come to a place peopled by voices, for we could see no living people but ourselves. For about 1 1/2 miles we stumbled on in communication trenches which seemed seemed as wide as lanes and about 12' deep, until we reached a fairly level piece of land under the lee of a large hill. This we were told was the edge of Shrapnel Gully and we were warned not to go away from the edges as enemy gun-fire swept the middle area. This was very cheerful, as only a few minutes before, we had rested in a heap right in the centre of the Gully. We were intigued with our quarters for the night; they were oblong holes cut in the side of the hill and partly covered with waterproof sheets, but anywhere was better than being out in the Scotch mist which was forming.

Next morning, the 3rd November, we were out at daylight as it was too cold and cramped to sleep, exploring. What a wilderness caught the eye! Nowhere could we see any green grass or trees or shrubs, all had been torn up or trampled underfoot, leaving the bare gravelly soil exposed.

Here and there were small breast-works in front of dugouts, and men gradually appeared and commenced to make breakfast. Soon we were the centre of an animated group. New arrivals meeting old friends and making new ones. Surely these men were not the spic and span soldiers we had seen leaving Australia a year before! Nearly all had beards or had not shaved for weeks; all were dirty, their breeches hacked off at the knees, and few were wearing puttees. But they were happy, cheerful and full of jokes, and they had developed a jargon of their own, which took us new arrivals, some time to understand. New words for everyday things and new words for war terms. Grouped together, they had a same-ness which I had never realised before. There was a definite Australian character, which is hard to explain, but which was present in every one of them.