Russel Memorial Cross04 December 2012
The Army Museum has the original battlefield cemetery memorial cross to Lt Hugh Russel, MC, 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company, AIF. Prior to the war Russel was employed in Western Australia as a surveyor and later a mine manager . He was awarded the Military Cross for his devotion to duty during mining operations as part of the attack on Hill 70, near Loos, on 15th August 1917.
Lt Russel died of wounds on 23 January 1918 and was buried at Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Hersin is a village about 5 km south of Bethune. His place of burial was originally marked by an elaborate wooden cross made by the 3rd Tunnelling Company, but in 1920 the Imperial War Graves Commission replaced the cross with a permanent headstone and members of the unit presented the memorial cross to his widow in WA. It was in the family until the 1970s but disappeared when sent for maintenance, finally showing up some 40 years later at an auction in Victoria. It was subsequently recovered and returned to the family and presented by his grand-daughter, Beverley Barry, on behalf of the family to the Army Museum of WA in April 2011.