Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 15, 1895
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Charles William Southworth (mother), Revelstoke, British Columbia
Trade / CallingHardware Clerk
ReligionBaptist
Service Details
Regimental Number430992
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion7th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVictoria, British Columbia
Address at EnlistmentRevelstoke, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentApril 10, 1915
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 6, 1956
Age at Death60
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Revelstoke, British Columbia

Southworth, Russell Raymond

Private Russell Raymond Southworth enlisted in Victoria, British Columbia in April 1915, at age 19. He served for four years in Canada, the UK, France and Belgium and returned home in March 1919.

Russell was born on 15 July 1895 in Keewatin, Ontario. His parents were Charles William Southworth and Fanny May Stowe. Charles was born in Oswego County, New York and Fanny in Faribault County, Minnesota. They were married in 1882 in Cumberland, Wisconsin and their first three children were born there: Charles Earl, Edith May and Nellie Viola. In 1891 Charles and his family moved to Keewatin, in northwestern Ontario, and he took up farming. He and his wife had four more children: William Esta (1893), Russell (1895), Grace Evangeline Muriel (1901) and James Douglass (1904). Russell grew up in Keewatin and attended local schools. In the spring of 1911, when he was 15, his family moved to Revelstoke, British Columbia. His father was hired as a watchman for the Canadian Pacific Railway and Russell found work as a clerk in a hardware store.

Russell and his brother William Southworth both enlisted in the spring of 1915. Russell signed up in Victoria on 10 April, joining the 48th (British Columbia) Battalion. The unit was recruited in towns in the southern part of the province, including Revelstoke. Before enlisting Russell had been training with a militia unit, the 102nd Regiment (Rocky Mountain Rangers). Three months after enlisting he was on his way overseas. The 48th Battalion embarked from Montreal on 1 July 1915 on the SS Grampian and arrived in England about nine days later.

On 6 January 1916 Russell’s unit was re-designated as the 3rd Canadian Pioneer Battalion. Pioneer battalions worked closely with the Engineers and spent a large part of their time in or near the front lines. Their work included mining, wiring, tunnelling, railway and road work, constructing water systems, and building and repairing trenches and dugouts. Russell arrived in France with the 3rd Battalion in March and two months later they were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel (2-13 June 1916). The battalion suffered 180 casualties in the two-week operation. That fall the Canadians were moved south for the Somme Offensive then they spent the winter of 1916-17 in the Arras area, opposite Vimy. Russell was ill with trench fever in early April 1917 but he rejoined his unit in time for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. A month later the battalion was broken up and the troops were transferred to other units. Russell was one of 250 men assigned to the 7th Infantry Battalion (1st BC Regiment). In August he had ten days leave in Paris and while he was away the 7th Battalion suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Hill 70.

In November, during the assault on Passchendaele, Russell was temporarily attached to the 2nd Brigade Headquarters. Most of the Canadian units spent the winter and spring of 1917-18 in the Vimy sector and the men were kept busy with training, raids and patrols, and regular rotations in the front trenches. In May they went into reserve and that summer the troops had several weeks of intensive training in open warfare. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, began with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August. In September Russell had 14 days leave in the UK and he rejoined his unit at the end of the month. They were heavily involved in the last weeks of the war and when the Armistice came into effect the 7th Battalion was in Auberchicourt, France, near the Belgian border. A few days later they continued moving northeast, crossing into Belgium on 15 November. In December the unit took part in the March to the Rhine but before they left Belgium Russell became ill with influenza. He was admitted to No. 13 General Hospital in Boulogne on 9 December. He spent six days there and a week at a convalescent depot. After recovering he served at the Canadian Base Depot for about two weeks. Rather than rejoining his unit, which was in Germany, Russell was sent back to England in early January 1919 and transferred to the 1st Reserve Battalion. He embarked for Canada on the SS Cassandra on 22 February and arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland on 6 March. He was discharged on 4 April in Vancouver.

When the 1921 census was taken Russell was living at home in Revelstoke and working as a brakeman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was married in Revelstoke on 19 April 1927 to Margaret Dorothea Lyttle. Margaret was born in Kamloops in November 1899, the daughter of David and Flora Mabel Lyttle. Her father worked for the CPR like Russell and he died in a train accident at work when Margaret was six years old. Her mother was remarried in Revelstoke in 1909 to Herbert Keegan, who was also a railway worker.

Russell had a long career with the CPR, becoming a conductor by 1949. He and his wife lived in Revelstoke until the fall of 1954 when they moved to Kamloops. Margaret passed away at home on 18 December 1955, at age 56, and Russell died less than four months later, on 6 April 1956, at age 60. Russell and Margaret are both buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Revelstoke.

By Becky Johnson


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