|Date of Birth||August 28, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Belleville, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Father: Joseph Edward Alcock, Langham, Saskatchewan|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan|
|Date of Enlistment||September 25, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 25, 1916|
|Age at Death||20|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
Russell Robert Alcock was born on 28 August 1896 in Belleville, Hastings, Ontario. His parents were Joseph Edward and Elizabeth Russell (née Tufts) Alcock who had married 01 March 1892 in Faraday, Hastings, Ontario. By the 1901 census the family had relocated to Rat Portage (name later changed to Kenora) along with Joseph’s parents Joseph and Sarah (née Belch) and his father’s siblings George, Charles, Wellington, Amy, Mary, and their families. On the census Joseph’s occupation was given as day labourer although at the time of his marriage he was farming. On 02 December 1901 Joseph, Lizzie, and Russell welcomed a new family member, Elsie Sarah Naomi. Another child, John Edward was born on 15 December 1904 but died of cholera the following August. For the 1911 Canada census the family was living on Main Street in Kenora, occupation of Joseph given as hardware salesman. Two more of Joseph’s siblings had moved into the area, Frederick and William and their families. By the 1916 Canada census for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the family had moved to Langham, Saskatchewan, a township just north of but now included in the city of Saskatoon. Joseph’s profession was listed as ‘income from farm’. Russell was listed as being away at military camp.
With one year previous experience with the 105th Regiment, Saskatoon, Russell enlisted in Saskatoon on 25 September 1915. Blue-eyed with brown hair, he had just turned 19 the previous month. Originally with the 65th Saskatchewan Regimental Band, he left Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Empress of Britain on 18th June 1916, arriving in England on the 29th. From the training camp of Bramshott he was transferred to A Company of the 44th Battalion on July 3rd. On 10 August 1916 the 44th Battalion left for France.
Just over two months later, Private Russell Alcock was reported as killed in action at the Somme. Acting as stretcher bearer he had gone out into ‘no man’s land’ to bring in a wounded lad and on the return trip to the trenches, he was hit and killed. From the War Diary for the 44th Battalion, 25 October 1916: Raining during morning with clearing during afternoon. Battalion attempted to capture portion of Regina Trench under Operation Order No.9. The operation failed owing to insufficiency of artillery barrage. The Battalion suffered heavily -‘ Casualties were 3 officers killed, 8 wounded, other ranks 37 killed, 125 wounded, 13 missing believed killed, 13 missing.
Russell’s body was never recovered. Inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais, France are the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France. Russell Robert Alcock’s name is among them.
Russell is commemorated on page 45 of the First World War Book of Remembrance, on the Langham and District Cenotaph and a tree planted in his memory in Veterans Memorial Park in Langham, Saskatchewan, and on the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial website.
Russell’s father passed away on 19 April 1939 and his mother on 12 April 1950. At the time of his death Joseph had been postmaster of Langham since 30 March 1917. Russell’s sister Elsie married Gordon Masters Creed on 10 August 1926 and they lived in Tisdale, Saskatchewan where Gordon was employed as town clerk. Gordon died on 04 October 1956 and Elsie on 24 December 1973. They had one daughter named Shirley who married and presently lives in Saskatoon.
According to Russell’s niece Shirley Creed Ford, the wounded soldier that Russell was bringing in survived the war and in gratitude every year he would visit Russell’s mother until her death.
by Judy Stockham
research notes: Some of the information about Russell’s sister and her family in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, including setting up contact with Russell’s niece in Saskatoon was provided by Bernice Lawrence of Tisdale. Photos and information about Veterans Memorial Park, Cenotaph, and trees in Langham, Saskatchewan provided by Elsie Henry of Saskatoon. ‘This tree closest to the pole is Russell’s with a small plaque in front. There are 12 trees there one for each of the fallen soldiers. The girl at the town office said the veterans living there keep the site in repair.’
newspaper clipping: Kenora Miner and News 11 November 1916
War Diary entry: Library and Archives Canada