April 21, 2020

Walter Russell

Walter James Russell

Trooper 10th Light Horse , Chairman CBH and President of the RASWA.

Army No. 972 - Walter James Russell

Enlisted Age 19, Occupation Storekeeper, Single, Wickepin, Western Australia. Mother _ Mrs. A.C. James, 1034 Hay Street, West Perth, Religion - Church of England

Enlisted 14 Jan 1915 and Left the Army on 17 Sept 1915

5th Reinforcements (embarked Fremantle)

Wounded In Action (WIA) 7 August 1915 _ Russell’s Top (The Nek).

Walter fought at Gallipoli in one of the most horrendous battles at The Nek on the 7 August 1915 and survived.

Wally, as he was affectionately known, was born in Tumbarumba NSW  in 1895. His father was building jetties on the Murray River for boats that carried wool to the coast. The family moved to WA to Esperance to build a jetty there to export wool from the district. Unfortunately there was no local timber to make the Jetty from. The family moved to Greenbushes where Wally’s father was working in the tin mine. While there Wally’s father travelled to Kalgoorlie for work whereupon Wally’s mother was informed he had been killed.

Wally’s mother moved her house and her three boys from Greenbushes to Wickepin where she ran a boarding house. Here she remarried to a Mr James. The stepfather was very harsh with the boys which resulted in the brothers leaving home. Arthur was 17 Wally was 14 and Clarrie came later when he was 9.

At 14 Wally was cutting fence posts at Nomans Lake east of Narrogin. His younger brother, Clarrie, left at 9 years of age to join Arthur and Wally now working out at Jitarning between Wickepin and Kulin. Wally had started an enterprise buying goods in Narrogin and selling them from a shed at Jitarning. At one stage the horse walked off. They tracked it for 3 days finding it at Nomans Lake.

Their brother Arthur left and was working in the mines in Kalgoorlie

Arthur enlisted in Kalgoorlie and was trained with the engineers (a sapper) and served in France. He was bayonetted and gassed but survived to become an author. Arthur had no children.

Wally enlisted in Perth with the 10th light horse however he could not be taken on immediately so he returned to Narrogin working making corrugated rainwater tanks. He then returned eventually to the training camp at Blackboy Hill. Wally became an exceptionally good horsebreaker with the 10th Light Horse. 

They landed on Gallipoli on May 21st and dug in at Plugge’s Plateau. Wally served with the 5th reinforcement until the charge at the Nek on the 7th August where he was in the first line of the 10th LH Regiment ( the third charge)

The charge was a bayonet charge uphill into the morning sun on a 150 metre wide ridge against 30 Turkish Machine guns in 9 Tiers.

Wally ran jumping at the lines of dead bodies reasoning this was where the machine guns were ranged to whereupon he realised no one was with him and was not sure what he would do when he got there. He was struck by a round on his right forefinger and knocked over.

He made his way back down the emergency escape trenches which had been prepared the night before. He poured iodine in the wound and strapped it up himself. Upon evacuation when hospital staff undid the dressing it had become flyblown. This was fortunate as it had prevented gangrene from setting in.

Following this Wally was hospitalised in Egypt and returned to Australia. Upon returning to Western Australia Wally trained as an Accountant with a friend he had encountered in hospital within Egypt, Bill Hayes, and they became lifelong friends.

Wally met and married Miriam Rose Jeanetta Glick. Miriam was a related to Barnett Brothers Glass firm.  Wally became involved with the business and helped them survive the great depression so successfully they were forever indebted to him and Wally through good management and saving purchased a farm.

He and Miriam built a new house in Vale road Mount Lawley to raise their children.

Wally enjoyed sailing on the Swan River and included sailing a Skiff called “Black Cat” on the Swan River with his family associates and friend. 

He was friends with an influential Colonel Pope whom they visited in the country.

Wally spent his spare time travelling to the country in search of the most suitable place to go farming. 

Wally settled on 7000 acres at Bilbarin 11 miles north of Corrigin he named “Wanderin”. Wally moved there in about 1934. They had three children Patricia (Pat) Robert (Bob) and Margaret. They worked with horse teams initially. The farm graduated to machinery after WW2.

Wally served as Chairman of Directors of Cooperative Bulk Handling.  He provided essential direction and leadership during the formative years of CBH. This period was marked by the transition from grain transported in bags to bulk handling and the construction of the bulk storage bin at Midland

Walter was the President of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia during the period 1955 -56  Wally in  addition  was a qualified accountant and farmer, and thus was able to bring financial as well as farming expertise to the position.  Wally had to relinquish the position due to ill-health and retired from this position. Wally’s cattle, sheep and fleeces produce many awards at the Perth Royal show in the fifties and sixties. He was presented grand champion on a few occasions and at one time presented an award from the Premier of the time Charlie Court.

They had stud Angus cattle and  stud Peppin Merino sheep (fine wool breed) during the period of the Korean War. In 1963 Wally sold the land and bought “The Oaks” a property at Dalyup 25 miles west of Esperance in partnership with his brother Clarrie. “The Oaks” was sold about 1967.   Wally loved to travel around WA and enjoyed the social atmosphere and community engagement that this brought.

Wally passed away in a Mosman Park nursing home in December 1971 aged 76

Wally’s children Patricia (Pat) married George King an American Submarine Lieutenant and lives in California.

Robert (Bob) married Nalda a nurse setting up Infant health clinics from a base at Corrigin, and continued operating the family property.

Margret married Frank Bongers a Dutch Army officer who was the State Manager of Elders WA for a period and they reside in Peppermint Grove. Margret led cattle at the Perth Royal Show on a few occasions.