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Russell, Leonard Cosmo Bolles

Captain / Rifle Brigade

1895 - 1916

Leonard Cosmo Bolles Russell was born 19 March 1895, the son of Major Leonard George Russell of St Cross Mead, Winchester and Agnes Russell, daughter of the Reverend Godfrey Bolles Lee, Warden of Winchester College 1861-1903.

He came to Winchester College from St Aubyn's, Rottingdean in September 1908 and was in F House, Hawkins'. He proved to be a strong, all-round athlete, playing in OTH XV and standing on dress for OTH VI. He was also in Soccer 2nd XI.

Cosmo left Winchester in the summer of 1912 and he entered RMC Sandhurst in 1913 and captained the victorious RMC athletics team against Woolwich in 1914, himself winning the long jump; and in 1913 set a Sandhurst record for throwing the cricket ball with a throw of 117 yards 2 feet and half an inch.

He was commissioned in August 1914 into the Rifle Brigade and saw action at Pietre, part of the Battle of Loos. Cosmo was then promoted to Captain and was killed in an attack on Rainbow Trench, the enemy front line, between Gueudecourt and Le Transloy on the Somme on 7 October 1916. He was leading his company when they suddenly came upon uncut wire and the enemy machine guns.

His name appeared on a Wykehamist name-board, which afterwards came into the possession of the School, although it was subsequently lost. The story of the name-board is told in the following letter to The Wykehamist (549, February 1916): BEF, France 23rd December 1915 Dear Mr. Editor,– It may interest some of your readers to hear that there is a farmhouse, more or less ruined, about half a mile behind the British line near Estaires, which is called Winchester House, and that a board is kept there on which Old Wykehamist visitors can inscribe their names, and the dates during which they were at Winchester. The following is the list of names and dates carved on this board with varying skill:– V.A. Ormsby 78-83 E.W. Tennant 11-14 E.G.T. Dalton 98-01 F.G. Bonham-Carter 91-96 V.T. Hill 84-89 R.S. Lambert 08-12 L.C.B. Russell 08-12 H.H. Burn 09-13 A.G. Brace 99-03 C.H. Seymour 00-05 C. Aylmer 00-03 L.J.P. Butler 89-93 P. Solomon [08-11] A.R. Pym 05-09 K.R. Habershon [03-08] D.C. Parsons 03-08 F.G.R.B. Stephens [99-05] I am, yours, etc., L.J.P. Butler [The writer of this letter enclosed certain more accurate indications of the position of this board; it is hoped that it may be recovered and brought to Winchester after the war.– Ed.]

Cosmo was twenty-one years old when he died, and is buried in grave V.E.19 of the Bancourt British Cemetery. The temporary wooden cross with which his grave was originally marked is on display in the church of the St. Cross Hospital in Winchester

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