Henri Villiers Russell and John Villiers Russell

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Reference WMO/271921


Municipal Buildings

Memorial Square




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Status: On original site
Type: Non freestanding
Location: Internal
Setting: Inside a building - public/private
Description: Board/Plaque/ Tablet
  • Timber Timber (any)
Lettering: Painted
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: Wooden board. Above the inscription is the naval emblem of HMS Formidable. Below the inscription are naval emblems on either side of a ship. The story of the twins is a sad and remarkable one (see below Names Tab), and changed naval practice.
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CREWE'S PART OF NAVAL HISTORY/ HMS FORMIDABLE/ TRIBUTE TO/ THE RUSSELL TWINS BY THE R.N.A. CREWE On the 14th June 1924, the War Memorial in Crewe Town Square was/ unveiled by the President of the British Legion - General Sir Ian Hamilton. On/ the Memorial's bronze tablets can be found the names of twin brothers,/ John & Henri Villiers Russell./ The Russell twins were both employed in Crewe Locomotive Works in the/ Joiners Shop. Although John, a talented artist received offers of work/ elsewhere in the artistic field, he refused to leave Crewe where he and his/ twin brother, inseparable since birth, supported their widowed mother./ Prominent in Primitive Methodist circles, they jointly ran the Sunday School/ at Henry Street Chapel and in addition were members of the St. John/ Ambulance Brigade and the Royal Navy Sick Berth Reserve. During the/ Works annual holiday in 1914 the twins, together with two other colleagues/ joined "HMS Formidable" as sick berth attendants for training purposes. A/ few days later, war was declared and none of the four ever returned home/ again./ On New Years Day 1915, "HMS Formidable" was sunk in the English Channel,/ torpedoed by a German submarine and all four men from Crewe were lost./ One day later the twins' bodies were washed up at Lyme Regis, Dorset. As/ in life, they were not separated by death and were found locked in each/ others arms./ Local grief was so deep that it spread to the National Newspapers and later/ the issue of brothers serving on the same Naval Vessell was debated in the/ Houses of Parliament./ Naval law was amended (...) Admiralty directive issued that henceforth/ no brothers should be (...) aboard the same Royal Navy Vessel/ unless they applied (...)./ Contemporary reports (...) coverage of the sinking of "HMS/ Formidable" and the return of the twins' bodies for interment in St Michael's/ Churchyard, Coppenhall are available in the Reference Section/ Reserve Store in Crewe Libarary.

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