Charles Hendry Duncan MM (1891–1972)

Lance Corporal

Royal Field Artillery 4249 61 Howitzer Brigade
Highland Light Infantry 23194  
Machine Gun Corps 8906 69th Coy

Derbyshire Courier, 14 August 1917

Newpaper photograph of Charles Russell

[Although some records record his fore-names as Charles Henry others use Charles Hendry. His birth and death certificates recorded him as Charles Hendry so that has been used in the following transcriptions.]
Charles Hendry Duncan born 28 October 1878 to Robert and Jessie Duncan at Alloa, Scotland. By the 1901 census he had been adopted by John and Mary RUSSELL and was still living in Alloa. He later moved down to Derbyshire where he worked as a gardener at Alderwasley Hall, home to the Hurt family (using the name ‘Charles Henry Russell’). He married Crich-born Lucy Alice Wragg at Belper Registry Office on 28 September 1915, he was aged 23 and listed as a Private in the Highland Light Infantry living at Thurlow Booth. His parents-in-law were Edward and Rebecca Wragg of Thurlow Booth, Whatstandwell and his brothers-in-law George Wragg and John Edward Wragg are also on the Roll of Honour.
When he married Lucy Alice Wragg he had enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1914 before he deserted and joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1915 (just before he married).

Photo of Alderwasley Ha;;

Alderwasley Hall where Charles RUSSELL worked as a gardener.

Serving with the Machine Gun Corps, he was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. Twice-married, he later settled in London.

Army Service Record
His service record makes for interesting reading. Although a hero winning the Military Medal he seems to made a habit of absconding from his regiment.
Charles Hendry Russell from Alloah, aged 22 years 299 days, a gardener, enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery at Manchester 29 August 1914. He was 5ft 3½in tall weighing 116 lb, blue eyes and brown hair, a Baptist.
29.08.14 Attested and posted
04.09.14 Posted to 193rd By RFA
18.01.15 Reorganisation to 61st Howitzer Bde
17.07.15 Absent without leave
12.08.15 Declared a deserter

Between deserting from the RFA in July 1915 he was with the Highland Light Infantry in September 1915 when he married. He was transferred into the Machine Gun Corps where he won the Military Medal. Apparently he re-enlisted at the end of the war before deserting a second time in January 1920.

Medal card
8906 RUSSELL Chas Hendry MM; previous regiment 23194 Highland Light Infantry; awarded no medals; deserter 31/1/20. Rank L/Cpl was crossed out.

Newpaper Items

Derbyshire Times 11 August 1917
Mr and Mrs Edward Wragg, of The Tors Crich, have received official information that their son-in-law, Private C. H. Russsell has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the Western Front. The official record of Private Russell’s gallantry reads as follows: – “69th Company, Machine Gun Corps, No 8906, Private Charles Henry Russell, Conspicuous energy, ability and devotion to duty while employed as a runner during the assault of the 69th Brigade on the Hill 60 Sector on June 7th 1917. Private Russell, who had already made several journeys as a runner, was sent to find and guide to their positions two gun teams which had been misdirected. This accomplished with success and subsequently guided up a party carrying ammunition to these guns. Private Russell worked indefatigably and cheerfully without any rest for a very long period under trying conditions. Military Medal. (Signed) E. F. Falkner, Lieut. Colonel A.A.and Q.M.G. 23rd Division.” Private Russell was formerly a gardener at Alderwasley Hall.

A little more is discovered in a newspaper cutting from the Derbyshire Times dated 15 January1937. The report was about Charles Hendry's wife, Lucy Alice, and her second husband Joseph Banks who were involved in a maintenance disagreement.

Mr Loveday said that Mrs Banks had been married before to a soldier named Russell. who was demobilised after the war. He rejoined the army and the last time she saw him was in 1919. She continued to receive an army allowance until March 1920 when it was stopped because her husband had deserted. Eight years elapsed before she married Banks on November 17th 1928. ... A warrant was issued for Russell's arrest but he was never found.

He is also remembered on the Alderwasley Roll of Honour in the Church as C Russell.

His brothers-in-law George Wragg and John Edward Wragg are on the Crich Roll of Honour.


1901: Alloa, Scotland

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
John Russell


52 Wool sorter Stirling
Mary J Russell wife 47   Edinburgh
Daisy Russell daughter 13 Scholar Alloa
Charles H Duncan adopted son 9 Scholar Alloa


1911: Thurlow Booth, Whatstandwell

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Edward Wragg


47 Rockman, limestone quarry Ripley
Rebecca Wragg wife 50   Crich
Lucy Alice Wragg daughter 22 Factory presser Crich
John Edward Wragg son 20 Rockman, limestone quarry Crich
George Wragg son 13 School Crich
Thomas Wragg son 11 School Crich
Ernest Wragg son 8 School Crich

RG14PN20984 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED13 SN256

1918 Voters List
Charles Hendry Russell, Sandy Lane, absent on military service.

1939 Register: Godney Road, Paddington
Charles Hendry Duncan b.2 November 1891; railway mechanic
Esther Emily Duncan b.11 October 1880 [this was crossed out ]

[Note: Charles H Duncan married Esther E Dingle in 1919 December qtr (Bristol reg district). As Charles H Russell he had married Lucy A Wragg in 1915 September qtr (Belper reg district). No death found for Lucy]