This isn't the longest search I've done but there are some family complications that made it difficult.
When I read the service record of 2896 William Russell I didn't expect the story that unfolded. Firstly, his NOK was listed as his half sister, Janet Weir Rankin. Janet was also the beneficiary of his will after he was killed in action on 16 Jul 17. These decisions by the soldier didn't make it easy for Janet or her father Alexander Rankin to finalise William's estate. In 1921 the Army wrote to Janet (page 35) to see if there were any other relative more closely related to receive his medals. Janet's response laid it out quite clearly. William was illegitimate and his father's whereabouts were unknown. To complicate this a little I found a memorial notice in a news paper which calls William Russell a friend of the family. What I couldn't confirm was if William's mother and Janet's mother were the same person. That confirmation was to come later.
What I could confirm was that Janet Weir Rankin
was the daughter of Alexander Rankin and Alexander was married to Margaret at a time I couldn't work out. Margaret was the
sister of Alexander White Weir. Alexander was also killed in action. His date of death was 23 Jul 17, only a week after William. Alexander was also in the same memorial notice which also states: 'our
friend, William Russell'.
To add to the confusion a bit, Janet Weir Rankin married Alexander Smith and had a son also Alexander but he died as an infant in 1927.
It was at this point I found Alexander White Weir on the family tree of Ken C who has kindly allowed me to use his research in this post. Ken was able to confirm what I assumed as well as add a considerable amount of additional information.
1893 - William Russell was born on 27 July 1893 at 17 Church Street,
Kilsyth [Scotland] to William Russell and Alison Currie. They were not married and
the Birth Registration shows “Illegitimate.”
1901 - Alison Currie is listed on the Census with William and Alison’s
mother Janet Currie.
1904 - Alison Currie married Alexander Rankin on 29 January 1904 at South
1904 - Janet Weir Rankin was born to them on 16 July 1904.
Both William Russell and Janet Weir Rankin have their mother listed as
1906 - Alison Rankin (nee Currie) died on 3 July 1906 at Glasgow
Maternity Hospital. Her full name is listed as Alison Brash Abercrombie
1908 - Alexander Rankin married Margaret Weir on 10 July 1908 at Kilsyth.
My mother was their eldest child.
Janet Weir Rankin did marry Alexander Smith in 1927 and they had a
child Alexander who was born and died in 1927.
This confirms the biological link between William and Janet and answers a whole lot of other questions. William's Victory will soon be returned to Ken. Thanks to Trevor R who sent me the medal.
The returned medal tally is now 2182.