Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s breast badge, silver-gilt and enamels, complete with ribbon buckle, Coronation 1902, bronze, Ashanti 1900, 1 clasp, Kumassi, (H. B. W. Russell, C.M.G., A.F. Fce:); Colonial Auxiliary Forces L.S. & G.C., G.V.R. (Capt. H. B. W. Russell, C.M.G.)
With original Warrant and Statutes for C.M.G. Contemporary portrait photograph of recipient in uniform.
Mounted as worn but lacking pin.
Henry Blythe Westrap Russell, born in Toronto, Canada, 1868. He was educated at the Liverpool Institute and at Freiburg in the German State of Baden. He travelled extensively in West Africa and in the 1880s founded the firm of H. B. W. Russell and Co., merchants on the Gold Coast, Southern Nigeria. The company later had offices at Kumassi, Accra, Lagos and Liverpool. Whilst at Cape Coast in June 1900, Russell volunteered his services as private secretary to Colonel J. Willcocks, then assembling his staff for the Ashanti Field Force that he was to lead to the relief of Kumassi. Russell receives several mentions in From Kabul to Kumassi by Brigadier General Sir James Willcocks:
‘On this same day a gentleman at Cape Castle, Mr H. Russell, a trader of whom I had heard a good deal, and who had considerable experience of the Gold Coast, came and offered his service to me in any capacity. I was only too glad to accept them, and offered him the post of Private Secretary, an appointment which was at once approved by the Secretary of State; he proved most valuable. His knowledge of the country and language and his untiring energy were godsends in those days, and he accompanied me to Kumassi. For his services he received the C.M.G. at the close of the campaign, and it was well deserved.’
Further into the campaign, Russell was to prove considerably more hands on than a normal private secretary acting as a guide and taking part in the fighting.
‘Mr Russell, my Private Secretary, whom I had sent with this column, owing to his knowledge of the people, rendered very useful service, not only in a political sense, but by more than once accompanying the scouts and joining in the fighting.’
The Morning Post, 4 October 1900:
‘Operations from Kumassi – Punitive Measures.
Hardships of the Campaign: On the following day a fighting column of 900 men with three guns and five Maxims under the command of Colonel Brake, who had with him as staff officers Captains Bryan and Reeve, and as political officer Mr Russell, a merchant on the West Coast left Bekwai with orders to attack Ejesu, where Queen Ashantuah was supposed to have concentrated a large force, and to have massed a quantity of loot.
Advance on Ejesu: Our scouts, who were under the command of Lieutenant McKinnon, and with whom were the guides in charge of Mr Russell, were suddenly fired on by the enemy, who were lying snugly hidden behind a stockade on the bank of a river bed which crossed the road obliquely. Mr Russell went back and reported the situation personally to Colonel Brake, who hurried to the front with two 75 millimetre guns under the Hon. Lieutenant Halfpenny, of the 3rd West African Frontier Force.’
Russell was mentioned in the despatch of Colonel J. Willcocks, Commanding Ashanti Field Force, London Gazette 4 December, 1900: ‘Mr H. B. W. Russell, Private Secretary. – This gentleman volunteered his services at Cape Coast, and I was most fortunate in getting him; he has worked incessantly ever since I landed, and I strongly recommend him, especially as his chief object in coming was in order to have an opportunity of doing some service to the State.’
Russell was created a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, London Gazette 9 November 1901 ‘in recognition of his services while employed with the Ashanti Field Force.’ 1 of only 2 such awards for the Ashanti campaign.
In 1906 Russell was appointed Consul of the Netherlands at Cape Coast Castle, for the Gold Coast, Lagos and Nigeria, Togoland and Dahomey. In the same year he was appointed a captain in the Gold Coast Volunteers. Russell was honourably discharged in 1912, at his own request, upon his departure from the Gold Coast for England. He died in a motoring accident, when his car collided with a pony trap driven by man under the influence of alcohol. The accident occurred outside of Chester, 24 July 1912, and the other driver was put on trial for manslaughter. Russell resided at Brock House, Tattenhall at the time.