David Russell (GC)

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For other people named David Russell, see David Russell (disambiguation).
David Russell
Born March 30, 1911
Ayr, Scotland
Died February 1945 (aged 33)
Nationality British
Occupation Lance Corporal in the New Zealand Army
Known for Awarded the George Cross

David Russell GC (30 March 1911-February 1945) was a Lance Corporal with the 22nd (Motor) Battalion, New Zealand Infantry, 2nd NZEF, who was awarded the George Cross posthumously after being executed by German forces in Italy.

Russell was born in Ayr, Scotland, son of James and Jessie Russell, of Corsehill, Ayrshire, but the family emigrated to New Zealand. He worked as an orderly at Napier Hospital in Hawke's Bay before enlisting in the New Zealand Army in September 1939.

He was captured at Reweisat Ridge in Egypt in 1942 and taken to a POW camp in Italy. He escaped and helped Italians who were assisting other Allied POWs to escape. He was particularly active in the Ponte di Piave township and district between February 22–28 in 1945 but was recaptured.

Russell refused to name the Italians he had assisted, and was shot by firing squad. A German officer who witnessed the execution said he died very bravely.

His George Cross is displayed at the QEII Army Memorial Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand. On Sunday 2 December 2007 it was among a dozen medals stolen from the museum.[1] On 16 February 2008 New Zealand Police announced all the medals had been recovered as a result of a NZ$300,000 reward offered by Michael Ashcroft, Baron Ashcroft and Tom Sturgess.[2]


  1. ^ Derek Cheng (December 2007). "Army medal theft 'insult' to our nation's heritage". nzherald. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  2. ^ Stolen War Medals Recovered