William was a Clerk by trade and was employed at the Paisley Parish Church, where he played the organ in his Mossvale United Free Church in Paisley. He enlisted in September 1914, then entered the war in the Balkans on 30th July 1915. On the morning of 24th August he was part of a group which was ordered to move a full water cart into a new position behind Two Tree Hill, Suvla. When the party arrived at the cart, a shell burst among them, wounding Russell and the others. He was evacuated to a hospital ship and died at sea en route to Mudros on the Greek island of Lemnos. He was the only son of Nurse Russell of 7, Phillips Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire.