Major Russell Herbert FREEMAN MC, Croix de Guerre
The Worcestershire Regiment : Royal Flying Corps (later RAF)
Date of birth: 27 January 1894
Date of death: 21 July 1918
Killed in action aged 24
Buried in Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire. VII.D.2
Russell Herbert was born in Paddington, one of the eight children of William Robert Freeman, a building and stone contractor, and his wife Ann Farquharson Carr Dunn.
The Freeman family had been quarry owners in the Halifax area and Russell’s grandfather had moved south and became a partner in Mowlem, Freeman and Burt, a firm involved with many important 19th Century London building projects.
Russell was educated at Winchester and went up to Christ Church in 1912 to read medicine. He left in June 1914 and joined up as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was posted Lieutenant on 2 February 1915 in the 6th Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment, and served in Egypt and Palestine. On 9 February 1916 he was awarded his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate, flying a Maurice Farman bi-plane, at the Military School, Shoreditch.
His brothers persuaded him to move to the Royal Flying Corps as they thought it would be safer and with the rank of Major he was awarded the Military Cross on 26 January 1917, and Croix de Guerre 21 May 1917. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 26 July 1917
He was appointed Squadron Commander at what is now, RAF Akrotiri on 3 July 1918, and killed on 21 July 1918 in West Belleau, France. “Major Freeman was with 73 Squadron flying Sopwith Camel D1918 when he departed at 6.45 pm and was seen in combat with an enemy aircraft but thought to be alright and heading north near Belleau, but did not return. A Camel was claimed in combat at Fere-En Tardenlois that day by Lt H. Von Bulow of Ja 36” from “The Sky Their Battlefield”
His Effects amounted to £815 14s 11d. Administration (with Will) granted to William Robert Freeman, esquire
He is commemorated on the St John’s Church, Hyde Park war memorial.
Of his brothers, two were awarded the Military Cross. One was killed in 1918 and the other went on to become Air Chief Marshall Sir Wilfred R Freeman, who was created a baronet in 1945. His son, Sir Keith Freeman, 2nd Bt., was up at Christ Church.
Photograph on ancestry from London Airforce Museum, Hendon