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John F Russell was born in New Monkton, Lanarkshire, in July 1894, one of 3 children (James M Russell, born 1895 and Douglas M Russell, born 1898) of Rachael and John Russell, a stationer and they lived in Govanhill. Russell attended The Glasgow School of Art from 1903 to 1906 as a Saturday student of drawing and painting, taught by Miss More. During the First World War, Russell served in the Gordon Highlanders (now known as The Highlanders), attesting in 1914 for short service, after receiving notice to enlist. Before the war he was working as an iron moulder. Russell is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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