Gertrude Russell (Hon. Mrs Rollo Russell) (1865 -1942), written by Sheila Triggs

 Gertrude Joachim was the second wife of Rollo Russell, youngest son of Lord John Russell the 19th century Whig prime minister.  Rollo Russell was a scientist, Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and they lived near Hindhead in Surrey.  Bertrand Russell was his nephew and stayed with them for several months each year when he was a young man. Gertrude Russell became a widow in 1914.

In December 1914 when Gertrude Russell was living at 43 Holland Street Kensington, she wrote to the Captain of a prisoner of war ship, the Royal Edward, docked at Southend on Sea, asking permission to make a visit and bring fruit and gifts for Christmas to German prisoners of war. She was given permission to visit with friends and sing to the prisoners.  There is a letter written by the Prisoners Committee thanking her for the “delicious Xmas gifts” in the archives of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.  Gertrude also appears to have been part of the “Emergency Committee” which supported interned aliens (Germans) with visits, clothing and work.  There were similar organisations in Germany during the First World War helping interned British people, supported by mainly Protestant churches, peace and suffrage organisations.

The British Section of the International Committee of Women for a Permanent Peace was formally constituted in September 1915 by women who had returned from the Congress held in the Hague in April that year.  The first Annual Report of the Women’s International League (WIL) shows that the Hon Mrs Rollo Russell was on the Executive Committee, (EC), where she remained Guntil 1919, the year of the Zurich Congress.  She was still a subscribing member in of the WIL in1924.

Gertrude Russell was Honorary Secretary of the Kensington Branch of the WIL, and the EC appointed her to the International Committee of Women After the War which was established in 1917.  She was also on a sub-committee of the EC with Mrs Salter and Miss Courtney to co-ordinate the London Branches’ work.

In April 1916 Bertrand Russell was speaker at WIL Conference: “The Terms of a European Settlement”.

Gertrude Russell regularly attended ECs and in May 1919 she was one of the 23 delegates to the Zurich Congress