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About the Cemetery
Our records for this cemetery can be traced back to 1863, however there are graves older than this, the records for which can be found at Chester. The site consists of 9.44 acres. Coppenhall Cemetery was originally designed for the villagers of Monks Coppenhall; this being the village Crewe grew up around in the late 1940s.
John and Henri Villiers-Russell, 29, died whilst serving as Senior Reserve Attendants with the HMS Formidable. Sons of Isabelina Villiers-Russell, of 17, Audley St, Crewe, and the late Benjamin Villiers-Russell. The twins are buried in Coppenhall (St Michael) Churchyard, Cheshire.
The twins were both employed in Crewe Locomotive Works in the Joiners shop.
Both prominent in the Primitive Methodist circles they jointly ran the Sunday School at Henry Street chapel and in addition were members of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade and the Royal Navy Sick Berth Reserve. During the works annual holiday in 1914 the twins together with 2 other colleagues joined HMS Formidable as sick berth attendants for training purposes a few days later war was declared and none of the 4 ever returned home again.
On New Years Day 1915 HMS Formidable was sunk in the English Channel torpedoed by a German submarine and all 4 Crewe men were lost. One day later the twins bodies were washed up at Lyme Regis, Dorset. As in life they were not separated by death. It is said they were found in each others arms.
Another unproven tale is that the twins changed Naval Law. An Admiralty directive was issued that henceforth no brothers should be made to serve aboard the same Royal Naval Vessel. This is however despite a lot of local research not proven no actual record of a law change can be found.
The only other Crewe men lost on the Formidable are Albert Edward Kinlay & James Burnell.
Search for Coppenhall Cemetery burial records online
We have digitised 10,400 Coppenhall Cemetery records from 1861 to 2015, including burial register scans and added them to the specialist family history website Deceased Online. Users can search free of charge by name and date and there is a small fee to download register scans or access grave details.