A FIRST World War veteran who died of tuberculosis in 1920 is to be given a new headstone after being recognised as a war casualty.

Private Matthew Russell, of Pocket Nook Street, joined the battlefields in February 1915, discharged from service in March 1919.

Matthew died aged 36, on April 1, 1920 with his military record stating his illness was compounded by poisonous gas and his time as a prisoner of war.

He is buried in an unmarked grave at St Helens Cemetery, with wife Mary who died in 1942.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has accepted Matthew as a casualty, after his case was raised by volunteers the In From the Cold Project.

Where a soldier was wounded and discharged, if they later died on account of their service they were eligible for a war grave.

However, if authorities or family did not report this they were left out of commemorative records.

A CWGC spokesman said: “One hundred years later, not only are we able to add Matthew to our records, but as the grave can be located, we hope to erect one of our headstones to ensure he is properly remembered.

“As part of that process we are hoping to trace any family so that they can choose an appropriate religious symbol and even personal inscription.”

Matthew was a bottle maker for Foster and Sons and was married to wife Mary and lived with her on Baldwin Street according to the 1911 census.

Parents William and Jane, and sister Mary Ellen, from Dublin lived at Hore Rock, Holmpatrick in 1901.

Marlene Downey, of the Friends of St Helens Cemetery has echoed the appeal.

She said: “In 1939 widow Mary was living on Vincent Street with Annie and Thomas Pennington.

“Two single girls Mary Russell, then Forster, born in 1909 and Annie Russell, then Worthington, born 1911, possibly daughters of Mary.”