Nightwatchman – Law Hut 1960

Compiled by George Creswell

It wasn’t the party that had been planned, Covid-19 put paid to that, but if you’ve waited 100 years, you are going to celebrate anyway. An intimate event, organised by John Russell’s daughter, Sue Morgan, and Peter Jones, President of the Deception Bay sub-branch of the RSL, launched this Antarctic legend into his next century. John arrived – quite literally wearing his Antarctic hat and Polar Medal – to cheers from his family and close friends.

The job of nightwatchman started in the afternoon at the toilet hut, known as Law Hut, named after, but certainly not by, nor in the presence of, the ANARE director, Dr Philip Law. It is worth describing this building, the only toilet for the whole station, and there is no point in avoiding details that would normally be judged unseemly: The building housed one thigh-high stainless steel urinal feeding into a 4-gallon (20 litre) kerosene tin, with a spare standing by. Then there were four toilet seats set atop 44-gallon oil drums that were largely beneath the floor. The cubicles for each of these “crappers” were generously wide and were separated by partitions that were about armpit height when one was seated. At the back of each oil drum was a 20 cm diameter stove pipe that poked out through the back wall. Outside the wall was a chimney that could be moved from stove pipe to stove pipe. Needless to say, the three pipes without the chimney were blocked off to prevent high speed drafts that may have been damaging to sensitive parts of the human body.

A snow drift in the lee of Balleny sleeping hut and the rear side of Law Hut with the chimney attached to the farthest stove pipe.