John Russell celebrates turning 100
By Dale Jacobsen
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.
John with daughter Sue and son-in-law Keith Morgan
Peter Jones President Deception Bay RSL conducts official ceremony
His son-in-law, Keith, and six grandchildren had applied for special consideration to be able to come from New South Wales.
Peter Jones presented John with letters and certificates from those who represent the people, starting with the local member for Bancroft, Chris Whiting MP, and working his way up the “food chain”: Hon Luke Howarth MP, Federal Member for Petrie; Councillor Peter Flannery, Mayor of Moreton Bay Regional Council; Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland; His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland; Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia; General David Hurley, Governor-General of Australia – all the way to the top: Elizabeth, to which John commented, “She won’t be very long after me”.
Messages of congratulations also came from John’s Antarctic colleagues: Kim Ellis, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division; Richard Unwin, President of ANARE; David Dodd, Treasurer of ANARE and David Parer and Elizabeth Parer-Cook. Two National Council members, David Dodd and Brian Harvey, had arranged for a plaque which Trevor Luff, National Secretary, then presented to John.
At the end of the formal presentations Trevor and Peter Field (Web Manager for ANARE) symbolically flew the ANARE Club flag over John. Next year, on 22nd of October, will mark 70 years since the flag was first unfurled. As John stood beneath the flag in 1951, he had already spent the winter of 1949 on Macquarie Island and had been selected as Expedition Engineer for the 1952 winter on Heard Island. In 1954 he returned south to establish Mawson Station, the first mainland base. John is the last surviving member of that initial 10-man team who landed in Horseshoe Harbour. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1956 for his service at Mawson.
Peter Field and Trevor Luff fly the ANARE Club flag over John Russell
Nearly 70 years beneath the ANARE flag
During Trevor’s address to the party goers, he spoke of his five-year project to record John’s life as an Antarctic Engineer, which resulted in the publication of Antarctic Engineer. Co-author of the book, Dale Jacobsen, was also present to share in this significant milestone in the life of John Russell.