Antarctic Adventurer Reaches Century Milestone

By Susanne Jones, Just Better Care Brisbane North and CBD

Mr John Russell with Brenda Wells and Tahnee McBride of Just Better Care Brisbane North and CBD

Long time Just Better Care Brisbane North client, Mr John Russell, has led a life filled with more adventures than most of us could possibly imagine.  So much so that not long before his 100th year he co-wrote a book about just some of those adventures.

British born John first called Australia home as a young man where he studied engineering at university and then enlisting in the Australian Military Forces (now the Australian Defense Force) at a time when it was common to claim to be older, in order to meet the enlistment requirements.  Being the holder of a driver’s license saw him placed into a driver’s role.

John’s army stories abound and bring a twinkle to his eye.  Adventures include traveling through the Northern Territory en-route to Darwin, transporting trucks on the railway until the line ran out and then being stranded due to washed out roads and bridges.  Rations ran out and bushman skills were quickly needed in order for the men to survive.  Then Typhoid struck John cutting short his Army career.

Nevertheless, the found the seas and was crew on the first ship to enter Pearl Harbour after the infamous bombing in 1941.  He also recalls fondly his time on the RMS Aquitania, previously a passenger ship pressed into service as a troop carrier for the war effort.

After the war John’s engineering skills led him to many interesting jobs.  Possibly the most notable being four trips to the Antarctic, with Australian and US expeditions.  During his winter trips he was part of the small group of men to set up Mawson Station, Australia’s oldest permanent research station and the oldest continuously inhabited Antarctic station south of the Antarctic Circle.

At the age of 99 John published his Antarctic stories in a book, Antarctic Engineer, co-written with Dale Lorna Jacobsen.

John leads an amazingly independent life in his longtime marital home, with just some small adjustments due to the recent Covid-19 crisis.

June 18 saw John celebrate his 100th birthday.  We wish him many, many happy returns and offer thanks for his service to Australia.


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