Biographical entry: Russell, Tom (1920 - )

27 May 1920


Born on 27 May 1920, in Melrose, Scotland, and a graduate of St. Andrew's University, Tom Russell joined the Black Watch Regiment of the British Army in 1940 before transferring to the Cameroonians and the Parachute Battalion. He served in North Africa and Italy, where he was taken prisoner of war. After the war he joined the Colonial Service and earned a Diploma in Anthropology at Cambridge University while attending a course on Colonial Administration. Russell arrived in Honiara in 1948 as an Administrative Officer. He served initially as Acting District Commissioner of Western District, based at Hombu Hombu Island near Munda on New Georgia. His major task was to rebuild Gizo, which had been destroyed during the war, using a salvaged Japanese barge and a repaired American tug to move buildings there from opposite Munda airfield. The operation took five months. His next post was as District Officer at Malu'u in Malaita District in July 1949 during the Maasina Rule movement (q.v.), one of only three District Officers on the island at the time. In mid-1951, now married to Andrée, he was transferred to Western Pacific High Commission headquarters in Suva, but in December 1952 he returned to the Protectorate as Assistant Secretary, Personnel and Finance when the High Commission moved to Honiara. Between 1954 and 1956 Russell was back on Malaita as District Commissioner, before being seconded to the Colonial Office (1956-1957). He returned to the Protectorate again in 1957 and served in Honiara in a variety of senior portfolios in Protectorate Affairs, Personnel Administration, and Finance for the WPHC. He was promoted to Deputy Financial Secretary (1962-1965), to Financial Secretary (1965-1970), and then Chief Secretary (1970-1974), with periods as Acting High Commissioner. Russell was appointed Governor of the Cayman Islands for seven years from 1974, and finally served as Cayman Islands Government Representative in London, from 1982 to 2000. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1963, the C.B.E. in 1970 and the C.M.G. in 1980. In 2003, Russell published an autobiographical account of his years in the Colonial Service, I Have the Honour to Be (NS 15 Nov. 1965, 31 July 1970, 15 Mar. 1974; Russell 2003)

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  • Russell, Tom, I Have The Honour to Be: A Memoir of a Career Covering Fifty-Two Years of Service for British Overseas Territories, The Memoir Club, Spennymoor, Great Britain, 2003. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details