Herbert Henry Ernest Russell


The Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital was established on 7th October 1932 by the South Australian Government, to take over from the overcrowded Infectious Diseases Block at the Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace.  The new hospital was designed to accommodate patients with infectious diseases such as polio, scarlet fever, measles, and diphtheria. 

The hospital was an autonomous organisation controlled by its own Board of Management and its finance was maintained solely by the contributions of local councils.  Dr. Herbert Henry Ernest Russell was appointed as one of the two doctors representing the British Medical Association on the board, along with Dr. P.T.S. Cherry.

RUSSELL, Herbert Henry Ernest, O.B.E., M.D., F.R.C.P.

Herbert Henry Ernest Russell
Photo sourced from Who’s Who in Australia, 1936 edition.


Herbert Henry Ernest Russell was born on the 28th October 1875, the fourth child of James Thomas Russell and his wife Susanne Charlotte (nee Bird).  In later life, he was known by his close colleagues as Bert.  He was one of eight siblings (three brothers and two sisters). 

Both of his brothers became medical practitioners, but his older brother, Dr Alfred Edward James Russell, died in 1905 at the age of 35, following years of ill health.  Alfred had earlier contracted typhoid fever, and this adversely affected his health. Herberts’ younger brother, Dr. Ernest Albert Harold Russell, was born on the 28th August 1885 in Unley, South Australia, and worked in a Medical Practice in Unley with his older brother, Herbert Henry Ernest Russell.


Dr Russell’s residence during his adult life was called “St Raymonds”, at 286 Unley Road, Unley. 


Dr. Herbert Russell never married and had no children.


The following extract from an obituary written by Sir Henry Newland in the Medical Journal of Australia (22nd September 1951) provides a comprehensive summary of Dr H.H.E. Russell’s education and career.

Sourced from the archives of the City of Unley Museum


This page, from “Who’s Who in Australia”, 1936 edition (page 114), summarises the many and varied roles Dr Russell undertook in his medical career which spanned 50 years, including 45 years as the Medical Officer for the City of Unley. 

The Mayor of Unley, Mr. C. S. Coogan, unveiled a plaque (photo on left) in memory of Dr. H. H. E. Russell in the foyer of the Unley Town Hall on the 8th June 1952.

Dr. Russell raised the position of medical officer of health to such a high standard that the University of Adelaide had sent medical students to Unley to study at first-hand that branch of a doctor’s work.

The Courier, Thursday June 12, 1952

A further extract from the obituary in the Medical Journal of Australia (22nd September 1951) summarises Dr H.H.E. Russell’s commitment to his medical vocation:

Sourced from the archives of the City of Unley Museum
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), 29 June 1938, page 12.
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), Friday 1 June 1934, page 27.


In addition to his medical qualifications, Herbert Henry Ernest Russell was presented with several decorations during his military service, as follows:

  • Bachelor of Medicine (Ch.B.), Bachelor of Surgery, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (F.R.C.P.E.)
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)
  • Volunteer Officers’ Decoration (V.D.)  This decoration was instituted in 1892 as an award for long and meritorious service by officers of the United Kingdom’s Volunteer Force.  Award of the decoration was discontinued in the United Kingdom (superseded by the Territorial Decoration in 1908) but it continued to be awarded in some Crown Dependencies until 1930.
  • Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers’ Decoration (photo, right)
    • This decoration is awarded to non-permanent active militia, with the rank of commissioned officers, for 20 years of commendable service. It was awarded from February 4, 1901 until being discontinued on December 31, 1931.
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D. Adelaide)
  • Knight of the Order of St. John (K.St.J.– the following extract from the Medical Journal of Australia, 22nd September 1951, summarises Dr H.H.E. Russell’s involvement with the St John Ambulance Association:


This extract from the Medical Journal of Australia (22nd September 1951) summarises Dr H.H.E. Russell’s involvement in the Military Forces (he was appointed firstly as Captain, then Lieutenant Colonel):


Dr Herbert Henry Ernest Russell died on the 10th July 1951 at  the age of 76.   He is buried in the North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, South Australia, with both of his parents, and other relatives.

Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), 12 July 1951, page 3
Obituary from the Medical Journal of Australia, 22nd September 1951.

Written by Karyn Baker, CALHN Health Museum Volunteer.