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Thomas Bernard Russell 1923-2011 (34-42)

Bernard - as he was known at SFX – was born on 7 March 1923 in Liverpool into a Catholic, working-class family and he died on 20 May 2011 in Horgen, Switzerland, aged 88. He had two younger brothers, Gerry and Terry. He attended St Michael’s Elementary School and won a Junior City Scholarship to St. Francis Xavier’s in 1934. He was Captain of the College in 1942 and won a history scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford in that year. He made no small impact on the College; not only was he Captain, he was also President of the Sodality and of the St Vincent de Paul Society. In the Higher School Certificate he got Distinctions in two English papers and in Latin and History. On top of that he was awarded the Brackenbury History Scholarship ‘probably the highest University entrance award in the subject.’

During the war undergraduates were called up for military service and after one year Bernard was obliged to interrupt his studies. He joined the Army in 1943. He caused the army a major problem right at the beginning of his officers’ training course. It was absolutely mandatory that an officer be able to drive a vehicle, but he failed his military driving test! He’d have ended up back in the ranks had he failed a second time. He joined the Manchester Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1944. He then found himself in a newly-created special infantry division up in Scotland. The only division within the whole British Army to be trained in mountain warfare during WWII - with the help of Norwegian officers who had managed to escape from the Germans. The intention was to deploy that division to liberate Norway. But the Germans pulled out of their own accord first. Well, those mountain troops had to be deployed somewhere. Where did they end up? In mountainous Holland. Assigned to the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry in 1945, he went on to serve in Palestine with the rank of captain between 1945 and 1947. He returned to Balliol in 1947-50, took his degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and left as Brackenbury Scholar with first class honours. What with war-time service in Scotland, Holland and Palestine and subsequent stints in civilian life in Nigeria, London, and Washington Bernard saw quite a bit of the world. He joined the Colonial Administration Service and served in Nigeria from 1950 to 54. He moved into private industry in 1954 as Deputy Manager with Pirelli Ltd, London and stayed with them till 1960. From 1960 to 1968 he was Senior Economist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority in London. This was the time when Bernard Russell, the mathematician and philosopher, was the driving force behind the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Nuclear power stations weren’t on the hit list yet. Bernard Russell, however, was doing just the opposite - promoting nuclear power at the UKʼs Atomic Energy Authority. Bernard’s next post was as Senior Economist and Dept. Chief, Power and Energy Projects Division, World Bank, Washington DC, 1968-79. After this he served as Energy Adviser, Coopers & Lybrand, in London 1979-89

Bernard married Margarita Anna Russell, née Zeitz, in 1954 and adopted George in 1956. He has three grandchildren – Kathrin, Elaine and Melanie and four great-grandchildren – Dario, Mauro, Jara and Lilja. London always was his life and soul, especially its cultural activities, a lover of, coupled with an in-depth knowledge of, classical music, including opera and an active member of London’s major art galleries.

Extract from Fr Neylanʼs Speech Day Report at the College’s Prizegiving 1942

“It is a real pleasure to be able to report that great and unexpected, but by no means undeserved, successes have been attained. One member of the third year VIth, Bernard Russell, after winning a State scholarship in August, has just competed for and won the Brackenbury History Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, probably the highest University entrance award in the subject in which he was examined. In offering him the sincere congratulations of the College, it is a profound satisfaction to be able to assure him that, great as is the admiration felt for his intellectual ability, his excellence of character is held in even greater esteem - and that we all feel the utmost confidence that he will turn his exceptional opportunities to the highest uses. Besides Russell, four others of last year’s VIth Form have secured University Scholarships ; and three have already started upon their courses' at Liverpool University - Cyril Thomas, Francis Downes, and Denis Shaughnessy. The fourth, Hugh Kearney, is still with us, working for a State Scholarship in August 1942.”


His son George writes:

Bernard moved to Switzerland slightly more than a year ago. His health started to decline last summer. He has been in hospital six times since then and went into a nursing home. He died in that nursing home in Switzerland on Friday, May 20 after a long, tough struggle. It may sound strange, but it was a real blessing that he was finally able to go. And thank Goodness he decided to come over from London to us. Here, at least, he was with the family. Had he stayed on in London he’d have been completely alone. My mother died 6 years ago and there are as good as no more friends of his nor any relatives left down in the South-East.