RUSSELL, Major-General Sir Andrew Hamilton, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., etc.
Soldier and sheep farmer.
A new biography of Russell, Andrew Hamilton appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Andrew Hamilton Russell was born on 23 February 1868 at Napier, the son of Andrew Hamilton Russell, formerly of the 58th Regiment, and of Katherine Sarah, née Tinsley. He was thus a grandson of Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Hamilton Russell (1811–1900) and a nephew of Sir William Russell Russell. He was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, from where he graduated into the British Army. He spent five years with the Imperial Forces in India, and then in 1892 came out to New Zealand to join his father in sheep farming in Hawke's Bay. His pastoral pursuits did not keep him away from things military, however, and he took an active part in the development of the New Zealand Territorial Forces. When the 1914–18 War broke out, he was brigade commander of the Wellington Mounted Rifle Brigade, and he took this formation overseas with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. After distinguished service on Gallipoli, and particularly at the evacuation in which he commanded the entire Anzac Force, he returned to Egypt, where he was given the command of the newly formed New Zealand Division, with the rank of Major-General. For his services to date he was created in 1915 a K.C.M.G. General Russell took the New Zealand Division to France for the duration of the war, and continued in command when it joined the Army of Occupation on the Rhine. He refused a corps command because he was determined to remain with his New Zealanders. In 1919 he returned home loaded with foreign decorations, a K.C.B. (1917), and the enthusiastic regard of his troops. Although he resumed his prosaic pre-war occupation of pastoralist, he maintained close contact with military affairs for many years and was an influential figure in the early years of the New Zealand Returned Services' Association, of which he was Dominion president for two terms. In 1940, at the age of 72 and with his country again at war, he emerged from retirement to assume the responsibilities of Inspector-General of the Forces in New Zealand. He died at his station homestead at Tunanui, Hawke's Bay, on 29 November 1960, full of years and honour at the age of 92.
General Russell was first and foremost a soldier, and remained one even after he turned farmer. He was trained in the hard school of the British military system, academically and in the field. His standards were as high on the parade ground as in action. A slave to work and discipline himself, he demanded the same of his officers and men within the limits of their capabilities and training, but his regimentalism was tempered by a warm sympathy for the common soldier, whose rights and privileges he always regarded as too circumscribed ever to be encroached upon unnecessarily. His unceasing regard for the safety and comfort of those he commanded, wherever such things were within his control, won him widespread respect. Of his calibre as a soldier and leader General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote: “Steady as a rock, with a clear head and a firm character, he belongs to the type of soldier who will shoulder responsibility and never leave his men or his commanders in the lurch”. This was a tribute Sir Andrew Russell earned in hard-fought campaigns with some of the most eminent military leaders of his time.
by Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.
Evening Post, 29 Nov 1960 (Obit).