SIR DOUGLAS MAWSON

23 Oct

DOUGLAS MAWSON

I have been re-reading accounts of Douglas Mawson. His pioneering expeditions opened up the section of Antarctica (hardly seen, let alone explored), with a series of scientific explorations. His primary interests were geography and geology but he was the first to facilitate radio communications between Antarctica and the mainland of Australia (Morse Code via Macquarie Island), and he took an airplane to Antarctica on his later expeditions.

His personal expedition in 1912 was the Far Eastern Journey (along the coast from his base on Adelie Land towards Cape Adare, where some men from Scott’s party had been based), was overshadowed by the awful deaths of his two companions. ‘Cherub’ Ninnis disappeared silently and shockingly into a crevasse. Mertz died horribly, suffering from stomach pains, muscle weakness and exhaustion, plus his skin peeling away by the handful. It is thought that he and Mawson may have suffered from

Hypervitaminosis A, caused by eating dog livers on their desperate return.

When the emaciated exhausted Mawson fell into a crevasse, he thought that ‘this is how it a shall be’ but his thoughts quickly turned to 2 lines of a poem by Robert Service:

Buck up. Do your damnedest and fight

It is plugging away that will win you the day

He surely lived up to this exaltation.

He got back to his Base in 1913. He was cared for fro a year by companions who had remained behind when their relief ship left Antarctica and who had been searching for his party.

Many think Mawson’s journey to be the greatest example of survival in Antarctica

He showed leadership, courage and resolution to survive against all odds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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