Appendix I: The staff

The Home of the Blizzard by Sir Douglas Mawson (1915)

Appendix I: The staff

The ship’s officers

JK Davis
Master of SY Aurora and Second–in–Command of the Expedition
JH Blair
First Officer during the later stages of the Expedition
P Gray
Second Officer
CP de la Motte
Third Officer
FJ Gillies
Chief Engineer

Macquarie Island party

GF Ainsworth
Leader: Meteorologist
LR Blake
Geologist and Cartographer
H Hamilton
Biologist
CA Sandell
Wireless Operator and Mechanic
AJ Sawyer
Wireless Operator

Main base party

Dr D Mawson
Commander of the Expedition
Lieut R Bage
Astronomer, Assistant Magnetician and Recorder of Tides
CT Madigan
Meteorologist
Lieut BES Ninnis
In charge of Greenland dogs
Dr X Mertz
In charge of Greenland dogs
Dr AL McLean
Chief Medical Officer, Bacteriologist
FH Bickerton
In charge of air–tractor sledge
AJ Hodgeman
Cartographer and Sketch Artist
JF Hurley
Official Photographer
EN Webb
Chief Magnetician
PE Correll
Mechanic and Assistant Physicist
JG Hunter
Biologist
CF Laseron
Taxidermist and Biological Collector
FL Stillwell
Geologist
HD Murphy
In charge of Expedition stores
WH Hannam
Wireless Operator and Mechanic
JH Close
Assistant Collector
Dr LA Whetter
Surgeon

Western base party

F Wild
Leader
AD Watson
Geologist
Dr SE Jones
Medical Officer
CT Harrisson
Biologist
MH Moyes
Meteorologist
AL Kennedy
Magnetician
CA Hoadley
Geologist
G Dovers
Cartographer

In addition to these were the following gentlemen who accompanied the Expedition for a portion of the time only or who joined later.

SN Jeffryes
Wireless Operator, who relieved WH Hannam during 1913
ER Waite
(Curator, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch), Biologist, first subantarctic cruise of Aurora
Professor TT Flynn
(Hobart University), Biologist, second subantarctic cruise of Aurora
J van Waterschoot van der Gracht
Marine Artist, second Antarctic cruise of Aurora
Captain James Davis
Whaling authority, second Antarctic cruise of Aurora
CC Eitel
Secretary, second Antarctic cruise of Aurora
NC Toucher, and later FD Fletcher
Served in the capacity of Chief Officer on the Aurora during the earlier voyages

[Accounts of the members of the expedition, in alphabetical order]

GF Ainsworth

Thirty1 years of age, single, was born in Sydney, New South Wales. His services were loaned to the expedition by the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau, Melbourne. For a period of two years he acted as leader of the Macquarie Island Party, carrying out the duties of Meteorologist. In the summer of 1913–1914 he visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the Aurora.

R Bage

Twenty–three years of age, single, was a graduate in Engineering of Melbourne University and a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Engineers. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land) and leader of the Southern Sledging Party, he remained in the Antarctic for two years. During the first year he was in charge of chronometers, astronomical observations and tidal records, and throughout the second year continued the magnetic work and looked after stores.

FH Bickerton, FRGS

Twenty–two years of age, single, was born at Oxford, England. Had studied engineering: joined the Expedition as Electrical Engineer and Motor Expert. A member of the Main Base Party and leader of the Western Sledging Party, he remained in the Antarctic for two years, during which time he was in charge of the air–tractor sledge, and was engineer to the wireless station. For a time, during the second year, he was in complete charge of the wireless plant.

JH Blair

Twenty–four years of age, single, was born in Scotland. For five years he served with the Loch Line of Glasgow as apprentice and third mate. As second mate he joined A Currie and Company, of Melbourne, in the Australian–Indian trade, reaching the rank of first mate, in which capacity he acted during the final Antarctic cruise of the Aurora in the summer of 1913–14.

LR Blake

Twenty–one years of age, single, was born in England, but had lived for many years in Queensland previous to joining the Expedition. Before accompanying the Macquarie Island Party as Geologist and Cartographer, he obtained leave from the Geological Survey Department, Brisbane. He visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the Aurora in the summer of 1913–1914.

JH Close, FRGS

Forty years of age, married, was born in Sydney, New South Wales. During the South African War he saw active service in Rhodesia, and at the time of the Expedition’s departure was a teacher of physical culture at Sydney. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land) and of several sledging parties, he spent two summers and one winter in the Antarctic.

PE Correll

Nineteen years of age, single, was a student in Science of the Adelaide University. He joined the Expedition as Mechanician and Assistant Physicist. He was a member of the Main Base Party accompanying the Eastern Coastal Party during their sledging journey. He spent three summers and one winter in the Antarctic, acting as colour photographer during the final cruise of the Aurora.

JK Davis

Twenty–eight years of age, single, was master of the Aurora and Second–in–Command of the Expedition. Born in Ireland and educated in England, he served his apprenticeship on the Liverpool owned sailing ship, Celtic Chief, obtaining his certificate as second mate before joining the barque Westland trading between England and New Zealand. His next post was that of second officer on the training ship Port Jackson, following which he joined Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition (1907–1909) as chief officer of the Nimrod, acting subsequently as master. Throughout the whole period of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911–1914) Captain JK Davis commanded the Aurora during five cruises.

G Dovers

Twenty–one years of age, single, of Sydney, New South Wales, was completing his term for Licensed Surveyor in the service of the Commonwealth Government when he joined the Expedition. He was in the Antarctic for two summers and one winter, being stationed with the Western Party (Queen Mary Land). A member of several sledging parties, he acted as Cartographer to the party which reached Gaussberg.

FJ Gillies

Thirty–five years of age, single, was born at Cardiff, Wales. He served his apprenticeship as an engineer on the steamers of John Shearman and Company and P Baker and Company of Cardiff. For six years previous to joining the Expedition he was in the Indian trade. Throughout the five cruises of the Aurora between 1911 and 1914 FJ Gillies was Chief Engineer.

P Gray

Twenty–two years of age, single, was born and educated in England. He served on the Worcester as cadet captain for eighteen months and as apprentice on the Archibald Russell, of Glasgow, and in the New Zealand Shipping Company. In 1909 he entered the Peninsula and Oriental Company and reached the rank of third officer, joining the Australasian Antarctic Expedition as second officer of the Aurora. Throughout five cruises, from 1911 to 1914, he served in this capacity.

H Hamilton

Twenty–six years of age, single, was born at Napier, New Zealand. Graduate of the Otago University. Besides being employed on the New Zealand Geological Survey, he acted as Entomological Collector to the Dominion Museum at Wellington. A member of the Macquarie Island Party, of which he was the Biologist for two years, H Hamilton visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the Aurora in the summer of 1913–1914.

WH Hannam

Twenty–six years of age, single, was of Sydney, New South Wales, and joined the Expedition in charge of the arrangements for a wireless telegraphic system. He was in the Antarctic at the Main Base (Adélie Land) for two summers and a winter, and was successful in transmitting wireless messages for a short time during 1912 through Macquarie Island to Australia, assistant magnetician for a time.

CT Harrisson

Forty–three years of age, married, was born in Hobart, Tasmania. For many years previous to joining the Expedition he had done illustrative and artistic work and had been engaged on a survey and in botanical and other scientific observations on the west coast of Tasmania. Stationed with the Western Base (Queen Mary Land) he acted as Biologist and Artist, accompanying F Wild on his main eastern journey and several other sledging parties.

CA Hoadley

Twenty–four years of age, single, was a graduate in Mining Engineering of Melbourne University. A member of F Wild’s Western Party (Queen Mary Land), he took part in several sledging journeys and was Geologist of the party who explored westwards to Gaussberg.

AJ Hodgeman

Twenty–six years of age, single, was born at Adelaide, South Australia. For four years he was an articled architect, and for five years a draughtsman in the Works and Buildings Department, Adelaide. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land), he took part in several sledging journeys, and throughout two years in the Antarctic acted in the capacity of Cartographer and Sketch Artist, as well as that of Assistant Meteorologist.

JG Hunter

Twenty–three years of age, single, was a graduate in Science of Sydney University, New South Wales. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land) he carried on the work of Biologist during two summers and one winter; and in the same capacity accompanied the Aurora in her final summer cruise 1911–1914.

JF Hurley

Twenty–four years of age, single, was of Sydney, New South Wales. He had been the recipient of many amateur and professional awards for photographic work before joining the Expedition. At the Main Base he obtained excellent photographic and cinematographic records and was one of the three members of the Southern Sledging Party. He was also present on the final cruise of the Aurora.

SN Jeffryes

Twenty–seven years of age, single, of Toowoomba, Queensland, was a qualified operator of the Australasian Wireless Company. During the second year (1913) he took WH Hannam’s place in charge of the wireless plant, wintering at the Main Base (Adélie Land).

SE Jones

Twenty–four years of age, single, was a graduate in Medicine of Sydney University, New South Wales. A member and Medical Officer of F Wild’s Western Base (Queen Mary Land), he took part in several sledging journeys during 1912 and was leader of the party who explored westward to Gaussberg.

AL Kennedy

Twenty–two years of age, single, was a student in Science of Adelaide University, South Australia. Receiving special tuition, he acted as Magnetician at the Western Base (Queen Mary Land) during the year 1912. He was a member of several sledging parties and accompanied F Wild on his main eastern journey as Cartographer.

CF Laseron

Twenty–five years of age, single, had gained a Diploma in Geology at the Technical College, Sydney, New South Wales, and for some years was Collector to the Technological Museum. At the Main Base (Adélie Land), during 1912, he acted as Taxidermist and general Collector, taking part, as well, in sledging journeys to the south and east of Winter Quarters.

CT Madigan

Twenty–three years of age, single, was a graduate in Science (Mining Engineering) of Adelaide University, South Australia. Through the courtesy of the Trustees of the Rhodes Scholarship, the necessary leave to accompany the Expedition was granted just as he was on the eve of continuing his studies at Oxford University. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land) he acted as Meteorologist for two years, and during the second year (1913) was also in charge of the Greenland dogs. An important journey in the spring and one to the east in the summer were made under his leadership, and the Party, left in Adélie Land in 1913, was to have been under his charge, but for my return.

D Mawson

Thirty years of age, single, was the Organiser and Leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition and was, previous to it, a member of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition of 1907–1909, being one of the party under Professor David which reached the South Magnetic Pole. A graduate in Science and Engineering of Sydney and Adelaide Universities, he had filled for some time the post of Lecturer in Mineralogy and Petrology at the Adelaide University. The only survivor of a party sledging to the east from the Main Base in the summer of 1912–1913.

AL McLean

Twenty–six years of age, single, was a graduate in Arts and Medicine of Sydney University; New South Wales. He acted as Chief Medical Officer at the Main Base (Adélie Land) and carried out observations in Bacteriology and Physiology during the first year. In 1913 (the second year) he was Biologist, Ice–Carrier and Editor of the Adélie Blizzard. He took part in a sledging journey along the eastern coast in the summer of 1912–1913.

X Mertz

Twenty–eight years of age, single, of Basle, Switzerland, was a graduate in Law of the Universities of Leipzig and Berne. Prior to joining the Expedition he had gained the Ski–running Championship of Switzerland and was an experienced mountaineer. At the Main Base (Adélie Land) he was assisted by BES Ninnis in the care of the Greenland dogs. On January 7, 1913, during a sledging journey, he lost his life, one hundred miles southeast of Winter Quarters.

CP de la Motte

Nineteen years of age, single, of Bulli, New South Wales, had early training at sea on the barque Northern Chief of New Zealand, obtaining his certificate as second mate in March 1911. During the eight months prior to joining the Expedition he served as fourth officer on the SS Warrimoo of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. Throughout the five cruises of the Aurora between 1911 and 1914, CP de la Motte was third officer with the Ship’s party.

MH Moyes

Twenty–five years of age, single, of Koolunga, South Australia, was a graduate in Science of Adelaide University. With the Western Base Party (Queen Mary Land) he acted as Meteorologist and took part in several sledging journeys in the autumn and spring of 1912. During the summer of 1912–1913, through an unavoidable accident, he was left to carry on work alone at Winter Quarters for a period of nine weeks.

HD Murphy

Thirty–two years of age, single, of Melbourne, one–time Scholar in History of Oxford University. At the outset he was to have been leader of a third Antarctic Base which was eventually amalgamated with the Main Base (Adélie Land). Here he had charge of the stores and during the early summer of 1912 was leader of the Southern Supporting Party.

BES Ninnis

Twenty–three years of age, single, was educated at Dulwich, England, and entered His Majesty’s Army, having a commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers prior to joining the Expedition in London. At the Main Base (Adélie Land) he was assisted by X Mertz in the care of the Greenland dogs. On December 14, 1912, while on a sledging journey, he lost his life by falling into a crevasse three hundred miles east of Winter Quarters.

CA Sandell

Twenty–five years of age, single, of Surrey, England, studied electrical engineering for some years and then came to Australia in 1909 and entered the Commonwealth Branch of Telephony. Having a practical knowledge of wireless telegraphy he joined the Expedition as a Wireless Operator and Mechanic and was stationed with the Macquarie Island Party for two years. After the departure of AJ Sawyer in August 1913, he was in complete charge of the wireless station. CA Sandell visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the Aurora in the summer of 1913–1914.

AJ Sawyer

Twenty–six years of age, single, was born in New Zealand. Having had considerable experience in wireless telegraphy, he joined the Expedition as an operator from the Australasian Wireless Company. At the Macquarie Island Station he was chief wireless until August 1913, when on account of illness he returned to New Zealand.

FL Stillwell

Twenty–three years of age, single, was a graduate in Science of Melbourne University, Victoria. A member of the Main Base Party (Adélie Land) he acted as Geologist. FL Stillwell was leader of two sledging parties who did detail work for about sixty miles along the coast eastward of Winter Quarters.

AD Watson

Twenty–four years of age, single, was a graduate in Science of Sydney University, New South Wales. A member of the Western Base Party (Queen Mary Land) he acted as Geologist. AD Watson took part in several sledging journeys, accompanying F Wild in his main eastern trip during the summer of 1912–1913.

EN Webb

Twenty–two years of age, single, was an Associate of Civil Engineering of Canterbury University College, and, for the five months previous to joining the Expedition, carried out magnetic observations under the Carnegie Institute of Washington, USA At the Main Base (Adélie Land) EN Webb was Chief Magnetician, accompanying the Southern Sledging Party.

LA Whetter

Twenty–nine years of age, single. He graduated at Otago University, New Zealand, and joined the Expedition as Surgeon, acting in that capacity at the Main Base (Adélie Land) during 1912. He accompanied a sledging party which explored to the westward of Winter Quarters.

F Wild

Thirty–eight years of age, single, was Leader of the Western Base Party (Queen Mary Land). He joined the Merchant Service in 1889 and the Navy in 1900, served on an extended sledge journey during the National Antarctic Expedition (Capt RF Scott) of 1901–1904, and was one of the Southern Party of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition from 1907–1909. During the Australasian Expedition he opened up a new tract of country – Queen Mary Land.

Signatures of members of the land parties in Antarctica and at Macquarie Island

Signatures of members of the land parties in Antarctica and at Macquarie Island

I desire to make special mention of the ship’s party who faced the rigorous conditions of Antarctica and the stormy Southern Ocean, during five separate voyages, with a cheerfulness and devotion to duty which will always stand to their lasting credit. In regions of heavy pack ice and sudden blizzard winds, Captain Davis piloted the ship safely through many situations of extreme danger. In a report to me on the work of the ship he writes an appreciative note:

I wish to draw particular attention to the loyal way in which the officers and men of the Aurora supported me. Messrs Toucher, Fletcher, Blair, Gray, de la Motte, and Gillies, in their respective positions, carried out the duties assigned to them with ability and cheerfulness, often under very trying conditions.

Mr Gillies not only looked after the engines but assisted materially in the deep–sea work by the invention of a new form of sounding driver which was used successfully during the various cruises of the Aurora.

The Chief Officer was in charge of the stores and equipment of the Expedition on board the vessel, in addition to his ordinary executive duties. Messrs Toucher, Fletcher and Blair served in this capacity on different voyages.

Mr P Gray, as Second and Navigating Officer, and Mr CP de la Motte, as Third Officer, acted capably and thoroughly throughout the Expedition.

  1. The ages refer to the date of joining the Expedition and are but approximate.

This version of Home of the Blizzard has been edited and published by the Australian Antarctic Division.