Appendix VII: Equipment

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

Appendix VII: Equipment

Clothing

With regard to the clothing, the main bulk was of woollen material as supplied by Jaeger of London. This firm is unexcelled in the production of camel’s hair garments and has supplied most polar expeditions of recent years with underclothing, gloves, caps, and the like. From the same firm we also secured heavy ski boots, finnesko crampons, and the blankets which were used at Winter Quarters at both Antarctic Bases. Some of the Jaeger woollens were damaged by sea water on the voyage from London to Australia and were replaced by Eagley goods; an Australian brand, which proved very satisfactory. The ship’s Party were outfitted with Kaipoi woollens (New Zealand).

Outer garments were made up to our design from Jaeger fleece by tailors in Hobart. The suit consisted of a single garment, to be worn with combination underclothing, and was calculated to meet the requirements of a severe climate.

An over–suit of windproof material, which may be worn when required, is a necessary adjunct to woollen clothing. Such a suit should have the additional properties of being light, strong, not readily absorbing moisture, and not affected by the cold. Burberry gabardine was found to possess all these properties, and two complete suits were made up for each man. One suit consisted of three pieces, whilst the other was made of two; the blouse–jacket and helmet of the latter being combined.

Furs, which were obtained from Norway, were restricted to sleeping bags, finnesko or fur boots, and wolfskin mitts (Lapland).

The outfit of clothing for the party at Macquarie Island and on the ship, respectively, differed from that used in the Antarctic. Warmer temperatures and wet conditions had to be taken into account, and so rubber boots, oilskins, and rubberised materials were provided as outer coverings.

Food

The food stuffs were selected with at least as much consideration as was given to any of the other requisites. The successful work of an expedition depends on the health of the men who form its members, and good and suitable food reduces to a minimum the danger of scurvy; a scourge which has marred many polar enterprises. Thus our provisioning was arranged with care and as a result of my previous experience in the Antarctic with Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition.

A summary which may be of possible use to future expeditions is appended below:

In the matter of canned meats we had some six tons of the excellent Australian article supplied by the Sydney Meat Preserving Company, Ramornie Meat Company (NSW), Baynes Brothers (Brisbane), and the Border (rabbit) Preserving Company of South Australia. For use on the ship three tons of salt beef and pork served to replenish the ‘harness cask’, largely obtained in Melbourne from Cook and Sons.

For a ton of sauces and pickles we were indebted to Brand and Company (London) and to Mason and Company (London).

Of course fresh meat was consumed as far as possible; a number of live sheep being taken by the Aurora on each cruise. Some of these were killed and dressed after reaching 60° south latitude and supplied our two Antarctic Bases with the luxury of fresh mutton about once a week throughout a year.

One ton of preserved suet came from the firms of Hugon (Manchester) and Conrad (Adelaide).

Almost all our bacon and ham, amounting to well over one ton, was of the Pineapple Brand (Sydney), and to the firm which supplied them we are indebted alike for the quality of its goods and for its generosity.

Soups in endless variety, totalling two tons, came chiefly from the Flemington Meat Preserving Company (Melbourne).

Four tons of canned fish were supplied by C & E Morton (London).

Variety in vegetables was considered important. We decided to reduce the amount of dried vegetables in favour of canned vegetables. About six and a half tons of the latter in addition to one ton of canned potatoes were consumed; from Laver Brothers (Melbourne) and Heinz (Pittsburgh). There were one and a half tons of dried vegetables. In addition, large quantities of fresh potatoes and other vegetables were regularly carried by the Aurora, and many bags of new and old potatoes were landed at the Main Base. In the frozen condition, the former kept satisfactorily, though they were somewhat sodden when thawed. The old potatoes, on the other hand, became black and useless, partly owing to the comparatively high temperature of the ship’s hold, and in part to the warmth of the sun during the first few weeks in Adélie Land.

Canned fruits, to the extent of five tons, were supplied by Jones Brothers (Hobart) and Laver Brothers (Melbourne). This stock was eked out by some two and a half tons of dried fruits, chiefly from South Australia.

The management of Hartley (London) presented us with two tons of jam, and James Keiller and Son (London) with one ton of marmalade.

Of the twelve tons of sugar and half a ton of syrup consumed, all were generously donated by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (Sydney).

For milk we were provided with two tons of Glaxo (a dry powder) which was used at the land bases, and a ton and a half of Nestlé’s condensed variety for use on the ship.

Three tons of cereal meals, largely from Parsons (Sydney), were consumed.

As one might have expected, the amount of flour used was enormous. In the thirteen tons of this commodity from Colman (London) there were three varieties, self rising, plain, and wheatmeal flour, encased in stout metal linings within strong, well–finished cases of a convenient size. Until required, the cases of flour were used to solidify the break wind on the southern side of the Hut.

Bird and Company (Birmingham) more than satisfied our needs in the matter of baking powder, custard powder, jelly crystals, and the like.

There was over half a ton of fancy biscuits of excellent quality and great variety, for which we were indebted to Jacob and Company (Dublin), Arnott Brothers (Sydney), and Patria Biscuit Fabriek (Amsterdam). ‘Hardtack’, the name by which a plain wholemeal biscuit of good quality, made by Swallow and Ariell (Melbourne) was known, constituted the greater part of the remaining two and a half tons of ordinary biscuits. ‘Hardtack’ was much appreciated as a change from the usual ‘staff of life’ – soda bread.

For sledging we had secured one ton of biscuits specially prepared by the Plasmon Company (London) containing 30 per cent. of plasmon. These, together with one ton of pemmican and half a ton of emergency ration prepared by the Bovril Company (London), are specially referred to in the chapter on sledging equipment.

Butter was an important item; the large stock of two and a half tons coming from the Colac Dairying Company (Melbourne). The butter was taken fresh in fifty–six lb blocks, packed in the usual export cases. On the Aurora it was carried as deck cargo, and at the Main Base was stacked in the open air on the southern side of the Hut. At the end of the second year (1913) it was still quite good; a fact which speaks well for the climate as a refrigerator. Of Australian cheese we used half a ton, and this was supplied in forty pound blocks.

The firm of Messrs Cadbury, well known for their cocoa and eating chocolate, supplied us with these commodities, and receive our unqualified praise for the standard of the articles and the way in which they were packed. The total consumption was one ton of cocoa and half a ton of chocolate.

The three–quarters of a ton of tea was donated by ‘Te Sol’ (Guernsey) and Griffiths Brothers (Melbourne). In both cases the articles were well packed and much appreciated. Half a ton of coffee was used, partly supplied from London and partly donated by Griffiths Brothers.

Rose’s (London) lime juice, as an antiscorbutic, was mainly reserved for consumption on the ship. This lime juice was much in favour as a beverage.

Other supplies, taken in bulk, and for which we are indebted to the manufacturers, are: one ton of Cerebos Salt, half a ton of Castle salt, one ton of Sunlight Soap, our complete requirements in toilet soap from Pears, candles from Price, matches from Bryant and May including special sledging vestas, and dried milk from the Trufood Company.

Sweets, which were used for dessert and on special occasions, were presented by the firms of Fuller and Batger of London, and by Farrah of Harrogate, etc. There were also small quantities of aerated waters, ales, wines, and whisky for each Base.1 At the Main Base, at least, there was no demand for whisky until penguin omelettes became fashionable.

The smokers were well provided for by a generous donation of Capstan tobaccos, cigarettes and cigars from the British American Tobacco Company in London. At a later date, when our Macquarie Island party was formed, the Sydney branch of the same firm met our added needs with the same generosity.

There are many other items which have not yet found a place in this summary which cannot be acknowledged severally, but for which we are nonetheless grateful. Mention is made of the following: Horlick’s Malted Milk, Neave’s Health Diet, Brown and Polson’s Cornflour, International Plasmon Company’s Plasmon chocolate and Plasmon powder, Bovril and lime juice nodules manufactured by Bovril Limited, Colman’s Mustard and Groats, Flemington Meat Company’s desiccated soups, Seager’s meats, Nestlé’s nut milk chocolate, Escoffier’s soups, etc.

The cooking range which served us well for two years in the Hut at Adélie Land was from J Smith and Wellstood (London); others were presented by Metters (Adelaide).

The total supply of foods purchased and donated aggregated quite one hundred tons, exclusive of packing. Much of this was assembled in London. In Australia the Government Produce Department of Adelaide rendered valuable assistance.

Food supplies for a twelve man base

The following are the food requirements for a party of twelve men wintering in the Antarctic. It is our own store list, with slight modifications where these are found desirable. The figures are based on the supposition that unlimited quantities of seal and penguin meat can be had on the spot, and, furthermore, are ample for a second year’s requirements should the party be unavoidably detained. The fare during the second year might be somewhat less varied, but would otherwise be sufficient. Health was, of course, the first consideration in this selection, but economy was also studied. The quantities are stated in pounds weight.

Food supplies for a twelve man base, with weight in pounds
Meats, tinned lbs
Corned beef 216
Roast beef 72
Roast mutton 72
Boiled mutton 72
Irish stew 216
Assorted meats (including mutton cutlets, haricot mutton, ox tail, ox tongue, sausages, and brawn) 168
Sheep’s tongues 288
Special meats (including rabbit, hare, duck, fowl, and turkey) 192
Subtotal: 1296
Live sheep lbs
16 live sheep to be dressed south of 60° S latitude (weight not included) N/A
Suet lbs
Suet, tinned 400
Subtotal: 400
Bacon and Ham lbs
Bacon in sides, packed in salt 250
Ham 250
Subtotal: 500
Fish, tinned lbs
Salmon 360
Haddocks 96
Kippered herrings 216
Herrings in tomato sauce 72
Fresh herrings 72
Sardines 300
Cods’ roe, curried prawns, etc 72
Subtotal: 1188
Soups lbs
Soups, assorted tinned 1152
Subtotal: 1152
Vegetables, fresh, in wooden cases lbs
New potatoes 1200
Onions 360
Subtotal: 1560
Vegetables, tinned lbs
Potatoes 864
Onions 216
Peas 450
French beans 450
Spinach 360
Cabbage 144
Beetroot 288
Carrots 288
Parsnips 144
Turnips 108
Celery 144
Leeks 72
Champignons 144
Boston baked beans 144
Tomatoes 288
Subtotal: 3240
Cereals and dried vegetables, etc lbs
Split peas 112
Lentils 56
Marrowfat peas 56
Haricot beans 56
Barley 72
Rice 252
Tapioca 144
Semolina 56
Macaroni 56
Rolled oats 648
Cornflour 156
Subtotal: 1664
Flour lbs
Plain, wholemeal and self rising flour 4480
Subtotal: 4480
Biscuits, etc lbs
Plasmon wholemeal 1344
Plain wholemeal 560
Assorted sweet 560
Cake tinned 224
Plum pudding 224
Subtotal: 1712
Fruit, tinned in syrup lbs
Peaches 288
Pears 288
Plums 288
Apricots 288
Pineapples 288
Apples 288
Gooseberries 216
Cherries 216
Mulberries 48
Strawberries 48
Red currants 48
Black currants 48
Raspberries 48
Subtotal: 2400
Dried fruits lbs
Prunes 112
Apples 112
Peaches 56
Nectarines 56
Apricots 56
Raisins seeded 224
Currants 112
Figs 224
Dates 112
Candied peel 56
Subtotal: 1120
Sweets, etc lbs
Eating chocolate (chiefly for sledging) 504
Assorted sweets 168
Crystallised fruits 56
Assorted nuts 84
Subtotal: 812
Milk lbs
Milk, as dried powder 2400
Subtotal: 2400
Butter lbs
Butter, in 56 lb export cases 1456
Subtotal: 1456
Cheese lbs
Cheese, in original blocks or tins 240
Subtotal: 240
Cocoa, tea, and coffee lbs
Cocoa 576
Tea 288
Coffee 288
Subtotal: 1152
Sugar, jam, etc lbs
Sugar 3584
Jam 1456
Marmalade 448
Honey 576
Syrup 288
Subtotal: 6352
Sauces, pickles, etc lbs
Tomato sauce 180
Worcester sauce 135
Sweet pickles 162
Mango chutney 81
Assorted pickles (first quality) 216
Vinegar 210
Subtotal: 984
Cooking requisites lbs
Baking powder (in addition to that in self rising flour) 56
Sodium bicarbonate 1
Ground mixed spice 3
Ground ginger 4
Whole cloves 1
Nutmegs 2
Assorted essences 10
Desiccated coconut 12
Mixed dried herbs 2
Dried mint 6
Dried parsley 1
Onion powder 9
Curry powder 30
Mustard 30
Black pepper 12
White pepper 12
Table salt 784
Subtotal: 975
Soap, etc lbs
Soap 448
Soda 168
Subtotal: 616
Grand total: (16 tons approx) 35,699

Note: These weights are exclusive of packing. When high southern latitudes can be reached within three weeks, fresh eggs may be taken with advantage, preferably unfertilized, but care should be taken to freeze them as soon as possible, and not to allow them to thaw again until required for use. It is advisable to take small quantities of whisky, ale, wines and lime juice. Matches, candles, soap, and other toilet requirements, kerosene and fuel are not reckoned with here, appearing in a more general stores’ list. Certain medical comforts, such as malted milk and plasmon, may also be included.

Medical equipment

The medical equipment consisted of a complete outfit of Burroughs and Wellcome’s drug’s, dressings, etc, and Allen and Hanbury’s surgical instruments. Sets, varying in character with particular requirements, were made up for the ship and for each of the land parties. Contained within the fifty–five boxes was a wonderful assortment of everything which could possibly have been required on a polar expedition. There was in addition a set of Burroughs and Wellcome’s medicines for the treatment of dogs.

Scientific equipment

The scope of our projected scientific work necessitated extensive purchases, and these were amplified by loans from many scientific bodies and individuals.

Instruments for surveying and navigation were loaned by the Royal Geographical Society and by the Admiralty, while many theodolites, chronometers, and half chronometer watches were manufactured to order.

An assortment of oceanographical gear was generously supplied through HSH The Prince of Monaco, from the Institut Oceanographique of Monaco. Dr WS Bruce made similar donations and supervised the construction of our largest deep sea dredge. The three–thousand fathom tapered steel cables and mountings, designed to work the deep water dredges, were supplied by Messrs Bullivant. Appliances were also loaned by Mr JT Buchanan of the Challenger expedition and by the Commonwealth Fisheries Department. The self recording tide gauges we employed were the property of the New South Wales Government, obtained through Mr G Halligan.

The taxidermists’ requirements, and other necessaries for the preservation of zoological specimens, were for the most part purchased, but great assistance was rendered through Professor Baldwin–Spencer by the National Museum of Melbourne and by the South Australian Museum, through the offices of Professor Stirling. Articles of equipment for botanical work were loaned by Mr JH Maiden, Director of the Botanical Gardens, Sydney.

A supply of heavy cameras for base station work and light cameras for sledging was purchased; our stock being amplified by many private cameras, especially those belonging to FH Hurley, photographer of the expedition. Special Lumiere plates and material for colour photography were not omitted, and, during the final cruise of the Aurora, PE Correll employed the more recent Paget process for colour photography with good results.

The programme of magnetic work was intended to be as extensive as possible. In the matter of equipment we were very materially assisted by the Carnegie Institute through Dr LA Bauer. An instrument was also loaned through Mr HF Skey of the Christchurch Magnetic Observatory. A full set of Eschenhagen self recording instruments was purchased, and in this and in other dispositions for the magnetic work we have to thank Dr C Chree, Director of the National Physical Laboratory, and Dr CC Farr of University College, Christchurch. Captain Chetwynd kindly assisted in arrangements for the ship’s compasses.

Two complete sets of Telefunken wireless apparatus were purchased from the Australasian Wireless Company. The motors and dynamos were got from Buzzacott, Sydney, and the masts were built by Saxton and Binns, Sydney. Manilla and tarred hemp ropes were supplied on generous terms by Melbourne firms (chiefly Kinnear).

The meteorological instruments were largely purchased from Negretti and Zambra, but a great number were loaned by the Commonwealth Meteorological Department (Director, Mr HA Hunt) and by the British Meteorological Office (Director, Dr WN Shaw).

For astronomical work the following instruments were loaned, besides transit theodolites and sextants: a four inch telescope by the Greenwich Observatory through the Astronomer Royal: a portable transit theodolite by the Melbourne Observatory through the Director, Mr P Baracchi; two stellar sidereal chronometers by the Adelaide Observatory through the Astronomer, Mr P Dodwell.

The apparatus for bacteriological and physiological work were got in Sydney, in arrangements and suggestions for which our thanks are due to Dr Tidswell (Microbiological Laboratory) and Professor Welsh, of Sydney University.

Artists’ materials were supplied by Winsor and Newton, London, while the stationery was partly donated by John Sands, Limited, Sydney.

Geological, chemical, and physical apparatus were all acquired at the instance of the several workers.

Adjuncts, such as a calculating machine, a typewriter, and duplicator were not forgotten.2

Apart from the acquisition of the instruments, there were long preparations to be made in the arrangement of the scientific programme and in the training of the observers. In this department the expedition was assisted by many friends.

Thus Professor WA Haswell (Biology), Professor TW Edgeworth David (Geology), and Mr HA Hunt (Meteorology), each drew up instructions relating to his respective sphere. Training in astronomical work at the Melbourne Observatory was supervised by Mr P Baracchi, Director, and in magnetic work by the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institute (Director, Dr LA Bauer). Further, in the subject of magnetics, we have to thank especially Mr E Kidston of the Carnegie Institute for field tuition, and Mr Baldwin of the Melbourne Observatory for demonstrations in the working of the Eschenhagen magnetographs. Professor JA Pollock gave us valuable advice on wireless and other physical subjects. At the Australian Museum, Sydney, Mr Hedley rendered assistance in the zoological preparations. In the conduct of affairs we were assisted on many occasions by Messrs WS Dun (Sydney), JH Maiden (Sydney), Robert Hall (Hobart), GH Knibbs (Melbourne), and to the presidents and members of the councils of the several Geographical Societies in Australia – as well, of course, as to those of the Royal Geographical Society, London.

In conclusion, the proffered, disinterested help, of all the above and many other friends contrived to make our scientific equipment well–nigh complete and eminently up to date.

  1. Donated by Schweppes, Kopke, Burgoyne, and others.
  2. Acceptable donations of various articles were made by the firms of Ludowici, Sydney; Allen Taylor, Sydney; Sames and Company, Birmingham; Gamage, London; Gramophone Company, London; the Acetylene Corporation, London; Steel Trucks Ltd, etc.

    Through the offices of Mr CA Bang we are indebted to ‘De Forenede Dampskibsselskab’, of Copenhagen, for the transport of the dogs from Greenland.

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