The Antarctic

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     On January 18, 1912 Robert F. Scott reached the South Pole. Unfortunately, Amundsen had already been there and left a flag marking the spot. Terribly discouraged after a tortuous journey all members perish on the return trip.

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      In 1901 Ernest Shakleton sailed on his first expedition to Antarctica with Robert Falcon Scott. Six years later he led an expedition that reached 88°23´, 97 miles from the South Pole.

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     In 1914 he led the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The plan was to cross Antarctica from Vahsel Bay to the Ross Sea. Unfortunately their ship the Endurance was caught in the ice and crushed. The party was forced to camp on the ice until they could launch their boats. They reached Elephant Island in April 1916. Shakleton and five others sailed for South Georgia in an open boat. They made a landfall on South Georgia and crossed the island on foot. They got help and finally rescued their companions.
     The map on the stamp below shows their route across South Georgia from “Peggotty Camp” across Ridge 2493 to the Stromness Whaling Station. It is based on a British Antarctic Survey map. Three of the men who made the trek are commemorated on stamps showing the beginning, the ridge and the goal of their effort.

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    On November 6, 1912 Lieutenant Belgrave Edward Sutton Ninnis, Dr. Xavier Guillaume Mertz and Dr. Douglas Mawson left the camp where they had lived for eleven months, and began their journey of exploration. Only one of them would return alive.
     Lieutenant Ninnis died in December when he fell through a snow bridge into a crevasse, together with his sled, dogs and supplies. Without food Mertz and Mawson immediately turned around and headed back. All they had to eat was their dogs. Because of the toxic concentration of vitamin A in the dogs’ livers Mawson and Mertz were soon suffering from vitamin A poisoning. Mertz died in January, and Mawson struggled on. He arrived at the Main Base early in February 1913. The ship that was supposed to be waiting for them had already left, so Mawson and other members of the party who had waited for him and his colleagues had to wait until the end of 1913 for the ship to return so they could leave the Antarctic continent.
     Mawson slowly regained his health and made other expeditions in Antarctica. He added more new territory to the maps of the continent than any other man of his time.


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