Richard E. Byrd
1888-1957

Richard Evelyn Byrd was born into a famous Virginia family in 1888. He entered the United States Naval Academy at the age of 20 and was commissioned in 1912. His passion for the airplane began during World War I when he learned to fly. Subsequently Byrd became a flying instructor for the US Navy. Significant credit must be given Byrd for the present American interest in the south polar regions. His success as a naval aviator and transatlantic flier, along with the North Pole flyover, instilled enough confidence in the public to make them financially assist in the support of his first two Antarctic expeditions. From Byrd's first expedition in 1928-30 until 1955, eleven expeditions, excluding the WILKINS-HEARST EXPEDITION , left the United States for Antarctica. Byrd was a conspicuous player in six of them with four being sponsored by the United States government. His successful polar flights undoubtedly were due to his pioneering experimentation during World War I of flying over water out of sight of land. Navigation of these early seaplanes without visual landmarks as an aid prompted him to experiment with a number of scientific instruments ranging from drift indicators to bubble sextants. His reputation from this work was responsible for an appointment by the United States Navy to plan the flight navigation for the transatlantic flight in 1919 of the US Navy Flying Boats NC1, NC3, and NC4. The NC4 was the first plane to succeed in crossing the Atlantic, via Newfoundland and the Azores, having done so in May 1919. In 1926 he and Floyd Bennett made the first flight over the North Pole and upon their return to New York, Byrd was asked by Roald Amundsen what his next plans would be. His response? "Fly over the South Pole". At this point Amundsen had no reason to doubt him and the only advice offered was to "take a good plane, take plenty of dogs and only the best men". With this as his background, Richard E. Byrd began the modern American assault on Antarctica.

 

Byrd Antarctic Expedition I
1928-1930  The Byrd Expedition was the first American expedition to explore Antarctica since the U. S. Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes in 1840. The expedition launched a revival of interest in the Antarctic for Americans, an area much in the public mind during the early 1800's. The exploring expedition organized by Richard E. Byrd in 1928 may be considered the first of the mechanical age of exploration in Antarctica. The program was the first of its kind to utilize the airplane, aerial camera, snowmobile and massive communications resources. Although Sir Hubert Wilkins, on November 6, 1928, was the first to fly an airplane in Antarctica, he preceded Byrd by only ten weeks. (Byrd first flew on January 15, 1929). However, Byrd's flights, made with three planes (Ford monoplane, Fokker Universal and a Fairchild monoplane), were much more significant than Wilkins since they were made in higher latitudes and were tied in with ground surveys. Sir Douglas Mawson was the first to use radio in the Antarctic, and the whalers, RRS DISCOVERY, the

Norwegian exploring ship NORVEGIA and Sir Wilkins had all been using radio in the Antarctic at the time the Byrd Expedition entered the field but Byrds use of communications equipment overshadowed that of the others as regular wireless communications were established with the outside world, as well as with all flights and field parties. As Byrd put it, "...this single department received more attention than any other, for our program called for the most elaborate system of communication ever proposed in a Continent where radio conditions are notoriously bad". Assistance was provided for the selection of equipment by the US Navy, the New York Times and several corporations. Five radio engineers were assigned to the communications team. Although very costly, a total of 24 transmitters and 31 receivers were supplied for the two expedition ships, the main base at Little America, three airplanes, three dog teams and two sub-bases. As for photography, Wilkins took photos from his plane while in flight, but they were taken with a hand-held camera. On the Byrd Expedition, Captain Ashley McKinley used a Fairchild K-3 for aerial mapping. It was the finest camera available at the time for this purpose and by present-day standards can still provide satisfactory results. Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott and Sir Douglas Mawson had all tried, with mixed success, to use automobiles for land transportation. Byrd had more success with a Ford snowmobile, but it too broke down only 75 miles from the base while hauling supplies.

 The CITY OF NEW YORK
On the strength of Roald Amundsen's recommendation, Byrd purchased the SAMSON at Tromsoe, Norway and ordered her sailed to New York. Built in 1882, the Norwegian sealer arrived in New York in woeful shape. New sails had to be made, her entire rigging had to be renewed, a new boiler installed, rotted planks in her hull replaced, and the whole ship, from stem to stern, refitted and strengthened. However, in every sense of the words she was built for the ice. Her hull was made of thick spruce and oak, of the finest growth. The ribs, also of oak, were placed very close together and sheathed with a layer of heavy planking both on the inside and out. Her sides were 34 inches thick, growing to 41 inches near the keel. Her one great drawback was her small auxiliary steam engine, scarcely able to generate 200 horsepower. Byrd felt fortunate that an engine built in 1882 could still run and since funds had been exhausted, the tiny engine would have to suffice. The ship was rated 515 tons, with a length of 170 feet and beam of 31 feet. Due to her slow speed, the CITY OF NEW YORK was the first to depart for the Antarctic. With 200 tons of material aboard and 33 people, the renamed CITY OF NEW YORK put out from Hoboken on August 25, 1928, and made for Dunedin, New Zealand, via the Panama Canal. The selection of the CHELSEA, later renamed the ELEANOR BOLLING , was a choice for which Byrd received much criticism. She would be the first ship with a metal hull to risk a full-blown exploration venture into the ice pack of Antarctica. Despite the criticism, prior experience of the steelhulled Norwegian whalers C.A. LARSEN and SIR JAMES CLARK ROSS, making seasonal passages to and from the Ross Sea without incident, only reassured Byrd. Besides, she was cheap, available and suitable for the job which Byrd had planned for her. Without aviation, need for a second ship would have been doubtful. She was not much larger than the CITY OF NEW YORK but she was a freighter capable of hauling 800 tons of cargo. Her top speed? Nine knots! She was put into drydock where she underwent extensive repairs, primarily in strengthening her hull against the inevitable blows from the ice pack. The cost of purchasing the two ships and outfitting them was approximately $285,000. The work was done, at cost, by William Todd at the Todd Ship Yard. Under the command of Captain Gustav Brown, the ELEANOR BOLLING put out from Norfolk, Virginia, on September 25, 1928, with 300 tons of supplies and 28 men. The dog drivers and 94 dogs with 40 tons of dog biscuit were taken aboard the SIR JAMES CLARK ROSS at Norfolk, Virginia. The greater speed of this whale ship meant less danger to the dogs while crossing the tropics. The aircraft, aviation personnel, gasoline, oil and 100 tons of supplies were also shipped out of Norfolk on

 The ELEANOR BOLLING

the C.A. LARSEN. Commander Byrd boarded the C.A. LARSEN at San Pedro, California, from where she departed on October 10, 1928.

 Ford tri-motor FLOYD BENNETT
The purchase of the airplanes came after months of thought and experimentation. A Ford tri-motor monoplane was selected for major transport and investigative operations in the Antarctic. A Cyclone engine was mounted in the nose. Charles L. Lawrance, president of the Wright Company, had developed the powerful 525 horsepower engine. The two outboard engines were the famous Wright J-5 used on the trans-Atlantic flight. They were ninecylindered, air cooled and rated at 220 horsepower. This gave the plane a total of nearly 1,000 horsepower which allowed a top speed of 122 mph and an easy load capacity of 15,000 pounds. Two other airplanes were purchased as backups to the Ford as well as providing transportation for the scientists into the field. A Fokker Universal monoplane, with a 425 horsepower Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine, and a Fairchild folding-wing monoplane made the trip south. A fourth plane, manufactured by General Aircraft, was contemplated but the plane failed to reach the Antarctic. The SIR JAMES CLARK ROSS was the first to arrive in New Zealand. The C.A. LARSEN arrived in Wellington on November 5, unloaded the men and supplies, and then embarked on a whaling mission. The ELEANOR BOLLING arrived at Dunedin on November 18 and soon left for Wellington to pick up the supplies left there by the C.A. LARSEN. The CITY OF NEW YORK didn't arrive at Dunedin until the 26th of November, after being at sea three months. At Dunedin, the cargo was reloaded so that if the CITY OF NEW YORK was the only ship to make it through the pack into the Bay of Whales, she would have enough supplies aboard to maintain a limited scientific expedition for one year. The Fairchild airplane was lashed to her deck. Heavily laden, the ELEANOR BOLLING and CITY OF NEW YORK left Dunedin for the Antarctic at 6 a.m. on December 2, 1928. There were a total of 29 men on board the CITY OF NEW YORK and 54 aboard the ELEANOR BOLLING. The expedition experienced fine weather at the beginning. If the wind was right, the CITY OF NEW YORK could proceed under both sail and steam; when the wind died, the ELEANOR BOLLING would take her in tow. The first storm hit during the evening of December 6. The tow line broke but other than a torn sail on the CITY OF NEW YORK, no other serious damage occurred as the storm subsided the following day. The first iceberg was sighted on Sunday, December 9. Snow squalls and foggy weather was encountered the following day which made for difficult navigation. Scott Island was sighted the same day, after which the course was set due south until reaching the edge of the ice pack. The following day the C.A. LARSEN was sighted. By 11 a.m. the next morning some 90 tons of coal had been transferred in sacks from the ELEANOR BOLLING to the CITY OF NEW YORK. The ELEANOR BOLLING then steamed for Dunedin (arriving December 20) while the CITY OF NEW YORK stood by to be taken in tow by the C.A. LARSEN. On December 15 the leads opened sufficiently for Captain Nilsen to enter the pack in about 178° E. The struggles were great but the C.A. LARSEN finally broke through into the open water of the Ross Sea on December 23. At 2 p.m. the tow line was cast off and the CITY OF NEW YORK was now on her own. The edge of the Ross Ice Shelf was reached in about 177° W. on Christmas Day. Following the shelf eastward, the CITY OF NEW YORK reached the Bay of Whales on December 28. Unfortunately, the Bay of Whales was nearly full of ice. The CITY OF NEW YORK found a place along the edge of the ice to tie up and once accomplished, Byrd, Balchen, Petersen, Vaughan and Waldon went ashore with two dog teams to locate a suitable place to build the base camp. After several days of exploration in the vicinity, a site was selected on top of the Ross Ice Shelf on the east side of the bay, approximately eight miles from where the ship was tied up and four miles north of Amundsen's base camp, Framheim. On January 2 the unloading began and soon teams of men and dogs were hauling supplies over the ice to their new home, Little America. On a good day, each team made two round trips, totaling 30 miles until a total of 650 tons of stores and materials had been transferred. The CITY OF NEW YORK had successfully transported one airplane, 1200 gallons of gasoline, 75 tons of coal, 54 men, 80 dogs and enough food for 15 months. Two main buildings were constructed at Little America along with several prefabricated buildings which were used for special purposes. The primary building was used for a library, hospital, radio laboratory and housing

quarters for the physician, geologist, meteorologist and physicist. Another building, built from boxes and crates, served as the machine shop while a third building was used for the mess hall, bunk house and photographic laboratory. A magnetic observatory and weather station was also built. The radio storeroom and aviation workshop were also built from boxes while other rooms were simply carved out of the snow and roofed with tarpaulins. As a prevention against fire, all main structures were built with some distance between them and connected by a series of snow tunnels. After leaving the CITY OF NEW YORK at the edge of the ice pack on December 11, the ELEANOR BOLLING sailed for and arrived at Dunedin on December 20 where she promptly took on a second cargo, departing on January 14 for the return trip to the Bay of Whales. She arrived at the bay on January 27 with two airplanes, additional dogs and 7500 gallons of gasoline. The ice in the bay continued to break up which forced both ships, on January 29, to move and two days later a large piece of shelf ice broke off and nearly capsized the ELEANOR BOLLING. The ELEANOR BOLLING was unloaded in little more than five days and on February 2 she departed for New Zealand, arriving in Dunedin on February 16. Meanwhile, the CITY OF NEW YORK continued to battle the ice conditions. Forced from her moorings time and time again, Byrd finally cruised her eastward to the vicinity of Edward VII Land but was again stopped by the pack ice. Abandoning any further attempts to tie up, the CITY OF NEW YORK departed on February 22 for New Zealand. Captain Nilsen of the C.A. LARSEN met the expedition ship on February 28 and transferred 90 tons of coal to her. Meanwhile, the ice conditions were so poor that Byrd radioed orders to the ELEANOR BOLLING, which was returning to the Bay of Whales with a third load of cargo, to wait at the edge of the ice pack for the CITY OF NEW YORK and return with her to New Zealand. The Fairchild airplane had been unloaded on January 14 and assembled the following day after which seven short flights took place. Byrd, with Bernt Balchen as pilot and Harold June as radioman, left on January 27 for a longer flight eastward to the Alexandra Mountains, which had been discovered in 1902 by Robert F. Scott. They flew in fine weather and soon spotted the two inlets east of the Bay of Whales, Kainan Bay and Okuma Bay, that had been named after Nobu Shirase's Japanese expedition in 1911-12. They flew to the Scott Nunataks and Alexandra Mountains and then were forced south due to intermittent snow showers. Suddenly, at an altitude of 4,000 feet, a new mountain range came into view which Byrd named the Rockefeller Mountains. Running short on fuel, the men turned back for Little America and arrived having completed a five-hour flight. On February 18, Byrd and Balchen took off in the Fokker while June and Harold Parker left in the Fairchild on another flight to the east. Byrd's course took him east to the Rockefeller Mountains and then south for 100 miles further than his previous mission. High land appeared in the distance but once again they were forced to turn back to Little America. When they had landed, permission was given to McKinley to make a photographic flight to the Rockefeller Mountains. He too saw the other mountains east of the Rockefellers. In the afternoon of March 7 Gould, Balchen and June flew out of Little America aboard the Fokker for the Rockefeller Mountains. Two hours and ten minutes later they arrived and landed at the southern extremity of the range. Over the next few days extensive survey work was accomplished. By March 13 they were able to finish a triangulation survey and collect a few geological specimens but the following day turned tragic as high winds overwhelmed them. They struggled to save the plane but a huge gust of wind in the evening ripped the plane from its moorings blowing it airborne for half a mile before smashing it to pieces on the ice. By March 18 the weather had cleared enough for Byrd, Dean Smith and Malcolm Hanson to fly out in the Fairchild to look for the lost men. Once the crash site was located, the Fairchild landed, picked up Balchen and June, and returned to Little America. Meanwhile, Byrd and Hanson stayed back with Gould until the following day when a second rescue mission ferried the remaining men back to Little America. Once the geological party had been rescued from the base of the Rockefeller Mountains, the planes were hangered in blocks of ice for the winter. While the geological party had been out at the Rockefeller Mountains, four dog teams layed depots of supplies, gaining valuable trail experience. Between March 7 and 13 some 1,350 pounds of supplies, in three depots marked with flags and snow cairns, had been

successfully stowed for the winter. This would only be the start to a more aggressive campaign the following spring. On April 19 the sun set and 42 men settled in at Little America for the winter. The little city was buzzing with activity as equipment was prepared for the summer flights and sledging. Frank Davis took daily magnetic observations, William Haines and Henry Harrison took daily meteorological observations and the radio operators kept regular schedules with the outside world. Between January 16, 1929 and February 5, 1930, a total of 414 balloon observations were taken. The lowest temperature recorded at Little America was -72.2°F on July 28. However, according to Harrison, "...a far more severe condition than this prevailed in July when a combination of a 25-mile wind and a temperature of -64° was experienced", creating a wind-chilled equivalent -2800°F. Subzero temperatures were recorded every month throughout the winter at Little America with the highest temperature being 17°F on August 19. The sun came up on the horizon for the first time on August 23. Geological investigation of the Queen Maud Mountains would be a primary effort as spring arrived. This would require significant depots layed across the Ross Ice Shelf. Five teams started out from Little America on Sunday, October 13, with 1,600 pounds of supplies. The dogs soon tired from pulling in soft, dry snow so the loaded sledges were abandoned at this point and the entire team jumped on an empty sled and returned to Little America to wait for more favorable conditions. On October 15 a supporting party of four, led by Arthur Walden, started on a southern journey. Joining them were the geological party and Peterson, who went along to test the radio equipment. They picked up the loaded sledges that had been left a few days before and proceeded on to 20-mile depot. Upon arrival the geological party cached their supplies and along with Peterson returned to Little America. Meanwhile, the supporting party headed south with two sledges carrying a total of 800 pounds. Depots were built and supplied every 50 miles. On November 1 the last depot (Depot #4) was laid at 81° 45'S, 220 miles from Little America. At this point the men turned for Little America and arrived back at base camp on November 8. After returning from the 20-mile depot, the geological party on Sunday, October 20, started hauling supplies again to the depots out on the Ross Ice Shelf. By October 25 they had reached the 100-mile depot where they cached their supplies and prepared for the return journey. The return was uneventful with the crew arriving at Little America on October 29. Meanwhile, on October 25 Strom, Black and Feury set off in the Ford snowmobile, pulling three sledges loaded with supplies. The men had to abandon the vehicle when it broke down 75 miles south of base camp. Walking back to Little America, the men arrived on November 5. Finally, on the same day, the geological party departed for the Queen Maud Mountains. The party consisted of Gould, who was the leader, Vaughan, Crockett, Thorne, Goodale and O'Brien. While the sledge parties were busy with depot-laying, the aviation crew were likewise busy digging out the planes and preparing them for exploratory flights. On November 18 with Dean Smith as pilot, Commander Byrd, Harold June and Captain McKinley took off in the Ford tri-motor, the FLOYD BENNETT, on a base-laying flight to the edge of the Queen Maud Mountains, 440 miles distant. About 200 miles out the men spotted the geological party struggling along so they swooped low and dropped mail and additional equipment to them before heading off for the mountain range. They landed at the foot of the Liv Glacier where, leaving the engines running, they deposited gasoline, oil and 350 pounds of food along with a pressure cooker and trail equipment. They were soon back in the air heading for Little America. About 100 miles south of Little America, on the edge of the worst crevassed area, the plane was forced to land as a leak had developed and they'd run out of fuel. The emergency radio failed to work but fortunately Balchen and Petersen flew out in the Fairchild, suspecting they had run out of fuel, and quickly located them on the ice below. They landed and fuel was loaded aboard but, unfortunately, the engines were too cold to start. Besides, 100 gallons of fuel was not enough to get the plane back to Little America. The Fairchild returned to Little America, loaded additional fuel and brought it out the following day. With help from the booster on the Fairchild, the engines on the Ford tri-motor were started and together both planes arrived back at Little America about midnight. At 3:29 p.m., on November 28,1929, the FLOYD BENNETT took off from Little America on its

historic first-flight over the South Pole. With Byrd as navigator, Harold June as co-pilot and radio operator and McKinley as aerial photographer, the heavily loaded plane proceeded to climb towards the Queen Maud Mountains. For purposes of navigation, magnetic compasses were useless so close to the South Magnetic Pole. Thus, reliance was solely on the sun compass. Balchen flew south on the meridian of 163°45'W and when they reached 85°S they scanned the horizon, in vain, for Amundsen's Carmen Land. At 8:15 p.m. the geological party was spotted below, 100 miles from the base of the Queen Maud Mountains. A bag containing messages and photographs taken during the base-laying flight were dropped by parachute. The geological party radioed their position from which Byrd checked his navigation. From this point the plane began to gain altitude as it neared the glacierfilled passes of the Queen Maude Mountains. By 9:15 p.m. they had climbed to 9,000 feet but were still 2,000 feet too low to attain the Polar Plateau. As the plane ascended the Liv Glacier, empty tin containers of gasoline and 300 pounds of food were dumped out in order to reduce weight. For the next 30 minutes the FLOYD BENNETT struggled to gain the necessary altitude to clear the 11,000foot pass between Mount Fridtjof Nansen and Mount Fisher at the head of the Liv Glacier. With only a few hundred yards to spare, the plane gained enough altitude to attain the Polar Plateau. As they flew over the Polar Plateau, a new mountain range, the Grosvenor Mountains, was viewed to the west and southwest. Looking back, they could identify the Mount Thorvald Nilsen massif, now called Nilsen Plateau. On the Polar Plateau the plane passed over a heavily crevassed area, the Devil's Ballroom, named by Amundsen. Observations at 12:30 a.m. showed them to be 50 miles from the Pole. Shortly after midnight on November 29, 1929, the FLOYD BENNETT flew over the South Pole. They flew a few miles beyond the Pole and then to the right and left to compensate for any possible navigational errors. Byrd dropped a small American flag and at 1:25 a.m. directed the plane for Little America. They descended down the Polar Plateau and the Axel Heiberg Glacier on the east side of Mount Fridtjof Nansen. At the foot of the glacier they flew along the front of the Queen Maud Mountains to the base of Amundsen Glacier. At this point a short fuel supply forced them to turn west for the gasoline that had been cached at the foot of the Liv Glacier on November 18. They landed beside the gasoline, took aboard 200 gallons and left 350 pounds of food for the geological party. Within an hour, they took off again and landed at Little America at 10:10 a.m. on November 29...they had been gone 18 hours and 41 minutes. By the time the polar flight had been completed, the geological party still had some distance to go to reach the Queen Maud Mountains. On November 30 they managed 35 miles and that night camped at the foot of the Liv Glacier. Heavily crevassed folds in the ice prevented them from reaching the edge of Mount Fridtjof Nansen via the Liv Glacier. However, a smaller glacier on the north side of the mountain was accessible and subsequently allowed them to ascend. During the climb, Gould determined the low ragged mountains to be composed of "...an extensive complex of ancient gneisses, schists, and granites which later investigation have shown to be pre-Cambrian". Above this, a series of sedimentary rocks 7,000 feet thick was found. Extensive geological studies were conducted over the course of the next few weeks. On December 20 the party reached the mouth of a glacier which Gould named Leverett Glacier. Their easternmost camp was located a short time later at the base of a small mountain, properly named Supporting Party Mountain, on the north side of the foot of Leverett Glacier...their bearings were 85°25'17"S, 147°55'W. The next day, December 21, the men built a cairn on top of the mountain and deposited a record of their visit and a claim, in the name of Commander Byrd, of all the land east of 150°W as part of Marie Byrd Land and territory of the United States. The geological party had now mapped 175 miles along the front of the Queen Maud Mountains and had been the first to set foot on Marie Byrd Land. On December 21 they turned for Little America and on Christmas Day discovered the cairn built by Roald Amundsen. Inside, Gould found a small tin containing a page from Amundsen's notebook on which he had written a short account of his journey to the South Pole. They took the page and continued on towards base camp. From December 26 to 30 they camped at Strom Camp, in front of Mount Fridtjof Nansen, as they made preparations for their final push to base camp. They left on December 30, sledging at night and camping during day, with as light a load as possible. Despite the heavily crevassed area south of Little America, base camp was reached without serious injury on January 19, 1930 after sledging 1500 miles in two-and-a-half months. Meanwhile, after the successful polar flight plans were made for a second major flight of discovery. With favorable weather conditions, Byrd, Alton Parker, June and McKinley took off at 10:50 a.m. in the FLOYD BENNETT on December 5 heading northeast into the area Robert Scott had explored in 1902 called Edward VII Land. They flew along the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to Okuma Bay and subsequently passed over the Scott Nunataks. Byrd could now see a great expansion of water

extending southeast which he named Sulzberger Bay. They flew northeast across 35 miles of open water in the bay and at 1:13 p.m. changed course to a little east of north in order to follow what they believed to be coastline. At 1:48 p.m. they found themselves opposite the mouth of a large bay which extended considerably inland. Byrd named this Paul Block Bay and named the glacier which entered the bay for Balchen. The associated mountain range, with the glacier in its valley, was named the Edsel Ford Range. At this point they changed course again to the northeast and at 2:10 p.m. they turned south to fly across the mouth of Paul Block Bay. They were now at 150°W which was the extremity to which any prior explorers could have made discoveries. Byrd named the land, including the Edsel Ford Range, Marie Byrd Land in honor of his wife. On the trip back to Little America, they flew to the north of Sulzberger Bay to investigate the great ice island that appeared to be aground and surrounded by old sea ice. At 3:10 p.m. they flew across the open water of Sulzberger Bay and the large, grounded ice island. From the air it was obvious to Byrd that Scott's Edward VII Land was actually a peninsula between Sulzberger Bay and the Ross Sea. The plane now set a course to the southwest, passing near La Gorce Mountain at the southern end of the Alexandra Mountains. At 6:42 p.m., after nearly eight hours of flight, the FLOYD BENNETT landed safely at Little America. The accomplishments were great as many miles of previously unknown coastline and a new mountain range had been photographed for the first time. The final flight was made on January 21 when Byrd, Smith, Peterson, June and McKinley took off in the FLOYD BENNETT and flew 100 miles west to Discovery Inlet, then south for 140 miles across the middle of the Ross Ice Shelf, and then returning to Little America. Meanwhile, the geological party concluded their investigations and ground survey of the Bay of Whales so that preparations could begin to close Little America. Radio reports were coming in from the whalers that the pack ice was unusually thick. The CITY OF NEW YORK left Dunedin for Little America on January 6, 1930. Fighting a fierce storm along the way, she made it to the edge of the ice pack on January 20 and rendezvoused with the whaler KOSMOS. The ELEANOR BOLLING left Dunedin on January 20 and reached the CITY OF NEW YORK on January 29. The CITY OF NEW YORK had used up so much of her coal while steaming around the edge of the ice pack waiting for the arrival of the ELEANOR BOLLING that Byrd instructed the ELEANOR BOLLING to return to Dunedin for more coal, which she did on January 31. While this was going on, the men at Little America were packing up their equipment in three different classes, each with a lower priority, in the event there would not be enough room for all the gear. McKinley was put in charge of transporting the equipment to the edge of the Bay of Whales where a camp was established in order to load the gear aboard as quickly as possible once the ship arrived. Byrd was fairly certain that only one ship would make it through so the planes were secured nearby where the wind would keep the snow swept away after they were left behind. On February 6 the CITY OF NEW YORK took on 50 tons of coal from the whaler SOUTHERN PRINCESS and immediately started her journey into the pack for Little America. Incredibly, it took 12 days to reach the men at the edge of the Bay of Whales. On February 8 a strong gale struck and lasted for 24 hours. On February 10 another storm hit with such ferocity that the ship was in danger of sinking as ice accumulated faster than the men could chip it off. She was blown 300 miles off course, to the vicinity of Ross Island, over the four-day gale. It was 6:45 p.m. on November 18 before the CITY OF NEW YORK reached the Bay of Whales. She was loaded at night and cast off at 9:30 a.m. on February 19. By February 26 she was clear of the pack ice. She met up with the KOSMOS and ELEANOR BOLLING and transferred the dogs along with medical officer Dr. Haldor Barnes, from the ELEANOR BOLLING, and radio operator Howard Mason, who had been suffering from appendicitis. The ELEANOR BOLLING transferred a new supply of coal to the CITY OF NEW YORK and the two sailed together for Dunedin, arriving on March 10, 1930. The expedition reached New York on June 18, 1930. Many questions were left unanswered upon conclusion of Byrd's first Antarctic expedition and the Admiral was all too aware of the necessity for a quick return to the ice. Plans were soon made for a second expedition as many of the experienced men would still be available and polar interest in America was thriving. Despite declining interest in the region for many years, Americans were quick to resume that interest following the great successes of the First Byrd Expedition and the Wilkins-Hearst Expedition between 1928 and 1930. Daily newspaper and radio accounts, particularly of the South Polar flight and discovery of Marie Byrd Land, made Byrd's first expedition a topic of conversation throughout America. America was in the midst of a great economic depression in the early thirties, however the persuasions of the American public resulted in necessary resources and funding for a second assault on the ice. The Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition was covered as thoroughly in the media as the first but it was the radio programs, broadcast by the men from Little America which spilled into the living rooms of America, that sustained and encouraged American presence in the Antarctic during this expedition and the others

that followed.  A number of "firsts" were accomplished during the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition; it was the first time that automotive transportation proved to be a valuable asset. Results from the first seismic investigations in Antarctica provided the initial evidence of the extent to which the Ross Ice Shelf was aground or afloat. The first human voices were transmitted from Little America on February 1, 1934 and later a weekly broadcast was carried over the Columbia Broadcasting System in the United States. Additionally, this expedition marked the first time that cosmic ray and meteor observations were taken in such high southern latitudes. Although the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition was the beginning of the mechanical age in Antarctica, the Second Expedition took mechanical and electrical resources to a new level. Motor-driven generating plants provided Little America with electrical power, thereby allowing use of electrical power tools used in construction and maintenance of mechanical devices used at Little America as well as exercises in the field. As with the first, the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition was organized and financed by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd (USN, retired) with financial aid and supplies contributed by a number of private individuals, businesses, industrial firms, research institutes and government agencies. Byrd's original plans called for a departure in the fall of 1932, however lack of necessary funding and supplies required them to wait until the following year. Amazingly, $150,000 in cash was contributed while in the midst of the Great Depression. It came mostly with thousands of donors contributing small amounts but larger gifts were given by Edsel Ford, William Horlick, Thomas Watson, Col. Jacob Ruppert and the National Geographic Society. Additional funds were realized from the sale of newspaper rights, photographic privileges and advertising sold for the weekly radio broadcasts from Little America. Industrial and commercial firms donated all the fuel oil and gasoline and much of the equipment used on the expedition while nearly $100,000 worth of scientific instruments was lent by government agencies and universities. The flagship of the expedition was leased from the U.S. Shipping Board for one dollar a year. The 8257-ton steel cargo vessel PACIFIC FIR, used in the west coast lumber trade and then laid up at Staten Island with other surplus ships of World War I, was totally reconditioned and re-christened the JACOB RUPPERT. Needing a ship to ram through the ice pack, for a small sum Byrd was able to purchase the barkentine BEAR from the city of Oakland, California. The old wooden ship was built in Greenock, Scotland, in 1874. The ship was used for ten years as a whaler and was then purchased by the U.S. Coast Guard for use in the rescue of the U.S. Arctic Expedition led by Lt. A. W. Greely. The ship became the property of the city of Oakland in 1928 and after Byrd had the ship reconditioned in Boston, the vessel was rechristened the BEAR OF OAKLAND. The 703-ton BEAR OF OAKLAND was 200 feet long, had a beam of 32 feet and a draft of 17 feet, 2 inches. Using her auxiliary steam power, she was capable of nine knots.
The JACOB RUPPERT

The BEAR OF OAKLAND

The WILLIAM HORLICK

 
Questionable in Byrd's mind was the condition of the two airplanes left at Little America in 1930 upon conclusion of his first expedition. Thus, a new Curtis-Wright Condor was secured. The twin-engine long-range biplane, named the WILLIAM HORLICK, was equipped with skis and floats and was powered by a pair of supercharged Wright Cyclone engines, each capable of 725 horsepower. Specially designed fuel tanks were installed giving the plane a range of approximately 1300 miles with a full load of 19,000 pounds. Two smaller single-engine monoplanes, a Fokker and a Pilgrim, were lent to the expedition. Additionally, a Kellett autogyro was lent for use in high altitude and shortrange reconnaissance flights. Motorized transportation was supplied by a Cletrac tractor, two Ford snowmobiles and three Citroëns originally designed for desert work. The 40 horsepower Citroëns had the front wheels replaced with skis. Since motorized transportation still had not proven itself in the Antarctic, 153 sledge dogs were collected from Alaska to Labrador and taken to the ice. Dr. Thomas Poulter, physicist, was chief of the scientific staff and second in command of the expedition. William Haines, chief meteorologist, was third in command while Harold June, chief pilot, was chief of staff and George Noville executive officer. The wintering party of 1934 consisted of 56 men which included five pilots, three physicists, two geologists, a geophysicist, two meteorologists, three biologists, four radio operators, two navigators, an aerial photographer, a surveyor, a physician, two carpenters, an artist, a newspaper correspondent and two Paramount News cameramen. The rest were mechanics and dog / tractor drivers. A total of 45 officers and crew made the outbound voyage on the JACOB RUPPERT in 1933 and 33 assisted with the homeward voyage in 1935. Both voyages were under the direction of Commodore Hjalmar Fridtjof Gjertsen, an ice pilot with the Norwegian Navy. On the outbound voyage, the master of the JJACOB RUPPERT was Lt. (jg) W.F. Verleger, USNR. He was replaced on the homeward voyage by S.D. Rose, who had served as first officer on the BEAR OF OAKLAND. The BEAR OF OAKLAND was under the command of Lt. (jg) Robert A. English, USN, with Bendik Johansen as sailing master and ice pilot. Of all the men involved with Byrd II, 18 had participated in the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition. There were four primary objectives concerning geographical exploration: the delineation of as much as possible of the coastline of Marie Byrd Land; additional research in the Ford Ranges; determination of an ice-filled strait connecting the Ross Sea with the Weddell Sea; determination of the extent of the Queen Maud Mountains beyond the Ross Ice Shelf. Meteorological observation was also an important part of the expedition with Byrd proposing the construction of a weather

station as far inland as possible which would be maintained throughout the long winter night. The scientific program included proposals to measure the thickness of the Ross Ice Shelf and polar plateau, extensive biological investigation ranging from plankton to the seals in the Bay of Whales and surveying of the front of the Ross Ice Shelf to determine what changes had transpired since the last survey made by the TERRA NOVA EXPEDITION in 1911. The BEAR OF OAKLAND embarked from Boston on September 25, 1933 since she was the slower of the two vessels. Unfortunately, the ship ran into a hurricane off the North Carolina coast and was damaged to an extent which required her to enter dry dock at Newport News. The JACOB RUPPERT left Boston on October 11, stopped at Newport News, and left for the Panama Canal eleven days later. Meanwhile, the BEAR OF OAKLAND finished her repairs and sailed south on November 1. After passing through the Panama Canal, the JACOB RUPPERT called at Easter Island on November 16 and reached Wellington, New Zealand on December 5. The ship's engines were overhauled and the WILLIAM HORLICK readied for flight. Another eighteen men were added to the crew before she set sail on December 12, 1933. Additionally, three stowaways were soon discovered. The ship reached the ice pack on December 20 and proceeded along the edge for the next three weeks. On December 21, at 10:53 a.m., Admiral Byrd, Harold June (pilot), William Bowlin (co-pilot), Carl Petersen (radio operator) and Joseph Pelter (aerial photographer) lifted off in the WILLIAM HORLICK on a successful four-hour preliminary test flight. Further flights and reconnaissance took place until eventually entering the Bay of Whales, where she was moored on January 17, 1934. The BEAR OF OAKLAND passed through the Panama Canal on November 17 and stopped for coal reserves at Tahiti on December 12. She arrived in Wellington on January 6, took on additional supplies, and then sailed for Dunedin where more stores were taken aboard. The BEAR OF OAKLAND sailed for Antarctica on January 19 and moored in the Bay of Whales at 10:30 p.m., January 30.

Admiral Byrd led a landing party to the site of Little America I on January 17 where they found the camp buried under a deep blanket of snow with only the radio towers, stove pipes and a few other protruding objects visible. The communication and lighting systems were still functioning and the stored food was still in preserved condition. Through great difficulties, the old camp was reestablished as Little America II. By the time the BEAR OF OAKLAND arrived on January 30, tremendous amounts of equipment, supplies and stores had been relayed inland. Sixteen teams of nine dogs each, along with the Citroën and Cletrac, ferried several hundred tons of supplies to Little America II. The Pilgrim monoplane hauled 24 tons of goods before she was grounded due to the landing gear exhibiting signs of strain. When the BEAR OF OAKLAND arrived, the third Citroën was quickly put to use. By February 4 both ships were unloaded. At 10:10 p.m. the next day, the JACOB RUPPERT left for Port Chalmers, New Zealand, where she arrived on February 18. On the evening of February 6, the BEAR OF OAKLAND sailed out of the Bay of Whales with Lt. English setting a course for Cape Colbeck where an investigation for the possible existence of an archipelago would be attempted. Heavy pack ice had prohibited such exploration on Byrd's previous expedition in 1929. Up to that time only two ships had penetrated the ice beyond Cape Colbeck, which had originally been discovered during Robert Falcon Scott's 1902 DISCOVERY EXPEDITION. In 1912, Lt. Nobu Shirase sailed the KAINAN MARU to 76°07'S, 151°20'W. It was a successful trip for Byrd as they passed the easting of both prior efforts. At 1:30 a.m., on February 9, they made their farthest easting at 75°06'S, 148°08'W, from where the northwesternmost peaks of the Ford Ranges were dimly visible to the southeast. Evidence was gathered to support the existence of a submarine ridge

extending northwestward from Edward VII Peninsula. The BEAR OF OAKLAND arrived back at the Bay of Whales on February 15. A rendezvous was made with the DISCOVERY II on February 21 to receive another 21 tons of supplies and a replacement physician, Dr. Louis H. Potaka. She arrived back at the Bay of Whales on February 25 and the next day, at 8:35 a.m., the BEAR OF OAKLAND departed Antarctica, leaving behind a winter party of 56 men. The ship arrived in Dunedin on the afternoon of March 12, 1934 after a very difficult voyage. Admiral Byrd became alarmed by a series of cracks developing in the vicinity of Little America II so an emergency cache of food, gasoline, tents and supplies were established on higher ground, named Retreat Camp, about a mile southeast of base camp. Over the course of the next few weeks, depots every 25 geographical miles were layed in preparation for the field season the following spring. Intense blizzards were fought until the final depot, 155-mile depot, was established on March 14. One of the objectives of the expedition was to establish an advanced weather base where three men would spend the Antarctic winter making daily meteorological observations. Originally, intentions were to establish the base on the Polar plateau or the foot of the Queen Maud Mountains. However, do to the difficult, prolonged unloading of stores and establishment of the base camp, time constraints required the Bolling Advance Base to be built at 100-mile depot. Tractors, sledges and aviation were all used as the men struggled to establish the base. The Pilgrim monoplane made three flights but the Fokker, BLUE BLADE, crashed on take-off and the weather closed in before the WILLIAM HORLICK could be made ready. Construction of the hut began on the morning of March 22 and at 11:55 a.m. Admiral Byrd was flown in by Bowlin and Bailey aboard the Pilgrim monoplane. Work on the site was under horrible conditions as temperatures plummeted to -60°F. Throughout the trips to and from Little America, the tractor party was plagued by water condensing and freezing in the fuel lines. They frequently stopped to disconnect the lines and blow the ice out. Fingers and hands suffered from the bitter cold with intense pain experienced by all. The dog teams left Advance Base for Little America II on March 25 and on March 28 the tractors departed, leaving Admiral Byrd alone to man the meteorological station for the winter. The prefabricated hut measured 9 feet by 13 feet and was 8 feet high. The structure was completely buried in snow by the time the tractor party pulled out. Only the bamboo poles used to support the radio antennae, the 12-foot anemometer pole and the instrument shelter protruded through the snow. Advance Base was located at 80°08'S, 163°57'W, 123 statute miles from Little America II. Little America settled into a routine program as the sun set for the last time on April 19. Meteor observations, under Dr. Poulter, were conducted during the four months of darkness; the biologists, Dr. Perkins, Paul Siple, Alton Lindsey and J. M. Sterrett carried out their investigations of plankton, bacteria and the Weddell seals in the Bay of Whales; preparations were made for the spring campaign in the field. Meanwhile, Admiral Byrd took meteorological observations twice daily at Advance Base and maintained a radio schedule with Little America II three times a week. Once the sun set in April, Byrd also maintained a regular schedule of auroral observations. Unfortunately, Byrd was unaware of his impending carbon monoxide poisoning. Although aware of water condensing and freezing in the ventilator pipe, stovepipe and exhaust pipe of the engine which drove the radio generator, Byrd's precautions failed to maintain proper ventilation within the hut and he gradually became more ill until finally collapsing during the radio schedule on May 31. He remained critically ill for more than a month as his recovery was impaired by the inability to keep himself warm and properly cared for. In spite of his weakness and subsequent relapses, meteorological observations were continually recorded. Although he tried to hide it, Byrd's health was obviously deteriorating. The unusual radio transmissions alerted the men back at base camp so an unscheduled journey to Advance Base was soon in the works. The first two attempts to reach Byrd ended in failure as darkness, snow and mechanical difficulties overcame them. Finally, Dr. Poulter, E. J. Demas and Amory Waite, aboard tractor No. 3, reached Advance Base just before midnight on August 10. Byrd's physical condition was too poor for the return journey. The men remained, making regular observations, until October 12 when Bowlin flew out in the Pilgrim and picked up Byrd and Poulter while the others returned in the tractor. A number of geological and biological scientific programs were accomplished during the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. On September 27, Harold June, Ken Rawson, J. H. Von der Wall and Carl Peterson set out on tractor No. 1 pulling two sledges with 7600 pounds of cargo. On October 11 they sighted McKinley Peak and the Haines Mountains to the north. The next day the men climbed to the summit of McKinley Peak and determined, after making sun and star observations, that the mountain was approximately 37 miles west of its previously estimated position. The party arrived back at Little America on October 18 after completing a round trip of 525 statute miles. This had been the first time

that exploration had been carried on to such an extent in Antarctica by means of mechanized land transport. On October 14, the Marie Byrd Land party, made up of Paul Siple (biologist and leader), F. Alton Wade (geologist), Stevenson Corey and Olin Stancliff (dog drivers), set out from Little America II following the path of the previous tractor party. Six days were spent on McKinley Peak, under cruel weather conditions, examining the geology of the mountain. Additionally, magnetic observations were made. They continued on to the Haines Mountains for more geological investigations and later crossed the Hammond Glacier and camped at the base of Mount Woodward. November 20 was spent investigating Mount Woodward, the southernmost mountain in the Ford Ranges, where Siple found mosses. On November 21 they crossed the Boyd Glacier and camped at the foot of Mount Rea. The next day was spent studying the geology of Mount Rea and Mount Cooper. At this point the supply of dog food was running short so to cover as much ground as possible in a short period of time, the men split up into teams. On November 23, Siple and Corey left Mount Cooper, rounded Mount Rea and headed north to Saunders Mountain. By the end of the 24th, they were overlooking Crevasse Valley Glacier, a great outlet glacier. Inclement weather prohibited their crossing of the glacier until the 27th. They camped alongside the Chester Mountains and charted many of the surrounding mountains. On December 2 they reached their limit of the outward journey and abruptly turned around. While Siple and Corey were on their journey, Wade and Stancliff carried on geological observations in the vicinity of Saunders Mountain, Crevasse Valley Glacier and the Haines Mountains. The teams met up again at the Haines mountains and the Marie Byrd Land sledging party arrived back at Little America II at 3 p.m. on December 29 after 77 days of exploration covering 862 miles. Extensive additional scientific programs were conducted by other members of the base camp party. A geological party of three men and two dog teams was to explore the Queen Maud Mountains to the east of Supporting Party Mountain at 85°27'S, 147°33'W, the easternmost point reached by the geological party of the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition. A geophysical party of four men with four dog teams expected to climb the Scott Glacier and determine the thickness of the Polar plateau icecap. The combined parties left Little America II on October 16. The geophysical party reached Advance Base on October 22 and the geological party a day and a half later. By October 31 both parties were at the edge of a belt of crevasses at 81°10'S, 161°05'W. After considerable obstacles were overcome, significant magnetic, geologic, and seismic investigations had been completed. From the top of the Rockefeller Plateau, Morgan calculated the glacial ice to be 1000 to 2000 feet thick. Where the surface elevations vary from 2000 to 3000 feet above sea level it was obvious that the greater part of the height of the plateau in this sector was due to ice. Exploratory flights were conducted by Byrd and the aviation group. On November 15 Byrd, June, Bowlin, Bailey, Rawson and Pelter took off in the Condor WILLIAM HORLICK for an exploratory flight to the southeast in an attempt to close the gap of unexplored land between Supporting Party Mountain, at the base of the Queen Maud Mountains, and the eastern trail between Little America II and the Ford Ranges. Much new territory was photographed and on their way home, they flew over the Rockefeller Mountains where they spotted the wrecked Fokker plane abandoned in 1929. The flight lasted 6 hours and 43 minutes covering 777 miles. A number of other flights were made over the course of the next month and a half. As the exploratory flights were being made, Dr. Poulter carried on important scientific studies of the Ross Ice Shelf, a project which proved to be one of the major accomplishments of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. A re-survey of the shelf (originally taken during the 1929 expedition) in the vicinity of the Bay of Whales showed that the portion of the ice shelf east of the bay was moving westward while the west of the bay was moving northward, the latter at a rate of 6.6 feet per day. Consequently, the bay has now been obliterated and replaced by a large bite in the ice shelf. During the winter layover in New Zealand, both the BEAR OF OAKLAND and JACOB RUPPERT were reconditioned and loaded with coal. The BEAR OF OAKLAND left Dunedin on January 2; on board was Charles F. Anderson, U. S. Postal Inspector, to handle the cancellation of mail at Little America. On January 18 they entered Discovery Inlet and picked up the seismograph crew. The next morning they moored in the Bay of Whales. The JACOB RUPPERT left Port Chalmers on January 16 and arrived in the Bay of Whales on January 27. The men hustled to get the cargo loaded aboard but with the ice threatening the thin plates of the JACOB RUPPERT, ferrying was necessary between the two ships as the JACOB RUPPERT hove to out in the bay. This process continued until only the heavy tractors and planes remained at the edge of the bay. Too heavy for the BEAR OF OAKLAND, the JACOB RUPPERT slipped in long enough to haul aboard all but Citroën No.2, two snowmobiles and a small amount of various supplies. The two ships moved out of the Bay of Whales

on the afternoon of February 5, 1935. On board, headed for the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, was the FLOYD BENNETT. . .the plane in which Byrd had flown to the Pole in 1929. Both ships stopped in Discovery Inlet long enough to pick up some penguins destined for American zoos and then, on February 7, the two ships departed for Dunedin. The BEAR OF OAKLAND docked at Dunedin on February 20. By the late 1930's, officials of the United States government were becoming aware of the fact that interest in the Antarctic regions was gaining popular momentum among its citizenry due to the successful expeditions of Byrd. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took an active role in creating the United States Antarctic Service as he pushed for two separate Antarctic expeditions, one by Richard B. Black and Finn Ronne, and the other by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, to be coordinated to form the US ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION. In November 1937, Dr. Ernest Gruening, Director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions of the Department of the Interior, asked Richard Black, the Field Representative of the Division, to look into the vague requirements of the US Government for an official American expedition to the Antarctic. The UNITED STATES EXPLORING EXPEDITION 1838-42, led by Lt. Charles Wilkes, had been the last great adventure to the Antarctic with any direct involvement of the US Government. A statement was released by Black on May 5, 1938, dealing with the governments interest in Antarctica, along with plans for a small expedition to the Antarctic. The expedition plans, jointly proposed by Black and Ronne (both members of the BYRD SECOND ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION ) grabbed the attention of Dr. Gruening who in turn informed the Department of State and President Roosevelt. As all this was going on, Byrd was in Boston with his associates making plans for a third expedition to the Antarctic. Like the first two expeditions, this one was to be privately funded. Late in 1938 Byrd became aware of the governments position and possible action when an official of the State Department approached him for a consultation on the subject. This meeting and subsequent planning was brought to the attention of President Roosevelt. On January 7, 1939, a memorandum was sent by the President to the Acting Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, approving the plans developed by the Departments of State, War and Navy. The President suggested the Department of Interior should be involved in the planning along with continued consultation with Admiral Byrd and Lincoln Ellsworth regarding the estimated costs of such an expedition. Additionally, the President wanted the group to consider the feasibility of maintaining a party each season "at Little America and at the region South of the Cape of Good Hope". Two important developments resulted from the President's January 7 memorandum. First, Admiral Byrd decided to cancel plans for his private expedition and join ranks with the government. With his extensive knowledge of the area, from this point forward he was accepted as the leader and was to be actively involved with the planning and organization of the expedition. Secondly, an interdepartmental committee was formed, which eventually became the Executive Committee of the United States Antarctic Service. On January 13, 1939, the Secretary of State asked the Secretaries of War, Navy, Treasury and Interior to appoint representatives to serve on an Antarctic Committee. On June 30, Congress passed an act authorizing Antarctic investigations and on July 7 the President himself wrote letters to the Secretaries urging them to designate the representatives. As a result, the original planning committee became what the President designated as the Executive Committee of the United States Antarctic Service. The four departments were represented throughout the life of the organization. Captain (later Rear Admiral) C. C. Hartigan and Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., represented the Navy and State Departments, respectively. Rear Admiral R. R. Waesche was later succeeded by Commander E. G. Rose as representative of the Coast Guard (Treasury). The Department of the Interior was represented in turn by Ernest Gruening, Mrs. Ruth Hampton, R. A. Kleindienst, Paul W. Gordon, Rupert Emerson and Guy J. Swope. Lieutenant Commander (later Commander) Robert A. English, USN, commander of the BEAR OF OAKLAND on the SECOND BYRD ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, was appointed Executive Secretary. He was succeeded in 1942 by J. E. MacDonald, who had been an administrative assistant to Byrd. As Commanding Officer of the US ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION 1939-41, Admiral Byrd was an ex-officio member of the Committee, having received his formal appointment from President Roosevelt on July 7. Although a US Government sponsored expedition, additional support came from donations and gifts by private citizens, corporations and institutions. Although the Department of Interior was granted funding, it was woefully inadequate for an expedition of this size. Coordinated efforts by the other Departments filled the gap for funding of the equipment, services and supplies. Admiral Byrd donated many of the supplies which he had gathered for his own expedition, the largest item being

the barkentine BEAR OF OAKLAND, which was leased by the Department of Navy for one dollar a year. Some of the private donors misunderstood the magnitude of the governments involvement and subsequently became disturbed by the lack of advertising concerning their contributions. Well in excess of 100 firms and individuals contributed money, supplies and equipment to the expedition, including tractors, food, clothing, instruments, tobacco and books. Charles R. Walgreen of Chicago and William Horlick of Racine, Wisconsin, contributed equipment and supplies for the USS BEAR, and the Kohler family of Kohler, Wisconsin, and George F. Getz and Justin W. Dart of Chicago supplied the Barkley-Grow seaplane carried aboard the USS BEAR.

 Byrd on the Barkley-Grow

Two ships were used by the expedition. One was Admiral Byrd's old ship, the BEAR OF OAKLAND, which had been used on the SECOND BYRD ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION. The ship was reconditioned by the Navy and commissioned the USS BEAR for the expedition. The second ship, the USMS NORTH STAR, was a 1434-ton wooden ice ship built for the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1932. She was used each summer to haul supplies to Alaska. Since summer in Antarctica was winter in Alaska, the Department of Interior was able to lend the ship to the Antarctic Service without interrupting the Alaskan service. The expedition was supplied with four aircraft. The USS BEAR carried a twin-engine Barkley-Grow seaplane on the 1939-40 cruise in the Antarctic. Both East and West Base were supplied with twin-engine Curtiss-Wright Condor biplanes, which had been used extensively by the U.S. Marine Corps for five years. The fourth plane was a new, single-engine Beechcraft which was to be used in conjunction with the Snow Cruiser. The Snow Cruiser, designed by Dr. Thomas C. Poulter of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition, was built at the Pullman Company at a cost of $150,000, entirely funded by 70 cooperating manufacturers and by the "Friends of the Research Foundation" of the Armour Institute of Chicago, where Dr. Poulter was scientific director.  

This motorized monster was 55 feet long and 20 feet wide, with sled runners attached to its bottom. With the wheels extended, it was 16 feet high. Inside the machine were sleeping quarters with four bunks, a scientific laboratory, a photographic laboratory, a radio room, a chart room and a galley. Twin 150-horsepower diesel engines were connected to generators which in turn supplied power for the 75-horsepower electric motor that drove each wheel. The tires were made of rubber and were 10 feet in diameter. When a downgrade was reached, the wheels could be retracted allowing the Snow Cruiser to toboggan down the incline. Incredibly, the machine was designed to cross crevasses up to 15 feet in width by raising the front wheels while the rear wheels powered the cruiser half way across

the gap, followed by a retraction of the rear wheels and a lowering of the front which then pulled the machine the rest of the way. The single-engine Beechcraft monoplane was mounted on skis and designed to be carried on top of the Snow Cruiser for aerial reconnaissance and exploration within a radius of 300 miles. Enough food for a year could be stored inside, along with 2500 gallons of diesel fuel, enough for 5000 miles of travel, and 1000 gallons of aviation fuel. The Snow Cruiser was designed for a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour on a flat, hard surface. She could climb grades of 37%, turn in its own length and move sideways at a 25° angle. A total of 125 men departed from the United States in the two ships of the United States Antarctic Service Expedition, or Byrd III. Captain Isak Lystad commanded the USMS NORTH STAR while Lieutenant Commander Richard H. Cruzen, USN, commanded the USS BEAR, with Bendik Johansen as ice pilot. Most of the men who made up the expedition were solicited from the military ranks, civilian agencies of government and from scientific institutions. A few volunteers were employed by the Department of the Interior for $10 per month, food and clothing included. A total of 59 men, divided initially into three groups, wintered over in Antarctica. Dr. F. Alton Wade, Senior Scientist and geologist, was in charge of the Snow Cruiser and the three other men assigned to it. When it broke down, as expected, it was parked at West Base and the four men joined ranks with the West Base Party of 29 men, led by Dr. Paul A. Siple. The East Base party of 26 men was led by Richard B. Black. Many of the men had extensive prior experience in the Antarctic with Byrd. Among them were Bendik Johansen and Paul Siple of both the First and Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition, while chief radio operator Clay W. Bailey, master mechanic Vernon D. Boyd, assistant mechanic Louis P. Colombo, and executive assistant Lieutenant Commander Isaac Schlossbach, USN (retired) had all been on the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. Black, the leader of East Base, dog driver Joseph D. Healy and transportation engineer Finn Ronne were also veterans of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition, as was Frederick G. Dustin, an aide to Admiral Byrd on board the USS BEAR. It is of significant importance to mention that many of the men involved with this expedition went on to participate in future exploration in the Antarctic. Finn Ronne led his own expedition in 1947-48 with Schlossback as captain of the expedition ship. Harry Darlington III, of East Base, and cook Sigmund Gutenko from West Base, were also members of the Ronne Expedition. In 1946-47, then-Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen was in command of Task Force 68 of the U.S. Navy Antarctic Development Project, more commonly known as OPERATION HIGHJUMP . Lieutenant George J. Dufek was navigator on the USS BEAR in 1939-40, but went on to command the Eastern Task Group of Operation High Jump. From 1956-59, Admiral Dufek was commander of "Operation Deep Freeze", Task Force 43, U.S. Naval Support Force, Antarctica, leading the United States participation in the International Geophysical Year. Finn Ronne and Carl Eklund, ornithologist at East Base, were eventual leaders of the U.S. bases during the first winter of the IGY (1957). Captain Richard B. Black was called back to active duty for "Operation Deep Freeze I" in 1955-56. West Base veterans James C. McCoy, Charles C. Shirley, Vernon D. Boyd, Murray A. Wiener, Jack E. Perkins, and Paul A. Siple were all active in OPERATION HIGHJUMP.  The objectives of the UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION 1939-41 were outlined in an order from President Roosevelt dated November 25, 1939. This order was received by Admiral Byrd at Balboa, Canal Zone, as he boarded the USMS NORTH STAR on November 30. The President wanted two bases to be established: East Base, in the vicinity of Charcot Island or Alexander I Land, or on Marguerite Bay if no accessible site could be found on either of the specified islands, and West Base, in the vicinity of King Edward VII Land, but if this proved impossible, a site on the Bay of Whales at or near Little America was to be investigated.  Early on November 15, 1939, the USMS NORTH STAR sailed from Boston en route to Philadelphia, where two airplanes were taken aboard. On November 21 she sailed down Delaware Bay en route to the Panama Canal. The USS BEAR left Boston on November 22, calling at Norfolk on November 25 to take aboard one of the twin-engine airplanes. On November 26 she cleared the Virginia Capes en route to the Panama Canal. Admiral Byrd had stayed behind to clean up last minute operations and flew from Washington to the Canal Zone where he boarded the USMS NORTH STAR at Balboa on November 30. The USMS NORTH STAR then departed for New Zealand, stopping at Pitcairn Island on December 13 and 14, and at Easter Island on December 17. She arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, on December 27. The USMS NORTH STAR departed New Zealand for the Ross Sea on January 3, 1940, subsequently sailing into the Bay of Whales to establish West Base on January 12, 1940. After refueling at the Canal Zone, the USS BEAR sailed for the Bay of Whales on December 6, entering the bay on January 14, 1940. Working in two 12-hour shifts, the USS BEAR was unloaded in less than a week and by January 24 the USMS NORTH STAR was underway for

Valparaiso, Chile, to pick up additional supplies, including a Navy twin-engine Curtiss-Wright Condor plane and prefabricated buildings. Meanwhile, the Bear, under the command of Byrd, worked its way eastward from the Ross Sea along the edge of the pack ice. A suitable site for East Base was not discovered until a reconnaissance flight by Byrd, Richard Black, pilot Ashley C. Snow and co-pilot / radioman Earl B. Perce on the afternoon of March 8. An island on the north side of Neny Bay, just north of Alexander Island and Marguerite Bay, became the home of East Base. The island was subsequently named Stonington Island. By this time the USS BEAR had been joined by the USMS NORTH STAR and by the evening of March 20, both ships had been unloaded. The following morning the two ships sailed for the United States. Both ships stopped at Punta Arenas, Chile, but from this point the ships separated as the USS BEAR sailed for Boston while the USMS NORTH STAR headed for Seattle to resume her regular cruise schedule to Alaska. Establishment of the base camps went fast and furious. Meanwhile, great hopes had been held out for the Snow Cruiser but her failure was soon realized. If the Snow Cruiser had worked at all, it was within reason to assume the possibility of reaching the South Pole, particularly if a route could have been found toward the southeast from the Queen Maud Mountains. From the very beginning the Snow Cruiser was plagued by misfortune. As the 30-ton machine was being offloaded at the Bay of Whales, the ramp partly collapsed under its weight, and Dr. Poulter, who was at the controls, avoided disaster by instantly applying full power, causing the machine to make a crunching lunge onto the bay ice. In spite of the huge wheels, adequate traction could not be provided in the snow. The tires kept 12 square feet of rubber on the surface at all times but her weight was simply too great. She sank into the snow and her inadequately geared electric motors could not propel her forward at more than a snails pace. A week later she was still only half way up the slope from the bay ice to the top of the ice shelf. Finally, after prolonged effort, the machine made it to West Base, where she was put to rest in a makeshift shelter of snow blocks and canvas. The crew now joined forces with Dr. Paul A. Siple and the men of West Base. As outlined by the President, the objectives of the expedition called for a broad scale of operations. The principal objective was "the delineation of the continental coast line between the meridians 72 degrees W., and 148 degrees W., and the consolidation of the geographical features of Hearst Land, James W. Ellsworth Land, and Marie Byrd Land". A second objective involved the delineation of the then-unknown west coast of the Weddell Sea between Cape Eielson and Luitpold Coast. In view of the broad scope of the objectives and the unpredictable circumstances that always arise in Antarctica, it is remarkable that most of the objectives set for them were met. Of significance was the establishment and occupation for a year of two separate bases 1600 miles apart by air and 2200 miles by sea. Flights by seaplane from the USS BEAR and by land based airplanes from Little America III resulted in approximately 700 miles of coastline being added to the map of Antarctica. These discoveries included the Hobbs Coast, the Walgreen Coast, the Thurston Peninsula (determined to be an island in 1960) and the Eights Coast. Reconnaissance flights revealed previously unknown parts of the Ross Ice Shelf. Gaps in the unexplored regions between the Beardmore and Liv Glaciers in the Queen Maud Mountains were also filled in. A sledge journey down the George VI Sound resulted in the discovery of its western outlet in addition to settling the issue once and for all that Alexander Island was indeed an island. Further aerial reconnaissance from East Base extended the coastline of Antarctica westward to about the 85th meridian, west, resulting in the discovery of the Bryan Coast and Carroll Inlet at its eastern border. The east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was photographed from Trail Inlet and Three Slice Nunatak (approximately 68°S) to beyond Nantucket Inlet (74°35'S). A route was discovered across the Antarctic Peninsula from Stonington Island to the head of Trail Inlet. A sledge party from East Base used this route to complete a ground survey of the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula from Trail Inlet south to Hilton Inlet (71°57'S). A sledging party explored the Dyer Plateau, in the process establishing 11 control points and triangulating the position of 58 mountains. A sledging journey from West Base to the Fosdick Mountains was made to study the biology of the region and, as a result, significant biological and geological specimens and photographs were brought back. Detailed surveys were made at both East and West Base. The first high-altitude meteorological station in Antarctica was operated during November and December, 1940, on the summit of the Antarctic Peninsula east of Stonington Island. Observations were concluded in every conceivable area: seismic, cosmic ray, auroral, biological, tidal, magnetic and physiological to name a few. All in all, it was an extremely successful expedition. With international tensions on the uprise, it was considered wise to evacuate the two bases rather than relieve the present personnel with new men who would continue to occupy the bases. To assist with the evacuation, the USS BEAR left Philadelphia on October 13, 1940, and the USMS NORTH

STAR departed Seattle on December 11. The USS BEAR was the first to arrive at the Bay of Whales on January 11, 1941 with the USMS NORTH STAR close behind, arriving on January 24. It was hoped that one day this base would be reoccupied so much of the equipment and supplies was left behind as the two ships sailed from West Base on February 1. From the vicinity of Scott Island, the two ships sailed eastward for Marguerite Bay. By February 24 both ships were off Adelaide Island, northwest of East Base, but a thick ice pack prevented them from entering Marguerite Bay. To save fuel, the ships returned north, where they anchored in Andersen Harbor, in the Melchior Islands, in the center of Dallmann Bay. Further attempts were made to penetrate the ice but by the middle of March, they still had not succeeded. The season was getting late so it was decided to evacuate the base by air. Fortunately the Condor had been repaired and test-flown after the accident on January 19 in which a ski had been cut off. On March 15 the USMS NORTH STAR was ordered north to Punta Arenas, Chile, where the men from West Base would disembark and food and fuel for a second year would be put aboard for East Base in the event the men could not be evacuated. Meanwhile, on March 16 the USS BEAR put a party ashore on Mikkelsen Island, one of the Biscoe Islands just north of the Antarctic Circle, in order to build a landing strip suitable for evacuation purposes. The first flight left East Base at 5:30 a.m. on March 22 with 12 men aboard, along with records, specimens and emergency equipment. A second flight brought the remaining 12 men. The plane was abandoned on Watson Island and the USS BEAR sailed immediately, arriving at Punta Arenas on March 29. The USMS NORTH STAR arrived in Boston on May 5 and the USS BEAR on May 18. Richard E. Byrd's story doesn't end here. Elsewhere in this website you will find the stories of Operation High Jump and Deep Freeze, both of which Byrd was actively involved with. Admiral Byrd literally worked all his adult life for personal, national and international interests in Antarctica. In his final years, his role was unfortunately downplayed by the Navy which, in my opinion, only contributed to his failing health and eventual death. The following excerpt from 90° South, by Dr. Paul A. Siple, says it best: 

  
As January (1956) ebbed, Byrd grew anxious to leave. We had achieved our main goals in Deep Freeze 1, he pointed out, and there was little need to linger. His attitude was in sharp contrast with that which he had exhibited on Operation Highjump. I recalled that when departure time came in 1947, a striking sunset had turned the sky into a Kodachrome world. Even as the last call had been shouted, Byrd had kept his eyes fixed on the iridescent sky. "But I don't want to go yet, Paul," he had said, shaking his head. But times had changed. The small discourtesies exhibited toward Byrd by Task Force (43) officers who felt Byrd represented the past had continued without abatement, and the strain of ignoring them had grown wearing to a man whose temper could be Wagnerian when he was provoked. Time after time I could see the anger creep along the entire length of his body and then subside as his words came out steady, even casual. . . And so on February 3, Byrd and I pulled out of McMurdo Sound and headed for home. For Byrd it was his last departure from the Antarctic. His wisdom had been responsible for bringing about the great new era of Antarctic activity. Others would carry on his work of exploration, making even greater use of the scientific and mechanical tools of the modern world. None could live long enough to hope to make a greater contribution than he had. Moose Remington came to me about three P.M. on March 12 (1957). His face was clouded and his eyes avoided mine. "What is it?" I asked him. "I just heard the news over the Armed Forces Radio," he said softly, "that Admiral Byrd died today in Boston". When he left I wrote a message for Mrs. Byrd, Marie, Dick's loving helpmate: "My grief is as one of the family. I am here at the Pole largely because Dick wished it so. I will do my best to continue my job as he would want it to be done. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of a loving husband, father, loyal comrade and one of our greatest American citizens. Affectionately, Paul." A modest man, Byrd did not talk of his twenty-two citations and special commendations,

nine of which were for bravery and two for extraordinary heroism in saving the lives of others. Nor did he boast of the medals he had amassed, which included the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Congressional Life Saving Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Flying Cross and the Navy Cross. Instead, his talk was of minor matters, of adventures that went awry or did not turn out as expected. There was the accident to his plane that had enabled Lindbergh to become the first man to fly the Atlantic nonstop to Europe in a land plane. Later, Byrd had made the trip with Bert Acosta, George Noville and Bernt Balchen, though they had almost failed to reach France. They had crashed into the sea off the coast and had had to swim for their lives. "How did those early years go for you, Paul?" he asked. "Not so adventurous or romantic as yours," I said.

 

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