Douglas Mawson - Crew of the Aurora
The Expedition story
Having taken part in Shackleton's 1907-09 Nimrod expedition, geologist Douglas Mawson, came up with a plan to launch a purely Australian Expedition to explore that part of Antarctica directly below Australia.
Adelie Land Station (Main Base)
Lt. Edward Frederick Robert - Astronomer, Assistant
Magnetician & Recorder of Tides
Bickerton, Francis Howard F.R.G.S. - In charge of air-tractor
Close, J.H. F.R.G.S. - Assistant Collector
Correll, Percy Edward - Mechanic and Assistant Physicist
Hannam, Walter H. - Wireless Operator and Mechanic
Hodgeman, Alfred James - Cartographer and Sketch Artist
Hunter, John George - Biologist
Hurley, Frank (James Francis) - Official Photographer
Jeffryes, S. N. - Wireless Operator
Laseron, Charles Francis - Taxidermist, Biological Collector
Madigan, Cecil Thomas - Meteorologist
Mawson, Dr. Douglas - Expedition leader
McLean, Archibald Lang - Chief Medical Officer, Bacteriologist
Mertz, Dr. Xavier - In charge of Greenland dogs
Murphy, Herbert Dyce - In charge of Expedition stores
Ninnis, Lt. Bellgrave E.S. - In charge of Greenland dogs
Stillwell, Frank Leslie - Geologist
Webb, Eric Norman - Chief Magnetician
Whetter, Leslie H. - Surgeon
Macquarie Island Station
Ainsworth, George F. - Leader:
Blake, Leslie Russell - Cartographer and Geologist
Hamilton, Harold - Biologist
Sandell, Charles A. - Wireless Operator & Mechanic
Sawyer, A.J. - Wireless Operator
Queen Mary Land Station (Western Base)
George Harris Sarjeant (21) - Cartographer
Harrisson, Charles Turnbull (43) - Biologist
Hoadley, Charles Archibald (24) - Geologist
Jones, Sydney Evan (24) - Medical Officer
Kennedy, Alexander Lorimer (22) - Magnetician
Moyes, Morton Henry (25) - Meteorologist
Watson, Andrew Dougal (24) - Geologist
Wild, Frank - Leader, Sledge-master
The Ship's Party
Blair, J.H. - First Officer
during the final Antarctic Cruise
Davis, Captain John King - Master of the S.Y. Aurora & Second in Command of the Expedition
Gray, Percy - Second Officer
de la Motte, C.P. - Third Officer
Gillies, F.J. - Chief Engineer
Short Term Expeditioners / other crew
Davis, Captain James - Whaling
Eitel, Conrad. C. - Secretary
Flynn, Prof. T.T. - Biologist
Lincoln, Bert - diary of an able seaman on the Aurora
van Waterschoot van der Gracht, J.M.N.T. - Marine artist
Waite, E.R. - Biologist
Mawson was offered a prestigious role on Robert Scott's expedition that sailed for Antarctica in 1910, he turned it down in favour of his own plan for an Australian Antarctic Expedition. He successfully raised funding for an ambitious scientific programme staffed almost entirely by men from Australian and New Zealand Universities. There was no plan to reach the South Pole or any other such exploratory goal.
Three Antarctic bases were originally planned, though only two were successfully established, one in Adelie Land which was the Main Base and another in Queen Mary Land, the Western Base. In addition a small party of five staffed a station on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Mawson's landing in Antarctica was at Commonwealth Bay during a very rare calm spell, it was to eventually become known as the windiest place in the world.
The expedition is best known for one of the most harrowing survival stories of all time when three men, Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis set off on a sledging trip that only Mawson would return from, though he was too late to catch the Aurora leaving for Australia for the winter.
In all the men of the expedition spent two years in Antarctica before returning home. On his return to Australia, Mawson was knighted.
Number in brackets is age at the start of this expedition - not always completely accurate, e.g. Dr. Douglas Mawson (30).
Staff of the Adelie Land Station
- (Main Base)
Dr. Douglas Mawson (30) - Expedition leader
Physicist, acting subsequently as master Nimrod 1907-09
Born on a farm at Shipley, Yorkshire, England in 1882, his mother was originally from the Isle of Man. Educated in Australia.
Organiser and Leader of the Australasian Antarctic
Expedition previously a member of Sir Ernest Shackleton's
Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909, being one of the
party under Professor David which reached the South
Magnetic Pole. A graduate in Science and Engineering
of Sydney and Adelaide Universities, he had filled for
some time the post of Lecturer in Mineralogy and Petrology
at the Adelaide University. The only survivor of a party
sledging to the east from the Main Base in the summer
Lt. Edward Frederick Robert Bage (23) - Astronomer, Assistant Magnetician & Recorder of Tides
Single, a graduate in Engineering of Melbourne University
and a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Engineers.
A member of the Main Base Party (Adelie Land) and leader
of the Southern Sledging Party, he remained in the Antarctic
for two years. During the first year he was in charge
of chronometers, astronomical observations and tidal
records, and throughout the second year continued the
magnetic work and looked after stores.
Cecil Thomas Madigan (23) - Meteorologist
a graduate in Science (Mining Engineering) of Adelaide
University, South Australia. Through the courtesy of
the Trustees of the Rhodes Scholarship, the necessary
leave to accompany the Expedition was granted just as
he was on the eve of continuing his studies at Oxford
University. A member of the Main Base Party (Adelie
Land) he acted as Meteorologist for two years, and during
the second year (1913) was also in charge of the Greenland
dogs. An important journey in the spring and one to
the east in the summer were made under his leadership,
and the Party, left in Adelie Land in 1913, was to have
been under his charge, but for Mawson's return.
Lt. Bellgrave E.S. Ninnis (23) - In charge of Greenland dogs
Single, was educated at Dulwich, England (as was Shackleton)
and entered His Majesty's Army, having a commission
as Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers prior to joining
the Expedition in London. At the Main Base (Adelie Land)
he was assisted by Xavier Mertz in the care of the Greenland
dogs. On December 14, 1912, while on a sledging journey,
he lost his life by falling into a crevasse three hundred
miles east of Winter Quarters.
Dr. Xavier Mertz (28) - In charge of Greenland dogs
Single, of Basle, Switzerland, a graduate in Law of
the Universities of Leipzig and Berne. Prior to joining
the Expedition he had gained the Ski-running Championship
of Switzerland and was an experienced mountaineer. At
the Main Base (Adelie Land) he was assisted by B. E.
S. Ninnis in the care of the Greenland dogs. On January
7, 1913 during a sledging journey he lost his life one
hundred miles south-east of Winter Quarters.
Archibald Lang McLean (26) - Chief Medical Officer, Bacteriologist
Single, a graduate in Arts
and Medicine of Sydney University; New South Wales.
He acted as Chief Medical Officer at the Main Base (Adelie
Land) and carried out observations in Bacteriology and
Physiology during the first year. In 1913 (the second
year) he was Biologist, Ice-Carrier and Editor of the
`Adelie Blizzard'. He took part in a sledging journey
along the eastern coast in the summer of 1912-1913.
Francis Howard Bickerton F.R.G.S. (22) - In charge of air-tractor sledge
Single, born in Oxford, England. Had
studied engineering: joined the Expedition as Electrical
Engineer and Motor Expert. A member of the Main Base
Party and leader of the Western Sledging Party, he remained
in the Antarctic for two years, during which time he
was in charge of the air-tractor sledge, and was engineer
to the wireless station. For a time, during the second
year, he was in complete charge of the wireless plant.
Alfred James Hodgeman (26) - Cartographer and Sketch Artist
Single, was born at Adelaide, South Australia. For four years he was an articled architect, and for five years a draughtsman in the Works and Buildings Department, Adelaide. A member of the Main Base Party (Adelie Land), he took part in several sledging journeys, and throughout two years in the Antarctic acted in the capacity of Cartographer and Sketch Artist, as well as that of Assistant Meteorologist.
Born on 8 August 1985 - died in England in January
James Francis (Frank) Hurley (24) - Official Photographer
Single, was of Sydney, New South Wales. He had been
the recipient of many amateur and professional awards
for photographic work before joining the Expedition.
At the Main Base he obtained excellent photographic
and cinematographic records and was one of the three
members of the Southern Sledging Party. He was also
present on the final cruise of the `Aurora'.
Eric Norman Webb (22) - Chief Magnetician
Single, was an Associate
of Civil Engineering of Canterbury University College,
and, for the five months previous to joining the Expedition,
carried out magnetic observations under the Carnegie
Institute of Washington, U.S.A. At the Main Base (Adelie
Land) E. N. Webb was Chief Magnetician, accompanying
the Southern Sledging Party.
Percy E. Correll (19) - Mechanic and Assistant Physicist
Single, a student in Science of the Adelaide University.
He joined the Expedition as Mechanician and Assistant
Physicist. He was a member of the Main Base Party accompanying
the Eastern Coastal Party during their sledging journey.
He spent three summers and one winter in the Antarctic,
acting as colour photographer during the final cruise
of the `Aurora'.
John George Hunter (23) - Biologist
Single, a graduate
in Science of Sydney University, New South Wales. A
member of the Main Base Party (Adelie Land) he carried
on the work of Biologist during two summers and one
winter; and in the same capacity accompanied the `Aurora'
in her final summer cruise 1911-1914.
Charles Francis Laseron (25) - Taxidermist & Biological Collector
Single, had gained a Diploma in
Geology at the Technical College, Sydney, New South
Wales, and for some years was Collector to the Technological
Museum. At the Main Base (Adelie Land), during 1912,
he acted as Taxidermist and general Collector, taking
part, as well, in sledging journeys to the south and
east of Winter Quarters.
Frank Leslie Stillwell (23) - Geologist
a graduate in Science of Melbourne University, Victoria.
A member of the Main Base Party (Adelie Land) he acted
as Geologist. F. L. Stillwell was leader of two sledging
parties who did detail work for about sixty miles along
the coast eastward of Winter Quarters.
Herbert Dyce Murphy (32) - In charge of Expedition stores
Single, of Melbourne, one-time Scholar in History of
Oxford University. At the outset he was to have been
leader of a third Antarctic Base which was eventually
amalgamated with the Main Base (Adelie Land). Here he
had charge of the stores and during the early summer
of 1912 was leader of the Southern Supporting Party.
Walter Henry Hannam (26) - Wireless Operator and Mechanic
Single, of Sydney, New South Wales, and joined the Expedition
in charge of the arrangements for a wireless telegraphic
system. He was in the Antarctic at the Main Base (Adelie
Land) for two summers and a winter, and was successful
in transmitting wireless messages for a short time during
1912 through Macquarie Island to Australia, assistant
magnetician for a time.
John Henry Collinson Close F.R.G.S. (40) - Assistant Collector
Married, born in Sydney, New South
Wales. During the South African War he saw active service
in Rhodesia, and at the time of the Expedition's departure
was a teacher of physical culture at Sydney. A member
of the Main Base Party (Adelie Land) and of several
sledging parties, he spent two summers and one winter
in the Antarctic.
Dr. Leslie H. Whetter (29) - Surgeon
He graduated at Otago University, New Zealand, and joined
the Expedition as Surgeon, acting in that capacity at
the Main Base (Adelie Land) during 1912. He accompanied
a sledging party which explored to the westward of Winter
Sidney. N. Jeffryes (27) - Wireless Operator
Single, of Towoomba, Queensland,
a qualified operator of the Australasian Wireless Company.
During the second year (1913) he took W. H. Hannam's
place in charge of the wireless plant, wintering at
the Main Base (Adelie Land). Jeffryes suffered a mental
breakdown in July 1913 and "resigned" his position with
5 months before the ship could return, being relieved
of all duties, he was admitted to a mental institution
on return to Australia in 1914. He is reported to have
recovered from this episode though little is recorded
about his later life.
Staff of the Queen
Mary Land Station - (Western Base)
Frank Wild Leader (38) - Sledge-master
Seaman Discovery 1901-04
In charge of provisions Nimrod 1907-09
Second in command Endurance 1914-17
Second in command Quest- Ernest Shackleton 1921 - 1922
Single, Leader of the Western Base Party (Queen Mary
Land). He joined the Merchant Service in 1889 and the
Navy in 1900, served on an extended sledge journey during
the National Antarctic Expedition (Capt. R. F. Scott)
of 1901-1904, and was one of the Southern Party of Sir
Ernest Shackleton's Expedition from 1907-1909. During
the Australasian Expedition he opened up a new tract
of country - Queen Mary Land.
Andrew Dougal Watson (24) - Geologist
a graduate in Science of Sydney University, New South
Wales. A member of the Western Base Party (Queen Mary
Land) he acted as Geologist. A. D. Watson took part
in several sledging journeys, accompanying F. Wild in
his main eastern trip during the summer of 1912-1913.
Sydney Evan Jones (24) - Medical Officer
a graduate in Medicine of Sydney University, New South
Wales. A member and Medical Officer of F. Wild's Western
Base (Queen Mary Land), he took part in several sledging
journeys during 1912 and was leader of the party who
explored westward to Gaussberg.
Charles Turnbull Harrisson (43) - Biologist
born in Hobart, Tasmania. For many years previous to
joining the Expedition he had done illustrative and
artistic work and had been engaged on a survey and in
botanical and other scientific observations on the west
coast of Tasmania. Stationed with the Western Base (Queen
Mary Land) he acted as Biologist and Artist, accompanying
F. Wild on his main eastern journey and several other
Morton Henry Moyes (25) - Meteorologist
of Koolunga, South Australia, a graduate in Science
of Adelaide University. With the Western Base Party
(Queen Mary Land) he acted as Meteorologist and took
part in several sledging journeys in the autumn and
spring of 1912. During the summer of 1912-1913, through
an unavoidable accident, he was left to carry on work
alone at Winter Quarters for a period of nine weeks.
Alexander Lorimer Kennedy (22) - Magnetician
was a student in Science of Adelaide University, South
Australia. Receiving special tuition, he acted as Magnetician
at the Western Base (Queen Mary Land) during the year
1912. He was a member of several sledging parties and
accompanied Wild on his main eastern journey as Cartographer.
Charles Archibald Hoadley (24) - Geologist
Single, a graduate
in Mining Engineering of Melbourne University. A member
of F. Wild's Western Party (Queen Mary Land), he took
part in several sledging journeys and was Geologist
of the party who explored westwards to Gaussberg.
George Harris Sarjeant Dovers (21) - Cartographer
Single, of Sydney, New South Wales, was completing his
term for Licensed Surveyor in the service of the Commonwealth
Government when he joined the Expedition. He was in
the Antarctic for two summers and one winter, being
stationed with the Western Party (Queen Mary Land).
A member of several sledging parties, he acted as Cartographer
to the party which reached Gaussberg.
Staff of the Macquarie
George F. Ainsworth (30) - Leader: Meteorologist
Single, was born in Sydney,
New South Wales. His services were loaned to the expedition
by the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau, Melbourne.
For a period of two years he acted as leader of the
Macquarie Island Party , carrying out the duties of
meteorologist. In the summer of 1913-1914 he visited
the Antarctic during the final cruise of the "Aurora".
Leslie Russell Blake (21) - Cartographer and Geologist
Single, was born in Hawthorn Victoria Australia on 28th October 1890, had lived for many years in Queensland previous to joining the Expedition. Before accompanying the Macquarie Island Party as Geologist and Cartographer, he obtained leave from the Geological Survey Department, Brisbane. He visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the `Aurora' in the summer of 1913-1914.
Thanks to Beryl Hazlett for correcting the initial
information. "I have just come across your web page
on the crew and personnel list of the Aurora on the
Mawson expedition to Antarctica 1911/13. Leslie Blake
was the youngest brother of my grandmother".
Harold Hamilton (26) - Biologist
Single, born in Napier,
New Zealand. Graduate of the Otago University. Besides
being employed on the New Zealand Geological Survey,
he acted as Entomological Collector to the Dominion
Museum at Wellington. A member of the Macquarie Island
Party, of which he was the Biologist for two years,
H. Hamilton visited the Antarctic during the final cruise
of the `Aurora' in the summer of 1913-1914.
Charles A. Sandell (25) - Wireless Operator & Mechanic
Single, of Surrey, England, studied electrical engineering
for some years and then came to Australia in 1909 and
entered the Commonwealth Branch of Telephony. Having
a practical knowledge of wireless telegraphy he joined
the Expedition as a Wireless Operator and Mechanic and
was stationed with the Macquarie Island Party for two
years. After the departure of A. J. Sawyer in August
1913, he was in complete charge of the wireless station.
C. A. Sandell visited the Antarctic during the final
cruise of the `Aurora' in the summer of 1913-1914.
A. J. Sawyer (26) - Wireless Operator
was born in New Zealand. Having had considerable experience
in wireless telegraphy, he joined the Expedition as
an operator from the Australasian Wireless Company.
At the Macquarie Island Station he was chief wireless
until August 1913, when on account of illness he returned
to New Zealand.
The Ship's Party
Captain John King Davis (28) - Master of the S.Y. Aurora & Second in Command of the Expedition
Chief officer , acting subsequently as master Nimrod 1907-09
Single, was master of the `Aurora' and Second-in-Command
of the Expedition. Born in Ireland and educated
in England, he served his apprenticeship on the
Liverpool-owned sailing-ship, `Celtic Chief', obtaining
his certificate as second mate before joining the
barque `Westland' trading between England and New
Zealand. His next post was that of second officer
on the training ship `Port Jackson', following which
he joined Sir Ernest Shackleton's Expedition (1907-1909)
as . Throughout the whole period of the Australasian
Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) Captain J. K. Davis
commanded the `Aurora' during five cruises.
J.H. Blair (24) - First Officer during the final Antarctic Cruise
Single, was in Scotland. For five years he served
with the Loch Line of Glasgow as apprentice and
third mate. As second mate he joined A. Currie and
Company, of Melbourne, in the Australian-Indian
trade, reaching the rank of first mate, in which
capacity he acted during the final Antarctic cruise
of the `Aurora' in the summer of 1913-14.
Percy Gray (22) - Second Officer
Single, was born and educated in England. He
served on the `Worcester' as cadet captain for eighteen
months and as apprentice on the `Archibald Russell',
of Glasgow, and in the New Zealand Shipping Company.
In 1909 he entered the Peninsula and Oriental Company
and reached the rank of third officer, joining the
Australasian Antarctic Expedition as second officer
of the `Aurora'. Throughout five cruises, from 1911
to 1914, he served in this capacity.
C.P. de la Motte (19) - Third Officer
Single, of Bulli, New South Wales, had early
training at sea on the barque `Northern Chief' of
New Zealand, obtaining his certificate as second
mate in March 1911. During the eight months prior
to joining the Expedition he served as fourth officer
on the S.S. `Warrimoo' of the Union Steamship Company
of New Zealand. Throughout the five cruises of the
`Aurora' between 1911 and 1914, C. P. de la Motte
was third officer with the Ship's party.
F.J. Gillies (35) - Chief Engineer
Single, was born at Cardiff, Wales. He served
his apprenticeship as an engineer on the steamers
of John Shearman and Company and P. Baker and Company
of Cardiff. For six years previous to joining the
Expedition he was in the Indian trade. Throughout
the five cruises of the `Aurora' between 1911 and
Short term members
of the expedition and other crew
Lincoln, Bert - Able Seaman
On board the SY Aurora during a trip lasting just under
three months from Hobart to Commonwealth Bay Antarctica
and back again to relieve Mawson's expedition during its
second summer, the middle of the three summer and two winter
Born in 1888, the eldest of four children and 25yrs old at the time of the expedition. He served in the Camel Corp in 1918 as a Corporal and died aged 30 yrs.
Bert Lincoln's diary of the voyage. As far as I am aware this is the only such account of an ordinary sailor onboard an expedition or relief ship during the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. Men such as Bert were not usually included on lists of the personnel which only tend to list the ships officers, expedition scientists and the support personnel who spent their time on bases.
Eitel, Conrad C. - Secretary
Flynn, Prof. T.T. - Biologist
Waite, E.R. - Biologist
Douglas Mawson Books and Pictures to Buy
The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written - Lennard Bickel
Alone on the Ice
The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration - David Roberts
Racing with Death
Douglas Mawson - Antarctic Explorer - Beau Riffenburgh
Mawson: And the Ice Men of the Heroic Age
Scott, Shackelton and Amundsen - Peter Fitzsimons
Biographical information - I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men
involved. Any further information or pictures visitors may have is gratefully
received. Please email
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?