Harold Bowyer Bull
(1884 - 1943)
Biographical Notes

Able Seaman
Shackleton Nimrod 1907-1909

Harold Bull enlisted on the Nimrod along with Victor Berry, Sidney Riches and Walter Spice while all four of them were engaged in Royal Naval Reserve training aboard HMS President in London.

The following biography along with pictures and newspaper cuttings has been generously provided by David Harry of Adelaide, Australia.

My Great, great Uncle was Harold (not Henry) Bowyer Bull , an A.B. Seaman on the S.Y. Nimrod , who sailed to Antarctica with Shackleton's 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition. From my initial research, Harold Bowyer Bull from South Australia and Bertram Armytage from Victoria were the only 2 Australian born members of Shackleton's B.A.E.

Harold was born in the Adelaide suburb of Hindmarsh on 23rd January 1884. He was the youngest of 10 children born to Robert Peel Bull and Fanny Yates.

He was educated at both the Hindmarsh Public School and Whinham College , North Adelaide.

Around 1900 he left Adelaide and went to sea aboard the sailing ship "East Croft".

In 1903 , after sailing the world, he returned to Melbourne, Australia, where his parents and 2 brothers travelled to see him and have this family portrait taken (below).

Harold Bull aged 19 in 1903

Bull Family Portrait , Melbourne, 1903. L-R : Standing, Fred, Harold,George. Seated : Fanny, Robert.

Harold Bull on the NimrodIn 1906-07 Harold, now an Able Bodied Seaman in the R.N.V.R. (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve), was back in the United Kingdom where he applied for, and was accepted into the crew of the S.Y. Nimrod.

As one of only two Australians on the Nimrod ( the other being Victorian born, Bertram Armytage) , he took furlough to travel from Lyttleton in New Zealand back to see family in Adelaide. While in Melbourne, Harold gave an interesting media interview (press cutting below).

Following the expedition and on returning to England, he was awarded a Polar Medal in bronze for his contribution to the success of the expedition.

While still in England, he married Amy Eleanor Cormack and shortly after they returned to Western Australia where he entered into a farming venture with his brother, Frederick Charles Bull and his nephew Stanley James Harry on land around Minnievale near Dowerin.

Around 1914 , Harold returned to Fremantle where he took employment with the Fremantle Harbours Trust and eventually became a signalman on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, W.A.

He visited relatives on more than one occasion in Adelaide. January 1939 was probably the last time he visited, and he is fondly remembered for generously giving all his nephews and nieces a silver crown with the advisory quote "Civility costs nothing, but buys everything."

When staying with his Nephew (and former farming venture partner), Stanley Harry , at his residence, Harold visited Douglas Mawson who happened to live just 2 houses away in King Street, Brighton. Family anecdote had it as being a very long and fruitful evening.

Harold died on the 16th October 1943 at the age of 59.

Some of the Nimrod officers and crew at the home of Shackleton's agent Christchurch, William Kinsey, in 1908. Back row standing l-r: not named, AB Alfred Samuel Bull, 3rd officer Cheetham, Carpenter Bilsby, AB Paton. Middle row seated l-r: Dunlop - Engineer, Davis - Commander - Evans, F.P., Kinsey, Michell, Harboard - 2nd Officer. Seated on ground l-r: Riches - AB, H. Bull - AB.

The "East Croft" at Port Adelaide under the Norwegian flag.
Photo courtesy State Library of South Australia.

Harold probably in his 40's as a Signalman on Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

Bull joins the Nimrod.

"Good conduct and a teetotaler"

In the Antarctic - The Trial of the Motor Car.

Meeting an old shipmate.

Honoured by the King - The Polar Medal.

Polar medals and rest of the crew.

Uncle Harold and Diana Harry (Niece) on the reef at Port Noarlunga, South Australia, January, 1939.

In memoriam

Pictures and newspaper articles provided courtesy David Harry. Picture top of page credit C.Trethewey collection.

Biographical information - I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures visitors may have will be 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?