1. List: RADIO STATIONS 3UZ MELBOURNE AND 2GB SYDNEY - talk or speech by Eric Douglas in 1939
    RADIO STATIONS 3UZ MELBOURNE AND 2GB SYDNEY - talk or speech by Eric Douglas in 1939 thumbnail image
    Public

    "Introduction To And Speech By Flight Lieut. Douglas

    Hal: 3UZ relaying to 2GB Sydney.

    The time is just 7.15, and from 3UZ we have great pleasure in introducing Flight Lieut. Douglas of the Royal Australian Air Force who was in charge of the plane which left Discovery 2 and flew over the wastes of the Antarctic to discover Lincoln Ellsworth and his co-explorer Mr Kenyon.

    This very interesting talk is being relayed to 2GB, Sydney, and we greet the listeners to this station. 3UZ desires to acknowledge with gratefulness the co-operation of “The Star” newspaper in connection with this matter.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to present to you Flight Lieut. Douglas.

    Flight Lieut. Douglas’ Speech -

    How do you do, everybody! I have been asked by the management of 3UZ to give you a brief description of our trip in Discovery 2 to attempt the rescue of the two fliers Mr Ellsworth and Mr Kenyon.
    We left Melbourne on the 23rd December and proceeded to Dunedin. The reason for this was that Dunedin is 700 miles nearer to the Bay of Whales than Melbourne, and this meant that we were able to replenish our fuel, food and water supplies and thereby have a greater stock of each should any emergency arise. Actually, my only interest, apart from a desire to see the city, was the fact that I was anxious to replenish my supplies of pemmican, which is a highly concentrated from of food considered very handy when the chance of being without food of a normal kind, is present.
    Leaving Dunedin on 2nd January we set a course for the Bay of Whales. Steaming at 11 knots we had an uneventful trip south to the ice pack. The seas were moderately calm and as we got further south, were practically without any life. After 150 miles in open pack, it became heavier, closer together and the progress of the ship became slower. After two and a half days of this the pack became so heavy that we were practically brought to a standstill.
    On the trip south we worked constantly getting the machines, stores and plans in faultless order. Any emergency, as you can understand, had to be prepared for, and, for this reason, not the slightest thing was left to chance. A sledge had to be carried on the Wapiti should that be used, and this was attended to, and food of no bulk but with plenty of nourishment was allotted by the doctor to both myself and Flying Officer Murdoch, who made every flight but one with me. As well as Flying Officer Murdoch, who at times acted as navigator, the actual complement of the Flying Crew consisted of:-
    Sgt. Spooner - emergency pilot, who was to stand by the Moth in the event of the Wapiti being disabled.
    Sgt. Easterbrook and Cpl. Cottee - two metal riggers.
    Air Craftsman Gibbs - and Sgt. Reddrop.
    The first opportunity to fly the moth, which was equipped on this occasion with floats in place of its usual wheels, came when we left some heavy pack and came into a pool of water. On this occasion I flew to a height of 2000 feet and covered some miles observing the trend of the pack which I found was to the south. Several days later another flight was necessary so Flying Officer Murdoch and I took off in the moth. This particular flight was of importance to the Commander of the ship because he had reached a point where he was a little bit at a loss. He admitted that it gave him quite an easy mind when we discovered it would be easy going.
    A day and a half later we broke through into open water which was open as far as the eye could see, and we quickly steamed the remaining 450 miles to the Bay of Whales.
    Steaming south in the open water you see the ice glare. This is just a very bright or whitish light above the horizon. Upon approaching closer you see a long table of ice. The edge of the barrier extended as far as the eye could see in either direction, approximately 100 feet high.
    Approaching the mouth of the Bay of Whales, the ship’s officers observed, through glasses, what appeared to be a small dark coloured tent with a pole erected on either side of the tent from which floated orange streamers some 15 feet in length. The Captain surmised from this that, as Ellsworth was carrying ground strips of this colour he would not be very far away. The ship then fired off about half a dozen maroon rockets which exploded with tremendous noise at the height of about 1000 feet.
    As no movement was seen on the barrier it was presumed that they were either dead or at “Little America”. Of course, the quickest way to find out was to fly the aeroplane.
    We lowered the moth overboard and Murdoch and I proceeded to reconnoitre and eventually reached “Little America”, which lay about six miles due south from the tent. We flew over the barrier at a height, according to our instruments of 1000 feet. I say, according to our instruments, because, owing to the very deceptive nature of the atmosphere, it was difficult, with ordinary sight, to tell whether we were 100 feet or 5000 feet above the ice. There was a peculiar shimmer which is quite unusual to anything I have previously experienced. We eventually discovered it to be “Little America” by the 35 foot tripod masts which had been erected for wireless purposes by Byrd on one of his previous expeditions.
    After circling undecidedly for a few minutes, we were immediately delighted to see a figure emerge from what appeared to be a burrow in the snow.
    The figure waved in a particularly casual manner and seemed not the slightest bit concerned at our arrival. We dropped a small parachute containing food, cigarettes and a letter from the Captain of the Discovery 2, congratulating the party on its achievement, and asking them, at the same time, if they felt fit enough to pull on the 6 mile walk to the Bay of Whales coastline. The figure in question proved to be Mr Kenyon, although at the time we did not know whether it where he or Lincoln Ellsworth. That Mr Kenyon is casual was borne out by Ellsworth, who said that never, at any time, had he struck so delightful and easy-going a man.
    As I said before, we were more than delighted to realise that at least one of the fliers was safe and so, with this knowledge, we turned the plane round and headed on what might be called a zig-zag course back to the ship. On our way back we searched for both faults in the ice which would endanger our land party and also a suitable ramp or ice slope up which they might climb to the barrier.
    We eventually lighted alongside the ship and shouted the glad tidings to the anxiously awaiting Captain and crew who, even down to the cook, had gathered on the poop. After the plane was hauled on board congratulations were passed all round and, naturally we had a couple of toasts to celebrate the occasion. The wireless operator was of course, immediately busy on the job sending the news to the outside world which we knew was also waiting. Replies of congratulation were received and we felt that our task which appeared so hopeless in an area of this size had been successfully accomplished.
    After an hour or so we returned to the deck, a rapidly moving and violently swaying figure appeared on the skyline. This, on later investigation, appeared to be the casual Kenyon. Kenyon, after having seen us flying over his depot, had slid down his ice ramp into the hut where Lincoln Ellsworth was lying suffering from a slight chill. He broke the news to Ellsworth that he guessed a plane had passed over a while ago and dropped a message. Ellsworth, delighted at the sudden turn of events, thought that it was a relief party from the “Wyatt Earp” and was surprised to find that it was an Australian boat and rescue party which had come on the scene.
    Kenyon, however, was not the slightest perturbed, and thought it would be a good idea to stroll across and see the boat. Picking up only a razor, his pipe and matches, and bidding Ellsworth a cheery goodbye, he climbed out of the underground hut, put on his snow shoes, and plodded away to the coast at the Bay of Whales.
    This figure of Kenyon on the skyline was what the watchers on the boat picked out, and a party set out in a launch and landed on the ice.
    Kenyon greeted them with the remark that it was “jolly decent of them to drop in on us like this”. Kenyon and the party returned to the ship and made arrangements next day to revisit “Little America” and enquire into the well-being of Mr Ellsworth. This was done, the party going ashore next morning, if there were such a thing as morning or night in this part of the world, because the sun was shining for 24 hours a day.
    Half a mile from “Little America”, which is actually only a depot, and not, as many people think, a complete continent, we came across Mr Ellsworth plodding through the snow.
    Due to the bracing atmosphere the men developed ravenous appetites and, as Lincoln Ellsworth puts it, they immediately set to “Eat him out of house and home”.
    After lunch Mr Ellsworth packed on a small sledge all his essential gear, and the party then returned over the snow to the launch awaiting in the Bay of Whales.
    Our venture having been successfully accomplished, we look back with a certain amount of happiness and gratitude on the work which had previously been put in by everyone connected with the search. This helped to a tremendous extent in making the actual rescue one which went without a hitch. It was due in no small measure to the work done in Australia, the organising and wonderfully efficient method with which everything was thought of and carried out that the whole trip from start to finish was as successful, as we are glad to say it was.
    Although we did our part to the best of our ability, it would have been of no use had not the people behind the scenes done such wonderful ground work both here in Melbourne, in Dunedin and later aboard the Discovery 2.
    It was a pleasure to me to see the quickness with which the Australian Government grasped the situation and the thoroughness with which they went into preparations for the rescue and it was certainly these same preparations that made the task of Flying Officer Murdoch and myself so much easier.
    It is fitting for me to close this chat by saying that it was with the greatest sorrow that we on board learned of the death of His Majesty King George 5th. The ceremony observed was simple, being just the lowering of the flag to half mast and observing of the two minutes’ silence.
    Goodnight everybody, and thank you Mr Percy."

    (Eric Douglas Antarctic Collection)

    Sally Elizabeth Douglas

    7 items
    created by: beetle on 2011-12-03 14:15:25.0
    User data
    Tags:
    Add tag(s)
    Comments: No comments yet - Add one!
    Rating: unrated

List items:

Showing: 1 - 7 of 7

  1. POLAR ADVENTURES
    The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Monday 17 April 1939 p 4 Article
    Abstract: "Sidelights of Services" from 3UZ it (9.15 to-night will introduce Flights, Lieutenant G. E. Douglas, officer in comemand of workshop's. No. 1 Flying 71 words
    Digitised article icon
  2. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
  3. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
  4. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
  5. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
  6. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
  7. Douglas, Gilbert Eric (1902-1970)
    Air Force Officer; Antarctic explorer; Aeronaut