Western Base (Queen Mary Land)
S. E. Jones, M.B., CH.M.
There was a very marked absence
of serious illness during the whole period of our stay at the Base.
After the `Aurora' left Adelie Land on January 19, 1912, for
her western cruise, an epidemic of influenza broke out. It should
be noted that one case occurred on the voyage south from Hobart,
and then an interval of almost a month occurred before the infection
spread. An interesting feature of the outbreak was the fact that
the recovery of those who were convalescing, when we arrived at
Queen Mary Land, was much more rapid than was the case with those
whose convalescence occurred on the Ship.
By the careful
use of snow-goggles during the summer, snow-blindness was practically
prevented, and such cases as occurred yielded quickly when zinc
and cocaine tablets were used and the eyes obtained rest. An undoubted
factor in the causation of snow-blindness is the strain caused by
the continual efforts at visual accommodation made necessary on
dull days when the sun is obscured, and there is a complete absence
of all light-and-shade contrast.
Although frostbites were
frequent during the winter months, immediate attention to the restoration
of circulation prevented the occurrence of after-effects, so that
no one suffered the loss of any more tissue than the superficial
epithelium. The nose, ears, fingers and toes were the parts which
Our supplies of food were excellent in point
of view of variety. Some tinned onions were responsible for several
mild attacks of poisoning, but these were not used after our first
experience. There was no sign of scurvy in any form.
on one occasion, had an unpleasant experience. He was alone in the
hut sleeping one night when he awoke to find the room filled with
smoke. On going outside he found that the chimney had become blocked
with snow; as the fire was banked, the hut was filled with the gases
from the imperfect combustion of the coal. It was three or four
days before Hoadley recovered from his experience, having marked
symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
On my return from
the Western Depot journey I found that Wild was suffering from an
attack of herpes zoster. The illness came on while he was out sledging,
and he suffered severely from the pain and irritation.
a few cases of minor illness, and one or two accidents, there was
nothing of serious moment to report.
Main Base (Adelie
by A. L. McLean, M.B., CH.M., B.A.
the whole period of the Expedition--from December 2, 1911, to February
26, 1914--the health of the expedition was remarkably good. Undoubtedly
Antarctica has a salubrious climate, and it is simply because one
returns in a measure to the primitive that such an ideal result
The first thing to resist is the cold, and additional
clothing is the first and adequate means to such an end. No one
needs to be specially inured to a rigorous climate. If he has a
normal circulation he immediately reacts to a new set of temperature
conditions, and in a few weeks may claim to be acclimatized. Most
of the members of the expedition were Australians, so that the change
of latitudes was rather abrupt but none the less stimulating and
Appetite for food had suddenly a new piquancy,
hard manual work was a pleasure in a novel and wonderful environment,
the intellect and imagination were quickened and the whole man embodied
the mens sana in corpore sano. That is why illness was practically
unknown for more than two years; and, further, it may be said with
partial truth that in the high sense of physical and mental fitness
he possessed for a time, lies the explanation of the proverbial
desire of an explorer to return to the ice-lands.
monthly examinations of the blood were made from the date of leaving
Hobart in December 1911 until October 1912, with an interval of
about nine weeks between the first and second examinations. The
haemoglobin or red colouring-matter went up with a leap and then
very steadily increased in amount during the winter months in Adelie
Land. The blood pressure became slightly more marked, the weight
increased, but as one might have expected, the resistance to ordinary
civilized germs was decreased. With regard to weight, the maximum
amount gained by a single individual during a period of eight weeks
was almost two stones, and every one became heavier by as much as
ten pounds. As clinical evidence of the loss in immunity may be
quoted the epidemic of influenza to which Dr. S. E. Jones referred.
As well, it was noted that several members had attacks of ``boils''
during the voyage southward; in Adelie Land during 1912 there were
two instances of acute abscesses on the fingers (whitlows) and one
jaw abscess. It appears as if, with its new and unbounded energy
of function, the body attempts to throw oft its waste products.
Then, too, experimental observations of opsonic index pointed towards
the lowering of resistance, and, by the way, it was rather a remarkable
fact that after a few months in Adelie Land, staphylococcus pyogenes
aureus--a common germ in civilization-- could not be cultivated
artificially from the throat, nose or skin, of six individuals from
whom monthly bacteriological cultures were made.
Hut, at a temperature which ranged from 40 degrees to 45 degrees
F., the number of micro-organisms continuously increased, if the
exposure of agar plates at regular intervals (by night) gave a true
indication. The organisms were staphylocci albi, bacilli, yeasts,
and moulds; the latter overgrowing the plate after it had been for
forty-eight hours in the incubator.
Frostbites were common,
but, perhaps for that reason, were not regarded seriously. No one
suffered permanent harm from being frost-bitten, though in several
cases rather extensive blisters formed and nails and skin were lost.
Whilst the Hut was being built, minor casualties often occurred;
the common remedy being to cover the injured part with a small piece
of gauze surrounded by adhesive tape; for open wounds will not heal
when exposed to the cold. The Greenland dogs had small accidents
and ailments which often required treatment.
journeys snow-blindness was an affection which sooner or later caught
every one in an unguarded moment. That moment was when he ceased
to use goggles if the light were at all trying to his eyes. Prevention
came first, and then the ``zinc and cocaine'' cure.
Adelie Land can only be regarded as an intolerable country in
which to live, owing to the never-ceasing winds. Usage and necessity
helped one to regard the weather in the best possible light; for
the sake of a few hours of calm which might be expected to occasionally
intervene between the long spells of the blizzards. It is, therefore,
with regret and some diffidence that I speak of the illness of Mr.
S. N. Jeffryes, who took up so conscientiously the duties of wireless
operator during the second year (1913); but upon whom the monotony
of a troglodytic winter life made itself felt. It is my hope that
he is fast recovering his former vigour and enthusiasm.**
So many miles of sledging were done at both Antarctic Bases
in a climate which is surely without a parallel in the history of
polar travelling, the Ship was so often in jeopardy during her three
main cruises to the South, that we feel the meagre comment should
be made on our providential return to civilization with the loss
of two comrades whose memory will ever be imperishable to each one
** With the advent of summer, Jeffryes became normal,
but unfortunately suffered a temporary relapse upon his return to
APPENDIX VI - FINANCE