CAMPBELL-RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
NEWSLETTER NO.7 JUNE 1970
Association Officers 1969-70
Air Vice-Marshall A.H. Marsh,C.B.E.
|Richard Lovegrove||John Caskey|
|Tony Bromley||Mr.A.I.E.Bacon (early settler Raoul)|
|Colin Clark||Mr.M.Butterton (N.Z.Met.Service)|
|Ed de Ste Croix||Mr.H. Carter (N.Z.Met.Service)|
|Ralph Hayes||Mr.H. Hill (N.Z.Met.Service)|
|Peter Ingram||Mr.I. Kerr (N.Z.Met.Service)|
|Vince Sussmilch||Mr.C. Taylor (Ex Agriculture Dept.)|
It is with genuine pleasure that I write the preface to this edition of your associations newsletter.
The annual screening of movies of interest to members will be held at the Kelburn weather office at 8 p.m. on Saturday July 18. A sub committee is currently previewing and editing a series of films shot on both Islands, and it is envisaged that a film of Antarctic scenes will also be available.
Our 'early warning system' forecasts this important function for the month of October. We will be advising you of more precise details, but this is an opportunity to forward plan to be with us in Wellington at this time. The opportunity to meet informally, those fellow members of your own expeditions, members of other years, together with wives and supporters, is one which I urge you to take advantage of - besides the association needs and deserves your support.
Let's together make the first year of the new decade, the most successful for your association - you have a strong hard working committee - but your active participation is the key to success.
I look forward to seeing you all at these two functions.
CAMPBELL ISLAND 1921
A reminiscence of the not so "good old days".
As told to Ed. de ste Croix by Hawea Thomson.
Present day expeditions to Campbell Island with their comfortable living quarters, ample medical supplies, and other amenities have c'ome a long way since the rough and ready days of the early 1920’s when the sheep farm was. being worked.
How far we have come in the last fifty years was graphically revealed to me when I recently spent an evening with Hawea Thompson, shepherd on the 1921 Campbell Island party and now resident in Dunedin.
Hawea, together with Bill Manson, the "bossman" who hailed from the Shetlands, Don Mackay from Mossburn, Charles Green from Dunedin, and three dogs, spent 18 months from November 1921 to May 1923 running the farm and living as best they could.
They were paid the princely sum of £2.5.0. per week with no allowances, but supplemented at 26 shillings per hundred for the shearing of the 7,000 odd sheep. The boys shared this task, each clipping about 100 sheep a day - in those days of hand shears no mean achievement - and exported 140 bales of wool in 1921 - 22, with about 100 bales in the period 1922 - May 1923.
The sale of seal-skins helped to bolster the coffers. Hawea told me that they were allowed to take out 400 skins per year for which they received 5/-d each, paid by Wright Stephenson's the agent for the island. This small but welcome extra ended in 1922 when the taking of seals for profit was forbidden. A good thing we would all agree today, but at that time a harsh penalty for the boys, who tended to depend on the skins for those little extras.
Left very much to themselves - no ships for 14 months - Hawea related how they managed to eke out their meagre rations which, incidentally, didn't include that staple of today - butter.
Crabs were caught, also cod and flounder, all of which were riddled with worms but which after smoking, were eaten with no apparent ill-effects. Albatross eggs too were taken in an effort to provide variety to the menu.
That the men on the 1sland in those days were expected to fend for themselves is brought to the fore with a glance at the inventory of the medical chest. A jar of rum, some Epsom salts, castor oil, and iodine were he sole medical supplies provided. A pair of forceps for tooth extraction completed the inventory, a far cry from the equipment supplied today. Fortunately, Hawea remembers, hey were a healthy bunch.
Recreation too was sparse, a spot of fishing, sailing when the Gods allowed, the ever popular accordion, and a gramophone with a broken spring and which - believe it or not - was rotated by finger power ! As Hawea said "life was pretty hard". An understatement if ever there was one
Flora and fauna have changed somewhat over the years. Hawea remembers that there were no sea elephants in Camp Cove, the slip on Mount Honey was absent in 1921, and whales were often seen in North West Bay. There was a fair amount of heather too he recalled, and a fence which ran almost to the top of Mount Honey. Of ornithological interest - a hawk was seen by Hawea during his stay
From the day the party arrived from New Zealand in November 1921 on the S.S. Karamu, which incidentally cost £1,000 to hire, to when they were relieved - an apt word for sure - in March 1923 by the"'Tutanekai" commanded by Captain Bollons, their stay was never less than arduous. I think we all would agree on that point. As Hawea said "It was pretty tough".
ON THINGS HISTORICAL
This is the third part of a full series on the history of Campbell Island, written some years ago by Ian Kerr who is Assistant Director (forecasting) with the N.Z. Meteorological Service. The first installment which appeared in Newsletter 3 dealt with the Island's discovery, and the follow up article on "Sealers of the Early Years" can be read in Newsletter 5.
PART 3 : BALLENY AND BISCOE
Merchants, geographers and other scientists alike were content for nearly fifty years to exploit and explore the new lands and seas opened by Cook. The only new discoveries were the various small islands in the subantarctic waters near New Zealand and the rediscovery of Bouvet Island. As a matter of fact, by the end of 1810, with the exception of Heard Island, all the islands between the 45th and 60th parallels of the Southern Hemisphere had been discovered. Between 1819 and 1843 the polar seas were extensively explored, the existence of the Antarctic continent was established and parts of its coastline were roughed in. The continent so discovered was inhospitable and apparently useless, so no attempt to force its defenses was made in the next fifty years
During this period of polar sea exploration, a very important voyage was undertaken and brought to a successful conclusion by a Russian expedition commanded by Bellingshausen, who was the first to discover land within the Antarctic Circle; two islands, Peter 1 and Alexander 1. In the course of the voyage, some time was spent at Macquarie Island and the result was the first scientific report on the island's flora and fauna. The names of Bellingshausens two ships, Mirny and Vostok, are commemorated in the names of two of the Soviet Union's main scientific bases in Antarctica.
The next voyage of major importance was due to the vision and enterprise of the London mercantile firm of Enderby Brothers. This firm, represented by Captain Raven in the Britannia was the first to attempt a commercial venture in New Zealand in 1792. One of their captains had discovered the Auckland Islands in 1806; two others had re-discovered Bouvet Island in 1808; and now, in 1831, John Biscoe was to have the honour of bang the first to sight part of the main mass of the Antarctic Continent and to bestow the first name, Cape Ann. The land he discovered but was unable to approach closely, was Enderby Land.
The same firm was also responsible for the next great advance. So far, between 90°East and the 180th meridian, the Antarctic Circle had not been crossed, and except at one point, had not even been closely approached. In 1838, Balleny in the "Eliza Scott" of 1_54 tons accompanied by the tiny 54 ton cutter Sabrina under Freeman, set out to explore this area. To expeditions setting out for the Antarctic from Australia and New Zealand, the Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands were, in those days of small ships of distinct value. Not only could the seal skins and oil that might be taken there offset some of the expense of the expedition, but their water and wood could significantly prolong the voyage. Balleny's plan was to strike south from New Zealand, so Campbell Island was strategically placed as a last port of call, and we find him there in the middle of January 1839. Two journals or logs of the expedition are in the possession of the Royal Geographical Society and parts of them have been published by McNab. From these we learn that Campbell Island was sighted on 10 January and quitted on 17 January 1839. On the first day Freeman took a boat into the land to look for seals. He saw none but instead found four people who had been left on the island four years before and were now in "a wretched plight". Balleny at first referred to "four men" and later to "the people", and did not name the ship that left them there, but in the other journal, supposed to have been kept by the Chief Mate of the "Eliza Scott", it is stated that there were three men and one woman and that they had been left by the "New Zealander". The "New Zealander" had sailed into Sydney Harbour on 11th March 1835 after a "speculative trip of five months among the Eastern Islands".
The extent to which the seal population had diminished is shown by the fact that this party had only 170 skins to show after four years. From several excursions, Ballany•s men brought back one solitary hair-seal skin. The paucity of se.als would have been known to the sealers working from Australia and New Zealand and this explains why no vessel visited the island in four years. Balleny's attitude towards these unfortunates was very business like in spite of their "wretched plight." One may suppose that the prospect of four extra mouths to feed on such an expedition on such ships was not a welcome one. A formal agreement whose text is given in Balleny's journal, was drawn up. In return for their passage, the marooned gang was to sell to Messrs. Enderby their 170 seal skins at ten shillings each, less·the cost of food and clothing provided by Balleny. They were to receive no wages but were put on the 180th lay (share amount of the value of any cargo obtained) for the remainder of the voyage. Balleny remarks in his journal, "In doing this I have been guided by a wish to relieve the wretched and to attend to the interest of my employers at the same time, and I trust the transaction may be viewed in this light. As a matter of fact, if the gang had been relieved by their own ship, their share in the value of the skins would probably have been less, so it was a very fair deal. Unfortunately two of the party subsequently paid a much higher price - their lives. Two were taken aboard the "Eliza Scott" and two in the Sabrina which was later to be separated from the schooner in a storm and was never heard of again.
On the 16th January (1839), a strange boat was seen and found to be the Emma of Sydney, commanded by the same Captain Biscoe who voyage of 1831 has been mentioned. Balleny went on board the Emma and found that Biscoe was "in search of land as well as ourselves." There appears to be no record of this voyage of Biscoe's. He left Sydney on 8 December 1838, put in to Perseverance Harbour on 16 January 1839 for water, seals and shelter, and the only clues we have to his later movements are to be found in two items of shipping news, one in the Sydney Gazette on 14 May and the other in The Colonist on 15 May 1839. The formers reads: "The lady Emma was as far south as 75. She was at the Orkneys and started her upper works, having to get them fresh tru-nailed.” The Colonist’s entry was: "Arrived May 10 Lady Emma (Mr. Biscoe) from a voyage of discovery."
These paragraphs are somewhat unsatisfactory in two respects. First, both refer to the Lady Emma while all other references to Biscoe's vessel call it the Emma. Second, Campbell Island to the Orkneys, to 75° South in the Weddell Sea and then on to Sydney all inside four months was remarkably, but not impossibly, fast traveling. If Biscoe actually did reach 75° South, he had achieved a new "farthest south."
Balleny's enduring place in the annals of Antarctic exploration rests on his discovery of the Balleny Islands and his probable sight of the Sabrina coast. He returned to England in time to give Ross valuable information.
(Next installment is due with the ninth newsletter and will deal with "Scientific Expeditions From England And France.")
THOSE GREY WINGED WARRIORS
September 30th. 1969 ended a period in the history of the R.N.Z.A.F. On that day Strike Support Unit (S.S.U.) was disbanded and passed into the air force archives.
Members of island expeditions since early 1965 - notably Raoul Island but latterly Campbell Island too - will recall the periodic visits of the "Grey Winged Warrior" for one reason or another. Such as the day at Raoul when a Bl2 Canberra piloted by F/0 (Jug)Jackson delayed the release of the parcel of goodies somewhat. The resulting panic among the dairy herd was something to behold. As was reported by signal "The cows were a bit skint for milk for a couple of days."
S.S.U. was formed in April 1965 following the Government's decision to maintain the operational Canberra Squadron (No.l4)indefinitely in Singapore during the Indonesian confrontation. The main task of S.S.U. was to train Canberra crews to operational standard while carrying on the tasks normally fulfilled by No.l4 Squadron.
Equipped with Tl3 (Trainer) and Bl2 (Bomber) Canberra’s the unit performed many tasks other than crew training. Among their more notable achievements was the flight from Ohakea to Sydney and return to Wellington bringing with them film of man's first steps on the Moon enabling New Zealand to be one of the first countries in the world to see the event. The crew on that trip were old island air-drop hands, FL/LTS. Gavin Trethewy and Mike Hill. The time taken on the Sydney to Wellington leg of 2 hours 26 minutes is believed to be a record.
Another record which S.S.U. cleaned up was the much vaunted Bluff to North Cape run by a World War II Mustang. This stood at 1 hr. 30 mins. for many years until on July Jrd 1968 two Bl2's set respective times of 1 hr. 21 mins. 3 sec • and 1 hr. 21 mins. 17 secs completing the 877 miles run with an average ground speed of 650 m.p.h.
The new record should stand for some time as the tail Hind encountered and incidentally forecast by Met. man Alan Ryan at Ohakea statistically can be expected on only one day annually.
The short history of the unit has been crammed with unusual events and tasks. They have flown as search aircraft to H.M. Queen Mother during her tour in 1966. Their assistance as a low level search detail was requested at the time of the "Kaitawa" disaster near North Cape also in 1966. In 1967 following a request by the Director of the Met. Service a Canberra from the unit flew into the eye of cyclone "Dinah" sending back much valuable information. In the medical field the unit undertook in March 1966 to supply from Australia a rare blood group urgently required at Dunedin Hospital. This evoked considerable public interest and involved almost 12 hours flying time covering a route Ohakea – Christchurch – Melbourne – Dunedin - Ohakea. They have also taken part in Army and Navy co-operation exercises, flown formation fly-pasts for opening of Parliament and Battle of Britain parades, given highly professional handling and aerobatic displays at air pageants throughout New Zealand, and ferried crews and aircraft to and from Singapore.
Now this unit which in its short life has had its share of fame,is no more. The crews have been integrated into the operational Canberra Squadron which itself is to be phased out of service with the advent of the new A4 Skyhawks due in service in mid 1970.
Until that time there will no doubt be occasional visits to the islands by No.l4 Squadron bringing mail, magazines, and the odd can of good cheer but these too will come to an end and the time must come when a few island veterans will recall with nostalgia the sight of the R.N.Z.A.F. attacking the local cows with paper bombs.
T. R. HOLIDWAY
"'IWELVE CAME BACK"
by Peter Lancaster Brown, published by Hale, London, 1957. Illustrated.
A title of this nature indicates tragedy- and unfortunately this is the case in the well told account of ANARE’S 1952 expedition to Heard Island. P.L.Brown was one of two biologists in a team of fourteen sent from Australia for the year's tour of duty in a chartered Norwegian sealing vessel, small but fortunately sound. It is interesting to note that ANARE used an LST, the "Labuan", for the first four annual servicings of Heard, forcing it through the incredibly rough seas of the Furious Fifties - 6000 miles the round trip – until she finally broke down 300 miles from Australia in such a state as to be recommended for complete write-off on the following marine survey. The little sealer, "Tottan" of 130 feet filled the gap for the next few years, bouncing her occupants around her narrow confines, but always making her landfalls with reasonable accuracy.
Brown writes well, interesting the reader in every aspect of expedition life, that the tragic events of a later field party come as a sudden shock and not without a little horror - so well has he set the scene. This occurs halfway through the book, but within the following chapter which covers the work and lives of his sledge dogs (and is undoubtedly the high-light of the book), he has his story back on the hickories and holds the reader in harness to the final page.
All sub-Antarctic creatures resident on Heard Island get a mention. The seal elephant in particular is well covered and there are many interesting observations of the rarer leopard seal. The disgusting giant petrel wins significant space as the official garbage collector for the island. But possibly, the book's greatest value is for the reader who is contemplating a year at Fifty Four South. Author Brown hides a hundred hints, warning and points of advice into his writing, which virtually turns it into an expedition handbook. Perhaps Heard is a lot wilder climatically and ANARE’S facilities a little bare compared with Campbell's, but this first class account should not go unread or unheeded.
(Should members have difficulty in obtaining this book from public libraries, it is available from the National Library Service by normal procedures.)
NEWS FROM RAOUL ISLAND
Activities on Raoul have been considerable, keeping all staff busy. The major works programme projects have been completed and the place looks like a Met. Station with the anemometer now installed. The biggest project was the erection of an implement shed measuring 75'x 20'in area. It is really fulfilling its purpose for storing implements and vehicles and farm supplies. The chosen site behind. the village buildings has proved ideal. Some building damage has occurred due to the weather but except for the past five weeks good weather has prevailed. Only three fairly severe earthquakes have been felt which tends to augur well for the future.
We have been lucky in regards to visitors in the past month with two yachts calling in, namely the "Sundowner" from Australia en route to San Francisco with a crew of 9 including 2 females, and the "Nessie II" from New Zealand to the Pacific Islands for a six month cruise, with a crew of 3.
Aircraft have numbered 4 with either mail and newspaper drops or stores.
The "Burton Island" called early December taking back to New Zealand Dick Lovegrove, and the "Moana Roa" called late January bringing Noel ·Bennington, the Party's Maintenance Officer.
Sporting achievements have been for this year outstanding with John Hunt the top fisherman so far, with a 76 lb. groper and Ewan Thorn shooting 106 goats out of 272 in the first six months.
The latest craze is building surf skis and canoes for the lake. The swimming tank has been put to good use with the water having been changed three times and laced with copper-sulphate.
Noel has planted some young orange trees and passion fruit alongside the Boat Cove Rest Hut.
Incidentally this years plaque for the Association will be a shield with a good pair of goat horns about 33-34 inches across, mounted with photos of the years party incorporated.
Until the next newsletter that's it.
NEWS FROM CAMPBELL ISLAND
"Diamonds are a girls best friend" runs the familiar line, but here on Campbell Island the attractions in this sphere are more appropriate for the male gender. Rock hunting is definitely the "in thing" as far as our wild Aussie mechanic is concerned, and although the Kimberly Fields in South Africa are in no danger of being priced off the market by a diamond strike here, hopes of at least soma mediocre Zircon or other semi-precious stones run high with a Heath Robinson type tumble polisher constructed it is felt that the programme of the Station will soon coma to a standstill if there are any more adherences to the new craze. Fortunately nothing of value has been found to data.
Best laugh so far this year was a telegram from the G.P.O., requesting the numbers of learner motor-cycle labels held here. It took courage of the highest order not to reply with the obvious.
Since the last bulletin, action has bean the watchword and work in copious quantities has been completed. A further 140 feet of new walkways constructed, and two of the large aerial masts were lowered (dropped)for painting and new stays and halyards fitted. The C4 aerial also was lowered for replacing and only those who have served sentence under the shadow of that great red thing at the top of the hill will appreciate the 6 ½ ours of peace that we received from its blip-bleep-burp which effectively block out all conversation, radio transmission etc.for 20 seconds on each ¼ hour. Phil Owens, our Ionosphere Observer, suggested a 5 minute programme to make up for lost time - it was only his fleetness of foot that prevented a lynching ! All fuel stocks were shifted to the dump near the power house and we took advantage of a few fine days in April to get cracking on the painting of the wharf buildings. The helicopter pad was dismantled and has been replaced by a far bigger one to enable the large type helicopters now used by the United States Coast Guard in the Antarctic to be used in safety.
Weather has been about normal, the exception being 90 knots plus of wind on the 11 April which took the pen right off the charts and for good measure, put a 45 degree lean on the Askania Hut; four days of snow at the end of May and the remainder of the time wet and bleak.
Wild life work too has bean prominent in our activities and the enthusiasts work at it regardless of the weather and conditions. 2,000 Mollymawk Chicks have bean handed and about 300 Royal Albatrosses. It is hoped to have a blitz (banding wise) on the remaining Royal Chicks and a comprehensive programme to cover the rest of the Island has been arranged. The Sorenson Hut has really proved a boon, especially for work in the Mbllymawk colonies and the addition of toilet facilities brings its grading up to 3 star plus (with reservations). Whales in increasing numbers have been sighted in the western bays and at least one tramping party has complained about being kept awake by their snortings etc. The Wild Life Ranger has noted that the snorting capabilities of this particular party are well known and although not completely discrediting the report, suspects that it should be taken with a grain of salt (or two). Saddest note of the year was to hear on the 21 April that the fishing vessel “Tua Tea” was lost after a fire off the Coast of Otago. Although Captain Rae and his crew were all saved, the regret by the whole party at the loss of this fine vessel vas keenly felt and indeed many of the happiest memories of the Island, that we will take away, will be those of the “Tua Tea’s” February visit, and the comradeship that existed between our two crews.
Socially, the situation has been quiet. Regular film evenings each Saturday are well attended and under the social heading must come the releasing of the water rationing on the 30 March after 10 days of meager supplies. It was great to get together again smelling like 9 out of 10 (Peggy was the exception) Hollywood Stars. Regular weekly skeds with Macquarrie Island have become the main feature and we look forward to our liaison with John Bennett and his merry men. Results of the Inter-Island chess matches however are not for publication. A terrific evening on the 17th April to mark the passing of the half way mark and naturally the compliments to our Chef Bryan George, who can tell the number of wives in the future whose near failures in the culinary field will be greeted by "It's not like Bryan used to make". On the 15 May an Orion of the R.N.Z.A.F. made several passes over the Island and dropped a packet of newspapers which unfortunately took the Deep 6 in Perseverance Harbour and were not recovered. At the time of writing, all hands are looking forward to an air drop of mail, fresh supplies and some urgently required parts for the generators. Until then, (and we hope it will be soon), we will continue our vigil in the southern Ocean and be grateful to being a part of an International team sharing our work and our pleasures in an aura of co-operation.
PETER JULIUS (O.I.C.)
Congratulations to Dave Paull (Campbell Island), on the recent announcement of his engagement to Linda Haakon (Norway). Rumour has it the wedding will be in Quito.
Relda Familton, a fairly well known T.V. and radio personality, is reported to be having difficulty in getting husky males to partake in a "Mid-Winter Dip in Wellington's Oriental Bay, in answer to the challenge issued by Peter Julius.
Dr. C. Janet Brown, "Radio Doctor to the Islands", left Ministry of Transport after completing seven years in the position, to take on a new post at Wellington Hospital. She returned recently after a six weeks trip to Britain, Europe, and North America. It is hoped that the next Newsletter may contain an article on ''Dr. Janet's Memoirs."
Annual Reunion and A.G.M. Scheduled for Saturday October 3rd this year. Now is the time to start putting that dollar a week to one side in readiness.
Our best wishes to Roy Swain, (O.I.C. Raoul), and Peter Julius, (O.I.C. Campbell) together with their respective teams, for the remainder of the Expedition Year.
There may be as many as five returnees in the 1970/71 Raoul team.
Guess Fred Buitenkamp, (ex Mechanic Raoul 1965,1969), now on the Chathams, would be pleased to see any "islanders" who venture out to the land of the westerlies.
Editor: Ed de Ste Croix G.P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON.