Q: When did you first learn about advance base and what did you think the
original plan was for it?|
JH: Well, I first heard about it on the ship in the Admiral's cabin boy role.
But it was simply talked about as an advance base to do weather research and
observe the heavens and the aurora and so on. And was always at that point
thought of as a three man base, as far as I know. You've got to remember I was
low man on the totem pole, and only heard the, had no specific conversations
about it, other than that we had to get that done.
Q: Why do you think Byrd decided to go alone?
JH: Well, I think that Byrd decided to go alone simply because of the
necessity to do so. I talked about the dangers of Little America floating out
and we had to establish a relief supply base, and that just kept cutting down
on the time that we had to establish advance base. It had to be done before
the winter night set in. So it just became apparent I believe, that it was
impossible to transport enough supplies and enough distance that we had to
transport it. Remember it was originally planned to go down at the, clear down
to the Queen Maud range. And as it was we had to abandon that plan and
establish it a little over a 100 miles due, right down the Meridian from Little
Q: Were you surprised by his decision to go alone? Do you think it was
responsible for him to go alone, or do you think he was the best candidate for
this type of mission to go alone?
JH: I don't remember a great deal of discussion in my conversations about
whether it was a good idea or not. Those decisions were made at the executive
group level, the Novell, the June's, the Poulter's, the Murphy's and so on made
those decisions. And the Admiral always made the final one. I am sure, but I
don't remember it much, I'm sure there must have been some discussion about
whether he should go alone or not. Because they had had that discussion in the
executive committee where the decisions were being made. But it was not a
Q: Do you think he was well prepared? What kind of skills did he have as a
radio man for instance? Do you think he was well prepared to spend six months
alone in the winter nights down in the cabin?
JH: I think that the skills of most importance to undertake that task he was
very well skilled. As far as you ask about his radio ability, he took a cram
course just a short time before going down there, and learned to use the, the
key, and things like that. He was no expert radioman by a long shot. But I
think he was better equipped than any other man in camp, by far. Particularly
I think he was psychologically equipped to assume the challenge and do the
Q: Take us back to the moment where the tractor's leaving him alone at
advance base. What are you thinking? Are you worried about him?
JH: Worry is not in the vocabulary much in those circumstances, simply because
a job has to be done and, and all the preparation work possible had been done
to make it a safe venture. And the risk was, kind of went with the territory.
Yes, we were concerned. But and the ultimate faith we just knew that it would
Q: Can you describe Byrd's cabin? What was it like.
JH: The advance base was a cubicle. I've forgotten the dimensions. It was
about 10 x 12 x 7 or 8 or something like that. Entered the entrance from a
hatch door up through the surface. The house was put down in it, sunk down in
a pit about four feet deep. Foundation was made of cross-ties. The house was
erected in sections that had been built state side for ease of assembly under
our cold harsh conditions. Able to assemble the house after we got started in
about a day and a half, something like that as I recall. Well insulated of
course. Had a small cooking stove, heating stove. Had generators for
electric power supply.
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