Four Rescued from Antarctic Ice

Newspaper Cutting - Dec 1972

Huddersfield Examiner newspaper cutting – Dec 1972

The contents of this post resulted from an extremely unusual source and a  quirky chain of events. I was sent a small newspaper cutting from the Huddersfield Examiner dated 2nd December 1972 by my daughter’s boyfriend relating to his mother and fathers engagement that year. Nothing out the ordinary in that but on the reverse was the following headline – “Four Rescued from Antarctic Ice” and that a RAF Hercules was the aircraft that spotted them, leading to the eventual happy outcome.

This started the old grey cells working and after some nifty Google forensic searches, a link was tracked down to an archive copy of a news bulletin produced quarterly by the New Zealand Antarctic Society, entitled “Antarctic” dated December 1972. GOLD had been struck. In fact it turned out that Gold had in fact been struck twice as you will see.

The meat of the story is shown below but a link is included for you to read the whole of the article with map for reference and indeed the entire bulletin. [P264-266]


Men Drift for Five Days on Ice Floes in McMurdo Sound

 For five days four men—an American, two New Zealanders, and an Englishman—drifted helplessly on ice floes in McMurdo Sound when their trimaran was swept into pack ice and had to be abandoned. Starving, frostbitten, and near total exhaustion, the men from the University of Canterbury marine biology unit at Cape Bird, were picked up from a small ice floe by a United States Navy helicopter on the afternoon of December 2 after an aerial search by British and American aircraft for nearly 30 hours.

 On the evening of November 27 the four men launched the trimaran for the first trip of the season. Their last radio communication with Scott Base was on November 25. They were not known to be missing until December 1 when a helicopter made a cargo flight to Cape Bird. The huts were deserted, the trimaran was missing, and the last entry on the temperature recording graph was dated November 26.

 Major P. G. Frazer, leader at Scott Base, who saw the men on November 23 when he flew by helicopter to collect the party’s voting papers for the New Zealand General Election, immediately approached Captain A. N. Fowler, the United States Navy support force commander, who ordered a search to be made. Hercules aircraft from the Royal Air Force and the United States Navy, helicopters, and a Military Airlift Command Starlifter took part in the mission.

Ross Island

Ross Island


Nearly 24 hours after the search began the missing men were spotted by a trained ice observer, Chief Aerographer’s Mate A. C. Boeger, who was returning to Christchurch aboard an R.A.F. Hercules piloted by Squadron Leader P. Forrester. Their small ice floe was then three miles west of Cape Royds. Their remarkable journey had taken them westward from Cape Bird, south through Wohlschlag Bay, along the Ross Island coast, and then westward again.

A United States Navy VXE6 Squadron helicopter piloted by Lieutenant A. Costlow and Lieutenant (j-g) J. McComas, landed on the ice floe, picked up the men, and flew them to McMurdo Station where they were taken to the hospital for treatment and rest. In addition to the effects of hunger and exhaustion, they were suffering from minor frostbite and snow blindness.

with thanks to:-

This is not necessarily a XXIV story, but it is a Hercules saga, although the captain’s name, Pete Forrester does ring a bell. If you have any background details to add to this story, do “add a comment” to the post.

The thought did occur as to why the Hercules was in that neck of the globe in the first place. Its not as if it was a VC10 a bit of course! The answer was luckily enough a few pages further on in the bulletin. [P269]



Two Royal Air Force Hercules air craft took part in the summer Antarctic airlift with Military Airlift Command Starlifters and Hercules aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The R.N.Z.A.F. completed ten return flights between Christchurch at the beginning of this month; the R.A.F. detachment made 20 flights, the last on December 15.

 Arrangements for British co-operation were made with the Royal Air Force by the United States National Science Foundation. The R.A.F. crews flew home in time for Christmas with something new to talk about in the mess. On December 8 one Hercules flew to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, there to fly round the world three times in 12 minutes.

 Squadron Leader C. M. Quaife arranged a training mission to the South Pole for sentimental reasons. The air craft followed Scott’s route to the Pole up the Beardmore Glacier. A Royal Air Force officer attached to the United States Navy’s VXE6 Squadron flew to the South Pole as a navigator in the 1961-62 season, and on January 6, 1958, Squadron Leader John Lewis flew a single-engined de Havilland Otter from South Ice over the Pole to Scott Base after Sir Vivian Fuchs and his party had left on the second stage of their crossing of the continent. But the flight on December 8 was the first by an R.A.F. Hercules and its crew.

Once again, any additional details would be of interest to our followers.



2 Responses to “Four Rescued from Antarctic Ice”

  1. cento100 Says:

    I was on 24 Sqn at that time and I believe Roger Pain (Spelling?) was the Co-pilot on that detachment. If Roger is an active supporter of The Association he may be able to comment further. Regards, Al Stuart


    • the24assocbloger Says:

      Dear Al,
      I have notified Rog Payne but he is away at the moment but hopefully he will get in touch when he returns.
      I think I was on 24 sqn at the same time as you in the co-pilots with Al Lockwood and Dave Carpenter.
      sam wright

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