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 I first learned about Victor Campbell and Scott’s Northern Party while visiting a friend in Kingston, Canada.  Sitting outside in the sun early one evening, Ted, knowing I had been to the Antarctic, mentioned Campbell.  At the time I knew nothing of the man or his Antarctic adventures.  Ted talked about the party’s exploits and survival; how Campbell later, in 1923, had moved to Black Duck, Newfoundland, and lived there until he died in Corner Brook 1956; about the Campbell Collection held in the Memorial University of Newfoundland and his involvement.

 I think back to Ted’s concern about how little was generally known of Campbell or his Northern Party.  A story was lost, overshadowed by Scott’s tragedy   and the onset of the First World War. 

 At the time, I seemed to remember that while in Antarctica in 1963, one of our field parties found the remains of an early expedition.  This started me thinking.  Back home in New Zealand I pulled Quartermain’s New Zealand and the Antarctic [1] off the shelf and there on page 189 was the answer.  A field party led by an R. W. Hewson ‘... circumnavigated the island on 26 January (1963) discovered the entrance to the famous "igloo", a seal skin roof supported by a ski pole and bamboo marker flag protruding from the snow drift’.  Here 50 years later this field party had found the cave site, the first to see it and understand its significance since the Terra Nova finally left the Ross Sea in 1913.

My interest also stems from my two winters spent at Scott Base just two miles from Hut Point.  It was here after that winter in the snow cave and their sledge trip home that the Northern Party first made contact with Scott’s Main base.  Two years in the Antarctic made me understand the conditions.  Although I must admit, my sledging experience is as load in a few early spring training runs for the dogs.  Sitting on a dog sledge in September is exhilarating but not necessarily my most enjoyable experience.

I wanted to know more, but at the time little had been written about Campbell or the Northern Party.  Since then I have seen and collected many Antarctic books.  I have found many references in other books and spent time in various archives looking at the diaries and associated material.

As far as I know, there have been four books devoted to the subject.  Priestley, the geologist with the Northern Party, wrote the first book at the time.  Recently, the diaries of Campbell were published, then a book based largely on Levick, the naval doctor’s diaries.  Finally, a more recent a book based on many diaries, letters, and reports presenting a well-balanced story of the party and the concurrent events.

I am fascinated by their story and will be continuing my research.  However, with the information I have gathered it seems to me reasonable to embark on some form ‘publication’.  A Blog or perhaps an Internet Site where others interested may also enjoy and comment on the story of Campbell, Levick, Priestley, Abbott, Browning, and Dickason.

Don Webster.

[1] L B Quartermain, New Zealand and the Antarctic, First. (Government Printer Wellington New Zealand, 1971).

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