A Postal History Gallery of Related Events



Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition

(Courtesy of George Hall)

(Courtesy of Scott Smith)

Since 1939, the only privately organized expedition from the United States has been the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Ronne's expedition was quite small when compared to scientific expeditions of today. However, significant accomplishments were made during the expedition. A number of governmental agencies, including the Army, Navy and Air Force helped in making the expedition possible, particularly by providing equipment. Individuals from other government agencies provided advice and assistance as well.

The Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition left the United States in January 1947 in the PORT OF BEAUMONT and arrived in Graham Land in March. Mail was dispatched at Magallanes, Chile during the trip south. A post office was not established although some souvenir covers were created. The base camp (Oleona) was only 200 yards from a Falkland Island Dependency Survey station. Evacuation took place in March 1948. (See below).




Operation Windmill

The Two Ships of Windmill

The USS EDISTO entered the Davis Sea on December 27, 1947 to set ground controls for flights by Highjump planes and provided support to the Ronne Expedition. Mail was handled in the shipboard post office.

Two examples of wording were used in the killer bars of the canceler: SOUTH POLE 1947-48 (incorrectly) was used through the end of 1947 and beginning January 1, 1948, LITTLE AMERICA 1947-48.

Upon arrival at the Bay of Whales on January 31, 1948, then only 100 yards wide, the ships moored against the bay ice and parties went ashore. The Weasels were hoisted out and for the next five days, Captain Boyd, USMC and Ensign Mallory directed studies of the structures and equipment left at the former bases, Little America III (1940) and IV (1947). The USS BURTON ISLAND called all parties back to the ship on February 5.

(Covers courtesy of Gary Pierson)


Rescue of the Ronne Expedition

The expedition's Main Base was set up on Stonington Island, Marguerite Bay, in the buildings used as East Base during Byrd's 3rd Antarctic expedition, the UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC SERVICE EXPEDITION 1939-41. This vicinity was also home to the Falkland Islands Dependencies "Base E" campsite, under the command of Major K. S. Pierce-Butler. A very good relationship was established between the men and as a consequence, some scientific work was shared between the groups. In January 1948, preliminary preparations were made to bring the expedition to an end.

(Courtesy of Gary Pierson)


Brategg Expedition

Shipboard-struck postal item from the Norwegian vessel BRATEGG on a whaling organization cruise to Antarctica in 1947-48, during which an early landing was made on Peter I Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. The cover was postally documented with a rarely seen specially made on-board strike (March 10 1948), along with the ship's straight line cachet on participating organization stationery (that misspelled the ship's name).



Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition

A.N.A.R.E. established a base on Heard and Macquarie Islands in 1947 to conduct biological and geological research on a year-round basis. The islands were transferred to the Commonwealth Government and Australia established territorial control. Expedition ships handled the mail from 1947-55 when the program closed. Mail was carried free within the empire.



French National Antarctic Expedition


Example of non-subscription mail from the first Paul-Emile Victor (French) Antarctic Expedition aboard COMMANDANT CHARCOT, canceled at the officially authorized French Southern and Antarctic Territories post office of "Terre Adelie" on both attempts (1949 and 1950), with expedition straight-line and pictorial cachets, plus a vignette that was carried for affixing to mail, but was not affixed to it until after the expedition returned with its serviced mail.

(Courtesy of Herb & Janice Harvis)

The French National Antarctic Expedition of 1948-50 made the first serious attempt to winter at Adelie Land. They failed to find a passage through the pack ice in 1948. Covers franked with an overprinted Madagascar stamp were canceled as they entered the pack ice in 1948 and then held over for the second year with both year cancels. Outgoing mail was passed through the Australian post office.

(Courtesy of George Hall)