A Philatelic Introduction to B.A.E. III: The Postal History
United States Antarctic Service Expedition 1939-41
Lynch, Jr., ASPP
PART II: USS BEAR
The Second Trip
Killer Bars Cancellation Types the Second Trip
(For completeness, displayed below is an Annapolis, MD cancellation from October 12....the day before departing for the Antarctic)
The USS BEAR also used parcel post and registration cancels . . . the PAQUEBOT marking was found on covers bearing SUVA / FIJI IS. in the killer bars . . .
The international situation had deteriorated to the point where it was considered advisable to evacuate the two bases rather than relieve the personnel with new men for another season at the two bases. The USS BEAR sailed from Philadelphia on October 13, 1940 and the USS NORTH STAR departed from Seattle on December 11. The USS BEAR stopped at Dunedin, New Zealand and arrived at West Base on January 11, 1941. The USS NORTH STAR arrived on January 24 at the Bay of Whales. West Base was evacuated and the two ships sailed from Little America on February 1, 1941. From the vicinity of Scott Island, the two ships sailed eastward toward Marguerite Bay. By February 24, both ships were stopped by heavy pack ice off Adelaide Island, just to the northwest of East Base. To save fuel the ships headed north where they rendezvoused and anchored in Andersen Harbor, in the Melchior Islands, in Dallmann Bay. The USS BEAR made a cruise in late February and again in mid-March to observe ice conditions in the vicinity of East Base. Each time they were turned back by heavy pack ice, making it impossible to enter Marguerite Bay. Rotten as the ice was, the prevailing winds came from the north which kept the ice jammed in the bay. But the season was becoming late, with new snow falling and fresh ice forming over pools of water in the bay. The USS NORTH STAR was ordered on March 15 to sail for Punta Arenas, Chile, where most of the men from West Base were to be dropped off and food and fuel loaded aboard for another season on the ice in case the men at East Base became impossible to evacuate.
Meanwhile, the USS BEAR put a party ashore on March 16 at Mikkelson Island, a low, snow-covered island in the Biscoe Islands. The shore party laid out a landing strip and arrangements were made by radio that evacuation would begin by airlift as soon as the weather improved. The first flight took off from the high field at East Base at 5:30 a.m. on March 22, 1941. In addition to Snow and Perce, 12 other men were aboard. A second flight was necessary and the remaining 12 men were flown out shortly after noon.
The cover illustrated below is truly a gem, but does not involve the Barkley-Grow seaplane. Rather, it was "carried on all flights made from East Base USAS, including emergency evacuation flights March 22, 1941." This would pertain to the twin-motor Curtiss-Wright Condor biplane aircraft which was at East Base . . .
plane was abandoned on Watson Island and the USS BEAR immediately
sailed for Punta Arenas, Chile, arriving on March 29. The USS NORTH
STAR arrived in Boston on May 5 and the U.S.S. Bear on
May 18, 1941.
Examples of additional covers and cachet types will be explored in the next section.
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