Antarctic Sledge Dog Memorial Fund

Hwfa Jones


How to donate

From a recent article in the Telegraph saluting Wally Herbert as the first to the North Pole it is evident that the public has almost completely forgotten that the true 'first to the Poles' were not those now listed in the history books but the sledge dogs that dragged the loads and our heroes to glory. To the South, neither Amundsen nor Scott (who used dogs to lay so many of his depots) would have reached the South Pole without them. [See also letter to the Daily Telegraph - ed.]

In the early days these magnificent animals were often treated abominably. They were beaten, starved, slaughtered and even eaten. As late as 1973 hundreds of dogs were ordered to be shot in Antarctica for 'environmental reasons' by tearful dog drivers. Coincidentally the new world of exploration by aircraft and snowmobiles was being embraced at that time.

British sledge drivers treated their dogs well and had a great affection for them tinged with some guilt.

At the recent 'Z Fids' Reunion I was touched by the stories so many Fids told me of their experiences with their dogs and many had felt guilty of being harsh with them, perhaps not relating this to the great stress they were under in sometimes 'life threatening' situations. Certainly there was to my knowledge never a case of any Fid refusing to travel and yet the danger of crevasses / sea ice/ blizzards / exposure was very real and in many cases initially an absolute shock to many young men who had never seen even a glacier before. Others were adamant that the mass shootings in 1973 (over 100 dogs and pups) at Stonington (and sometimes even to dogs in the field by their drivers at the end of long field trips) was a disgrace that had long been 'kept quiet'

Virtually all of British Antarctic Territory was surveyed and mapped by scientists working as teams with dogs which are now banned from the continent forever.

The Antarctic Sledge Dog Memorial Fund has been set up by men of the British Antarctic Survey (The Fids) to mark the outstanding contribution of our polar dogs to exploration. More than 100 people have contributed so far. From comments at the recent reunion the most popular option is likely to be a Bronze statue, of a typical strong shouldered 'British Husky'. The cost from one sculptor at Lakeland Creations is estimated at 3,500 to 5,000. We should perhaps have a target of 6000 and there could even be a competition for the design.

General

  • There should just be one single memorial to all the British Dogs
  • Drawings / model should be approved as suitable before manufacture by a representative group of Fids.
  • We should aim to get this done and the memorial placed within 2 years

Funding

  • Graham Wright (BAS 1969 - 74) has opened a bank account in the name of 'The Antarctic Sledge Dog Memorial Fund'
  • The account has been opened with more than 500 from sales of "The Doggy Men" The book is a contribution to starting a Memorial fund. I printed 1000 and all the sales money goes to the memorial till (together with any donations) we get enough to go ahead. After that (If there are any books left) it'll be on sale for me to recover the printing costs.
  • The BAS Club may well be able to assist; (Thanks Richard) perhaps with a donation to the Fund, suggestions for the memorial to publicize the appeal for Funds and to advertise the Book?
  • The Website 'Z Fids' will help with publicity. (Thanks Andy)

Type of memorial

  • Bronze Dog with inscription (All the dog teams?)
  • Bronze Plaque - (All the dogs and teams listed?)

Location

  • Chris Rapley was very supportive (Thanks Chris) and suggested the possibility of having the memorial at Halley (being the Base furthest South. On a sledge I guess) with a web camera trained on it so everyone could see it worldwide? perhaps on a quiet high headland looking north to the land their drivers returned to (and from which they were forever excluded)
  • The Falkland Islands as the departure point South was another suggestion?
  • Somewhere outside SPRI. (Memorial Garden?)
  • Port Lockroy where much of the sledging started from in the early days and accessible to almost everyone who visits Antarctica. Actually a great tourist attraction and most Fids going South would be likely to drop in at Port Lockroy at some time and be able to see the memorial.

Getting it there.

I guess it would be nice to have the dog (if it is a dog) on display in the UK then see it sail down, visiting the bases before being set at the chosen location by Fids down there. Chris has got the ships! I guess this would result in quite a lot of publicity so all the Fids would get to hear about it.

This memorial is important to so many individual 'Fids'. As a country it's about time we joined so many other nations in Antarctica in remembering the contribution of our sledge dogs.

October 2006

THE ANTARCTIC SLEDGE DOG MEMORIAL FUND
HOW TO DONATE

ANY DONATIONS TO THE FUND CAN BE MADE TO:-

Graham Wright, Treasurer
Antarctic Sledge Dog Memorial Fund
39 Bryn Meadows.
Newtown Powys SY16 2DS
Tel: 01686 624077 (wk. 01686611206)
Email:
gwright@mid-wales.net

ALSO:-
The Doggy Men was written to help contribute some initial funding for the memorial and can be bought for 5 (minimum) from the treasurer of the Dog Memorial Fund (above).

Postage 1 per book or the actual postage cost if you require more than 1 copy - email Graham or estimate this and send enough to cover postage.

Cheques should be to "The Sledge Dog Memorial Fund". Please include your postal address and name so donors to the fund can be listed.

For any additional information on the fund please continue to look at the pages on 'Z Fids' or contact:-

Hwfa Jones
47 Penkett Road.
Wallasey, Merseyside CH45 7QG
Tel: 0151 201 0249
Email: hwfa.jones@googlemail.com

Paypal payments (easier for overseas Fids) for the book or donations should be sent to hwfa.jones@googlemail.com


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