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Sir Hubert began his personal correspondence with "Hello Hello".

Hello Hello #9: Wilkins and Gallipoli, new projects, literature, diary transcriptions and more!

This newsletter details our research adventures into the extraordinary life of Sir George Hubert Wilkins (1888–1958), while also reproducing his own thoughts about his next great adventure.

From the retiring Chair:
Stephen Scammell

Dear Friends,

Two years from the launch of the Wilkins Foundation it’s time for the first-stage fuel tanks to fall away, taking me with them as inaugural chairman. Through the sterling efforts of our Patron Dr Richard ‘Harry’ Harris SC OAM and our dedicated board members, domain managers, other volunteers, sponsors and associates whom I thank for their hard work and friendship, I am pleased to report that the Foundation’s trajectory is set for the next part of its journey.

We are ‘Bringing Wilkins Home’. Our symbiotic relationship with the world’s #1 repository of Wilkinsonia, the Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center, has gone from strength to strength. Sir Hubert’s hitherto unpublished private diaries, digitised by the OSU team led by Byrd Polar Archives Curator Laura Kissel and transcribed by the Foundation, reveal new historical details along with a degree of humanity in the Great Man unsuspected, by me at least. 

We’re excited that Peter FitzSimons AM, the multi-talented Australian author, TV presenter and journalist (not to mention a hard man of international Rugby Union back in the day!) has chosen Wilkins as the subject of his next book. The Foundation is delighted to give Peter access to our resources and we look forward to advising you when the book is released for sale.

To the Foundation’s objectives, in close collaboration with the proponents of the visionary Dock 2 Project at Port Adelaide, we aim to create a lasting, inspiring memorial to Wilkins in the form of a Wilkins Centre to be located alongside the restoration of the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide www.cityofadelaide.org.au 

We will continue to encourage the interlocking of science and philosophy in fields precious to Wilkins and to develop programs for youth to give effect to our Patron’s exhortation ‘Unlock Your Inner Explorer!’ 

My thanks to you all for coming with us on this journey, and I hope you will continue to support the Foundation morally, in sweat or in kind to enable us to fulfil our objectives.

Stephen

From the new Chair:
Robin Turner

My interest in Sir Hubert arose some years ago by chance in the Burnside Library where Simon Nasht was giving an address. Since then I’ve read Simon’s biography of Wilkins three times, as well as absorbing whatever else can be found! In my considered opinion, Wilkins is not just the “Last Explorer” but the greatest. That view is held because of the astonishing breadth and diversity of Wilkins’s discoveries and achievements – it seems impossible that one person could do so much. Yet there it all is, and well chronicled too! It peeves me greatly that this superhuman South Australian is largely unknown in his native country.

My ancestors Hannah Holbrook and Thomas Newman Turner arrived in the colony in 1838-39. To say I am fiercely proud of my South Australian heritage is no overstatement. I am 72, effectively retired from business except in an oversight role, have been happily married for almost fifty years, have two sons and five grandchildren.

In terms of my contribution in a board position, my academic training is as a property valuer, which led me to the presidency of the Real Estate Institute of which I was also chair for a record four years as well as serving 12 years on the board. As a Vietnam veteran and RSL member, I was recruited to serve on the Poppy Day Trust board. That body melded into RSL Care  (War Veterans’ Home) which endured a very public, hostile attempted takeover by RSL head office. 

Wilkins fascinates me: I’d like to do more to have this remarkable man better known, understood and appreciated. He should be an aspirational role model! It can be done.

As the new Chair of the Wilkins Foundation I am well aware of its not-for-profit volunteer status, and as a businessman I know that we have certain costs and that things don’t magically happen without funding. Accordingly, in the year ahead we will be seeking corporate donations in pursuit of our objectives. In addition I’d respectfully request members and friends of the Foundation to consider making a modest donation to enable us to keep the pot boiling on the publication of important new information and to support other necessary tasks beyond the resources of our dedicated volunteers. We are not a tax-deductible entity at this stage but are working towards it with all speed. Our details for bank transfers are:

The Wilkins Foundation  
BSB 105131 
Account 073110140 

Any amount would be appreciated. 

Wilkins and Gallipoli
As we know, Wilkins became somewhat of a legend on the Western Front. Jeff Maynard's The Unseen Anzac tells us so much about Wilkins the photographer and war hero. A lesser known expedition of Wilkins was his time with 'Charley' Bean (as Wilkins called him) in 1919 when they went to Gallipoli. CEW Bean (as he is formally known) had picked a team to collect, photograph, paint and record what was left on the battlefields. 

The book Bean has written about this expedition, Gallipoli Mission, tells quite a bit about Wilkins and George Lambert the artist. For instance in Chapter II, 'The Australian Historical Mission', Bean shares a remarkable description of Wilkins. You can see this chapter herePerhaps download the PDF for an Anzac Day read.
Captain George H Wilkins in 1917.
 
Gallipoli Revisited, by Janda Gooding, is a wonderfully produced book about this expedition, with a chapter on Wilkins. Read more about this book here.
Unlock Your Inner Explorer TM

From our Patron:
Dr Richard 'Harry' Harris

It is extraordinary to me how resilient the human race is. How quickly we adapt to adversity and get on with life. I imagine during the horrors of the World Wars the residents of Australia quietly accepted the hardships of rationing and loss, and simply made the best of things. Those wars dragged on for many years. Here we are just 15 months since we heard of the virus that was to dominate our existence. In that short time, we have normalised the need for QR codes, empty seats, hand sanitiser and a passable knowledge of epidemiology. PCR and mRNA are terms familiar to many, and we marvel at the scientists who are producing complex vaccines in very short time frames in order to get the world back on track.

Wilkins knew that knowledge was power: that careful data collection and observation was the key to unravelling the mysteries of the natural world. In particular, he rightly foresaw that the ability to predict the weather could improve crops, warn of disaster and even save lives. One never knows what the simple act of observation might lead to. And we can all play a role as 'citizen scientists' in our local environment or personal pursuits. I previously wrote about the exploration of Castleguard Cave that I was involved in last year in Canada. The infamous 'ice crawls' in the early part of the cave (see video link) are being studied by local cavers, with permanent camera installations. Recent trips have seen more and more ice choking the entrance to the cave. The resulting data are being used for ongoing climate studies by scientists, but the information is being provided by enthusiasts who simply have a passion for their local environment.

So next time you see an unusual bird in your back yard, a weird looking cloud formation or something else you think is out of place; take a photo and send it to an expert. Who knows, you might just be part of the next great discovery! 

Curiosity, exploration, adventure…all important parts of the human condition which Wilkins exemplified and which need to be fostered and encouraged.

 

Stay safe, best wishes, and 'unlock your inner explorer'.
Harry
Dr Richard Harris SC OAM

Castleguard Cave ice crawls.
Wilkins in Literature

Peter FitzSimons and The Incredible Wilkins

Peter FitzSimons, Australia's most widely read non-fiction writer, is in the process of writing The Incredible Wilkins – which is likely to be 2021's best selling Christmas gift blockbuster. Have a read of something Peter wrote about Wilkins for Hello Hello!

Hubert Wilkins | Explorer War Photographer Australian Hero

Sir Hubert Wilkins is one of the most remarkable Australians who ever lived, and certainly lived the most extraordinary life. Though largely forgotten in his native land, the South Australian was everything from a film producer, to a polar explorer, to a brilliant war photographer, to a spy in the Soviet Union, to a pioneering aviator-navigator, to a death-defying submariner, all while being an explorer of the planet and chronicler of its life forms that would do Vasco da Gama and Sir David Attenborough proud.

Along the way, he was nothing less than the Forrest Gump of history, with the uncanny knack of being Hubert-on-the-spot for extraordinary moments with some of the greats of history.

As a child, one of his first memories was meeting Mark Twain, while one of his fellow correspondents in the Balkan War in 1912 was none other Leon Trotsky. Wilkins survived a Turkish firing squad – three times – and when the Red Baron was shot down by Australian forces in early 1918, Wilkins was there. At the iconic Battle of Villers-Bretonneux a few days later, Wilkins was the only Australian correspondent on site, just as he was with the Battle of Hamel a couple of months later. Time and again, he would put his camera down to save Diggers, and even once to lead them when their commander was shot. No less than Sir John Monash called him ‘the bravest man in my command,’ and he was so fearless and forward – awarded a Military Cross for his bravery under fire – he was wounded nearly a dozen times.

After the war, he was on the spot in South Georgia when the great Sir Ernest Shackleton died. Two years later, just before Lenin died, Wilkins was the last man to interview him. The Southern Cross that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith flew to fame across the Pacific? Wilkins was the one who sold it to him, after having used the same plane for some of his polar explorations, just before he became the first man, with his co-pilot, to successfully fly a plane from Alaska, over the roof of the world and land in Norway!

Inspired, he then attempted to do much the same thing in a primitive submarine and was held in such reverence by the US navy that after – against all odds – he died in his bed in 1958, a US nuclear submarine would surface at the North Pole to scatter his ashes.

I repeat, and I mean it: Sir Hubert lived the most extraordinary life of any Australian ever, and in terms of thrills and spills, derring-do, and new worlds discovered he could sit at the table with Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, Captain Cook, or Shackleton and hold his own.

And he was one of ours!

Sir Hubert Wilkins: A Life in Photographs, Words and Objects

Melbourne author Jeff Maynard, recognised as the world expert on all things Wilkins, is currently compiling a pictorial biography of Sir Hubert. It will feature previously unpublished writings and hundreds of photographs, most of which have never been seen before, including photographs of the objects Wilkins collected. The book is titled, Sir Hubert Wilkins: A Life in Photographs, Words and Objects. Material will be drawn from the Polar Archives at the Ohio State University, The Australian War Memorial records, the British Museum, the South Australian Museum, and other museums, archives and various private collections around the world. The book will be published later this year and will be accompanied by an exhibition. Jeff has spent twenty years tracing Wilkins’s records. His previous books on Wilkins include Wings of Ice, The Unseen Anzac and Antarctica’s Lost Aviator. The Foundation will be providing updates as the work continues. 

Pictured below is Sir Hubert Wilkins in 1942, examining a model sled with detachable wheels. He is wearing his US Army badge, and wrote to his sister that he was the only ‘Sir’ in the US Army.  Also pictured is Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center intern, Kaleb, photographing the badge for the forthcoming pictorial book. The organ seen to the left of Kaleb is the pump organ Wilkins carried on the Nautilus submarine, so he could play music under the North Pole, like Captain Nemo did. 

Tangible Projects

Wilkins Projects: Talks, Docks and Books 

The following article is from Mark Gilbert, one of the directors of the City of Adelaide Clipper Ship project at Dock 2 and the head of publications at The Friends of the State Library of SA.

During the last decade I have watched the interest in Sir Hubert Wilkins grow here in South Australia. The various talks on Wilkins by authors, explorers and archivists have been fascinating – I know because I have attended almost all of them. The Foundation has achieved much in Wilkins awareness. As a publisher I am particularly impressed with the Hello Hello! Newsletter and the development of the Wilkins Foundation website – it is both professional and engaging.

So, it is fascinating to me how my own work, as the engineer responsible for bringing the City of Adelaide clipper ship home, has in its own way been paralleling the aims of The Wilkins Foundation: to bring Wilkins home. And it is even more satisfying to see that a visionary plan for the inclusion of a Wilkins Centre at Dock 2, where the City of Adelaide is being restored, is now being seriously considered. 

It would indeed be appropriate that this historic dock in Port Adelaide – from which Wilkins left Adelaide in 1909 and returned home on a number of occasions – be the site of a visionary centre that commemorates and illuminates his life.

Wearing another hat, as the head of Australiana Publications for the Friends of the State Library, I oversaw the re-publication of Undiscovered Australia – with a new scholarly introduction and foreword contributions. Wilkins was a significant author of his time, whose voice is distinct, and whose stories are compelling. There is still strong demand for this title.
 
We are now in the early stages of re-publishing Under the North Pole, which recounts the ideas and planning of the remarkable venture of taking a World War I submarine under Arctic ice. We will provide introductory material that will take the reader into the head of Wilkins: searching for what drove him to do what he did, and investigating the way he managed the astounding array of projects he undertook. 

 While Wilkins projects have been swirling around me for a number of years, I have spent much of my time working with other volunteers to bring the City of Adelaide back to its home dock to be restored. If you haven't yet been to visit it, do go and have a look – and while you are there imagine a Wilkins Centre on the site – for it would bring a special historically important person home to accompany a historically important ship. Tours are held daily.

I look forward to playing a part in the planning and development of the Wilkins@Dock2 project.

Bring Wilkins home TM
Transcribing Archives

From the Historian

Dr Stephen Carthew

There is a new page on the website, under 'Domains', designed to focus on the autobiographical reflections of Wilkins, as extracted from his books, diaries, notes, letters and lectures that have been digitised by The Ohio State University and transcribed by Foundation volunteers, particularly Philip van Dueren, who has been awarded the WTWMEB (The Wilkins Transcription Warrior for Eyesight Bravery). Reading Wilkins’s handwriting is truly a battle and conquering this text has surely been worthy of this newly-minted medal. We are on the lookout for more WTWs.

Anyway. Our first offering is the remarkable story which the thirty-three-year-old Wilkins wrote about his younger friend ‘Wilkes’. It is a nine-thousand-word reflection on his tussles with his parents and his teenage attempts at suicide connected with his first love – and a lot more. The detailed stories, along with his philosophical musings, add significantly to understanding what made Wilkins tick: the kind of dramatic youthful experiences that shaped his life. This document is still in draft form: if the Wilkins Foundation had done nothing else but be responsible for transcribing this Tale of Smuggish Satisfaction, it would be well worth the trouble .We are still working on deciphering many words.  

Here is the first paragraph of the tale. Note the red text, which represents stabs at what he may have written. The quirky reversed letter-and-word heading suitably sets the stage for a fascinating piece of third-person reflective writing.


Sekliw Gnirednaw [Wandering Wilkes]
A Tale of Smuggish Satisfaction
The ungainly youth
He was an awkward ungainly youth when I first met him; long for his age, and with clothes that fitted only where they touched. He was the butt of the few other boys whom he occasionally saw in the district; for his parents insisted on his wearing, even at the age of eleven, those dark brown trousers known as three-quarters. To me though, many years his senior, he was a constant revelation, and the many thoughts he hatched, and his actions, were a series of revolutions that increased proportionately -- as the fabled snow ball.

Read more 'Wilkins on Wilkins' here.

Diary Transcriptions

Philip van Dueren
In April 2020 I contacted the Foundation offering to assist in the transcription of Wilkins's diaries. I was an underemployed travel agent suddenly with a lot of extra time on my hands and as a bit of a polar nut had read several books featuring our man. Dr Stephen Carthew sent me some pages from Wilkins's 1911 diary which quickly showed this was not going to be an easy task! However, I persisted and slowly became more proficient and soon started the 1912 diary where I learned that Wilkins travelled to England and arrived in Southampton just over 109 years ago (on a day the Titanic was in port before its doomed voyage). A fascinating insight into his Balkan War reporting followed later that same year.

Next was his 1920 diary where he writes about his first journey down to the Antarctic with the Cope Expedition: he didn't last long mainly due to severe mismanagement by its leader. The 75-day journey to get to the start of that expedition on the Falkland Islands contrasts with my journey there four years ago in less than a day!

In September 1921 Wilkins sailed from England on the Quest with Shackleton but was sent ahead to South Georgia when they arrived in Rio. The five weeks he spent on South Georgia would be particularly interesting to keen birders or ornithologists as he was employed as the expedition's naturalist. It is a bit of a killing spree, however, which makes Wilkins feel guilty when killing a pair of albatross
 'I felt like a murderer & had a mind to give up the whole [business] of bird collecting but then decided it must be done so I shot the remaining bird almost with my eyes shut praying to some unknown power to forgive me & hoping that if there is such a thing as a Valhalla for birds that these two would go to it.'
 
I came across the story Stephen refers to above titled 'Sekliw Gnirednaw' and subtitled ‘A Tale of Smuggish Satisfaction’: I quickly worked out that the subtitle was to be read backwards.
Many more diary pages and other writings are available to be transcribed; any assistance would be appreciated, if you'd like to have a go and perhaps reveal another surprise, please contact Philip.

The Wilkins Chronicles

Andrew "Dawsey" Dawe

The idea behind the ‘Wilkins Chronicles’ is to highlight how much was written about Wilkins in our newspapers during and after his life. He died a year before I was born: I was told nothing about him during my school years and had not heard of his exploits until 2018.

Some of the original articles contain typographical errors, but to maintain authenticity we have left as much as possible as it was originally published.

Stephen has noted there are sometimes discrepancies with times and places. These discrepancies do not alter the overall story of Wilkins but we will highlight any corrections we make in the introduction of the Newsletter each month.

If you find any clear errors please forward your finds to me and we will edit them on the website to keep the ‘Chronicles’ true to the original. Please send them to dawsey@adam.com.au.  The more eyes the merrier.

Click here to see newly transcribed cut-and-pastable Chronicles.

New York Times article about Wilkins's Patent of Face Mask from January 11, 1958 – perhaps a winner in today's 'climate'.

 

Wilkins the US Consultant

Tom Endrusick

We'd like to introduce Tom Endrusick, who from 1972 to 2012 worked as a research scientist at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) located in Natick, Massachusetts, 20 miles west of Boston, USA. He is hoping to assist the Foundation in researching Sir Hubert Wilkins’s years while he was in the employ of the US Government as a consultant on extreme environmental survival. 

From 1952 until his death in 1958, Wilkins was officially a geographer with the Environmental Protection Research Division at the US Army Quartermaster Research Command, Natick.  This Division was eventually renamed the Military Ergonomics Division, placed under the control of the Army’s Surgeon General and moved into the new Natick USARIEM building in 1968.

Elizabeth Chipman's 'Wilkins Timeline'

The Wilkins Foundation is grateful to have been given permission to digitise and publish online a comprehensive timeline that was compiled by Elizabeth Chipman. Elizabeth Chipman is an Australian writer, administrator and Antarctic pioneer. In 1975–76, she was one of the first Australian women to set foot on the Antarctic mainland. From 1954 to 1977, Chipman was with the Australian Antarctic Division, Melbourne, where she worked as a typist, information officer and scientific administrator.

During the summers of 1966–67, 1971–72 and 1975–76, she visited Macquarie Island with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE). In 1975, she was assigned to the Antarctic mainland where she worked as an information officer. She was accompanied by two other women: the photographer Jutta Hösel and Shelagh Robinson, a welfare officer.

She was the first woman member of the ANARE Club. Chipman chronicled all of the women to travel to Antarctica up to 1984. She took pains to find the names of all the women who had ever been to or even near Antarctica and eventually donated 19 folio boxes of her research to the National Library of Australia, including papers relating to her books Australians in the frozen south (1978) and Women on the ice (1986). 

The timeline that will be eventually published online through the Foundation is part of NLA Acc11071 which comprises research notes pertaining to the life of Sir George Hubert Wilkins compiled by Chipman for a biography that was not completed. Many thanks to Elizabeth for making her work available.

Wilkins and Philately – the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition

Richard Hindle, the philatelist and naturalist who manages the Wilkins and Philately page has contributed a marvellously illustrated article, 'Wilkins: Shackleton's Naturalist'. 

A note from the social media manager, Nina Bellersheim

Some industries are returning to normal; events are being booked and there are exciting new Wilkins resources being released this year, so we want to stay closely in touch with all Wilkins fans and enthusiasts! 

As the Foundation's social media following slowly grows, I've immensely enjoyed making interesting new connections with like-minded individuals all over the world, making it easy to not feel isolated despite the continued travel restrictions.

Don't forget to connect with us on InstagramFacebookLinkedIn or Twitter and please consider sharing our profiles and posts with your own following, to promote awareness and keep up the momentum.

A note from the technical editor, Dr Robert Bloomfield

The use of ‘one’ in Wilkins’s writing

We all behave according to the conventions of our age and in this respect Wilkins was no exception. As an editor, I am interested in his writing style, and last week the question of the use of ‘one’ raised its interesting profile.  

Wilkins used the ‘false first-personal ONE’ fairly regularly in his writing; for example:

The whole thing is so immense and astounding that one is lost for words to describe it.

Continue reading.

Invite contributions to help achieve our aims

Sponsorship opportunities


If you would be interested in sponsoring future newsletters and projects of the Foundation, please contact the Foundation. The audience of the newsletter is steadily growing across all age demographics.

As Wilkins called on US corporates to fund his altruistic projects, so the Wilkins Foundation is calling upon Australian corporates to Bring Wilkins Home 100 years later. Like many adventurous entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, Wilkins became a living response to the injunction: Unlock Your Inner Explorer TM.
Please donate via bank transfer to:
The Wilkins Foundation
BSB 105131
Account 073110140 


We cannot provide tax deductions at this point.
Attributions and Sponsorship
The editors of Hello Hello! Welcome the submission of articles for the Website and for the newsletter.
Policies: We reserve the right to edit for length, content, grammar and style. We aim to retain the unique voice of authors. Our general policy is to keep the length of Hello Hello! articles of under a couple of hundred words, with the bulk of this new contribution placed on the website in an appropriate place - and initially linked through a READ MORE button. This highlights new contributions of any length.  Our principle is to edit as little as possible but as much as deemed necessary to fit the aims and style of the newsletter. 

Hello Hello! editorial Team:

Dr Stephen Carthew is our general editor
Dr Robert Bloomfield  is our technical editor
Olivia Butler has taken over from Andrew Pulford as webmaster and designer
Nina Bellersheim is our social media manager
Robin Turner, our chair, now has the responsibility of keeping Hello Hello! funded.
Special thanks to our major sponsor 57 Films. 

Connect with the Wilkins Foundation:

wilkinsfoundation.org.au wilkinsfoundation.org.au
@WilkinsFndn @WilkinsFndn
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The Wilkins Foundation is a registered not-for-profit association.
We do not copyright the work we do - we want people to cut-and-paste and use that which we have done for Wilkins projects. However, we rely on those who do use our work for educational or commercial purposes to make a contribution to The Wilkins Foundation, so we can continue our work.



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