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Articles Found, Paradise Lost

The CECOM historians aren’t the only ones to uncover cool photos.  In a New York Times article, the author described how priceless photos were recently uncovered from Robert Falcon Scott’s (1868-1912) expedition of 1910-1913.  Last year we wrote about Fort Monmouth’s own treks to the South Pole, and today I found an interesting article in the 1956 Technical and Tactical publication from 1956, also about Antarctica.

The US Army Signal Corps sent a group of six men from Fort Monmouth to be a part of a Polar expedition to the South Pole with US Navy Operation DEEPFREEZE.  The US naval Operation DEEPFREEZE supported US scientific projects during the International Geophysical Year in 1957-1958. 

The Signal Corps goal during the mission was to study radio wave propagation under Antarctic conditions.  First, they wanted to measure the dialectric constant and loss factor of layered thick ice deposits to permit more accurate evaluation of wave measurements.  Second, they wanted explain the irregularities in radio propagation observed in the Polar regions.  Third, the scientists wanted to determine transmission characteristics through frozen obstacles. 

By sampling ice and snow at varying depths, recording temperature and specific gravity, and noting other date, the Signalmen made headway in determining whether line-of-sight communications were always necessary, and how radio waves traveled around and through various obstacles.  They tested this on the Radio Sets AN/PRC-6 and AN/PRC-10.

Even in the 1905s, going to Antarctica with a major military operation was still a hard trek, and in many ways still is a frontier.  Just because people had reached the south pole didn’t mean getting there was easy or that life once there was not perilous.  The US Army’s Signalmen were successful, but I can only imagine how challenging the whole experience was.

In a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society in England, in April 1906, Robert Falcon Scott gave a speech about why he loved the Antarctic.  Recalling his first successful trip to the South Pole:

“Those fields of snow sparkling in the sun, the pack-ice and bergs and blue sea, and those mountains, those glorious southern mountains, rearing their heads in desolate grandeur. The movements of the pack, those small mysterious movements with the hush sound that comes across the water, and I hear also the swish of the sledge… I cannot explain to you, they will always drag my thought back to those good times when these things were before me.”

All this from a man who was a fearless explorer, yet was afraid to write about his travels.

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