stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001

ReadAboutContentsHelp

Pages

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-001
Indexed

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-001

Mr. Knight

PREFACE

This book has been written under difficulties that are not ordinary. Crawford, Galle, Knight, Maurer and I were friends and disciples of a common faith; two of them had been with me on a former expedition through illness, hunger and shipwreck. Now they were dead and I had to write their story. In that writing I found myself continually handicapped by too strong a sympathy for the aims of the work I was describing and too personal an affection for the heroes of the stern romance I was trying to tell. Fearing I might say too much, I have, I fear, said too little, especially about the nobility and unselfishness of their motives. They were patriots in the Canadian and the Imperial sense through what they did; but in their minds was a larger patriotism, for they believed in the coming unification of the English-speaking peoples and throught that whatever they might do either for the Empire or for the United States they would be doing for both. Wholly apart from that, they were gallant adventurers in the Elizabethan sense of the word, pioneers of whom our race should be the more proud the fewer they become through the softening effect of our coddling civilization.

I was, then, handicapped in the writing of this book by the fear that my sympathies might lead me into what would seem over-zealous advocacy or intemperate praise. These were, in a sense, pleasant handicaps, for I am proud to be so closely associated with men who were noble and with work thatmust be admired by whoever understands it. But there have been other handicaps that could not have been more painful or in every way more deplorable. I wanted the story of Wrangell Island to consist of documents edited only for clarity. But after the initial and in a sense unavoidable misfortune that the diaries of the three men who were drowned were lost with them, we suffered the unbelievable experience that some of the remaining records were deliberately destroyed (as related in this book) after they had been brought back to civilization. Other documents were withheld for about five months from the relatives and from those who had a right to them. Meanwhile painful, sensational and in some respects untruthful stories were being published through the newspapers of every country by the very man who had destroyed or was withholding the documents upon which his writings were in part based. We could not even deny effectively at the time what we were morally certain were incorrect statements about what had happened at Wrangell Island, for these statements were alleged to be based on the records, and we could not for the time being get a chance even to see the records.

The mutilation and withholding of the Wrangell Island documents is gone into reluctantly but fully in the body of this book. We must mention it here to excuse in advance certain defects of composition which the reader cannot fail to notice.

Last edit 6 days ago by Samara Cary
stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-002
Indexed

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-002

- 2 -

He will inevitably detect repetitions but will, I hope, blame me less for them when he learns that the main body of the book had to be written on the basis of a diary from various parts of which a total of thirty-six pages were at that time missing. The book had been promised for early publication before we suspected we would have any difficulty in getting at all the documents that had been saved. But it turned out that we suffered some legal delays in getting the main part of the diary back from an innocent purchaser; and that when we received it we found that thirty-six pages had been torn out. It took us five months to get back twenty-six of the thirty-six pages which had been removed. There are thus still missing ten diary pages in addition to numerous paragraphs that have been erased from the main part of the diary.

Thus we were compelled to write the first draft of "The Adventure of Wrangell Island" on the basis of a very incomplete record, bridging the gaps in the documentsas best we could by conjecture. Then, when some of the missing pages were at length returned to us, we had to in terpolate their information. At this stage I was so crowded with work incidental to a trip to Australia for which I had contracted before the Wrangell Island tragedy became known, that the interpolating of the new material was done badly in many places. Few, if any, contradictions will be found, for my conjectures had been right. There will be repetitions, however, because I could not remove the conjectures without destroying the fabric of the book, and I was unwilling to omit the direct quotations from the diary.

The delay in recovering the pages torn from the diary explains also why this book will appear at least six months later than the date originally announced by the British publishers. The American publishers were fortunately protected from making a premature announcement.

Neither in this preface nor anywhere in any way can I make adequate thanks or show sufficient admiration for the manner in which the crushing loss of son, husband or brother has been borne by the relatives. But I can at least thank especially the families of the two veterans, Lorne Knight and Frederick Maurer, for their tireless efforts to lessen the grief of the parents of the younger men, Allan Crawford and Milton Galle, by sharing with them the better understanding of arctic life and conditions which they had secured from their explorer sons when they had been at home in the intervals between their expeditions. For Knight had been north with me three years between 1915 and 1918 and Maurer had been in the Arctic twice, the second time with me when he was shipwrecked on Wrangell Island itself in 1914.

With a heart too full for words in any case, I have attempted in this book no eulogy of the dead. Their actions and worthy motives are their best monument. What their thoughts and deeds were is shown by the fragments of records we have received from Crawford, Galle and Maurer and especially by the one preserved diary, that of Lorne Knight, upon which this book is

Last edit 6 days ago by Samara Cary
stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-003
Incomplete

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-003

-3-

mainly based. Through his laconic narrative, so frank that he evidently never asked himself whether he was being frank or not, there stand out clear the personalities of four gallant gentlemen who remained staunch comrades through two difficult years of isolation. A record that is complete and frank to the bitter end shows that not once did even one of them shirk a task or a responsibility. That this is no mere rhetoric the scholars of the world will eventually have a chance to seefor themselves, for we shall present photostat copies of Lorne Knight's diary to one or more leading libraries in Canada, the United States and England, and copies also of all the other records. The general frankness of the diary is such that the reader is unable to doubt that if there had been troubles or recriminations they would have been set down. That there were none to record is nearly, if not quite, unique in polar exploration. Many expeditions have concealed their troubles; few have had none to conceal.

I have always had great confidence that the Wrangell Island Expedition could trust the verdict of anyone who knew all our actions and motives. With that constantly before me I have tried in writing this book not only to be frank but also to give the reader a chance to look deeper if he wants to and convince himself that we really have been frank. Within the limits set by my capacity and by the hurry and worry of composing a book before a certain date while at the same time fighting for the possession of some of the documents on which the story had to be based - within these limits I had already done my best to tell the reader the whole truth, when I got (strangely late) an idea that should have been in my mind at the very first.

One man now living knows more than any other about the planning of the Wrangell Island Expedition and the relation to it of its four members - J. I. Knight, the father of Lorne Knight. Not only had he heard his son talk for year after year about the varied experiences of his firat three years in the Arctic and about his hopes and plans of further arctic work, but he knew also Fred Maurer and Milton Galle who had visited his home at McMinville, Oregon, as guests of his son. Although Maurer had been there for fewer days than Galle had been weeks, I knew that both Mr. and Mrs. Knight had formed a personal affection for them both. They knew Allan Crawford only through their son's enthusiastic report, but even so the relation was personal. He knew what both his son and Fred Maurer thought of the arctic expedition of 1913-1918 of which they had been members, and what they thought of me who had been their commander then and was planning with them now a new expedition. Here, then, was a man whose point of view the reader would value more than that of any other man. And yet I had been planning until the last moment to get some famous authority on geography or world politics to read my manuscript and write an introduction for the book!

This page is incompleteEdit this page
Last edit 6 days ago by Samara Cary
stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-004
Needs Review

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-004

 - 4 -

occurred to meWhen it occurred to me to ask Mr. Knight to write the introduction, I was just taking ship for Australia there was barely time to write him but no time to receive his answer. I asked him merely to let me know in Australia whether he would write an introduction, saying I would not have wanted to review the introduction before publication even had I been in American, but that I was now in any case unable to do so, for the book must go to the printer in less time than it takes to send a manuscript to Australia and get an annotated copy back. I shall not know, therefore, until after publication, what comment Mr. Knight may choose to make on this book and on the condition. But I have asked him to do what he can do so much better than I - to speak of his knowledge of his son's relations with his [?] both before the expedition and on it, and especially to quote what Lorne wrote home about them from Wrangell Island.

At the close I must speak once more of my gratitude to friends who have helped with money. I am trying to get for the appendix of this book a full list of those who contributed to the sending of the Donaldson to Wrangell Island in 1923 - by looking in the appendix the reader may see if it has been possible to make up this list. A. J. T Taylor and John Anderson of the Combustion Engineering Corporation, Toronto, Canada, have had the thankless task of handling nearly all the outfitting and other commerical affairs of the Expedition. Their motives, aside from personal friendship, have been only those of a firm belief in the wisdom and importance of what we were trying to do; their only possible reward the same as that of the rest of us - the consciousness of having done their utmost for what they believed in. The Lomen Brothers of Nome, Alaska, (especially Ralph and Carl Lomen) have handled all our Alaskan affairs without pay - the outfitting of the Silver Wave in 1921, the Teddy Bear in 1922, and the Donaldson in 1923. The late Sir Edmond Walker, president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, who helped to finance my first expedition to the Arctic in 1906, gave the largest Canadian contribution to the Wrangell Island Expedition and supported us in every way. For England the list of subscribers will (I hope) be included in the appendix, but I must mention that the (then) First Lord of the Admiralty, Colonal L. S. Avery, not only contributed himself but secured for us contributions from others to the amount of 600 pounds. Several friends in the United States made me unsecured personal loans. It was Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, whho loaned me the money which enabled us to outfit the Teddy Bear in 1922 a week before we got the grant from the Canadian Government. As stated elsewhere, Griffith Brewer of 33 Chancery Lane, London, loaned me (against anticipated public subscriptions) the money which outfitted the Donaldson in 1923, a loan which turned out to be considerably in excess of the receipts through subscriptions, so that we are still in his debt.

So far as loans are concerned, I have already begun to pay off these debts and hope to manage the rest in two or three years. For I want to be eventually the only finanacial loser. But my gratitude will remain undiminished when the money has been repaid.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson Sydney, Australia, May 23, 1924.

Last edit 7 days ago by Samara Cary
stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-005
Needs Review

stefansson-wrangel-09-26-001-005

THE ADVENTURE OF WRANGELL ISLAND

CHAPTER 1 The Background of the Story

The story of Wrangell Island has developed into adventure and tragedy, but it began in a new scientific conception of the nature of the earth as a whole and the relative position and importance upon it of the so-called Arctic regions. It hinges also upon the developments in aeronautics which began twenty years ago last December when the Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk.

"As impossible as flying" and "as worthless and the Arctic" were solemn figures of speech as the beginning of our century. The first is now ridiculous; the second is beginning to be questioned even by the general public - otherwise the value and ownership of Wrangell Island would not have occupied so much space during the last two years in the newspapers, those faithful mirrors of the interests of the average man.

The newspapers have been telling us that at least three great centuries - the United States, Great Britain and Russia - have legal claims to Wrangell Island, and are either pressing those claims or considering whether the intrinsic or positional value of the island may justify pressing them later. Such public interest and such international negotiations would not be conceivable if the leaders of thought still held the ideas about the climate and character of the Arctic which were nearly universal twenty years ago. But granting the change of thought of the last two decades, keen public interest would still remain unthinkable but for the recent developments in air transport.

Our views on air transport are new; but there is one sense in which our "new" ideas about the Arctic are 400 years old.

Few beliefs have ever had such universal support as that of the

Last edit 12 days ago by DAHaraldson
Displaying pages 1 - 5 of 61 in total