South Pole medals bought by Canterbury Museum

  • 18/01/2018
Explorers from Robert Scott's South Pole expedition, including Tryggve Gran.
Explorers from Robert Scott's South Pole expedition, including Tryggve Gran. Photo credit: Getty

Diaries and war medals belonging to a Norwegian member of Robert Scott's ill-fated South Pole expedition have been bought at auction by the Canterbury Museum.

Tryggve Gran served as the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition's skiing expert, laying food drops along Mr Scott's route to the South Pole and joining the search party that later found the explorer's body.

He was also a pilot in Britain's Royal Flying Corps during the First World War where he claimed to have shot down German ace Hermann Goring in a dogfight, although this was not proven.

Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright said these experiences made the PS105,000 (NZ$199,192) purchase of Mr Gran's journals and medals a pleasing addition to its Antarctic collection.

"Gran's medals and diaries contribute to the museum's knowledge of the ill-fated (British Antarctic Expedition) and this chapter of Gran's fascinating life as an explorer, aviator and author," he said.

The purchase included two of Mr Gran's journals as well as his Polar Medal as a member of the Antarctic expedition, United Kingdom Military Cross, French Legion of Honour and Italian Order of the Crown.

Mr Gran was the youngest member of Mr Scott's expedition, joining as an ace skier tasked with training the other adventurers in how to use them to travel south.

As well as laying supply depots for the main party's 1911 push for the South Pole, Mr Gran was also part of the search team that in November 1912 found Mr Scott and his two remaining companions after they failed to return safely.

Collecting the party's personal belongings, the search team built a snow cairn over the site, with Mr Gran making the return journey wearing Mr Scott's skis, believing they had a better chance of making it back.

Mr Gran also climbed Antarctica's Mt Erebus in December 1912 as well as Aoraki/Mt Cook on his way back to Britain in 1913, before serving with distinction in the First World War.

Mr Gran died in 1980 aged 91.