Douglas Mawson letter to Prime Minister Bruce

Image of handwritten letter from Douglas Mawson to PM Bruce
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Title: Douglas Mawson letter to Prime Minister Bruce
Date: 1928
Content creator: Douglas Mawson

This letter reveals tension over American claims to Antarctic territory.

Keywords: Antarctica, expedition, Douglas Mawson, imperialism, Prime Minister, Antarctic
Record creator: Department of External Affairs
Reference: A981, ANT PART 6

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Telegrams, "AQUILE, LONDON"
Telephone Nos REGENT 4024 & 4025



Right Honourable
The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of Australia

Dear Mr Bruce,

On arrival in England I found the that Committee controlling the 'Discovery' are delighted at the prospect of Australia continuing with the exploration of the coast-line of Antarctica in the Australian sector.

They consider favourably the proposal to lend the Discovery [p2]to Australia for such work.

Admiral Douglas, the Hydrographer to the navy with whom I have just visited Berlin and attended an oceanographic conference has expressed the hope that Australia will move swiftly in this matter, for already he has news that Norway is fitting out a ship to push into the pack this year and spread the Norwegian flag. They will be operating south of the Indian Ocean but may go right into the Australian


The Admiralty will help an Australian project. It is a case of doing something or not and the Commonwealth should come to a definite stand on this point.

Australia has an opportunity now of doing it – doing it well – doing it cheaply.

If Australia decides not, then I can get America to take up the work, but Australia must give up all idea of being further interested. No one would feel more disappointed that I at such a decision. For the whole tenor of my life

[p4] has been guided by my allegiance to the Antarctic exploration and particularly to the Australasian effort of 1911–14. As you know, on account of the war breaking out, certain assets of the Expedition were not realised and I had to find some thousands of pounds to clear it of debt. I did that by lecturing over some years and writing book, etc. – and the general results of the Expedition are second to none – But I have turned down important positions to do this. Excuse me wandering off this wise – but I wish to make it clear that I am not in this work for any money prize –

Hoping the Commonwealth Government will not [sic] come to a decision.

I am, yours truly.

Douglas Mawson.