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John Noel

John Noel, a radio operator, and Tom Allen, a diesel mechanic, were overcome by a fearsome storm at the end of May 1966 whilst sledging from the BAS base at Stonington Island.

They left base on 23 May with two dog teams to make a ten day traverse, heading up the Northeast Glacier then northward past Butson Ridge.  Twenty four hours later, on 24 May, they reported reaching Butson Ridge but in deteriorating weather.  By the next day the wind at Stonington was gusting at a hundred knots and shaking the huts so hard that things were falling from the shelves.  Base Leader, Terry Tallis wrote to the Trust to say that he looked up his diary for  26 May "Wind blowing like hell last night, approx 100 knots, the whole hut was shaking, crates of stores blown about and sledges damaged and ice blown out of the bay" Two days of storm were followed by a week of fine weather but there was no further news from the field party.

In an email to the Trust, Terry comments, "we were of course very worried about them and had no other contact and began searching for them on the 7th June." 

A search party found them with several dead dogs above Square Bay. Tom Allan lay on the surface fifty yards from John Noel who was apparently standing buried in the snow, his head and arms above the surface.  It appears that they had dug a snow hole but that at some time to Tom had left its protection to raise the dog's picket line above the rapidly rising snow level. It is surmised that Tom had not been able to find his way back to the shelter of the snow hole and John had stood at the entrance calling and keeping it open for his return until the cold overcame him.

Writing of the incident in Of Ice and Men, Sir Vivien Fuchs says "It was a tremendous example of courage that he remained to the last, and most assuredly he gave his life for his friend."

They were buried on a rocky point of Stonington Island beneath two great piles of stones surmounted by crosses.  Two mountains were named after them Mount Allen and Mount Noel in the Traverse Mountains on the Rymill Coast.

 

Mount Noel

 

Mount Noel in the Traverse Mountains


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