John Anderson


John Anderson with Bob Bowler ice core drilling

John H M Anderson died with Robert Atkinson on 16 May 1981, in a crevasse accident on the Shambles Glacier, Rothera.  Robert Atkinson's skidoo had broken down and he was travelling on John Anderson's.  They missed their way in bad weather. Their bodies were never recovered. There is a single cross on Rothera Point. Close by on the right of the photograph is a plaque dedicated to Stan Black, David Statham, and Geoffrey Stride who were lost when the sea ice broke up during a depot laying trip to the Dion Islands.

Ian Boyd, now  Professor of Biology at the University of St Andrews, and John Anderson were undergraduates together at Aberdeen and close friends.  Ian writes, "John was one of my closest friends. He and I studied zoology together at Aberdeen between 1975 and 1979. We often did practical classes together and we went ice climbing in the Cairngorms. Towards the end of our time at university we diverged - him towards climbing and me towards academic study. He was much better than me at climbing and, I think he would have agreed, I was much better at the academic side. I also remember more than once having to phone the police when John and another friend of ours who was also in to climbing were late back from various trips. None of these ever turned out to be a problem because John always turned up, usually amused by my sense of responsibility for him.

Rothera Cross to Anderson and Atkinson
Memorial Cross to Anderson and Atkinson at Rothera

"When I moved to BAS in 1979 (working at SMRU - Sea Mammal Research Unit) he came and stayed with me in advance of him joining BAS as a GA at Rothera. For him, this was the best job in the world. A triviality, but I still have a pair of his climbing socks which he accidentally left behind in my flat and which I was holding on to in order to give them back to him on his return - he never came back.

"John was a very quiet and mild character but with a dry and wicked sense of humour. He was a very competent climber but perhaps a little too bold at times for his own good and, although we shall never know, maybe this was his undoing. His father worked for the UN, I think, and he'd spent most of his childhood in various countries around the world, many in Africa. I know he'd spent quite a lot of time in Malawi. As a result he never had a place to call home and, while he would never be sentimental about this, I thought this was a very substantial factor that contributed to his somewhat nomadic and carefree existence. I seem to remember he was educated at Keil School in Helensburgh but he spoke little of his past or his family."

Dr Chris Doake writes

John Anderson
John Anderson with Chris Doake laying out a line of seismic sensors, January 1981

Dr Chris Doake, a glaciologist writes that in January 1981 he  was leading a glaciological party on a traverse of George VI Ice Shelf  during which we undertook some seismic shooting.  John Anderson was a member of the party. John "was a modest, competent person who helped restore my faith in General Assistants. He was a strong climber and took Robert Swan up a snow face somewhere around Fossil Bluff."



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