John Coll


Cross on Petermann Island

John Coll, Kevin Ockleton and Ambrose Morgan were lost near Petermann Island on 14 August 1982. Their bodies were not recovered. There is a memorial cross on Petermann Island.

John, 23, was a diesel mechanic, from Glasgow; Kevin, 22, a physicist from Keyningham near Hull; and Ambrose, 22,  a radio operator from Petersfield in Hampshire.

The three had left Faraday Station on 15 July, only three weeks after mid-winter, when the sea ice was  solid and travel between islands would have been relatively easy. However a great storm blew up in the region on the following day and broke up the sea ice. The three, by this time, had reached a field hut on Petermann Island, six miles to the North. They were in daily radio contact and had food and fuel for three months, by which time an airdrop would have been possible. On 13 August ice conditions had improved sufficiently for the party to explore a route back towards the Argentine Islands.  Although they had been asked to contact base again on 15 August nothing was heard from them. Deteriorating weather conditions prevented the Chileans overflying the area in a Hercules that was on standby 300 miles to the North for a number of days but when air search was carried out on 20 August no trace of them could be found. The men could have attempted to travel eastwards towards the mainland where there were a number of food depots or West towards the Yalour Islands situated only three miles from the Argentine Islands. It seems that they were most probably lost as ice broke up in the difficult weather or through thin ice.

Jim Turton recalls his work with the British Antarctic Survey and his recollections of life on Base F and his encounters with John Coll, Ambrose Morgan, Miles Mosley, Graham Whitfield, Mike Walker, and Geoff Hargreaves in his memoire Jim Turton remembers.

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