VP-5 Memorial 1966 Recovery Memories
1966 RECOVERY MEMORIES
| January 12th, 1962 |
"...I was aboard the USS ATKA when we recovered the remains of the crew (In Memorial for VP-5 lost friends...12JAN62) were recovered and the plane was distroyed. We pick up a special military crew in Amsterdam and they were in charge of the recovery mission. The plane was distroyed with explosives. The crash site and their remains were not discovered until August, 1966, when an expedition of 4 geologists from Oxford University, U.K. were traversing the glacier on foot. A recovery mission was mounted by the Navy in September, 1966, utilizing the Icebreaker USS Atka and helicopters. "Several identifiable remains were recovered," and the aircraft wreck destroyed. For whatever reasons, some crew remains were left at the crash site. Now, 35 years later, geologists exploring the area have again reported that in the summer months, human remains of these servicemen lie exposed on the glacier. This information is confirmed by the Missing Persons Group, Bureau of Naval Personnel, USN, as being accurate. Stephen C. Kapantais email@example.com..." [19MAR2009]
Return to TOP of page!
Return to TOP of page!
"...I received these photo's and copies of orders, old letter's, etc. from John Bastien, retired HMC who was an HM1 in 1966. He was stationed for 3 years in Iceland. He was on the 1966 mission. The other Navy guy on the 1966 recovery mission was a friend of his, Jim Torgerson. Jim was a CPO in 1966. Shipfitter rate, and was specilized in both diving and EOD...Bob Pettway firstname.lastname@example.org [06OCT2003]
Mishap Photo "...Jim Torgerson SFC and John Bastien HM1..."
Mishap Photo "...Jim Torgerson SFCDiver and EOD Specialist (Died in 1994 at the age of 60 in Florida..."
Mishap Photo "...Accidental explorsion. You can see the wheet strout in the center of the picture..."
Mishap Photo "...Final destruction of the aircraft..."
Mishap Photo "...Camp near the crash site and 2 o fthe Ice Handlers who accompanied us..."
"...1966 Greenland Geologic Expedition..." Contributed by Dr. Kent Brooks, Copenhagen, Denmark and forwarded by Bob Pettway email@example.com [16SEP2003]
East Greenland 1966
Participants: Drs. Brian Atkins, David Bell (leader), Kent Brooks and undergraduate David Parish - all Department of Geology, Oxford University. The expedition was called "British East Greenland Geological Expedition, 1966" and included members from Cambridge and Sheffield Universities as well as Oxford. The main aim was to drill the Skaergaard intrusion and there were also two drillers from Longyear, Canada. Other objectives were Kialineq and Kap Edvard Holm. The expedition was transported in the sealer "Polaric" of Ålesund, Norway, sailing from Grimsby and returning to Kings Lynn.
[This expedition was my second in Greenland and the diary is in many ways very naive. It does however have the advantage that many things are commented on which I took for granted later and didn't note.]
31st July, Sunday: drive with Pete to London Airport in hire van. Crowded in departure lounge, very unpleasant getting our large amount of baggage through. Eventually get into air: thick cloud over London; brilliantly clear over Arran, Jura, Rhum, Skye, Lewis, etc., except for cloud high on the mountains. St. Kilda magnificent. Icelandic coast clear with high mountains and glaciers behind a low-lying shore with lagoons and sand bars. Westmanneyar similar to St. Kilda from this viewpoint. Passed over Surtsey very high, but could see vapour plume. Landed Reykjavik after 5 hours, meeting Deer, who had arrived from Greenland earlier in the day. Heard about Greenlanders plundering expedition stuff at Kangerdlugssuaq. Went in 2 taxis to ship - sleeping forward.
1st August, Monday: Hung around Reykjavik, it being a public holiday. Beautiful weather, but not much to do. Various people came to look at ship, which is rather unusual. One American guy trying to hitch a ride westwards, saying if he got to Greenland he would hang around until something else turned up to take him to the States!
2nd August, Tuesday: Shopping in morning. Sailed about 2 PM. Passed Snæfellsness at about 8 PM, when we hove to for a bit of fishing (cod) then headed out into Denmark Strait. Very rough, being thrown around in the forward bunks. Not helped by strong smell of diesel oil, which even the crew don't like. Didn't feel sleepy and went on bridge at about 3 - quite an exercise to get aft with the ship's motion and waves breaking over the deck. Moon partly covered by racing clouds. At about 5.30 got up again. Motion much worse and engine had to be throttled back at each wave. With every roll the ship's bell rang. adding to the fun!
3rd August, Wednesday: Missed breakfast, but had coffee about 10. By that time ship in grey, stormy water with rafts of pack ice and ice blink away to the north. Temperatures are very appreciably colder. Sporadic ice all day. At about 8 PM ship stopped by heavy pack and thick fog. Got out onto a flow and 2nd engineer shot a seal, but it escaped. A little later the fog cleared and we were able to move slowly ahead after a lookout had gone aloft.
4th August, Thursday: Came on deck at fourish. Prof. Deer also there and land ahead, but we were unable to identify our landfall positively. went back to bunk and slept till 8. Sailed up coast and entered a fjord, which the 2nd mate though was the right one although this proved incorrect. Probably two fjords west of Kivioqs Fjord. Magnificent mountains could be glimpsed behind - obviously Watkins with an enormous scarp built of sub-horizontal flows, each picked out with snow. Later tried for the appointed landing (little bay at Kap Rink) but were unable to reach the shore on account of the heavy brash composed of hard glacier ice being carried along at a colossal rate by strong currents. some difficulty extracting ship to more sea room owing to the heavy pack which had built up behind us. Looked easy to reach Lilloise from this point - across a lowish col and a dead glacier. Syenites distinctly visible. Moved up coast and entered Wiedemanns Fjord without trouble in spite of the large number of small bergs around. Came ashore in ship's whaler at the foot of the moraines between two glaciers at the head of the fjord and spent some time sizing up the area. Glacier looked easy for a long way inland. Had dinner on board then the New Zealander crew member helped us get our equipment ashore. Remarkable how small the ship looks from the shore (although there is no indication of the fjord's scale). Watched ship slowly sail away. fired a farewell salvo and blew cornet (? - how come we had such a thing?) Ship blew its siren but this was almost drowned out by the intense silence. Then established camp and had a brew along with a whiskey with glacier ice. Saw several seals (or one seal several times!). they are very inquisitive and came quite close to shore to look at us.
5th August, Friday: Spent morning organizing base camp. Afternoon, Dave and I hauled 200 lb. (= 4 ration boxes) up to the brow of the first hill and reconnoiter ahead from a little hill to the side. In evening tried radio QSO after a precarious erection of a 36' mast of scaffold poles. Reception good, but the transmission power very low for unknown reason.
6th August, Saturday: Morning spent fixing skis and other gear for sledge departure. Loaded sledge and left at 4 picking up the cached ration boxes to make a load of about 500 lb.. Handlebars at back very effective for A.E.C. (?). Pulled for 4 hours over easy surface, although rather steep in places then camped on ice at top of a steepish slope. Found it very chilly, but warmed up in sleeping bag.
7th August, Sunday: Reconnaissance ahead with Dave showed features to be much further away than anticipated, moreover crevasses which were easy to walk an would be difficult for the sledge. Away by 11 but stopped after a short time by sledge rolling over and showing signs of incipient break-up - the ice here is very uneven. Forced to advance on foot, each with a ration box. Established a camp after about 11/2 hours at the base of the lateral moraine on blue ice thinly covered with rocks of all sizes. Sledged rest of gear up on lightened sledge.
8th August, Monday: Slept like a log and awoke to brilliant morning with cloudless blue sky. Usual porridge with raisons and margarine for breakfast. Fred and I set out to reconnoiter a route across glacier which appeared fantastically broken up at this point. The two Daves went straight up glacier to try higher up. We easily crossed the badly broken part of the glacier, but got to a crevasses region with snow in enormous gaping chasms. After penetrating to what must have been only about 1/2 mile of Lilloise were turned back when a new set of crevasses appeared running obliquely to the first set. Met the other two on arriving back on smoother ice at about 4. They had found a crashed US plane with nine bodies [Not clear why this tally is three short, except that those in the front of the plane were heavily dismembered and only body parts lay around] After wandering on the glacier together for a while returned to eat. Then I went alone to the rocks behind the camp finding ranunculus nivalis, moss campion, saxifrages, salix and a type of sedge growing there.
Later went to look at the plane wreck. Lying about 1/2hours walk from the camp on flat ice near first mountain on right although wreckage strewn a considerable distance down glacier. The forward part of the plane was burnt out, the rest strewn over glacier towards the mountain wall. Incredible assortment of objects: survival suites, life rafts, oxygen cylinders, emergency radio, water purifying kit, men's baggage (including toys) (?). Tires of aircraft still inflated, two large piston engines some way off across the glacier, presumably where their momentum had taken them after tearing off the aircraft. Evidence collected by David from the corpses shows the crash to have been about Jan. 1962. Interesting how the wings, etc. rest on pedestals of ice about 5' high -shows strong ablation rate here. Took some photos and returned to camp as sun was now set. Made cocoa and went to bed. The height of this camp is recorded as 2300'.
9th August, Tuesday: Another beautiful day although there appears to be a frontal system out to sea. Line of heavy cloud. Did not seem to advance and sun shone brightly although small clouds on the Lilloise tops. Set off to prospect a route to Lilloise from the landward point of the Kap Stephensen semi-nunatak. Took direct line from camp, but rapidly got hopelessly bogged down in huge ice pits filled with pools of the most beautiful deep blue water. After some hours we had still not reached the smooth ice near Kap Stephensen so we took a roundabout route passing an enormous depression in the glacier of unknown origin. Strewn about this amphitheater-like depression were large numbers of rocks of all sizes mostly of syenitic composition, obviously deriving from our objective [This is actually unlikely - wrong side of glacier - and later, after the discovery of the Borgtinderne intrusion by Jack Soper up the Kronborg Glacier, it seems likely they stem from this intrusion] At the landward side of Kap Stephensen we came upon a view of Kronborg Glacier plunging down this narrow gap like a stormy sea which had been frozen. No hope of getting across here. The transverse glacier opposite (our original objective) was seen to be perfectly smooth and crevasse-free. In spite of the poor prospects here, it was decided to return later and investigate lower down. We returned to camp after crossing an enormous area of crevasses, arriving back about 7.30 very tired.
10th August, Wednesday: Returned to base camp with an initially very heavy sledge, but dumped 3 ration boxes + some other stuff at the bottom of the steepest part. Again tired when arrived at base, which was in good shape. Seems so much warmer down here by the sea and on rocks rather than ice.
When we had awoken in the morning the weather had broken and heavy, wet snow was falling, which rapidly turned to rain. The tents leaked, but fortunately the rain stopped after a while. On the return to base it was very mild but a raw wind noticeable if stopped for long. Sky heavily overcast and cloud on all the high land beginning at about 3500' at a very constant ceiling. Towards evening blue patches of sky appeared and it showed signs of clearing.
11th August, Thursday: Spent the day at base doing a number of odd jobs such as adjusting pack frames. I afternoon tried some skiing but the snow was no good in the neighborhood of base. Weather much improved with sunshine and the ubiquitous sea mist. Early night.
12th August, Friday: Set off fairly early with a lightly loaded sledge intending to pick up food from dump on glacier. Made very rapid progress and arrived at big depression in glacier NE of Kap Stephensen after 2 hr. David (B) and I left the others to put up tents and collect the food boxes while we set off to walk to Kap Stephensen. A very cold and unpleasant wind was blowing down the glacier, numbing the extremities, but this was much reduced at Kap Stephensen. We set off down the glacier (Kronborg) from this point hugging the E. margin as everywhere else too broken up. Crevasses even extended right up to the rock face which was seamed with many dikes., some dolomitic but others of a paler color. After 2 hours reached a point where we could see down to the fjord. On the rocks where we were it was warm and pleasant; quite a number of flowers grew including crowberrries, which were unripe. However, the valley floor might have been a different planet, with great tumbling masses of ice; the far side was sheer, of forbidding coal-black rock, and the fjord was entirely covered with brash ice and small bergs. The glacier terminated in high vertical ice cliffs and snow extended up to the base of the mountains. the transverse glacier below Lilloise appeared perfectly smooth and we could make out a pale reddish horizon in the basalts - granphyre or similar acid? and inclined sheets of pale color high up on the mountain opposite. After a short rest set off back to camp after a long and unfruitful day, feeling very tired. Cold wind still blowing down the glacier.
13th August, Saturday: Spent the morning collecting some of the abundant syenitic material at this locality (moraine material). Characteristic type is pale, medium-grained syenite, some with marked fissility (igneous lamination). also a pyroxene-rich rock (rather rare) with very large crystals. Many heterogeneous blocks of syenite and dark material, some with angular dark clasts, others with dark streaks or layers. Basalt rare, but some had syenitic inclusions. Brian and David (P) went off to inspect a new route across Kronborg, but returned soon having being unsuccessful. Returned to base in afternoon intending to get radio operative and call for "Polaric", but could not get the machine up to scratch. [subsequent experience shows this area is prone to poor radio propagation conditions and it would have been very lucky to establish contact with the ship using this antiquated military equipment . The reason for this decision was to report plane crash and to request evacuation as our mission now appeared impossible.]
14th August, Sunday: Pottered around the camp in the morning. In afternoon went with David B along the coast to farthest point visible from camp along W shore. rough walking on loose moraine material and had to cross the snout of one very steep glacier - I was wearing basketball shoes and found this far from easy. Farthest point reached was a large shingle plain with a large lagoon on which were 4 geese. Also 2 large logs, one sawn and marked on end with roman numerals, the other an uprooted tree. Also several plants. Listened to BBC in the evening.
15th August, Monday: Rose early before the sun was over the mountains in the E. Very cold, fjord frozen over and much low-lying mist around. A great deal of condensation in tents, dripping onto sleeping bags. Set off up the glacier [with Dave P.] and were soon above the mist into brilliant sunshine. After 1 hr. reached foot of large rock outcrop above camp. Loose moraine on roches moutonées at first, then more or less bare rock (basalt) with a very red weathered crust. Cut by innumerable dikes: dolomitic, pale greenish, grey, some with abundant pyroxene phenocrysts. Also obliquely cutting dark chocolate-brown dikes also with phenocrysts, often very abundant. Max. width about 3', but diminishing down to thin veinlets. Passed two beautiful tarns filled with crystal clear water from melting snow patches. Fine view down to a large ice-dammed lake containing many icebergs floating in chocolate-colored water. this lake lies at the foot of a dry valley leading up to just below site of plane crash. Stopped for lunch at top of rocks about 21/2 hr. out. Doc. [David Bell?] had estimated 1 hour to crest of glacier, which is at least another 1/2 hr! At plane crash at 2300' collected another man's wallet. It seemed even more gruesome this time. bodies in front of plane much smashed up. Very cold wind blowing down glacier here and pleasant to get back to the rocks where it was very hot and still. Signs of change in weather: a cloud bank to the S. Had a quick swim in one of the tarns, diving off a convenient rock. Very pleasant and not unduly cold although would not have liked to stay in long! Dried off in the sun and set off back. One dike examined had a margin filled with phenocrysts; inside, a fine-grained zone and innermost, a core very rich in ferromagnesian phenocrysts. Got fouled up in an area of crevasses but arrived home past a very green tarn on moraine with magnificent view of Lilloise. Total trip about 8 hours.
16th August, Tuesday: Weather deteriorating. Heavy cloud and low mist on mountains. Much warmer, but chilly to sit around without doing anything. Woke up in night feeling disturbed, presumably after a nightmare which I couldn't remember. At this time very quiet with ice in the half-light looking rather eerie. Must have been about 4 am. Spent morning working on the radio, without success. Afternoon worked on building a drystone hut, which, when finished was covered by the yellow tarpaulin used on the sledge, over scaffold poles. This made a very serviceable shelter for the gear not in use. Spots of rain. Magnificent dinner of rissole and beans followed by incredible sweet of reconstituted apple rings, raisins, crumbled Weetabix, melted chocolate and Carnation milk. Had a walk over the moraines to the other glacier- alone. Very awe inspiring. Absolute silence apart from the occasional thunderous roar from icebergs or glacier. High mountains all around swathed in wreaths of mist; looking extremely black and forbidding in this light. Turned in to a good night. Cloud breaking up.
17th August, Wednesday: Sunny. Fred [Brian Atkins] built a crapper in a most ingenious way from an old box and located it along the shore, screened by Hessian.
18th August, Thursday: Sunny. Spent most of day playing with the radio antenna and set, without success. Tried sending a message in Morse (laboriously) but without success. As we cannot work here it is important to be relieved; maybe we could do some good somewhere else! Went for a walk over the moraines behind camp and found another small, bright green tarn with a good view to Lilloise.
19th August, Friday: Set off to investigate the far side of Wiedemanns fjord from camp (E side). Crossed moraines and glacier to N of camp without difficulty apart from the loose moraine blocks. The glacier has a very steep side and some rather large crevasses at the edge. On far side of glacier strange ridge perhaps 50' high and 100' broad cut by crevasses. May be caused by the confluence with another glacier (that heading down a valley facing camp). There are several large, heavily crevassed medial moraines on this glacier but fairly easy to cross. The glacier descending from the next valley E terminates some distance from the sea, although shown on maps as descending to the water. Some difficulty crossing the large melt-water stream coming down from its snout. Dave P. and I just waded in, although there was some danger of being carried away. The others took a lot of time removing their boots and socks. Had lunch - it was by this time overcast and rather cold to sit around. Searched for the trig. point and some signs of "Søkongen" (Ejnar Mikkelsens ship from the 1932), but no evidence of any previous visit as far as we could see. Rather upset by bear tracks in the sandy patches and leading up the fjord. they were rather fresh but covered by the ice from the last tide (i.e. at 7 am). We had forgotten the rifle, of course. Dave B. and Brian had even more difficulty returning over the stream. arrived at camp in time for a lie in the sun on "campmates", the clouds now having dispersed.
20th August, Saturday: Another superb day. Got drill going in morning. Unfortunately not much oil for the 2-stroke as some had got spilled in transit - probably only about 1 gall. of 2-stroke mixture available. Drilled one flow along shore to NE of camp (6 cores oriented by sun compass) then had a picnic lunch in the same place and then drilled a further flow nearer to the E glacier. At one time there was a bit of panic as we thought we could see two bears swimming in the fjord, but after returning to the camp for binoculars and artillery we found they had probably been birds. Later took life easy in the sun and the shelter of the new hut and listened to the BBC at 2200Z, then tried to transmit, but as usual without success.
21st August, Sunday: Brilliantly sunny weather without a cloud in the sky. Incredibly clear air and intense light, with black, razor-sharp shadows. Started preparations to go with Dave (P) up onto rocks between Kronborg Gletscher and Wiedemanns Fjord to collect dike rocks. Finished repairing sledge and lunched before departing then sledged up to dump on glacier collecting enough food for 2 days. Back-packed material up to the first tarn - very heavy load. Pitched tent at ~1170' after levelling a space on atrocious ground covered with angular frost-shattered fragments liable to rip the ground sheet. However, a tolerably level and smooth site was achieved. Swam in tarn, cold. After soaping down had second dip for 1st bath in 3 weeks. Relaxed on "campamat" afterwards, then cooked HF5 stew [This was a concentrated food bar made by Horlicks - nut pemmican] followed by some dried apple rings. After sun had gone down, walked up to top of the rocks to look over to Lilloise, then made some preliminary observations of the dikes. Very warm sitting out here, whereas down at base always very unpleasant after sunset and always retreat to tent with flap closed. Must be due to a temperature inversion as confirmed by the presence of the low mists. [Many years later, I had the opportunity to measure this on the helicopter's thermometer in Sødalen, where the temperature could be 10o higher 600m above the camp] Lay in tent for some time with flap open, still warm, but silence oppressive (no icebergs here) and difficult to sleep.
22nd August, Monday: Rose about 8.30 and cooked porridge to be eaten with raisins, syrup, margarine and milk (Marvell). Dave rose when ready. Later went to collect samples EG 7021 to 7026 about 100yd E (mag,) of campsite. Two definite directions of dikes although most abundant along 105o (83o). Others are around 60o (38o). Total amount of dikes in this area estimated to be 5-10% of entire surface outcrop. In the former direction there is only a few yards between successive dikes. This area is good as age relations are displayed. Basalts dip 5-10o in direction of K. Stephensen (towards the coast). About 7 flows visible from camp, each with purple cindery tops. Perhaps 30 flows are found in this area.. In afternoon walked over to were the Kronborg Gl. spills over into the dry valley with the lake, examining the dikes. Here several more were collected (EG 7027-7029) and previously observed relations verified as far as possible. Returned to camp about 5.30 for a brew of bouillon. Still hot and very sunny, but a cloud bank appearing to the S. Dave cooked an HF5 stew while I rested in the sun. Later we carried a load of rocks and other gear down to dump on glacier (one way about 40 min.), returning for a brew and turning in. Very cold on glacier (ears nipped) but warm on the rocks. Very good sleep, warm in bag.
23rd August, Tuesday: Rose at 8.45 and after breakfast struck camp and carried everything down to the dump. After loading everything onto the sledge took it all down to base, meeting the others near the top of the moraine. they had drilled 12 flows and were prospecting for more. At base found that sledge had 6 man-loads on it although it had been easy for 2 men to move.
Spent rest of day reorganizing the ration boxes (which originally had been far too heavy) and restowing them under a tarp rather than in the shed. Weather had earlier been rather dull, but later the sun came out, although towards evening rain cane; not heavy but persistent and continued all night. Tent remained dry.
24th August, Wednesday: Got up about 9.45 and shortly after rain stopped, clouds parted and sun came out. Set off to walk as far as possible along the W side of the fjord and examine basalts for drilling. Unfortunately we were held up by the steep glacier (the only one to be crossed), which had become very slippery after the rain. Had to ascend at least 600' before the gradient eased off and we could cross. lunch by the lagoon with 2 or 3 black/white geese. Later walked on further, but were not able to reach the next glacier due to lack of time. Stopped at as spot with a lot of vegetation: great cushions of moss, bilberries with bright red leaves (it must be Autumn already), crowberries, lichens, willows, etc. Vegetation due to solid ground (not shifting sand and gravel as most is) and constant water. From here had a view to a steep ice foot before a moraine - possibly the next glacier. Returned in about 21/2 hr. Found quartz with specimens of copper mineralization - appears to be native copper weathering to malachite. Dinner: Irish stew spiced up with a little curry powder. Later, rain came on again fairly gently but persistently and continued all night.
25th August, Thursday: Heavy rain all night, but tents miraculously kept it out, until about 9 am when ours sprang a leak. Rain continued most of the day. At one time in the morning Dave (B) and I walked over to the other glacier. Weather looked better with wreaths of mist along hills. Fjord full of icebergs and bergy bits with an appreciable swell (normally there is no swell at head of fjord) coming in making us fearful that our campsite might be swamped. Later rain came on worse and we started to clear an emergency campsite farther from the water. Also started to build a new hut in the off chance that really bad weather might come before the ship. Rain stopped in late afternoon and a brief view of the hill at head of fjord showed much new snow to have fallen higher up. Later very heavy clouds descended to about 500', although barometer on way up.
It can be very spooky here on these dark overcast evenings: the banks of swirling mist, the overwhelming silence, broken only by rumbling and loud reports from the ice, and the proximity of dead men. It is also at these times we are most aware of the possibility of a visit by bears.
26th August, Friday: Slept well, although rain started again in night and at about 7 am found considerable amount of water in the tent and sleeping bag a trifle wet. Covered wet area with a towel and slept on. Got up about 11.45; still raining heavily. Miserable day sitting mostly in mess tent, except when a stream threatened to overrun the camp and new channels had to be dug. At about 9 PM rain stopped and we walked round the coast to the other glacier. Rocks are jet black when wet; great fields of brash ice heaving in the swell and many icebergs around some having recently carved, showing a brilliant blue. Great banks and wreaths of cloud draped around the enormous flanks of the mountains - which look so much bigger when there is cloud about. Several ducks and seals around. When we got back to camp the clouds were breaking up and barometer had risen from 30.2 to 30.4 with temperature falling noticeably. while having the evening drink, several cannon-like shots, assumed to come from the glacier by camp. Turned in at about 1 am for a good night.
27th August, Saturday: Fine and sunny Spent morning drying out equipment: just about everything was damp even if it had not been exposed to the rain. In afternoon all of us walked over to the other side of the moraine with the following purposes: 1. collect acid inclusions in a 60o dike, 2. take photos, 3. make a comprehensive collection of plants for Dave Halliday (Lancaster University), 4. drill and describe a composite dike (Fig. 1 - details under "samples). Brian later (7 PM) went to a site drilled earlier to read the sun compass. Later dined on curry, first pale auroral display of white streamers (sky not very dark at night yet).
28h August, Sunday: In morning, manned a vantage point on moraine to take a 360o panorama with the Leica and panorama device (both had belonged to Wager) and Brian's tripod. Also photographed a spectacular recumbent fold in dirt bands in glacial ice. David (P.) built a large cairn and a message was composed to be inserted in it, which ran:
THESE MEMBERS OF THE 1966 EAST GREENLAND GEOLOGICAL EXPEDITION SPENT ONE MONTH THIS AREA FROM FOURTH AUGUST TO ....1966. WE ATTEMPTED TO CROSS THE KRONBORG GLACIER TO THE LILLOISE BJERGE AT EIGHT PLACES FROM KAP STEPHENSEN TO 7 MILES NNW OF WIEDEMANNS FJORD, BUT WERE UNABLE TO DO SO.Afterwards ate caramel cream pud. prepared by Fred. Weather deteriorated later with a cold wind, but, on turning in, this dropped and rain started.
FORSAN ET HAEC OLIM MEMINISSE IUVABIT.
F. B. Atkins
C. K. Brooks
D. G. Parrish
Department of Geology
29th August, Monday: Rain stopped in course of morning and the sun came out. continued sampling dikes near camp both with hammer and with drill. Heavy mist on mountains at first and streamers of mist down fjord.
30th August, Tuesday: Debated whether to go to the depression on the glacier to collect more of the syenite but decided against as it was rather late. Dismantled radio antenna then sample boulders of syenite near camp. Started packing boxes. In afternoon had a nap in the sun (it having become a perfect day). Half way through dinner we heard the sound of an engine and soon after saw "Polaric" steaming up the fjord although it had not been expected until following day. Fired a salute of guns and ship answered on siren. Doc. [presumably the medical doctor], Prof. [Deer] Harald [seaman], Charles Curtis [geochemist, Sheffield University] and Peter Brown [petrologist, Sheffield University] came ashore in the whaler. We started to pack as quickly as possible, getting on board about nightfall after giving Fred's thunder box a Viking's funeral with the aid of about 1 gall. of paraffin. Drank whiskey for several hours then turned in feeling a bit the worse for wear (sea sick?). Hardly any ice offshore now; we were making rapid progress. Prof. did not seem too surprised to learn that nothing had been achieved. Drinking whiskey until very late with Johan [a seaman].
31st August, Wednesday: Awoke about 7.30 and went on deck. Ship making rapid progress with only a fey big bergs in sight; heavy mist nearly obscuring the land. Somewhere not far off Miki Fjord. Arrived at Kangerdlugssuaq at about midday and anchored in Uttentals Sund near Skaergaard N. margin. V. impressed with the scenery here: Hanging Peak rises vertically for a thousand feet out of the sea, the rest of Skaergaard is extremely rugged, much more than anticipated, while the mountains along the other side of the fjord , particularly along Amdrups Fjord can only be described as spectacular. After eating took one of "Polaric"'s whalers to Skaergaard Peninsula with a 1cwt bag of cement and 2 sacks of sand. Landed on some steep rocks and I carried the cement up the first 50' - a crippling experience. The two Daves, Peter Brown and myself carried bags stretcher-fashion on a pack frame to summit at about 500'. Brian brought up the rear in a jungle hat with a plastic bucket and a spade. An cairn was already there, inscribed "Polarstrøm, 1933". Erected a cairn about 4' high with rubble and concrete center. I did the walling. Finally inserted the brass plague inscribed to Wager. Returned to whaler with Kiwi [New Zealander crew member], losing Prof. and Dave B. on the way., then returned to ship. Weather cloudy but not bad. Sat up late talking with the Kiwi and Johan.
1st September, Thursday: Rose about 7.30 and took whaler to foot of Basistoppen and wandered up. Very spectacular layering in the lower parts. At 1300' took samples at 100' intervals up to OBGg, attempting to duplicate EG4330. Saw Graham Chinner [one of the Cambridge people], collecting lower down and Brown & Curtiss descending from summit down the glacier. Arrived at bottom rather late for the boat ("Polaric" had been to Miki Fjord) and started to walk back, but was picked up half way over Forbindelsesgletscher. Later Eskimos came aboard for a time - some speak a little English. Yarning again with the Kiwi and Johan, so very late to bed.
2nd September, Friday: Another beautiful day. Took whaler to Skaergaard peninsula and collected some rocks. Saw a school of whales close to land - about a score altogether, puffing, snorting and spouting. Examined old Eskimo houses. Later picked up by Prof. & the Kiwi and taken to Mellemø to examine the contact. Returned to the ship at about 6 PM picking up Don Abbott and Curtiss on the way back. After eating took my gear ashore and ensconced in Chinner's tent (Arctic Guinea with flysheet). This is a lovely camp site on side of Uttentals Sund on a gravelly patch among big rocks. Piped water and a hut! Had quick drink with one or two of the others, then Brian and David turned up with Prof. saying the ship would sail in 1/2 an hour [to Iceland - here they would also, alert the American authorities to the plane wreck] Mix-up over Chinner's air ticket and some other items of my gear. "Polaric" hauled up the anchor and got underway, whereupon a panic broke out as some of the passengers were still ashore. As soon as they were on board, "Polaric" sailed away firing shots and blowing siren, while numerous answering shots were fired from the shore. Then about a dozen Eskimos alerted by this departure arrived for coffee. Had a good night in the new tent.
3rd September, Saturday: Beautiful day but a bank of cloud out to sea rapidly growing higher. Went with Peter (Brown) and Charles up Base Peak collecting from the Purple Band downwards. Eskimo (Jochim) arrived with a bone knife he had made for me and stayed until about 3 PM when he paddled off into pitch darkness in his kayak.
4th September, Sunday: Wet day. Nothing much accomplished. In morning visited trough banding with Neil [MacKinnon - from Skye, operator of the "Winky" drill], but returned fairly soon. In evening cooked omelettes and numerous other delicacies.
5th September, Monday: Took drillers down, then Neil. Later returned to camp in the red boat coming across Jochim gliding around in his kayak and Neil onshore, who had spotted a narwhal. Spent most of the afternoon in pursuit. Desultory rain. Later I went to Jochim's for coffee and while there Neil shot the narwhal but it sank.
6th September, Tuesday: Drilled with Neil on some strongly banded rocks in the morning. Later tried dragging for the whale but without success. Later again went to old Base House where I drank coffee in the attic with Ulrik's family. Ulrik himself was away but Jochim and Kio were there. Two bearskins in the hut shot by Ulrik. Tried matak but wasn't greatly impressed. Finally sailed the drillers home.
7th September, Wednesday: Peter Brown and I went to Ivnarmiut to collect from the contact there. Found another old Eskimo house on seaward end of the island. In evening, Neil and I took the red boat and sailed down to the old American Station. 'An Eskimo hunter's boat called at the camp on the way back from Watkins Fjord. Another gave our boat a tow through ice-packed narrows by Ivnarmiut. Saw funny old woman with amaut. Had coffee with a venerable chap with a walnut-colored face called Thomas. Nobody could speak a word of English. Had some trouble getting back due to heavy ice in narrows. Very cold night , water freezing fast. Arrived back about 1 am and made chocolate. there was a bet on the time of arrival of "Polaric". Mine was at midnight and it looked as if I could be close.
8th September, Thursday: Heard "Polaric" about 8 am while still in the bags. Day spent feverishly packing and ferrying stuff to the ship, first in the red boat, later in ship's whaler. In evening, the Eskimos came on board, first a number from the American station, later Nua, Ulrik, Torvald and Joachim. Wonderful display of northern lights. Everything on board except the raft with the heavy machinery from drilling rig, which had to wait for high tide. Piss-up in after cabin with the crew until 5.30 am.
9th September, Friday: Confusion over the time of high tide. a party went down to the raft early and decided high tide would be about 3 PM. Later, I was at the N contact alone and observed tide well up. Johan would not believe it but it proved true. Ship's whaler out of action. Pete Brown and I went down in the red boat and found raft well into the water but not floating (it carried 11/2 -2 tons). Tide still coming in, but not far from high as it was approaching the neaps. the two of us were unable to float it using large baulks of timber as levers. soon whaler arrived with Charlie, Prof. and Johan and our combined efforts - 4 on levers and Johan pulling with the 20 hp whaler succeeded in floating it. Johan towed it back to ship and even with Nua and Torvald's boat helping used 10 gal. gas. Took about 3 hours to get the stuff into the hold. Many Eskimos arrived in the course of this time. Sailed about 5 PM with a great send-off from Eskimos of scores of rifle shots. Passed out into Kangerdlugssuaq through very narrow passage between rocks and grounded icebergs. Proceeded to watering place off Kræmers Ø where ship could get right up to a 100' cliff with a waterfall coming down it. Later drifted around for an hour or so in brilliant sunny Greenland evening. Picked up a long swell in the mouth of the fjord and made a course for Horn in Iceland. Last sight of Greenland was heavily clouded and sky was now leaden. Getting very rough.
10th September, Saturday: At dawn, bucking into a stiff head sea, wind about force 8 with driving spume. Felt slightly seedy, but had breakfast. Nobody came aft from the fo'c'stle - all spewing. Weather continued very rough all day and speed drastically reduced. I felt not bad and ate all meals, but appetite markedly reduced. Took a sea water sample at 5 am about 96 miles off Kap Hammer (course for Horn, Iceland: 116o magnetic)
11th September, Sunday: Got up about 2 am and found land on each side of ship. Learnt from mate that the headland to port was Straumness, Iceland and the ship had put in for shelter. In morning woke up to find ship in a desolate bay surrounded by basalt mountains with patches of snow inland and a few houses visible on shore. Olaf said they were no longer inhabited. stayed all morning and fished getting about 3 doz. cod, up to 2'6" long. Departed about 2 PM and rounded Straumness. Still very windy with a heavy swell running. Passed close to coast rounding Horn (now I can say I have sailed round Cape Horn!!!) then left land behind. Last sight of land : black mountains with the white line of Drangajökul on skyline.
12th September, Monday: Awoke with a mountainous coast in view with snowy tops. Had passed Grimsey in the night. During morning passed along coast of Melrakkasletta. Still rough but most people now appearing at meals. Later in day rounded Langaness, a long, low promontory at NE corner of Iceland, just off the Arctic Circle. Proceeded down a coast of high cliffs capped with mist; now and again valleys lead inland, but little sign of habitation. It is strange to see green hills again, a sensation first encountered at Straumness. Put into Seydisfjördur to pump oil away from heavy swell [???]. Put to sea about 10 PM. Blustery night with low stratus cloud. Gale warning on radio of force 8.
Took a sea water sample about 10 miles off Melrakkaslétta (Hraunhafnatangi bearing 180o and Raudnuppur 180o.
13th September, Tuesday: All day at sea. Still rough. spent most of day in bunk. About 11 PM a lighthouse on the Faeroes came into view.
14th September, Wednesday: Similar day to previous with a long, heavy swell. No land in sight all day. Again spent most of time in bunk reading and sleeping - nowhere else on the ship can be described as comfortable, decks constantly awash, doghouse on stern rolls and vibrates too much, mess room too hot. Steered a course to pass between Fair Isle and Orkney, but didn't see either.3rd sea water sample -62o47'N 09o04'W
15h September, Thursday: Woke to find the ship in the Moray Firth, between the coasts of Banff and Sutherland. Strong wind and heavy sea, but directly astern; ship making 14 knots! Several Grimsby trawlers passed going N and pitching very heavily. Later came abreast of Buchan Ness and Peterhead and could distinguish landmarks ashore. After that no more land seen, but at 11 PM ship was off the Berwick cost and Longstone Light visible. Wind decreased somewhat but still strong.
16th September, Fri day: [This was written from memory a month or so after the event] On waking the ship was anchored in the Wash, along with several other ships - nearest was Greek - waiting for the pilot. Later we proceeded up the canal to Kings Lynn through the strange, flat country of the Fens and tied up in the land-locked dock at Kings Lynn. This was a strange sort of ship here and people were curious. We were not allowed ashore until completion of customs formalities, then a number of people came about - families (including Pauline) and journalists. The latter wanted to know about the plane crash (how had they found out?) and requested any photographic material, which we refused. In afternoon said good-bye to the others - crew and colleagues - and drove across country to Oxford.
Return to TOP of page!
"...Topography Map of mishap site (topography figures are in meters and not feet) and a Survival Knife from site of mishap..." Contributed by Dr. Kent Brooks, Copenhagen, Denmark and forwarded by Bob Pettway firstname.lastname@example.org [15SEP2003]
Mishap Topography Map "...Lilloise Mountains (2700 m) seen from head of Wiedemanns Fjord. Crash site, indicated by arrow, is just off to the right..."
Return to TOP of page!
"...This message was sent by Gretar Felixson of Keflavik, Iceland, along with the two Icelandic Sea/Ground Rescue recovery team photos (see message above), on September 19th, 2001. Forwarded by Bob Pettway email@example.com [16SEP2003]
I am working for NCTS (U.S.Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station), Keflavik, for last 22 years and have been member of AIR GROUND RESCUE, Reykjavík, from 1963.
I have talked to two of the Air Ground Rescue members who were in this 1966 mission. Six of them are still alive. I have also looked in my own files and documents from Air Ground Rescue. And this is my first conclusion.
This plane left Keflavik 07:58Z, for some special mission between Iceland and Greenland. Last message was heard at 09:15 when the plane was 270 miles N-W from Keflavik. Later that day a search was started from the Navy, Icelandic Coast Guard and Danish Royal Air force, and continued for about one week.
On 20 September 1966 the expedition left Iceland on USS "ATKA" with U.S. military-and Air Ground Rescue people. Leader of this mission was Major Cool, from U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. military members where a marines and navy. Leader of the Icelandic team was Sigurdur Waage, vice-chairman of Air Ground Rescue. I have not found so far any report direct from this mission and don't think there is any, possibly because this was not a official mission for us.
To answer your question.
There are still human remains at the site.Tthe area on this time (Sept., 1966) was covered by 3-4 ft.of snow on top of the ice. They excavated about 11.000 sq.ft. over the two days. Everything which was found was turned over to the military people who took care of all plans, (and records!). One of my interlocutor tell me that all bodies were found, the other don´t remember. But both of them know that there was some human remains left. It was impossible to find everything in the snow. he weather forecast was not too good. If they could not use the helicopter, there was a 2-3 days walk and climbing down to the coast (in good weather).
As you can imagine it is a hard work to dig up a snow on a large area, nonstop for 2 days. But they dug up the area every where they could find wreckage. This place is about 2-3 miles from the coast, on top of the icefall and most likely the ice is melting more today than it was few year back, because of changing in weather. Late summer is also having a minimum snow on top of the ice. I don't know when the wreck was last seen, but of course lot of changing can be happening from 1995.
The crew were not in survival suits, and there was not any kind of a fuselage or a big part of the plane. Plane and bodies were in parts spread all over the area.
The Air Ground Rescue have the glacier and climbing experts to go to Greenland but the financial and transportation will be a problem. I don't know if this first step is any help but if you need more help or more information please let us know, we can probably work something out. It is possible to get this old recovery team together again to fresh their memory up.
I enclose some photos from 1966 mission which show the situation on Kronborg glacier.
Return to TOP of page!
"...August 8, 1966..." Contributed by Dr. Kent Brooks, Copenhagen, Denmark and forwarded by Bob Pettway firstname.lastname@example.org [14SEP2003]
Mishap Picture 1 of 3 "...Lilloise Mountains (2700 m) seen from head of Wiedemanns Fjord. Crash site, indicated by arrow, is just off to the right..."
Mishap Picture 2 of 3 "...From near the crash site back to Wiedemanns Fjord. (In those days - prior to helicopters - we used Nansen sledges and man-hauled)..."
Mishap Picture 3 of 3 "...Wreckage on the glacier..."
Return to TOP of page!
"...September 20, 1966 the expedition left Iceland on "ATKA" with military and Air Ground Rescue people. Leader of this mission was Major Cool, from Marine Corps. all the military members where a marines. Leader of the Icelandic team was Sigurdur Waage, vice-chairman of Air Ground Rescue. Pictures were taken September 21-22, 1966..." Contributed by Sigurdur Waage and forwarded by Bob Pettway email@example.com [14SEP2003]
Mishap Picture 1 of 2
Mishap Picture 1 of 2
Return to TOP of page!
"January 12th, 1962 Memorial Summary Page"