20 July 2008

Music on the Antarctic

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Sally Douglas from Australia who sent me a message: My father was a member of the BANZARE and I have 3 Goodson records - each seems to have one song per side - three of the songs are "Let's Pretend", "Girl Friend" and the "French Song". I told you about this before in the contribution titled Mawson Antarctic Expedition. She is the daughter of Eric Douglas, pilot-officer from the Royal Australian Airforce and one of the members of the so-called BANZAR-expedition, the British-Australian-New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929 - 1931 The leader of this expedition was sir Douglas Mawson, who also took part on previous expedition, like the Australian Antarctic Expedition of 1910.

Eric Douglas, one of the pilots of the Gipsy Moth airplanes ( photo National Library of Australia)
Sally told me that she had three Goodson Records that had been from her father. Goodson Records are white flexible records, unbreakable, pliable and, non-flammable, due to the material it was made of: Rhodoid. These white colored records where very suitable for advertisement prints as these records had no paper label around the spindle-hole like other 78rpm records, but a complete printable surface, including the groove.

The Discovery with autographs after it returned safely March 1931 ( National Library of Australia)
The three Goodson Records in Sally Douglas' archive were made specially for this expedition. On the record it says: Presented to the MAWSON ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1929" and has a picture of the three masted ship "The Discovery". It seems to me that these three Goodson Records were unique records - probably the only known copies that were aboard the ship.

Eric Douglas mentions the gramophone in one of his letters. (Sally Douglas archive)
The three Goodson Records all have the same text and pictures on its surface, but each one has a different tune: "Let's Pretend", "Girl Friend" and the "French Song". Arthur Badrock, discographer and compiler of the Goodson Record Discography don't mentions these three titles, but another one for this record: Oh You Have No Idea by the Southern Melody Serenaders (A Fred Hall studio band), which could mean that there have been more then three unique copies aboard.
Photo of the men resting and smoking aboard the ship with the HMV gramophone at the right. Eric Douglas could be the man on the bed on the left,smoking a pipe. (photo National Library of Australia)
On the ship was, of course, also an HMV wind-up gramophone to play these records. We don't know if other records where taken along, but pictures suggest "black' records, which could mean that also shellack records were on the ship, or "black" flexible records, like Filmophones - fact is that Goodson Records were available and they are featherweight, pliable and unbreakable, as was labeled on the record, very suitable for such an expedition. The fact they survived the expedition proves this.
One of the Goodson records (collection Sally Douglas)
In the log Eric Douglas tells about it and on the 6th of January 1931, the day after they proclaimed parts of Antarctic, Territory of King George V land and its extension under the name of Oates land, situated between Longitudes 142 and 162 east of Greenwich and between Latitudes 66 South and the South Pole. The cermony took place at noon and the flag was hoisted by the Skipper after the Proclamation was read out by Sir Douglas. After three cheers were given, the Ceremony was completed.
Sir Douglas Mawson, leader of the expedition ( photo Parliament House Canberra exhibition)
Later that day they visited a rookery of Adelie pinguins nearby and Eric Douglas writes about that: We brought along a portable H.M.V. gramophone and played it to the Penguins in a nearby rookery, they did not appreciate good music, but kept picking at the instrument in their anger.
Eric Douglas plays his music for the pinguins at Adelie Land (Cape Dennison - Commonwealth Bay 5th of January 1931) (National Library of Australia)
Isn't that great? Thanks Sally for sharing the photos of these unique and very rare Goodson Records and the photos of your father's archive. It is really amazing to learn that after so many years these relics of this expedition can be shared with the readers of this blog.
Hans Koert -

This contribtuion is also posted at the Keep swinging blog as Music to the Antarctic and in a Dutch translation tomorrow as Muziek op de Zuidpool.. In the precious contribution Mawson Antarctic Expedition, you can read more discographical information, if available, about the the records itself.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home