Trial by Ice: The Antarctic Journals.

This is one of three volumes based on the Davis journals, and some of the Davis journals printed here also appear in his earlier autobiographical work, High Latitude. Davis was the complete sea master, but not an explorer. For the most part his journal entries, written while in command, tend to be short simply because he is very busy, and appears to have no time for reading except as it might be work related. What stands out in this volume is the section on the MawsonDavis BANZARE expedition of 1929-30 where Davis constantly laments the problems of divided command, where Mawson constantly asks Davis to take risks which, according to Davis, Mawson would not take responsibility for if things went wrong. Mawson on the other hand found Davis far too conservative and timid in his concern for the safety of ship and men. Davis may be a somewhat dull and conservative character, but he does come across as the more sympathetic, at least in his own account.

p. 173 March 9 1930 near end of voyage: A very dull day. Everyone is stale and anxious to get home, and I must say I feel the need of a change and exercise again. One does little more than sleep and eat and read. I find it impossible to concentrate on anything and there is not anyone on board that one can make a pal of…. [He never does say what he was reading, alas. This strikes me as a classic case of channel fever.]

p. 174 March 10 1930: Byrd’s expedition has arrived and they have been accorded a great public welcome according to reports. One tires a bit of all the humbug that is associated with such enterprises. How can we judge at this time [that] what they have done [is] worth while.