Diet & medical support


Ros Bowden: With these sledging parties, what sort of diet did you take with you? What food

Moyes: Well, the uh, ’cause living in the hut our main meat was seal meat. We killed seals and had that and the main foods were seal meat and bacon was the big thing. But of course out sledging we had the diet which Mawson had laid down for us which was made of pemmican, the main diet. Pemmican is made from equal mixtures of beef and lard and there was about 15 ounces of that and about 14 or 15 ounces of crushed biscuits with plasma in it and then small amounts of chocolate for other times and so on. All together our food was 34 ounces a day a man. And it didn’t seem much when you made your pemmican in the morning. You boiled the water the amount you would want you put it in the pemmican and the crushed biscuit and kept stirring it around till it boiled. And then if you had gauged it properly when you took it out, it would make three mugs of hooch as we called it. And it was very satisfying. That was all your breakfast and a cup of tea. And you kept very fit with that.

Bowden: Talking about fitness, do you remember having any medical problems or was there a common medical problem down there?

Moyes: We were very fortunate. We didn’t have any medical problem in our year down there. The only job the doctor did once, he had to pull out a tooth and at another time a man sprained an ankle going down those slabs to go on to the ice flow …

… I had very bad snow blindness once and we used these little cocaine tablets to put in the eye but otherwise I don’t think the doctor had to use any medicine at all.

Bowden: On any of these sledging parties, did you have any nasty moments when you might have got lost or fallen down crevasses or any sort of dangerous situations?

Moyes: Oh, we often had trouble at crevasses, you know, but we learnt to look for them and go over them pretty safely. The only bad time we had was beside I told you I lived in that trench, in the second depot party we were held up in the longest blizzard ever known, I think we were in a tent for 15 days. And we had to cut down our food supply. We had plenty of food there because we were taking out a sledge load of food to leave at the depot but we did not want to use any of that. So we halved our rations after the first week, the result being when we finally got out of the blizzard over two weeks we were pretty weak and very stiff because we were in our sleeping bags all the time. So it was very uncomfortable but there was no danger there in that at all …

Bowden: How long did you spend in that base before the ship came back for you?

Moyes: Oh, we were there for a year. We landed, you see, at the end of January and the ship came back to us at the end of January the next year. So we were there just on 12 months on the ice shelf.

Bowden: Were you pleased to get back on the ship again?

Moyes: Oh yes. We’d really had it I think by that time and also we were happy because we had, against all the difficulties we’d had earlier, we’d had a very good result. We had a good lot of scientific information ready and we had added 250 miles of a new country on to the chart, that’s that land we discovered, Queen Mary Land. So we were pretty happy to come back and be able to say we’d done something.