Description1928-30 Byrd Antarctic Expedition- Chief Engineer Thomas B. Mulroy's Personal Diary for August 24 to December 31 of the year 1928 and also January 1 to May 2 of the year 1930 (the diary for the entire year of 1929 is also in this sale). Before this trip, his second with Byrd, Thomas Mulroy's friends got together and bought him this 5" x 8" handsome, leatherbound, personalized journal with "Smiling Tom Mulroy" and "Byrd Antarctic Expedition 1928" both gold-stamped on the cover. They have inscribed and signed the first blank page. The first lined page has a poignant message from Mulroy, in full: "Thanks to my 'Pals' for this little gift. My Request- If anything should happen to me that I should not return safe with my comrades, may some one forward this book to my 'Great Pal' and 'Leader' 'Comdr. R.E. Byrd,' who in turn shall give it to my Sister Della ['wife Ruth' has been crossed out here], Mulroy, and read it to my 'Pals' Signed Lt. 'Tom' Mulroy Chief Eng.".
This exploration expedition to the Antarctic region undertaken in 1928 was really the first to take full advantage of modern technologies such as airplanes, aerial cameras, snowmobiles, and sophisticated radio communications. Two ships and three airplanes were taken on this trip; the first ship, the City of New York, left Hoboken on August 25, 1928. A base camp, "Little America" was set up on the Ross Ice Shelf and many scientific surveys were carried out from there. On November 29, 1929, Byrd and three others attempted to fly the Floyd Bennett (named after his late pilot) to the South Pole and back in a 18+ hour trip in which they had to dump empty gas tanks and their emergency supplies in order to achieve the needed altitude. The flight was successful and another entry went into the record book for Byrd. Mulroy's detailed journal gives us a "you were there" look at the long journey; a few brief excerpts follow:
August 25 - "Well here I am again starting out on another great adventurous trip to the South Pole with 70 souls including Comdr Byrd. I wonder how many of these fine healthy looking men will return safe and sound. I do hope if anything should happen to me while down on that unknown continent they would leave me there in the great silent which I love so well...Another sailing day for another great expedition with Commander Byrd...Left Peir [sic] 1 Hoboken at PM...found stowaway in officers washes room a young chap named Jack Sullivan put him aboard a harbor tug...crew looks pretty green but looks like a good bunch of boys..."
August 26 - "...waiting for a change of wind so we can see what the old Girl will do under her new set of sails...Everybody listening to radio after dinner..."
August 27 - "109 miles to-day...Fine Weather smooth sea everybody working hard...hot in the engineer room and fireroom lost about 5 lbs since leaving..."
August 29 - "Drifted 69 miles to ward N.Y. today sails not worth a dam [sic]"
August 30 - "...checking over food supplies, well I hope who ever loaded this ship all their children are borned [sic] with tails..."
September 1 - "Weather dam [sic] hot...Had all hands on deck to-night and each member had a musical instrument of some kind it sure did sound like hell..."
September 3 - "...So this is Labor Day, but it doesn't mean a dam [sic] thing to us, as we labor just the same..."
September 5 - "...received a wire from Byrd he is very much disappointed in the speed of the ship, so am I. I think with experienced fireman I could make the old girl sing..."
October 3 - "...we received word that the white collared brigade of the expedition lefted [sic] by rail for San Pedro...after sending us a coded message tell us to cut down our meats, provisions, and expenses in each dept. as the expedition has a shortage of $150,000 why shouldn't it when that gang of bums ride around in pullman cars. Oh! boy I'm just waiting for the day to put some of those S.B.s on the ice..."
October 16 - "Well I had a very pleasant surprize [sic] yesterday evening, the gang aft happened to find out it was my birthday so Doc broke out a bottle of rum and for a birthday cake with candles, we had a doughnut with 8 matches in it..."
November 3 - "Went aboard to see if they got O'Brien out of jail, everything O.K. went ashore with Capt. Brown..."
November 6 - "...The gang is having quite a time on deck, hear them making speeches for Hoover & Smith..."
November 10 - "...Well nothing unusual has happened to-day those who are not laid up sick are striving to do one thing and that is to get there..."
November 11 - "Well this is the day of memories Armatice [sic] Day...we stood in solemn pray [sic] for 2 minutes for those we lost. I wonder who will be present to salute again in Armatice day 1930 from our own little expedition"
November 21 - "This date is out as we crossed the fence which is the 180° meridian so we advance our date 1 day..."
December 1 - "Loading cargo & dogs sure are a fine bunch of dogs. Ready to leave..."
December 9 - "...we are passing our first ice, I have never seen such icebergs in my life..."
December 11/10 - "...recrossed the 180° Meridian West so we drop back a day. In the Antarctic Ocean. Cold weather Snowing. Well there's the Larsen what a (11:00 AM) sight to see. They are just hauling a whale up through the trap door...the only thing they don't use of the whale is the grunt it makes when struck by the harpoon..."
December 31 - "Bay of Whales. Well this is the last day of old 1928, I wonder what the gang is doing to-night..."
The entire year of 1929 is in a separate journal that is also offered in this sale. Mulroy picks up the narrative again in this book on January 1, 1930 as they are preparing to go home, waiting for the icepacks to cooperate. Again, it's a long and hard journey:
January 4 - "...people in the states or elsewhere do not realize the torture a man undergoes when down here at this time, one is confined to a small area day in & day out with nothing to do only wait, the bay is to [sic] dangerous due to the breaking up..."
January 8 - "It really stopped blowing & drifting...so all hand took to the great Antarctic sport shoveling snow as every window, storeroom, entrance & gasolene [sic] tunnel filled to the top..."
January 12 - "...Comdr is still figuring on another expedition down here in 1932. with better equipment."
January 23 - "...things are about the same as yesterday in regards of getting out of here a report from the whalers states the ice pack is as bad as ever..."
February 1 - "Well another month...just making time...it's the same old talk about getting out..."
February 9 - "At Floyd Bennett Bay...thank goodness I left Little America...the Comdr. does not know what a favor he did me by letting me come here for the rest of my stay..."
February 17 - "...that one thing I hold against Comdr. he'll never consult anyone who nows [sic] anything about it. I'm sorry but I think this expedition spells his finish..."
February 19 - "Onboard the C[ity] of N[ew] Y[ork] Finished loading & under way at 8:30 AM all hands of L[ittle] A[merica]..."
March 9 - "First real clear day for over 2½ months..."
March 11 - "In Dunedin having a hell of a good time. It seems like the people of New Zealand can not do enough for us."
March 24 - "At Sea rough as hell half the gang sea sick or rum sick bound for Papeete Tahiti"
April 1 - "Still blowing 70 to 80 miles an hour it sure is miserable not a dry place on the ship"
April 11 - "...Lord but she is a miserable ship, I've never seen such a discontented gang of men in my life as we have on board here"
April 14 - "...what a time one can have on this beautiful Island They gave a dance for us...never seen such beautiful women in my life...half French & half Tahitian and love, Oh, boy, they have it..."
April 20 - "At sea & hotter than seven kinds of hell- Easter Sunday & I'm all dress [sic] up & no where to go, a pair of drawers & grass slippers on and they are to dam [sic] warm"
The entries stop on May 2 though it would be June 18 before they arrived home. Beside the daily entries, Mulroy kept track of miles traveled, longitude/latitude, weather, and temperatures throughout much of the diary. Included, as found in the journal, are a number of additional items- notes, menus, Tahiti bar bills, and some nice original photos, all relating to the trip. Also, a group of transcripts that have been edited and "cleaned-up" by Mulroy, possibly in preparation for publication or for reference. An excellent historical archive.
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