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Thread: Murray Douglas’ Watch (CTAE)

  1. #1

    Murray Douglas’ Watch (CTAE)

    Hello all, I posted this over at mwr but I thought you chaps might be interested in it too?

    (The mwr thread is here: https://www.mwrforum.net/forums/show...(CTAE-content) )

    Murray Douglas’ Watch

    I was working at the computer on Saturday afternoon when an email arrived from the great John Senior.

    Had I seen this?

    I had not. But I thought it was a nice watch with interesting history.

    As it turned out I was the only bidder so I won the auction very cheaply, which is no reflection on the seller as it was well listed.

    Some pics from the ebay listing (better photos than I could take)

















    Who was Murray Douglas?

    “Murray Douglas was part of the New Zealand contingent on the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition [CTAE] which took place in 1956/57.

    He was a mechanic and a dog handler.

    A top mountain guide, later, he was to run a tourist shop in Lake Benmore.

    Mount Douglas is a striking pyramidal peak in Antarctica, 1,750 m, near the head of Fry Glacier, on the divide between the Fry and Mawson Glaciers. The New Zealand Northern Survey Party of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1956-58) established a survey station on its summit in December 1957.

    Mount Douglas is named for Murray H. Douglas”

    Source: http://douglashistory.co.uk/history/murraydouglas.htm

    “Another person with climbing experience was Murray Douglas who had originally been assigned as a member of the summer party for the 1956-57 season. However, Hillary had seen the need for an extra person to help Ayres out with the dogs and decided that Douglas should remain for the coming year. Hillary had not gained Ross Sea Committee approval for this change and towards the end of the summer season rather than make a formal request, he decided to send Douglas on an extended sledging journey to ensure that Endeavour would have sailed north by the time he returned to Scott Base. The RSC were not amused calling Hillary’s gambit a “...a somewhat high-handed action” and with no practical alternative were forced to acquiesce and give their consent.”

    Source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35472219.pdf

    Film footage here:

    https://www.coolantarctica.com/Commu...expedition.php

    N.B. the final instalment: at 05:20 Fuchs appears to be wearing a black dialled watch — IWC Mk XI? — on his right wrist and the Smiths 27CS (?) on his left.

    Look here for pics of the man himself https://adam.antarcticanz.govt.nz/nodes/view/45461

    And the inevitable wikipedia page

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common...tic_Expedition

    plus some extra details here:

    https://adam.antarcticanz.govt.nz/nodes/view/33008


    The watch is running (Felsa 690 movement, nothing special but solid enough). I’m checking timekeeping but it might end up going for the “Senior Spa” treatment if it’s anything less than COSC. Heck, at my age a Senior Spa sounds increasingly like a good idea. (Although I don’t think John wants to oil my jewels.)

    Thanks to Mr S for the heads up and to you for reading.

    As you were.

  2. #2
    Master RLE's Avatar
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    Wow. What a great find.

    I always enjoy your posts Rev. Fantastic informative detail as usual.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by RLE View Post
    Wow. What a great find.

    I always enjoy your posts Rev. Fantastic informative detail as usual.
    Thanks!

    The trouble is I then had to buy more stuff to go with the watch.

    A book with lots of new photos.

    A NOS Bravingtons strap.

    An original (?) Expedition badge.

    Some pics to prove I've been busy:















    Last edited by Rev-O; 15th October 2020 at 18:02.

  4. #4
    Journeyman
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    That's quite a find, well done.

    I probably wouldn't have picked up on the watch's history from looking at the auction description. It's perfectly accurate and complete, but doesn't scream about itself. Maybe a few "R@RE!!!!!!!" lines would have helped :)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by animaal View Post
    That's quite a find, well done.

    I probably wouldn't have picked up on the watch's history from looking at the auction description. It's perfectly accurate and complete, but doesn't scream about itself. Maybe a few "R@RE!!!!!!!" lines would have helped :)
    Thanks

    Some personal recollections of the man, which gives a little colour and detail.

    "Douglas, Murray. (1927–1992) Mountaineer

    Polar Medal. Born and educated in Dunedin. A keen member of the Otago Tramping Club. When he was selected for TAE , he was working at the Hermitage at Mt Cook as assistant chief guide. His key role in the expedition was as mountaineer, but he also served as assistant dog handler, tractor driver and mechanic. He was originally selected as a member of the summer party, but Hillary kept him south as the 23rd member of the wintering party. After the expedition, he worked on the Ohau skifield for the Mt Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company. In the 1960s he moved to Otematata where he bought the information centre, also racing a launch called Miss Benmore. In the early 1980s he worked as caretaker of the camping ground at Gore Bay near Cheviot."

    https://nzaht.org/conserve/explorer-...ott-base/crew/

    "Murray Douglas of the Hermitage, easily the most powerful man on the expedition"

    Source: http://gunn.co.nz/antarctic/05

    "A Weasel had, it seemed, forty points to grease (which only the conscientious Murray Douglas had so far bothered to do!)."

    http://gunn.co.nz/antarctic/10

  6. #6
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    ..............

    Film footage here:

    https://www.coolantarctica.com/Commu...expedition.php

    N.B. the final instalment: at 05:20 Fuchs appears to be wearing a black dialled watch — IWC Mk XI? — on his right wrist and the Smiths 27CS (?) on his left.

    ............




    At 8.18 he checks his watch. I took these screengrabs for a project about the various expeditions with Smiths watches.



    I love this expedition. With the snowcats and that environment, it looks like star wars. It must have been tough on the watches.
    New Rolex adage: The customer is always wrong!

  7. #7
    Half way through film 4 is a bit of a cliff hanger, I remember photos of those snow cats from my childhood, what a treat to see footage of one , many thanks .

  8. #8
    The film (footage and stills) was taken by George Lowe who was the team’s photographer. He was also part of the Hunt Expedition in 1953 when Hillary reached the summit of Everest

  9. #9
    Master Wooster's Avatar
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    How cool is that... A terrific find and a great story. Imo, this is what this hobby should more often be about. Thanks for sharing!

  10. #10
    Very cool find

    Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Thanks chaps!

    Sorry, I'm now using this thread as my own personal dump I mean archive.

    Here's some pics of Murray Douglas

    with his pipe





    Chilling (literally) on a Weasle -- nice hat, Murray!



    And -- best of all -- "I'll just check my watch and make some notes about the meteorology or altitude or something."


  12. #12
    Over the last couple of years I've enjoyed collecting straps -- especially as watch prices have rocketed.

    A change of strap makes a big difference to the look and feel of a watch and if it's historically "right" or has some connection then all the better.

    So here's this one on a NOS English pigskin and a NOS sealskin -- yep, a polar strap on a polar watch!





    And the one I love!




  13. #13
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    The watch is currently on display as part of the historic watches exhibition at the History of Science Museum in Oxford.



    https://www.hsm.ox.ac.uk
    My old clock used to tell the time and subdivide diurnity; but now it's lost both hands and chime and only tells eternity. PH

  14. #14
    Journeyman Caminos's Avatar
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    Very interesting. This kind of history attached to one watch make different the way to hold, see and wearing your watch. For this reason for me is very difficult to sale one watch. Each one has something to say.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  15. #15
    Re the Oxford Exhibition:

    I think I'm right in saying that Hurley has more material than the cabinet could hold so he’s going to rotate some pieces in/out which will refresh it. Nice wide spread of ages, examples, geography etc. Something for everyone. My little Hafis actually looks quite at home among all the big names and fancy stories. I thought it might be the poor relation but it fairly holds its own. The sealskin strap is certainly a talking point!

  16. #16
    Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    (Although I don’t think John wants to oil my jewels.)
    That is a blessing.

    Love your posts by the way. Thoroughly informative.

    I was due to visit the Karakoram at one point and if I ever end up going I shall be consulting your threads for the right watch to take.

  17. #17
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    The film (footage and stills) was taken by George Lowe who was the team’s photographer. He was also part of the Hunt Expedition in 1953 when Hillary reached the summit of Everest
    My parents were good friends with George and Mary Lowe when in Derbyshire, a very interesting and accomplished man.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    That is a blessing.

    Love your posts by the way. Thoroughly informative.

    I was due to visit the Karakoram at one point and if I ever end up going I shall be consulting your threads for the right watch to take.
    Thanks! I enjoy the research and at Ł200 this watch was practically a gift, so it seemed silly not to pursue it and get the information.

    I was aware of the CTAE and the facts (plus lots of lovely colour photos and footage) are mostly available online. But more books are en route so maybe I'll be able to add extra details and pictures.

    Lowe was right in saying it was the last great Expedition, the end of the Age of Explorers, before space and rockets and jets and so on meant it was less "man vs elements" and more about technology -- and politics. After this is was all about further and faster (including supersonic and nuclear) rather than about being outside and pitting the human body's physical limitations against the extremes of the environment. With the CTAE we'd more or less conquered earth and now it was time to look elsewhere: chiefly space, but also the ocean depths and the inner workings of the atom, electronics and so on. Science rather than endurance.



    Quote Originally Posted by thebuffoon View Post
    My parents were good friends with George and Mary Lowe when in Derbyshire, a very interesting and accomplished man.
    He certainly writes very well and seems like an intelligent but humble man.

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