1932-33 East Greenland expedition

The 1932-33 East Greenland expedition led to the death of Gino Watkins. His remains were never found, but there is a memorial to this ill-fated Arctic explorer in St Peter's Church in Dumbleton, UK

The 1932-33 East Greenland expedition, also known as the Pan Am expedition, was a small expedition to Greenland led by Gino Watkins until his death and then by John Rymill.[1] The expedition was intended to continue the work of the previous British Arctic Air Route Expedition (BAARE) that had mapped unexplored sections of Greenland in 1930-1931.[2]


This expedition was to be a one-year venture financed by Pan American Airways as part of a project of eventually building an air base in the Arctic.[3]

The members of this expedition were only four: Gino Watkins as leader, John Rymill (surveyor), Frederick Chapman (ornithologist and photographer) and Quintin Riley (meteorologist). Theiraim was to follow up their work of the previous summer's British Arctic Air Route Expedition as well as undertaking meteorological observations for Pan Am.[3]

The expedition began in July 1932. However, already on 20 August Watkins lost his life while hunting for seals in Tuttilik (Tugtilik Fjord). Later that day his empty kayak was found floating upside down by his companions. His body was never found.[4]

The remaining three men, Chapman, Rymill and Riley decided to continue the expedition but were forced to limit its scope. They wintered in Greenland and surveyed area of about 440 km2, collecting flora and fauna specimens in the process. Chapman and his companions went through many hardships during the winter, braving rough weather conditions. In the spring Chapman spent a month among Ammassalik Inuit studying local birds, meanwhile Rymill and Riley surveyed the coast in order to improve on the maps of the area. The expedition concluded at the end of the 1933 summer season. The three members reached Reykjavik on 24 September, catching a steamer to Hull and returning finally to the United Kingdom in the fall of 1933.[3]


See also


  1. "Mr Watkins' Expedition to East Greenland, 1932–33". Polar Record. Cambridge University Press. 1 (5): 28–30. 1933. doi:10.1017/S0032247400030138. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. Scott, Jeremy (2008). Dancing on Ice: A Stirring Tale of Adventure, Risk and Reckless Folly. London: Old Street Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-905847-50-1.
  3. 1 2 3 East Greenland Expedition (Pan Am) 1932 -33
  4. Watkins, Explorer, Greenland

External links

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