Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs

(1908—1999) explorer and scientist

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British geologist and explorer who led the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which made the first overland crossing of Antarctica (1957–58). He was knighted in 1955 and made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. Fuchs read geology at St John's College, Cambridge. In 1929, immediately after graduating, he accompanied the Cambridge East Greenland Expedition. During the 1930s he was a member of four expeditions to east Africa and he received his PhD in 1935 for a thesis about the tectonic geology of the rift valley in that region. After serving in the Cambridgeshire Regiment during World War II, in west Africa and northwest Europe, he was demobilized as a major and in 1947 was appointed leader of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, based at Stonington Island. His duties involved surveying the British sector of Antarctica whose sovereignty was disputed by Argentina. During his spell as director of the Falkland Islands Dependencies scientific bureau (1950–55), Fuchs obtained support for his proposed transantarctic expedition. Financed by HM Government, the Royal Geographical Society, and private donation, it became part of the British contribution to the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). In November 1955, Fuchs set out aboard Theron for Vahsel Bay on the Weddell Sea coast. His team were collaborating with a New Zealand contingent led by Sir Edmund Hillary, whose task was to set up supply bases along the route. Using snow tractors, Fuchs's team left Shackleton base on 24 November 1957, reached the South Pole on 19 January and finally arrived at Scott base on the McMurdo Sound on 2 March, having completed the 2158 miles in 98 days. Fuchs was awarded a special gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society to mark his achievement. In 1958 he was appointed director of the British Antarctic Survey, retiring in 1973. His books include The Crossing of Antarctica (with Hillary; 1958), Of Ice and Men (1982), and A Time to Speak (1990).

From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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