Then the mission that had been expected to last for between 6-8
months, came to an early and faltering end. The Chilean press reported that the
mission had "run into trouble" and that there had been "many fatalities". (The
official record, though, states that one plane crashed killing three men; a
fourth man had perished on the ice; two helicopters had gone down although their
crews had been rescued and a task force commander was nearly lost (7).) The Chilean claims to one side, it is known that the Central
Group of Operation Highjump were evacuated by the Burton Island ice-breaker from
the Bay of Whales (above) on 22nd February 1947; the Western Group
headed home on 1st March 1947 and the Eastern Group did likewise on
4th March, a mere eight weeks after arrival.
Quite what was going on is still not a matter of public
record, however it is known that Byrd was immediately summoned to Washington and
interrogated by the Security Services on his return after being initially
‘welcomed back’ by Secretary of War James Forrestal (left) on 14th
April 1947. (Forrestal was late to commit suicide.)
On 5th March 1947 the ‘El Mercurio’ newspaper
of Santiago, Chile, ran the headline ‘On Board the Mount Olympus on the High
Seas’ which quoted Byrd in an interview with Lee van Atta.
"Adm. Byrd declared
today that it was imperative for the United States to initiate immediate defence
measures against hostile regions. The Admiral further stated that he didn’t want
to frighten anyone unduly but it was a bitter reality that in case of a new war
the continental United States would be attacked by flying objects which could
fly from pole to pole at incredible speeds.
Admiral Byrd repeated the above points of view, resulting from his
personal knowledge gathered both at the north and south poles, before a news
conference held for International News Service." Bearing in mind that all this
occurred (the search for craft that could fly from pole to pole at ‘incredible’
speeds) a year after the war had ended with Germany defeated, makes it
all the more intriguing.
So who was the
enemy that owned or flew these flying objects? Germany was apparently defeated,
and there was no evidence that the new emerging enemy, Russia, had such superior
Certainly there was
no other known country whose activities that could explain the US invasion of
Antarctica nor for the development of any craft that could fly "fly from Pole to
pole with incredible speeds."
Rumours began to circulate that whilst
Germany had been defeated, a selection of military personnel and scientists had
fled the fatherland as Allied troops swept across mainland Europe and
established themselves at a base on Antarctica from where they continued to
develop advanced aircraft based on extraterrestrial technologies. (It is
interesting to note that at the end of the war the Allies determined that there
were 250,000 Germans unaccounted for, even taking into account casualties and
Incredible as it may sound, there is considerable supporting
evidence for these claims about a German base for, on the very eve of the Second
World War, the Germans themselves had invaded part of Antarctica and claimed it
for the Third Reich.
In fact Hitler had authorised several
expeditions to the poles shortly before WWII. Their stated objective was to
either to rebuild and enlarge Germany’s whaling fleet or test out weaponry in
severely hostile conditions. Yet, if true, all of this could have been
achieved at the North Pole rather than at both poles and been much closer to
The Germans had long held an interest in the South Polar
region of Antarctica with the first Germanic research of that area being
undertaken in 1873 when Sir Eduard Dallman (1830-1896) discovered new Antarctic
routes with his ship ‘Grönland’ during his expedition for the German
polar Navigation Company of Hamburg. (The Grönland also achieved the distinction
of being the first steamer to operate in the southern ocean.)
A further expedition took place in the early years of the
twentieth century in the ship the Gauss (which became embedded in the ice
for 12 months – above), and then a further expedition took place in 1911 under
the command of Wilhelm Filchner (left) with his ship the ‘Deutchland’.
Between the wars, the Germans made a further voyage in 1925
with a specially designed ship for the Polar Regions, the ‘Meteor’ under
the command of Dr. Albert Merz.
Then, in the years directly preceding
the Second World War, the Germans laid claim to parts of Antarctica in order to
set up a permanent base there.