IN his attack on my article (‘‘Flaws in the Ice’’, December 1-2), Syd Kirkby tries to defend Douglas Mawson. But he does protest too much. Contrary to his assertion, it was a terrible blunder by Mawson to put all the dog food and most of the human food on one sledge and the fuel on the other. It was the polar equivalent of putting all his eggs in one basket. And he and Mertz paid grievously for that decision.
Also contrary to Kirkby’s assertion, they could not have survived the loss of the fuel-laden sledge. Without fuel, Mawson and Mertz might well have resorted to eating snow. But it would not have sustained them over a 480km journey lasting more than a month. As medical experts warn, eating snow only would have exacerbated their hypothermia and led to their deaths. Without fuel, it also would have been impossible for them to eat the hard-frozen, raw dog meat.
With not even enough food left