The United Kingdom has been a leader in Antarctic exploration and research for almost two hundred and fifty years ever since Capt. James Cook circumnavigated the continent during his epic second Round the World voyage of 1772/75. The ‘White Continent’ has held a deep fascination for men including the great explorers of the ‘Heroic Age’ of the first decade of the twentieth century such as William Speirs Bruce, Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, Sir Douglas Mawson and Sir Ernest Shackleton. They and their colleagues crossed the continent in appalling weather conditions which tested their endurance to the limit even to the point of the sacrifice of their lives. Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) of Australia, in particular, successfully combined the ability to explore Antarctica systematically with the discipline of scientific work, and was the leader of the Australian Antarctic Expedition, which discovered and explored George V Land and Queen Mary Land during 1911/14. There were further expeditions during the inter war years such as the British Graham Land Expedition of 1934/37 to discover more about the Graham Land peninsula and the regions behind the Weddell Sea ice sheets.
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