In 1997, the 50th anniversary of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, it is most appropriate that the Naval Review should include a “salute” to Morton Henry Moyes. He was one of the pioneers of Antarctica and a ‘founding member” of the Royal Australian Navy. Those of us whom he taught are honoured in having known him. WFC.
We are come to honour and to mourn the passing of a fine man who, during his long life achieved great things – Captain Morton Henry Moyes.
He was a true leader – a simple man – a modest man – in very truth a gentle man.
He was born in South Australia in 1886 – 95 years ago – and into a family that has provided Australia with a remarkable collection of leaders in many walks of life – in the Church, in the Professions and in Business.
He had a distinguished academic and athletic career both at his school St. Peters College and at the University of Adelaide. This love of sport persisted and I can well remember his enthusiastic and very vocal support on the football, cricket and athletic fields.
And coupled with this love of sport was a deep and abiding fellow feeling for his fellow man – and Daddy – as he was affectionately known to many of us here – remains in our hearts and minds as a lifelong and devoted friend.
In 1913 his adventurous spirit found an outlet when he was selected to join the handpicked team of 18 which formed Dr. Mawson’s Australian Antarctic Expedition.
It was here in Antarctica that Daddy Moyes – an extrovert if ever there was one – had to learn to live in solitude with his soul.
It was planned that three parties should set out for a week’s trek over the ice while Moyes the meteorologist remained at Base to continue his observations alone.
But the plans went awry and at the end of the week, there was no sign of any of the parties returning.
It is hard to imagine in these days of radio, television and satellite communication, the utter loneliness of a man living in complete solitude, and with the fear and anxiety of what might have happened to his mates.
Time went by and eventually and desperately he set out on foot – man hauling a sledge – in search of them and covering an arc of some 40 miles radius. But it was all in vain, and eventually, and in agony from snow blindness, he was forced to return to his hut.
It was not until three endless months later that the exploratory parties managed to fight their way back to the Base.
But, this experience brought out some of the philosopher and even the poet in him. Listen to his words:
“The solitude went with me like an unseen presence, an utterly silent, friendless watcher”, and, “That country built frost on a man, plated him with ice, stiffened his garments like armour. It found him out in character and physical endurance”, and finally: “I don’t know what drove me on. But a man is never beaten, I think, until he beats himself”.
And nothing beat Captain Moyes. For 18 years he remained associated with Antarctic exploration and was a member of 3 separate expeditions.
He was awarded the Silver Polar Medal, the Bronze Polar Medal and a Bar to the Bronze Polar Medal. Cape Moyes in Antarctica commemorates his name.
In early 1914 Captain Creswell as he then was, sought out the young meteorologist and navigator Moyes to help him train the infant Royal Australian Navy, and Daddy joined the Naval College as an Instructor in Navigation.
During World War I he served in HMAS Encounter.
After the war and looking to the future – as he always did – he organised Educational courses for ratings, and was responsible for building up the Schoolmaster Branch.
In 1935 he was created an officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Disappointed that at 54 he was considered too old for service at sea in World War II he organised correspondence school courses for men at sea and initiated a Psychology section in the RAN so that vocational guidance could be given.