The "terra firma" anecdote: On the attempt to deceive Roald Amundsen during the meeting between the Fram and Terra Nova expeditions in 1911
Review article, 2020

This paper discusses an unsourced anecdote in Roland Huntford’s dual biography of Scott and Amundsen and their race for the South Pole; the first edition of the book was published in 1979. During a meeting between the Fram and Terra Nova in the Bay of Whales on 4 February 1911, Lieutenant Victor Campbell allegedly told Roald Amundsen—in order to deceive him—that one of the British motor sledges was “already on terra firma”. In a recent article in Polar Record, Huntford received criticism for (seemingly) having imagined the episode. However, a description of this incident, though with a slight variation compared to Huntford’s version, can be found in Tryggve Gran’s book, Kampen om Sydpolen [The Battle for the South Pole], published in 1961. Hence, one must conclude that Campbell really did try to mislead Amundsen regarding the motor sledges. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the attempted deception had an impact on Amundsen’s plan for his south polar journey.

Motor sledges

“Terra firma”

Victor Campbell

Roald Amundsen

Bay of Whales


Björn Lantz

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management, Innovation and R&D Management

Polar Record

0032-2474 (ISSN) 1475-3057 (eISSN)

Vol. 2020 e29

Subject Categories

History and Archaeology



More information

Latest update