Belgrave E. S. Ninnis
AAE position: In charge of sledge dogs
In their own words
From the creation the silence here has been unbroken by man, and now we, a very prosaic group of fellows, are here for an infinitely small space of time, for a short time we shall litter the land with tines, scrap timber, refuse and impedimenta, for a short time we shall be travelling over the great plateau, trying to draw the veil from a fractional part of this unknown land; then the ship will return for us and we shall leave the place to its eternal silence and loneliness, a silence that may never again be broken by a human voice.
– Ninnis, diary entry for 22 January 1912
Educated at Dulwich, England (as was Shackleton), Ninnis was the 23-year-old son of a British Arctic expeditioner and a lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers when he joined the AAE in London. He travelled aboard Aurora to Hobart, where he met Mawson and the rest of the expedition members.
At Cape Denison Ninnis was assisted by Xavier Mertz in the care of the sledge dogs. Their dog-handling skills were a factor in their selection for the Far Eastern Party led by Mawson. The distances to be covered by the party demanded dog teams pulling heavy sledges.
Five hundred kilometres from Cape Denison, on 14 December 1912, Ninnis became the AAE’s first fatality. He was managing the sledge carrying the party’s main provisions when he suddenly disappeared, with sledge and dog team, into a huge crevasse. His body was never recovered.