Arthur J. Sawyer

A. J. Sawyer, Wireless Operator, Macquarie Island party
A. J. Sawyer, Wireless Operator, Macquarie Island party. Mitchell Collection, State Library of New South Wales (Photo: Harold Hamilton)

AAE position: Wireless operator

With Hamilton, Arthur Sawyer was one of two New Zealand members of the Macquarie Island party. He was born in 1885.

Sawyer was a telegraphic operator with the Australasian Wireless Company when he joined the expedition on the basis of his practical experience. Mawson attached considerable significance to his plan to link Antarctica and Australia by wireless telegraphy, making Sawyer’s position in the Macquarie Island party especially important.

Sawyer jealously guarded his place as chief wireless operator, sleeping with his equipment and resisting efforts by the group’s leader, George Ainsworth, to ‘interfere’. ‘There is only one way to run this wireless and that is my way,’ he wrote in his diary.

He remained chief wireless operator until August 1913, when illness forced his early return to New Zealand. He appears to have enlisted for war service, but spent at least part of these years in Nauru, where he kept a diary.

This page was last modified on July 2, 2014.