John Henry Collinson Close

AAE position: Assistant collector

John Henry Collinson Close was born in Sydney in 1871. He was in his late twenties when the South African war broke out; he enlisted and saw active service in Rhodesia.

When he was selected to join the AAE, Close was a teacher of physical culture at Sydney. A member of several sledging parties, he spent two summers and one winter in the Antarctic.

On one of the sledging journeys, Close was instrumental in saving his own life and that of his two companions, Frank Stillwell and Charles Laseron. The three were about to enjoy a hot breakfast at ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ — a shelter dug out of the snow on the plateau above Cape Denison — when in quick succession Stillwell and Laseron suddenly collapsed unconscious.

Realising that accumulating carbon monoxide was threatening their lives, Close thrust an ice axe through the snow blocking the cave’s entrance before blacking out himself. The deadly gas escaped through the small hole, allowing the three men to regain consciousness and make a slow recovery.

The story of Close’s life after his return from the AAE in 1913 is not known.