Wireless problems

The main difficulties stemmed from the island’s wet, windy weather. Constant gales battered the aerial system and wireless hut, and the aerial blew down several times. Keeping the two masts upright was a continuing headache — the sodden, peaty ground was too soft for reliable guy-wire anchors.

From April 1912 both radio operators had slept on Wireless Hill. They were often at work until the early hours and so would sleep in and not appear at ‘the Shack’ (the main living quarters) until lunchtime.

They also seem to have wanted to live apart from Ainsworth, whom Sawyer found wanting as a leader. ‘Ainsworth again interfering with me and heated words ensued,’ wrote Sawyer in his diary. ‘There is only one way to run this wireless and that is my way … I am determined to stand by my principles and will resent any interference on his part. I fully recognise him as O in C [Officer in Charge] of this party but he has nothing to do with my particular branch of this expedition.’