Clarence Petersen de la Motte

AAE position: Third Officer of SY Aurora

In their own words

The total number of people on board the Aurora, including Sir Ernest Shackleton, was 25 and I was fortunate in having one of the officers who had served with me on previous Antarctic voyages. CP de la Motte, who had been Third Officer in the Aurora in 1911, was now my Chief Officer.

— JK Davis, High Latitude, speaking of the 1916–17 Ross Sea relief expedition

Clarence Petersen de la Motte is one of a handful of men to have received both bronze and silver Polar Medals.

Born in 1892, de la Motte hailed from Woonona near Bulli, New South Wales. His early maritime training was on the New Zealand barque Northern Chief. He obtained his second mate’s certificate in March 1911, after which he served for eight months as fourth officer on SS Warrimoo, of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.

De la Motte served as third officer through all five cruises of Aurora from 1911 to 1914. He was highly commended by Captain JK Davis for his part in the expedition and received his silver Polar Medal from the High Commissioner of Australia at a ceremony on 2 December 1915. At the commencement of the First World War he was with the Australian Transport Service, then in 1916 he again accompanied Captain JK Davis to the Antarctic, this time as Chief Officer of the SY Aurora which picked up the Ross Sea survivors of Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial trans-Antarctic Expedition. He received a bronze Polar Medal for this expedition.