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Bull, Alfred Samuel B.

Bull, Alfred Samuel B.

Alias: None

Dates: 1887-unknown

Nationality: British

Awards: None

Bull was born in London in 1887, at a time when it was the centre of British sea-trade because of its docks and location on the Thames. London was the hub of the British Empire, especially in terms of importing and exporting goods – including rum, spices and sugar – and it was natural for young men born there to join the Empire's extensive Merchant Navy.

Bull joined in the second half of Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition 1907-09 (Nimrod), signing on in Lyttelton, New Zealand, on 30 November 1908, just before Nimrod headed south for the second Antarctic voyage. Bull would have been an experienced hand, as he was commissioned as an able-bodied sailor, which meant that he had extensive sea experience and could work as a helmsman.

Bull kept a journal on the expedition, recording his observations of his surroundings and accounts of his most striking experiences. In his journal, Bull describes events with detailed precision, and his descriptions of the sea, the seals and the birds, the dogs and the landscape are vivid. 'It was a grand sight to see this mountain [Erebus] covered with ice, & the sun shining upon it & the smoke from the water rising away up in the sky'. The journal records events from the point of view of a sailor left on Nimrod, with the occasional trip onto the ice to leave provisions, or to pick up returning members of the exploring parties. These include the dramatic accounts of Bull's personal involvement in the relief of scattered elements of the shore party, in particular the desperate recovery of the men from Cape Royds, in which Bull played a central role.

Bull only took part in this one journey, leaving the ship in May of the following year in Sydney, and he did not take part in the return journey to London. No further information is known about Bull after his period on Nimrod.


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