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David, Tannatt William Edgeworth

David, Tannatt William Edgeworth

Alias: None

Title: Professor

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel (British Army)

Dates: 1858-1934

Nationality: Australian, British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver); Silver Medal, Royal Geographical Society; Distinguished Service Order (1918); Knight of the British Empire (1921)

Tannatt William Edgeworth David was born in Wales in 1858 and was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford. He studied geology at New College, Oxford, and the Royal College of Science, London. His work in the geological field soon attracted attention and in 1882 he was appointed assistant geological surveyor to the Government of New South Wales. His time with the Geological Survey was particularly noticeable for his significant discoveries in economic geography, especially the discovery of valuable coal and tin deposits.

In 1891, David was appointed to the Chair of Geology and Physical Geography at the University of Sydney, attaining world wide recognition among his fellow geologists for his research work on glacial epochs. Shackleton, in Australia en route to the Antarctic in 1907, asked David to join the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-09, as geologist. The expedition wintered on Ross Island and in 1908 Shackleton selected David as a member of the summit party for the first ascent of Mount Erebus (3794 metres).

During the winter of 1908, Shackleton decided that one of the major journeys during the coming months must be an attempt to reach the South Magnetic Pole, and he chose David to lead this party. The party of three men reached the region of the South Magnetic Pole on 16 January 1909, taking possession of Victoria Land for Britain.

In the months that followed the expedition, David undertook an extensive lecturing tour in order to raise funds for the publication of the scientific results of the expedition. During the First World War he served with distinction in the Australian Army, immersing himself in his University scientific work in Sydney after the war ended. He was knighted in 1921 and retired in 1924 to complete his major work on the geology of Australia. He died in 1934.


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