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Harbord, Arthur Edward

Harbord, Arthur Edward

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Rank: Lieutenant (Royal Navy)

Dates: 1883-1961

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (bronze)

Arthur Edward Harbord was born on 13 September 1883 in Hull. He went into the Merchant Navy at the age of 12, when he was apprenticed on board clipper ships. Sailing from such a young age meant that by 22 he had gained his Extra Master certificate, the highest possible grade for a sailor.

Harbord joined the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-09 (Nimrod) as a last minute addition to the crew as second officer and navigator. His diary of the time gives very useful insights into the men’s feeling on decisions such as the wintering site, giving a rare glimpse of the social history of the sailors. On the return journey, Harbord sailed as Chief Officer with John King Davis on the research voyage back to London which surveyed the Sub-Antarctic islands. He received a Polar Medal for his part in the expedition.

After the expedition, Harbord worked for two shipping companies – the White Star Line and Booth Line – and took part in an expedition to find the source of the Amazon River. He served in both of the World Wars as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. During World War I he served on three ships that were all torpedoed, but managed to survive. His peace-time service was in the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty. After retiring from the Navy he joined the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and became Marine Surveyor and Water Bailiff to the port of Liverpool. He died on 11 October 1961, after a long and varied career in sailing, exploration and the military, with everything he did having a strong connection to the sea.


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