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Joyce, Ernest Edward Mills

Joyce, Ernest Edward Mills

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Rank: First Class Petty Officer (Royal Navy)

Dates: 1875-1940

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver); Albert Medal (1923)

Ernest Edward Mills Joyce was born in 1875 in Bognor, Sussex. He was educated at Greenwich Royal Hospital School and joined the Navy as a boy in 1891, at the age of 15. He quickly moved up the ranks to First Class Petty Officer, and he served with the Naval Brigade in the Boer War winning a medal and clasp.

Joyce joined the British National Antarctic 1901-04 (Discovery), led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, on 14 October 1901 as an able bodied seaman. During the expedition he took part in sledging activities and on return from the expedition, was rated petty officer.

Joyce left the Navy to join the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-09 (Nimrod), led by Ernest Henry Shackleton, and was placed in charge of dogs, sledges and general stores, as well as the zoological collection. Originally, Joyce was meant to go on the South Pole journey but because of six out of the ten ponies had died, the South Pole team had to be reduced by two. Instead, from September 1908 onwards, he took part in the sledging programme to lay depots southward for the party attempting to reach the South Pole. Joyce was also one of the main contributors to Aurora Australis, the first book published in the Antarctic.

Joyce's life thereafter became dedicated in many ways to Antarctic exploration. He selected the dogs in Denmark for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14 (Aurora), led by Douglas Mawson.

While working for the Sydney Harbour Trust in Australia, he was enlisted for the Ross Sea Party of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17 (Aurora), organised by Ernest Henry Shackleton to meet the Weddell Sea Party. Joyce became second-in-command of the Ross Sea shore party with the responsibility of laying depots across the Ross Ice Shelf towards the Beardmore Glacier, providing all that was needed for Shackleton and the trans-polar party. Despite a lack of food and equipment, the party successfully completed this task, although their efforts cost three lives.

Joyce married Beatrice Curtlett from Christchurch, New Zealand after his Ross Sea adventures. He published his diaries in 1929 in a book called 'The South Polar Trail'. Afterwards, he slowly pulled back from public life, becoming a hotel porter in London. He died on 2 May 1940, aged 65.

Joyce was a highly decorated Antarctic explorer. He was awarded the Albert Medal on 4 July 1923 for his bravery during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and the Polar Medal with 4 bars by the Royal Geographical Society; the only other person to have achieved this was Frank Wild. Joyce’s contribution to Antarctic exploration is commemorated by Joyce Glacier 78°01' S 163°42' E, Lake Joyce 77°43' S 161°37' E and Mount Joyce 75°36' S 160°49' E.


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