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Williamson, Thomas Soulsby

Williamson, Thomas Soulsby

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Rank: Petty Officer (Royal Navy)

Dates: 1877-1940

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver)

Thomas Soulsby Williamson was born in Sunderland, Durham on 6 October 1877. He ran away to sea at the age of thirteen, and was serving in the Royal Navy in HMS Pactolus when he joined the British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-04 (Discovery) as an able seaman. He took part in the sledging programme, including a journey in September 1903 to the Cape Crozier rookery in an attempt to obtain emperor penguin eggs. At the time he was described as being 5 foot 4 inches with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. In 1904 he was promoted to Petty Officer first class in recognition of his services on the Discovery.

Williamson went on to serve as petty officer on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Terra Nova), and was amongst those who landed at Cape Evans in January 1911. Returning to New Zealand in Terra Nova, he rejoined the main party in February 1912. In April 1912, he was one of those attempting the relief of Victor Campbell's Northern Party. Later on in the year, he was a member of a major sledging expedition heading south from Hut Point, Ross Island, on the final search for those missing with Scott. On 12 November 1912, eleven miles beyond One Ton Depot, they found the tent containing the bodies of Scott, Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers.

After the expedition, he rejoined the Royal Navy, serving in destroyers during the World War I, and was severely wounded when his ship was blown up by a mine on 26 January 1916. He was demobilised in March 1919.

Williamson was working as a labourer in a Portsmouth dockyard when he died in January 1940. He is commemorated in Antarctica by Williamson Rock, (77°27' S 169°15' E) which lies between Cape Tennyson and Cape Crozier.

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