Sir Vivian Fuchs, hero of Antarctica, dies aged 91

Click to follow
SIR VIVIAN FUCHS, who became a national hero when he made the first surface crossing of the Antarctic in 1957-58, has died aged 91, his family said yesterday.

Sir Vivian was knighted after leading the Commonwealth Transantarctic Expedition. He continued his career in the field of Antarctic exploration and science, notably as director of the British Antarctic Survey, from 1958 to 1973.

He always maintained close ties with polar and scientific organisations.

He leaves a widow, Eleanor, two children, Hilary and Peter, from his first marriage to Joyce, who died in 1990, five grandchildren and eight great- grandchildren. Sir Vivian, who lived in Cambridge, was known to many friends as "Bunny".

Born in February 1908, he studied at Cambridge University, and went on university expeditions to east Greenland and the east African lakes. During the 1930s he made several return visits to east Africa.

During the Second World War he served in west Africa in the Cambridgeshire Regiment.

His great achievement was the successful completion of one of the last great land adventures, the crossing of what was then the largely unknown Antarctic continent. On 2 March 1958 he brought his party into Scott Base on Ross Island, having made the 2,158-mile journey in 99 days, one fewer than his estimate. He was greeted by congratulatory messages from all over the world and subsequently received many medals and honours in addition to the knighthood.

In the first land crossing of Antarctica, the expedition carried out vital scientific tests, which provided crucial information about the land.

He often revisited the Antarctic, saying it was like "a homecoming", and wrote a book, Of Ice and Men, about the work of the British Antarctic Survey, published in 1982.