Magazine article Geographical

Henry George 'Gino' Watkins' Wound Plugs: Wooden Pegs Used by the Young Explorer during an Expedition to Greenland, Where He Disappeared While Hunting Seals

Magazine article Geographical

Henry George 'Gino' Watkins' Wound Plugs: Wooden Pegs Used by the Young Explorer during an Expedition to Greenland, Where He Disappeared While Hunting Seals

Article excerpt

Born on 20 January 1907, Gino Watkins was only 25 years old when he died on an expedition to Greenland, but despite his youth, he had already established himself as an explorer of note.

Always interested in outdoor pursuits, Watkins had become an avid mountain climber during his schooldays in Sussex. Many summer holidays were spent garnering enough climbs to qualify for membership of the Alpine Club until, in 1925, he suffered a serious fall while hunting chamois in the Austrian Tyrol.

After just three weeks of convalescence, he headed to Trinity College Cambridge to begin a geography degree. However, because of the severity of his fall, his doctors advised that he study little during the first two terms, and it was while searching for something to keep his mind occupied that he attended a lecture entitled 'Man in the polar regions'. Inspired, Watkins hunted down the lecturer and badgered him until he agreed to introduce him to JM Wordie, a seasoned polar explorer who had taken part in Shackleton's 1914-17 expedition. The pair immediately hit it off.

Wordie was due to set off to the Arctic in the summer of 1926, and although his party was complete, he sensed promise in Watkins and offered him a place on an expedition to east Greenland the following year.

When the trip was then postponed, Watkins decided to organise an expedition of his own to Edge Island, off the coast of Spitsbergen. This was followed by another to Labrador, and he then took part in the British Arctic Air Route Expedition of 1930-31 to Greenland. …

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