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COURTAULD, Augustine (1904-1959)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0402 SSC/27
Held at: Royal Geographical Society
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Full title: COURTAULD, Augustine (1904-1959)
Date(s): 1930-1931
Level of description: Collection level
Extent: 1 large box and 2 files
Name of creator(s): Courtauld | Augustine | 1904-1959 | Arctic Explorer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Augustine Courtauld was born on 26 August 1904 at Bocking, Braintree, Essex; educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read engineering and geography, graduating in 1926. In 1926 he joined James Wordie's summer expedition to east Greenland as photographer and in 1927 Courtauld travelled with Francis and Peter Rodd to the mountains of Ar in the southern Sahara. Courtauld attempted unsuccessfully to become a stockbroker and consequently returned to Greenland in the summer of 1929 on another expedition with Wordie.

In 1930 Courtauld met H. G. Watkins, who was planning an expedition to Greenland to explore the possibilities of an air route from the United Kingdom to western Canada over the ice cap. Part of the meteorological programme was the establishment of the ice-cap station some 140 miles north-west of the base camp manned continually by two men who would be relieved at approximately monthly intervals by dog sledge or aircraft. However, it took six weeks to reach the ice-cap station from the base camp and it became clear there was not enough food for two men to be left safely at the camp. Courtauld persuaded the party to allow him to man the station alone and he was left there on 5 December 1930. Courtauld spent five months alone, part of the time imprisoned beneath the snow and in darkness. In 1932 he was awarded the polar medal by George V.

Before World War Two Courtauld joined the organisation which was to become the Special Operations Executive, and in the summer of 1939 was asked by naval intelligence to take Duet up the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Trondheim gathering as much intelligence as he could. Courtauld served throughout World War Two in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as sub-lieutenant, 1939, and lieutenant, 1940-1945.

After the war, he devoted himself to local government and community service, serving on Essex County Council from 1945 to 1955; becoming a JP and Deputy Lieutenant in 1946 and High Sheriff of Essex in 1953. He was a governor of Felsted School, chairman of Essex Association of Boys' Clubs, and vice-president of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, 1957. He served three times on the council of the Royal Geographical Society; was Honorary Secretary between 1948 and 1951 and served on the committee of management of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Courtauld died in hospital in London on 3 March 1959.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Augustine Courtauld, 1930-1931, comprise two angle books, from the British Arctic Air Route Expedition to Greenland.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in original order.

Conditions governing access:

Accessed via the Foyle Reading Room. Free of charge for Fellows, Members and those with valid academic identification. All other users pay a charge and must bring identification in order to register on arrival.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist and subject to completion of 'application for copies' form. No reproduction or publication without permission of the RGS-IBG Archivist.

Finding aids:

A description can be found online at Access to Archives and a card index is available in Foyle Reading Room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also RGS Correspondence Files, 1921-1945.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online.
Prepared by an archives volunteer using existing finding aids and edited by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
10 December 2001 and modified May 2008.

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