First South African reached the South Pole on 19 January 1957.

The First South African to reach the South Pole was Hannes La Grange on 19 January 1957 as part of the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition. Hannes la Grange was also the first leader of an overwintering team to Antarctica (SANAE 1).

“On 19 January we saw the American South Pole  Station ahead of us. We received a hearty welcome some distance out and moved in with a variety of flags and pennants on the vehicles. On “Haywire” we put the South African flag… ” (left: from handwritten manuscript) Full article by Hannes La Grange -‘ The Beginning: 1 Taking part in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition’ is available on the archive.

                                                      (Above l-r: Hannes la Grange, Expedition members, Eblem/logo of expedition)

Last year the IZIKO Museums opened an exhibition the Sentinels of the South and  items donated by Hannes’s family is now available in this exhibition.

Hillary Fuchs gave a detailed report in his book “The crossing of Antarctica : the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1955-1958”.

John Knight wrote in ‘The Crossing‘ about Hannes la Grange: “A young Meteorologist from South Africa called Hannes la Grange volunteered to take part and he was one of only five men to spend the full three years that it took to carry out the project.”

Mettie La Grange made Hannes’ collection available to the ALSA project and these images are available on the Archive.  Hannes was supplied with a Leica camera(right) during the expedition to be able to take photos during the expedition. Chris de Weerdt(SANAE1) made documents available for preservation.


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