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Lester, Maxime Charles (1891-1957)

He was born on 25 September 1891. He joined the Merchant Navy, and served in the Canadian and British Navies during the First World War, seeing service in the North Atlantic.

He joined the British Expedition to Graham Land, 1920 – 1922 (leader John Lachlan Cope) and, along with Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe, travelled south in a whaling ship to Deception Island ahead of the leader John Cope and second-in-command George Hubert Wilkins.  The party transferred to Andvord Bay, on the Danco Coast of Graham Land where they intended to set up a base. However, insufficient finance curtailed the expedition, and Cope and Wilkins withdrew. Lester and Bagshawe decided to remain, setting up a base at Waterboat Point on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula between January 1921 and January 1922. Though ill-equipped and with few comforts, they recorded meteorological, tidal and zoological observations, including a study of the breeding biology of the neighbouring gentoo penguins.

Their base was actually a discarded water boat, flat bottomed, 27ft 6ins in length by 10ft 6ins in beam, and with an internal height of just over 3ft. Initially they lived in the hull of the boat, but deciding they required more space they built an extension out of packing cases. This allowed them to expand their accommodation to include a “Lounge” above deck and a “Kitchen” and “Outer hut” to one side of the hull.

Lester returned to the Merchant Navy, but spent more time in Antarctica with Discovery Expeditions, 1926 – 1927 (Captain George Metcalf Mercer), on RRS William Scoresby.  The expedition conducted extensive surveys of the whaling grounds off South Georgia.

He died in London on 3 March 1957 aged 66.

Further Information

Bagshawe, T.W. (1939) Two men in the Antarctic.  An expedition to Graham Land, 1920-22. Cambridge:University Press Cambridge.

Stonehouse, B. ed.(2002) Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

The Polar Record Vol.8 no.57 September 1957 p562.