Operation Highjump
Operation Highjump preceeded Operation Deep Freeze in 1946, and comment as been made about the PBM in Operation Highjump.

During my extensive research into the history of VX-6 and the US Navy's Antarctic operation for my two part story in the "Air Enthusiast", I had extreme difficulty with any material/information re: "High Jump".  the only person I could locate in the US was Joshua German, his grandfather was the maintenance officer, sailing south on the USS Philippine Sea (CVA 47), he contacted me, saying his grandfather's correspondence went via Wingate, NZ.

Part of Task Force 68, under the command of Admiral Richard Byrd and Rear Admiral Cruzen, the 4,000 men journeyed to the Antarctic in 1946.  Twenty six aircraft were taken south.  I tried unsuccessfully to obtain all the BuNo's of these, but could only track down a few.

6 x R4D's - # 17238, 17197, 12415, and 39092
1 x HNS-1 Hoverfly - # 33585
2 x HOS-1 Hoverfly
4 x HO3S-1 Dragonfly
1 x Noorduyn-Norseman - # 57992
2 x Grumman J2F-6 Duck - # 39045
2 x Stinson OY-1 Sentinal
2 x Martin PBM Mariner
2 x Curtiss SOC Seagull

Trigger Hawkes launched the first R4D (17238) successfully from the flight deck of the Philippine Sea, with Lieutenant Commander "Gus" shinn flying the second R4D-5.  The fleet, once airborne, homed in on the powerful Mount Olympus radio beacon and landed five hours later on a specially marked at Little American.  Just moments before a strong Antarctic storm blew up, closing the "airport" down

With regard to the ill fated Martin PBM Mariner flying boat "Marine George One": which crashed into the Walker Mountains on 30 December 1946.  It disintegrated and burned on impact.  Captain Caldwell was thrown clear, but the aircraft pilot Ralph Lebance sat unconscious in his burning cockpit with his clothing on fire.  The co-pilot, Lieutenant Kearns, Radioman Jim Robbins and crew chief Bill Warr went back into the flight deck and pulled him out.  Wendell Henderson was killed instantly at the radio panel, and ensign Max Lopez were found dead at the navigators table.  Flight Engineer Fred William was thrown clear but died two hours later. 

The crew members who survived the crash commenced a long treck back to the base, and this is a great story in itself.  With the flying season completed, the command didn't know what to do with the six R4D-5's, unable to land them back on the carrier.  The oil was drained out along with the removal of any clasified instruments, then they were tied down on the Ross Sea ice.  The following year the US Icebreakers 'Edisto" and Burton Island, spotted the goonies while visiting the Bay of Whales in early February 1948.   Snow was cleared away from one of the Douglas Aircraft and its engine started up , but no attempt was made to try and fly it.

It appeared that A gigantic section of the Ross Sea Ice Shelf had broken away, taking with it 2/3's of Little America IV,  and the stored R4D-5's drifted away toward their watery grave at the bottom of the Ross Sea. 

The outbreak of the Korean War cancelled the planned Operation Highjump II.

Noel Gillespie
Christchurch, NZ
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