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Belgium: Polar expeditions

Last modified: 2002-05-31 by
Keywords: antarctica | south pole | compass | roundel |
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Antarctic expedition, 1898-99

In 1898-99, the Belgian expedition used the pennant of Antwerp Yacht-Club, which was a white triangular pennant with two red triangles placed along the hoist. The white field was charged with a red Y letter over a white fimbriated red C letter.

Source: Pierre Bernard. Drapeau, pavillon et fanion des expéditions antarctiques belges en 1897-1899 et de 1957 à 1961. Vexillacta [vxl] #10, December 2000.

Jaume Ollé, 23 January 2001


Antarctic expedition, 1957-58

[Expedition flag]   by Jaume Ollé

[Expedition pennant]by Jaume Ollé

Gaston de Gerlache de Gomery, son of the famous Belgian explorer Adrian de Gerlache de Gomery (the first explorator who overwintered on the Antarctic ice, 1898-1899), received the command of a Belgian expedition in Antarctica for the International Geophysical Year (1956-1957). He took possession of the area allocated to Belgian scientists on 26 December 1957.

The picture on the cover of Vexillacta (see reference below) shows Gerlache unfurling the expedition pennant tied at 'half-mast' to a bamboo stake, 70°26' S, 24°19' E near King Baudoin I basis. According to Gerlache's description, a Belgian flag had been hoisted on top of the stake (not seen on the picture).

The pennant was a small-size version of the expedition flag. Both flag and pennant had been designed by Hergé. Their design is a circular emblem on a blue field.

[Expedition emblem]by Jaume Ollé

The emblem shows on an horizontally divided white-black background a compass needle 'counterdivided' black-white, slightly tilted to East to suggest the magnetic declination. The lower point of the needle points toward a Belgian roundel. The roundel encroachs on the blue border of the emblem.
The blue border is charged with EXPEDITION ANTARCTIQUE 1957-1958 ZUIDPOOL-EXPEDITIE in black (French and Dutch versions of 'Antarctic expedition').
The expedition flag had the proportion of the national flag whereas the pennant was 40 cm x 60 cm. The circular emblem had a diameter of 20 cm and its left point was placed 15 cm from the hoist. The blue border of the emblem is merged with the pennant blue field The emblem, with letters in yellow, was also applied on all vehicles used during the expedition.

During the expedition, every vehicle living the King Baudoin I basis should hoist the national flag and the pennant. On top of the mast supporting the radio antenna of the basis, the expedition flag was hoisted under the national flag.

 Source: Pierre Bernard. Drapeau, pavillon et fanion des expéditions antarctiques belges en 1897-1899 et de 1957 à 1961. Vexillacta [vxl] #10, December 2000.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001


Antarctic expeditions, 1959-61

The next two Belgian expeditions (Bastin and Derom, 1959-1961) used a slightly modified version of the original expedition flag and pennant.

Source: Pierre Bernard. Drapeau, pavillon et fanion des expéditions antarctiques belges en 1897-1899 et de 1957 à 1961. Vexillacta [vxl] #10, December 2000.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001


Antarctic expeditions, 1965-67

Due to money shortage, Belgium later sent joint-expeditions with the Netherlands (1965-1967), and finally Belgian scientists joined South Afrian or American expeditions on individual basis only. A project of Belgian-Chilean cooperation was unsuccessful.

Source: Pierre Bernard. Drapeau, pavillon et fanion des expéditions antarctiques belges en 1897-1899 et de 1957 à 1961. Vexillacta [vxl] #10, December 2000.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001

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