British Antarctic Territory
Cover from the H.M.S. Protector Postmarked "Hope Bay, Grahamland"
This cover from the H.M.S. Protector Postmarked Hope Bay
is franked with the 1963 definitive issue depicting that ship.
Hope Bay, known in Spanish as Bahía Esperanza indents the tip of Antarctic Peninsula. The Bay was discovered on January 15, 1902 by a Swedish Antarctic Expedition and it was named it in commemoration of the winter spent there by the expedition after their ship, the Antarctic was crushed by the ice and lost. They were eventually rescued by Argentine corvette Uruguay and the ruins of a stone hut they built can still be seen. The British Base "D" was established here in 1945. It partially burned in 1948 and was closed in 1964. On December 8, 1997 the British Antarctic Survey transferred the base to Uruguay, who renamed it Teniente Ruperto Elichiribehety Uruguayan Antarctic Scientific Station (ECARE). The Argentines established their Esperanza Base in 1952. Operated by the Instituto Antartico Argentino, it has an average of 55 inhabitants in winter. The first birth of any human being in Antarctica occurred here in 1978, when Emilio Palma was born to the wife of an Argentine naval officer.
This area was also the scene of the first ever shots fired in anger in Antarctica in 1952 when an Argentine shore party fired a machine gun over the heads of a British Antarctic Survey team unloading supplies from the John Biscoe. The Argentines later apologized, saying that their military commander had exceeded his authority.
Close-up of the 6 pence definitive of 1963
H.M.S. Protector (A146) was launched in August 1936 and, during the Second World War, served in the South Atlantic and in the Norwegian Campaign before being hit by an aerial torpedo in the Mediterranean. After repairs had been completed in Bombay and the war had ended, the Protector was employed in the fleet reserve as a training ship. It was then refitted as an Ice Patrol Ship with a hangar and flight deck for two Westland Whirlwind helicopters. Her first Antarctic patrol in the winter of 1955-56 took her to the Falkland Islands and the British Antarctic Survey Bases. She returned 13 more times before she was scrapped in 1970.
During her patrols she rescued Sir Edmund Hillary and Dr Vivian Fuchs along with the other passengers and crew of the MV Theron that was trapped in Antarctic ice.
The Protector was replaced by H.M.S. Endurance.