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Belgium: Polar expeditions

Last modified: 2020-07-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: polar expeditions |
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Antarctic expedition, 1898-1899

In 1898-1899, the Belgian expedition used the pennant of the Antwerp Yacht Club, a white triangular pennant with two red triangles placed along the hoist. The white field was charged with a red "Y" over a red "C" fimbriated white.

Jaume Ollé, 23 January 2001

Antarctic expedition, 1957-1958

[Expedition flag]         [Expedition pennant]         [Expedition emblem]

Flag, pennant and emblem of the 1957-1958 expedition - Images by Jaume Ollé, 25 January 2001

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 assigned to Belgian scientists on 26 December 1957.
A photo 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, designed by Hergé as a blue flag charged with a circular emblem.

The emblem features on an horizontally divided white-black background a compass needle "counterdivided" black-white, slightly tilted to the East to suggest the magnetic declination. The lower point of the needle points towards 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 has the proportion of the national flag (13:15) whereas the pennant is 40 cm x 60 cm in size. The circular emblem has a diameter of 20 cm and its left point is placed 15 cm from the hoist. The blue border of the emblem is merged with the pennant's 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 had to hoist the national flag and the pennant. The expedition flag was hoisted under the national flag atop the mast supporting the radio antenna of the basis.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001

Antarctic expeditions, 1959-1961

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

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001

Antarctic expeditions, 1965-1967

Due to money shortage, Belgium subsequently organized joint expeditions with the Netherlands (1965-1967). Belgian scientists eventually joined South African or American expeditions, on individual basis only. A project of Belgian-Chilean cooperation was unsuccessful.

Ivan Sache, 23 January 2001


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