Silas Wright Biography

silaswrightBorn April 7, 1887 in Toronto, Canada, Charles Seymour (Silas) Wright studied physics at the famous Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, before Joining Captain Robert Scott’s 1910 British Antarctic Expedition as Glaciologist. In Antarctica, he explored and mapped the Cape Evans area and participated in depot-laying expeditions prior to the trek to reach the South Pole. Picked to be part of the party that headed to the South Pole and after crossing the Great Ice Barrier and dragging loaded sledges up the Beardmore Glacier, Silas was turned back by Scott, 280 miles from the Pole. Disappointed, Silas led a small party back to the coast. The next spring, it was Silas who navigated for the search party that went out to look for the Polar Party and it was Silas who spotted the bump in the snow covering the tent containing the frozen bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers.

After returning from Antarctica in 1913, Silas wrote the book ‘Glaciology’ with now brother-in-law and fellow polar explorer Raymond Priestly. In WW1 he joined the royal engineers, and went over to France, where he developed trench wireless. Settling down after war, he and Edith raised three children, Charles, Joan and Patricia.

In WW2, Silas headed the Admiralty Scientific Research department where, among other things, he was invloved in planning for the D-Day landings, as well as developing radar for use aboard warships, and inventing a ‘degaussing’ device that neutralized the effect of German magnetic mines. Silas was knighted in 1947.

Now Sir Charles Wright, he moved to Washington DC as part of the British mission to the United States, and from there became director of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institute for Oceanography in San Diego, studying geomagnetic micropulses. He continued his work at the University of British Columbia, the Pacific Naval Laboratory in Esquimalt, and Stanford University.

In 1960, Silas returned to Antarctica, researching micropulses and finally (by air) reached the South Pole. He retired in 1969 and settled on Saltspring Island, passing away in 1975. His remains were buried at sea off the Canadian destroyer, HMCS Restigouche.