Alistair Graham Forbes 1921 – 1952 Australian National Research Expedition on Heard Island

Alistair Graham Forbes was born in Greenock and later moved to 48 Mathie Crescent, Gourock were he attended Gourock High School.  During the Second World War he served in the merchant navy.  He was breeder of Alsatian dogs and secretary of the Alsatian Dog Club.  This interest gave him the qualifications to become part of the research team on Heard Island Expedition as a dog trainer.  The teams served for 12 months at a time.

Tragedy struck when 3 of the team Alistair Forbes, Richard Hoseason and John Atkinson set out from their base on a research project when a huge wave caught Alistair and swept him out to sea.  The other two were able to rescue him then Richard  was also caught by the heavy waves but the other two were unable to save him.  Alistair and John managed to get to a safe beach and leaving John who had been badly weakened by the trauma in a safe place, Alistair set off for help although he too was suffering badly from their experience.  He was not seen alive again.  John managed to find his way back to the main camp the next day despite suffering from exhaustion and frost bite and a rescue team set out to search for Alistair.  Sadly he had lost his life in an attempt to get help for his companion.   Alistair is buried near to the main camp.  Richard’s body was never recovered.

At the time of his death Australian newspapers described Alistair’s bravery as equal to that of any other great men of Antarctic history.  Another friend on the expedition said “he was a tower of strength during the landing operations.”

Alistair is remembered on the family grave stone in Gourock Cemetery (section S17 30) along with his brother Jim who was killed in the Second World War.