Ben Carlin attended Guildford Grammar School from 1923-1929. On leaving School he pursued various careers, including studying engineering at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines before vanishing to a coal mine in China. There he wasted a perfectly good war in the Royal Indian Engineers. Close to the end of his tour of duty a battered amphibious jeep caught his eye. After 15 minutes around, over and under this oddity, the likes of which he had never before seen, he mused, "You know, with a bit of titivation you could go around the world in one of these things".
After demobilisation in 1946, Carlin found a surplus jeep in the United States, renovated and outfitted it and named it Half-Safe, after a personal deodorant being advertised on the radio at the time.
In June 1948 he and his second wife Elinore set sail for New York. After many mishaps and nearly two years later, Half-Safe finally put out to sea from Halifax on July 19 1950. On 23 February 1951 after a six-month voyage they arrived in Africa after crossing the Atlantic.
From there the route took them overland through the Spanish Sahara, up the African coast, through French Morocco, Gibraltar, Portugal, Spain and on to France. By the time they arrived in Paris they were so broke they exhibited Half-Safe in department stores to raise funds. On leaving Paris they did some sight seeing in Europe before crossing the English Channel, arriving in London almost a year from the date of departure.
After spending three years in England refitting Half-Safe, Ben and Elinore were ready for the second part of the journey. From Paris they travelled overland to Calcutta via Istanbul and on to Delhi. By the time they reached India, Elinore had abandoned ship and Ben was forced to find another mate. From Delhi, Half-Safe travelled by water to Rangoon, overland to Saigon via Bangkok, and by sea and land to Alaska via the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, the Aleutians and finally Montreal.
Ben Carlin completed his journey on 12 May 1958 and had travelled 17,780 km by sea and 62,744 km by land in eight years.
Ben Carlin died on 7 March 1981 at Cottesloe, Western Australia, aged 69. Guildford Grammar School acted as trustee for his estate. The Charlotte Carlin Scholarship was established in honour of Ben's mother who died when he was four.
A half share of Half Safe was also donated to the School. The other half share was purchased from his friend, George Calimer, who lived in Baltimore, United States of America.
In 1984, the jeep was transported to Guildford Grammar School where it remains to this day in a purpose built shelter.
Half-Safe - Across the Atlantic by Jeep by Ben Carlin is out of print.
The Other Half of Half-Safe by Ben Carlin (which includes an abridged version of Half-Safe - Across the Atlantic by Jeep) is available from the School. It retails for $40.00 plus postage.
For further information please contact Rosemary Waller, School Archivist, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 8 9377 9212.
11 Terrace Road
Western Australian 6935
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T: (+61 8) 9377 9222
P: (+61 8) 9377 3140