Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 1916: ‘The —– book was no good.’   Leave a comment

–from Frank Worsley’s account “Endurance”—

“At this period the monotony became terrible. Fortunately before ‘Endurance’ sank I retrieved three packs of cards. One of these was Shackleton’s own, but this did not prevent me from presenting it to him with lordly generosity, for which he thanked me very much. Another I gave to the men, and the third I kept for my own tent. These cards proved a godsend. I once worked it out that they were worth two pounds a card to us.

“When we did not play, or were not mending our clothes, we usually spent the evening in interminable arguments, mostly about nothing in particular. The following incident indicates the frame of mind of some of the sailors, who go so excited one night about a discussion on currency (of all things!) that the matter was looked up in one of the few volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica that we had saved, since they contained information that was valuable to us.

“When both sides were proved to be wrong, they united in declaring that ‘The —– book was no good.’”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 5, 1916: “Fortunately we managed to salve quite a good store of tobacco. . . .”   Leave a comment

–from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“5 February. Strong southerly wind continues. Killing time in one’s tent all day is one of our principal problems. Fortunately we managed to salve quite a good store of tobacco, and weight for weight, it is little inferior in value to food; although it has no actual nourishing value, the contentment it confers is a matter of the highest importance to people placed as we presently are. It is not improbable too that it is a direct factor in saving food, as it is observable that smokers have smaller appetites as a general rule than non-smokers.

“Although many members still smoke pipes, cigarettes are increasingly popular. They are now invariably made with ordinary toilet paper. Unfortunately they waste a certain amount of tobacco which later on may come to be regretted. McIlroy is in charge of all tobacco and doles it out carefully.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 2, 1916: “The venture was entirely successful”   Leave a comment

–from Frank Hurley’s account “Shackleton’s Argonauts”—

“Observations showed that the distance between our old Ocean Camp and our new Patience Camp had decreased from ten miles to six, owing to the shuffling of the ice floes. Since it was still light all night, Crean and I with the dogs left camp at one a.m. to path-find, and a party of sixteen men followed our trail, covering the distance in a couple of hours, as against the ten hours which we had taken on our first trip.

“The venture was entirely successful. On the return journey, Crean, James, McIlroy, and I went ahead as ‘trail-breakers’—demolishing ridges, breaking down hummocks, and bridging gaps in the ice, while others dragged the boat on runners. The dog-team hauled a load of stores and sundries.

“Sir Ernest, with one of his brilliant inspirations, sledged out to meet us a mile from camp with two cans of steaming tea, and with lusty voices, if husky from fatigue, we all cheered and sang ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’ Nothing in the whole of the world’s ‘wet’ resources could compare with that jorum of hot tea.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 2, 1916: “. . . the third boat has been brought up . . .”   Leave a comment

–from Sir James Wordie’s diary—

“2 February. 65º 14 ½’ S., 52 º 18’ W. A red letter day—the third boat has been brought up from Ocean Camp. It has taken a long time to persuade the Boss to tis move, and I doubt he would have done it, had it not been for the general feeling in camp; its importance is obvious, should we fail to reach Paulet Island.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, January 31, 1916: “On the trek again, having placed the Padre on the rear sledge. . .”   Leave a comment

—from Ernest Joyce’s account “The South Polar Trail”—

“January 31, Monday. Up at the usual hour, still blizzarding. Richy released the dogs from down under. Skipper came over to my tent and asked if we would travel by night. I replied ‘No,’ and explained ‘we must carry out the routine we have set; if once we side-track it is not easy to step into line again.’

“He is worrying over the condition of the Padre [They picked up Spencer-Smith on January 29]. The dogs must be studied, and I feel it is my duty to nurse them in every sense of the word. He saw the trend of my suggestion. I told him he should have realized the state of the Padre’s health, travelling with him for so long a period.

“During a lull, prepared breakfast at 10. On the trek again, having placed the Padre on the rear sledge, covered him with a snow cloth, to keep the drift out of his bag. The atmosphere mild, the drift enveloping all objects, the melting snow making all we possess wet through and miserable. Camped at 5. Distance 8 miles. Turned in saturated. Spirits bright.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, January 29, 1916: “I decided to send Macklin and Hurley back with their dogs.”   Leave a comment

–from Shackleton’s account “South”—

“The ice between us and Ocean Camp, now only about five miles away and actually to the south-west of us, was very broken, but I decided to send Macklin and Hurley back with their dogs [the two teams yet remaining] to see if there were any more food that could be added to our scanty stock. I have them written instructions to take no undue risk or cross any wide-open leads, and said that they were to return by midday the next day. Although they both fell through the thin ice up to their waists more than once, they managed to reach the camp.

“They found the surface soft and sunk about two feet. Ocean Camp, they said, ‘looked like a village that had been razed to the ground and deserted by its inhabitants’. . . .The storehouse next the galley had taken on a list of several degrees to starboard, and pools of water had formed everywhere. They collected what food they could find and packed a few books in a venesta sledging-case, returning to Patience Camp by about 8 p.m.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’January 28, 1916: “. . . all told we brought in five seals.”   Leave a comment

-from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“It is remarkable how ill-tempered people get in going out to bring in the seals, quite regardless of the fact that their lives may, and their comfort certainly does, depend on having a good supply of meat and blubber. If the way is long or the surface rough or the snow deep, there is so much grumbling and cursing that one is really almost sick of troubling to find the seals at all, were it not for the absolute urgency of our meat supply.

“Living from hand to mouth is all very well, but one likes to see a bit put by for a rainy day and if it doesn’t come, well then a precaution taken is better than a precaution neglected. To neglect the capture of seals now, during the few months when they are still to be had, would merely be tempting providence.

“Today at any rate we have little to complain of: all told we brought in five seals.”


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