Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, July 3, 1915: “A very fine day. Clear and cold. . .”   Leave a comment

–from Thomas Orde Lees’ diary–

“3 July. A very fine day. Clear and cold with quite a good light a noon, streaks of red on the horizon giving promise of the returning sun. Marston and I went for a very long run with his sledge, about seven miles or more. I had my skis and was on them most of the time, sometimes running alongside alone, more often holding on to a line fixed to the sledge, but for quite a long way I had one of the team, the big dog Hercules, out of the traces and let him pull me along behind the sledge as the Norwegians often do behind a horse.

“That one dog could pull me so easily is enough to say that the surface was particularly good for sledging, though it was otherwise for skiing. The surface of the snow was mostly hard a polished ice, and very uneven”

Shackleton’s ‘Aurora’ adrift, July 1, 1915:   Leave a comment

–quoted in Shacklton’s “South” from the log of Captain J. R. Stenhouse, adrift on the ‘Aurora’ in the Ross Sea–

“July 2.–The 1st of July! Thank God. The days pass quickly. Through all my waking hours one long thought of the people at Cape Evans, but one must appear happy and take interest in the small happenings of shipboard.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, June 26, 1915: Plans for sledging Shackleton’s supplies south   Leave a comment

–from R. W. Richards’ account–

[the June 26 planning discussions continued]

“The estimation of the weight of provissions required for the use of the depot laying parties, and for the six men of the Trans-continental Party, was about 4,000 lb. This had to be transported initially from Cape Evans to Hut Point. Mackintosh’s sledging plans called for four trips to be made from Hut Point to Minna Bluff to establish a main depot there, some 70 or 80 miles south of Hut Point. Then two trips were to be made from 80 degrees S., and to 81 degrees S., and from there a single trip to the Beardmore Glacier depot.

“All these plans were well displayed graphically on a large chart which gave particulars of weights, parties, and approximate dates. The meeting terminated with a long and thorough discussion, and a decision to put the various proposals in hand at once. All preparations were to be completed in time for a start on 1 September 1915.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, June 26, 1915: Plans for the sledging season on small resources   Leave a comment

–from R. W. Richards’ account–

[the June 26 planning discussions continued]

“The meeting therefore was called to discuss how best these difficulties [the lack of food and equipment to meet the requirements of Shackleton’s overland expedition] could be overcome, and to plan the general sledging programme.

“Little could be done regarding old tents and primuses. In order to conserve clothing for the sledging season, it was arranged that a plentiful supply of canvas found in Scott’s hut should be cut up and made into windproof blouses and trousers to be worn about the base during the winter. This would save the lighter and more effective Burberry windproof garments for the sledging. The deficiency in footgear was met by making canvas boots and by cutting up old sleeping bags for fur boots. These home-made fur boots were warm but clumsy, and we used some of them in the later stages of our journey, when the issue fur boots had worn out.

“A great deal of thought was given to sledging plans. Owing to his ill health and the necessity of keeping the base meteorological readings going, it was decided to leave Stevens behind at Cape Evans all the time. The remaining nine were to undertake the sledging in parties of three. At this meeting general feeling was against the use of the four remaining dogs.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, June 26, 1915: “Mackintosh called a meeting for discussion of future plans. . .”   Leave a comment

–from R. W. Richards’ account–

“On 26 June Mackintosh called a meeting for discussion of future plans; of course unofficial discussions of aspects of the outlook facing us had taken place on many occasions before then. All were agreed that the one object that must be attained, no matter what else was sacrificed, was to place food depots for the six men of Shackleton’s party at least as far south as the Beardmore Glacier and every 60 miles northward from there. At that time I think most of us were confident that he would cross the continent, and that his party would be utterly dependent on our food depots for their survival.

“We knew that there were some major difficulties to be overcome before these depots would be established. These may be listed under the following heads:

Sledging equipment. This was for the most part old and left behind by Scott’s [Terra Nova] party. . . .

Clothing: We had only the original issue of clothing which was made when we arrived in the Antarctic, and, owing to the hard usage to which it was subjected during the winter, it was not in the best condition to withstand a long sledging season. We found a certain amount of discarded underclothing at Cape Royds and Cape Evans, but footgear and windproof clothing were a problem. . . .

Food. This was adequately provided by stores left by Scott. . . . The only sledging food from our own ship [now helplessly captured in the sea ice and drifting away to the north] was a very small quantity of sledging rations specially designed for the expedition.

Manpower. There were nine men only available to do the necessary hauling.”

June 22, 1915: Midwinter’s Day on board the ‘Endurance’ adrift in the Weddell Sea   Leave a comment

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

“Our most ambitious entertainment occurred on 22 June in celebration of Mid-winter Day. A close holiday was observed. After an excellent breakfast and lunch, we partook of a ‘feast’ dinner, after which we all retired to our cubicles to dress up. I erected a stage, complete with acetylene footlights, and decorated it with bunting.

“Shackleton opened the evening with a satiric harangue, which was admirably responded to by the Reverend Dr Bubblinglove (Lees). An overture, ‘Discord Fantasia,’ in four flats, by the ‘Billabong’ band worked the audience up to concert pitch, the band then opportunely retiring to its retreat. Rickinson made an admirable flapper, and McIlroy a gay grisette, highly perfumed, and bewigged with oakum. Greenstreet, the dashing ‘knut,’ was a great success. James’s humorous dissertation on the calorie, delivered in a broad brogue, was loudly applauded. The programme comprised some thirty items, and conclude with ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Afterwards we sat down to a midnight supper.”

June 22, 1915: Midwinter’s Day for Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party at Cape Evans   Leave a comment

–from Kelly Tyler-Lewis’ recounting of the day in “The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party”–

“On June 21, Mackintosh rallied the group for a Midwinter’s Day party to relieve the gloom and lift spirits. With homesick intensity, the men vied for prizes in relay races and pin the tail on the donkey. Afterward, they settled in for an elaborate meal of tinned beef tongue and plum pudding, drowned with a tatter of holly left by Scott’s men. Gaze, nicknamed ‘the local millionaire’ for his hoard of tobacco, produced his tin and, to universal astonishment, a bottle of Scotch. ‘I could not have wished a more pleasant day in these parts,’ observed Mackintosh with satisfaction as the morose group gradually came to life.”


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