Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, May 24, 1915: Singing in the Ritz   Leave a comment

–from Sir James Wordie’s diary–

“24 May. Position 24º 22′ S., 44º 50′ W. Our tendency to remain in such high latitudes has its disappointing side. Our chance of drifting north during the winter and breaking out next spring or summer is slowly diminishing. After a long interval we had some songs again on Saturday night. There was Alf Cheetham singing ‘Teddy O’Neill’ and False Flora’ and Chippy ‘Robbie Burns’ and ‘The March of the Cameron Men.’ Wild sang ‘Ford of Kabut River’ and ‘Forty Years On'; and other contributed.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, May 27, 1915: Tom Crean’s dogs   Leave a comment

–from Ernest Shackleton’s account “South”–

“Crean had started to take the pups out for runs, and it was very amusing to see them with their rolling canter just managing to keep abreast by the sledge and occasionally cocking an eye with an appealing look in the hope of being taken along for a ride. As an addition to their foster-father, Crean, the pups had adopted Amundsen [one of the lead dogs]. They tyrannized over him most unmercifully.

“It was a common site to see him, the biggest dog in the pack, sitting out in the cold with an air of philanthropic resignation while a corpulent pup occupied the entrance to his dogloo. The intruder was generally the pup Nelson, who just showed his fore-paws and face, and one was fairly sure to find Nelly, Roger, and Toby coiled up comfortably behind him.

“At hoosh-time Crean had to stand by Amundsen’s food, since otherwise the pups would eat the big dogs’s ration while he stood back to give them fair play. Sometimes their consciences would smite them and they would drag around a seal’s head, half a penguin, or a large lump of frozen meat or blubber to Amundsen’s kennel for rent. It was interesting to watch the big dog play with them, seizing them by the throat or neck in what appeared to be fierce fashion, while rally quite gentle with them, and all the time teaching them how to hold their own in the world and putting them up to all the tricks of dog life.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea ship ‘Aurora.’ May 25, 1915: “The scene is like a graveyard. . .”   Leave a comment

—from Captain J. R. Stenhouse’s diary, quoted in Shacketon’s “South”. The ship has been beset and carried northwest with the drifting pack since May 6—

“May 25. —In middle watch felt pressure occasionally. Twilight showed a scene of chaos all around; one floe about three feet in thickness had been upended, driven under ship on port quarter. As far as can be seen there are heavy blocks of ice screwed up on end, and the scene is like a graveyard. I think swell must have come up under ice from seaward (north-east), McMurdo Sound, and broken the ice which afterwards started to move under the influence of the blizzard. . . .I believe the Ross Sea is rarely entirely ice covered.

“Have bright moonlight now, which accentuates everything—the beauty and loneliness of our surroundings, and uselessness of ourselves, while in this prison: so near to Cape Evans and yet we might as well be anywhere as here.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, May 24, 1915: . . . .the war at home   Leave a comment

–from Shackleton’s account “South”–

“May 24, Empire Day, was celebrated with the singing of patriotic songs in the Ritz, where all hands joined in wishing a speedy victory for the British arms. We could not know how the war was progressing, but we hoped that the Germans had already been driven from France and that the Russian armies had put the seal on the Allies’ success. The war was a constant subject of discussion aboard the ‘Endurance,’ and many campaigns were fought on the map during the long months of drifting.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition: Dogloos, Part 2   Leave a comment

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

“The crystal homes were provided with wooden floors and door-frames–windows being unnecessary because a faint, blue light filtered through the walls. ‘Sailor’ was the tenant of a model church, which boasted an icy spire and a portico. He, like many another sailor, preferred to curl up outside its precincts. It was, in fact, only when the weather was specially bad that the ice-kennels were used as sleeping-quarters. Only then would the dogs retire within them to sleep peacefully, while the wind howled and the snow piled up above them. Some of them, scratching away the snow, maintained little peep-holes through the doorway, either fro fresh air or to watch for the ‘hoosh.’ They also regarded their houses as useful sanctuaries when the stings of conscience troubled them and they had a foreboding that retribution would be exacted by the driver’s whip.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedtion, May 1915: Dogloos   Leave a comment

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

“The erection of ‘dogloos’ gave us considerable amusement. At first they were strictly utilitarian, but later, when we were able to secure flat slabs of newly-formed ice from a neighbouring lead, the teamsters were as keen to outdo each other in the building of dog-kennels as in the improvement and training of the tenants. The slabs of thin ice could be readily chipped into any desired shape, and cemented together by pouring sea-water over the joinings. Snow, mixed into a mush with sea-water, also made an effective cement, and, in order to secure the dog-chains, it was only necessary to cut a shallow hole in the ice, insert the end of the chain, and pour in a little water. . .

“Crystal villages quickly sprang up around the ship, and the facilities afforded by the endless supply of building material, and the ease with which it could be assembled, afforded much diversion. Architectural design was limited only by the imagination of the builders. The crystal homes were provided with wooden floors and door-frames, windows being unnecessary because a faint, blue light filtered through the walls.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, May 16, 1915: Strange weather   Leave a comment

-from Thomas Orde Lees’ diary–

“16 May. About mid-day there was a remarkably sudden lull in the wind. The recording anemometers both stopped temporarily and after a few minutes the wind began to blow with equal force from the opposite direction. It seems therefore that the exact centre of a cyclone must have passed over the ship–a very singular thing. The inclement weather confined us all to the ship.”


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