Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, March 5, 1915: “The Ritz’ was an unostentatious abode . . .”   Leave a comment

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

“The fitting and furnishing of the slightly less than six-foot cubicles was entered into in an amusing spirit of rivalry, and the relative merits of our dens, the degree of our capacity for entertainment or annoyance, and our hospitality or close-fistedness, provided matter for unending debates throughout the following months. ‘The Ritz’ was an unostentatious abode, in which one might study the anatomy of the ship—no attempt being made to disguise its strong ribs and stout timbers—but it made a snug home, and was more comfortable than a hut, though eventually we paid the same price as the man in the Bible who built his house upon sand, our abode being founded on something even less stable.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, March 3, 1915: “. . . in the space thus made we erected a series of cubicles. . .”   Leave a comment

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

“We began the transformation by first housing all the dogs in igloos on the ice in an extended circle round the ship—greatly to their delight. These huts were called dogloos by the men. Some tender-hearted members of the crew made straw mattresses for them, which amused the dogs immensely; they did everything to them except sleep on them.

“We next discharged all the stores and cargo from the main hold, and in the space thus made we erected a series of cubicles along both port and starboard sides, leaving room for the mess-table. The bogie for keeping up the temperature was placed near the after-end. The new quarters were christened ‘The Ritz’, and the occupants—two to each cabin, except the centre one in which Dr Macklin, McIlroy, Hussey and I were berthed—adopted such fancy names for their apartments as ‘The Anchorage’, Auld Reekie’, ‘The Knuts’, ‘The Poison Cupboard;, and our own, ‘The Billabong’.

“The ward-room was also turned into a double-ender and became ‘The Stables’, tenanted by [Frank] Wild, Crean, Marston, and Captain Worsley. Sir Ernest occupied his original cabin aft, and if the roasting bogie fell below its normal radiance—as when, for example, some luckless being mistakenly dumped into it a piece of ice instead of a lump of coal—the temperature in the immediate vicinty was raised several degrees by the heat of his comments.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, March 2, 1915: “. . . all hand were employed in clearing out the ‘tween decks. . .”   Leave a comment

–from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s account “South”–

“The month of March opened with a severe north-easterly gale. Five Weddells and two crab-eaters were shot on the floe during the morning of March 1, and the wind, with fine drifting snow, sprang up while the carcasses were being brought in by sledging parties. The men were compelled to abandon some of the blubber and meat, and they had a struggle to get back to the ship over the rough ice in the teeth of the storm.

“This gale continued until the 3rd, and all hand were employed in clearing out the ‘tween decks, which was to be converted into a living- and dining-room for the officers and scientists. The carpenter erected in this room the stove that had been intended for use in the shore hut, and the quarters were made very snug.

“The dogs appeared indifferent to the blizzard. They emerged occasionally from the drift to shake themselves and bark, but were content most of the time to lie, curled into tight balls, under the snow. One of the old dogs, Saint, died on the night of the 2nd, and the doctors reported that the cause of death was appendicitis.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, February 28, 1915: “We have only four dogs left.   Leave a comment

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

“February 28th brought forth a beautiful clear day and a lovely following wind from the south-east. Sail was set, which helps considerably. As the sledge requires very little pulling, took the dogs out of harness and let them follow the sledge. After lunch I found three of the dogs were so weak that I felt a painless death would be human. In the afternoon put in a good mileage, the surface being excellent for travelling.

“We have only four dogs left. I gave them double rations. They have lost their appetites; when I went out later only a small portion of their food had been touched.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, February 27, 1915: One more week’s provisions for Shackleton, if he should cross the continent. . . .   Leave a comment

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

“February 27th. Our 80º south depot still in sight. From there we decided to take one week’s provisions, leaving 7 days’ provisions, 14 days’ biscuits and oil for Shackleton, if he should cross the continent. Poor Mack, he is feeling the strain. We went across to the depot, [Ernest] Wild remaining to lay out the sleeping bags; they may dry somewhat as the sun is shining. Old King Sol being out makes a heap of difference to the dogs; they seem to be more cheerful and incidentally, we are the same. It seems hard after depot-ing stores to rob them again. The dogs cause me grave concern, although they were cheerful this morning, the bark which they greet me with at feeding-time has gone. I examined them thoroughly, and can only put it down to weakness.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 24, 1915: “The ship ceased to be ‘nautical vessel’ . . .”   Leave a comment

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

“Although we had known our fate for some time, it was not till the end of February that it was officially admitted. We were ice-bound, and on the 24th all hands were formally put off ship’s routine. New forms of duty were allotted to each man. In alphabetical order we took turns as night watchmen, coming on duty from eight p.m. until eight a.m., and being responsible for the safety of the ship, the keeping up of the bogie-fire, and the taking of meteorological observations. The ship ceased to be ‘nautical vessel’ and became practically a shore station.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, February 25, 1915: The decision to occupy the hold for the winter   Leave a comment

–from Thomas Orde Lees’ diary–

“25 February 1915. The decision to reside in the hold for the winter has been promulgated and a tremendous upheaval has taken place there today. Most of the dog kennels have been put out on the floe and the dogs in future will live there. This will be a great relief to us, for there will be no more cleaning up to do on board, no molre rattling of chains at night, and the barking will be less audible. Sir Ernest considers that it is so improbable that we shall require to erect the hut that he has appropriated a certain portion of it to be used in the construction of the cubicles which we are to occupy in the hold.”


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