The Drift of Shackleton’s ‘Aurora’ November 23, 1915: “Land was seen at 8 a.m. . . .”   Leave a comment

–from the daily journal of Captain J. R. Stenhouse, quoted in Shackleton’s ‘South—

“November 23. –At 3 a.m. Young Island, Balleny Group, was seen bearing north 54º east (true). The island, which showed up clearly on the horizon, under a heavy stratus-covered sky, appeared to be very far distant. By latitude at noon we are in 66º 26’ S. As this is the charted latitude of Peak Foreman, Young Island, the bearing does not agree. Land was seen at 8 a.m. bearing south 60º west (true). This, which would appear to be Cape Hudson, loomed up through the mists in the form of a high, bold headland, with low undulating land stretching away to the south-south-east and to the westward of it.

“The appearance of this headland has been foretold for the last two days by masses of black fog, but it seems strange that land so high should not have been seen before, as there is little change in the atmospheric conditions.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, November 21, 1915: “. . . we heard Sir Ernest call out, ‘She’s going!’”   Leave a comment

–From the diary of Thomas Orde Lees–

“21 November. This evening, as we were all mostly taking it easy and reading, we heard Sir Ernest call out, ‘She’s going!’ We were all out in a second and up on the lookout station and other points of vantage and sure enough, there was our poor ship a mile and a-half away breathing her last.

“She went down bows first, her stern raised up in the air. It gave one a sickening sensation to see it, for mastless and useless as she has been, she yet formed a welcome landmark and has always seemed to link us with civilization. Without her, our destitution seems more emphasized, our isolation more complete.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, November 19, 1915: “We are all getting a little restless …”   Leave a comment

–from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“ 19 November. We are all getting a little restless and wish to be off, but we could never get the boats any great distance over the present surface, although today we moved the whaler mounted on the new sledge which the carpenter has made up from the runners of my poor old motor tractor, and we were surprised at the ease with which we were able to drag it and turn it.

“This sledge is a great success and its solid construction does the carpenter credit, horrid old man that he is. Now he is raising the gunwale of the James Caird some 10 in by the extraordinary expedient of fixing to its existing gunwale the upper part of the gunwale of the now derelict motor boat. He certainly is a brilliant workman.

“Hurley too is continually devising new and useful appliances and is at present occupied in constructing a very presentable bilge pump for the whaler out of the brass case belonging to the binnacle compass and which usually holds the iron steadying [that is, Flinders] bar, by which the compass is steadied in some way, I believe.

“We are very short of the farinaceous element in our diet and constantly have a mild craving for it. Bread is out of the question as we are eking out our supply of flour by making bannocks, of which we have from three to four each a day. They are made from flour, fat, water, salt, and baking powder, the dough being rolled out into flat rounds and baked for about 10 minutes on a hot sheet of iron over the fire.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, November 19, 1915: “If I were in civilization I would not venture two yards. . . .”   Leave a comment

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

“November 19th, Friday. Up 5.45. Clear. Under way as usual. Going not too good, sinking well in. At 10.30 came across another bergschrund, took photos of same. It is an extraordinary sight. Blue ice about 70 feet from the level of the barrier, crevassed with overhanging snow curtains. The distance before lunch 7-3/4 miles, good going on a bad surface. Lunch noon. Underway 1.

“At 2.30 called a halt, shifted into finneskoe, on account of my feet being badly blistered and painful. If I were in civilization I would not venture two yards, as the blisters on my heels are as large as potatoes. Camped 6 o’clock, 17 miles; we still have 24 miles to reach Hut Point. [That is, Joyce’s 3-man party is on their way home from having laid the Bluff Depot.] Will try and cover that distance tomorrow. Turned in at 8 o’clock, weary, snow-blind and blistered feet. Temp +4.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, November 16, 1915: “The ship is now a deplorable wreck. . . “   Leave a comment

–from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“16 November. The ship is now a deplorable wreck, hard down by the bows, almost waterlogged, and ice has absolutely over-ridden her forward. The funnel leans to starboard and will soon fall. It is an unpleasant sight, depressing in the extreme. Now we face a problematical escape over the ice and through leads in open boats to land nearly 300 miles away, trusting to find seals and penguins sufficient to meet our needs, and then with an even more remote chance of ultimate rescue. It is not a pleasant thought and so we bear a cheerful mien and devise distractions for fear we might give way to forebodings.

“’It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,’ said the song of the day when we were last in civilization, but it is an awful long way to land just now for us.”

Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, November 11, 1915: “Camp seems a cheery place now. . . .”   Leave a comment

–from the diary of Sir James Wordie—

“11 November. From this distance it is evident that the ship is sinking fast—only the funnel shows now: in another 24 hours it may be gone.

“Camp seems a cheery place now: Hussey plays his banjo almost every night after hoosh and gradually draws forth some singers. A good many books were rescued from the salvage operations—mostly the Encyclopaedia and the majority of my own books from the Rookery: so for the present we do not weary over much at these days of inactivity.”

Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, November 10, 1915: “Came on splendid surface 2.30. . .”   Leave a comment

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

“November 10, Wednesday. An excellent night. Temp. -8. Up ayt 6 a.m., under way usual time. After struggling for 2-1/2 hours up hill, reached the ice pressure at 11 o’clock. Lunch usual. Under way, 1.

[Joyce, Irvine Gaze, and John Cope are travelling as a detached party to add supplies to the existing depot at Minna Bluff, having left Hut Point November 5.]

“Came on splendid surface 2.30. At 3.15 came on to a huge bergschrund with a drop of 70 to 80 feet. If we had been travelling in hazy weather, I would not have been writing these notes. In appearance it seems that one of the big crevasses had fallen in, leaving a huge gap.

“After examining this, found pure blue ice at the bottom, not the same as the surface we had been travelling over—compressed snow. Camped 6. P.m. Distance 9 miles 420 yards. Temp. -3. Dogs A1.”


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