February 17, 1912: The death of Petty Officer Edgar “Taff” Evans

–from Scott’s diary–

“Saturday, February 17.–

“A very terrible day.  Evans looked a little better after a good sleep, and declared, as he always did, that he was quite well.  He started in his place on the traces, but half an hour later worked his ski shoes adrift, and had to leave the sledge.  The surface was awful, the soft recently fallen snow clogging the ski and runners at every step, the sledge groaning, the sky overcast, and the land hazy.  We stopped after about one hour, and Evans came up again, but very slowly.  Half an hour later he dropped out again on the same plea.  He asked Bowers to lend him a piece of string.  I cautioned him to come on as quickly as he could, and he answered cheerfully as I thought.

“We had to push on, and the remainder of us were forced to pull very hard, sweating heavily.  Abreast of Monument Rock we stopped, and seeing Evans a long way astern, I camped for lunch.  There was no alarm at first, and we prepared tea and our own meal, consuming the latter.  After lunch, Evans still not appearing, we looked out, to see him still afar off.  By this time we were alarmed, and all four started back on ski.  I was the first to reach the poor man and shocked at his appearance; he was on his knees with clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes.  Asked what was the matter, he replied with a slow speech that he didn’t know, but thought he must have fainted.  We got him on his feet, but after two or three steps he sank down again  He showed every sigh of a complete collapse.

“Wilson, Bowers and I went back for the sledge, whilst Oates remained with him.  When we returned he was practically unconscious, and when we got him into the tent quite comatose.  He died quietly at 12:30 a.m.”

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