February 27, 1914: Shackleton and Winston Churchill

The day after Shackleton had taken Winston Churchill, then the first Sea Lord, to lunch, Sir Ernest wrote him the following note:

“Please do look favourably upon . . .our talk. I will return the men safe and undamaged, as far as God wills it. . .so that if you want them back for war purposes [they] could . . . return to England, and I would have the ship manned with a scratch crew. . .You know from our talk yesterday that I am trying to do good and serious work. . . Death is a very little thing, and Knowledge very great. . . and really Regent Street holds out more dangers on a busy day than the five million square miles that constitute the Antarctic Continent.

“If I go on this Expedition without the Senior Service [that is, the Royal Navy, as senior to the Merchant Navy] being represented, it will be the first time in the history of Polar exploration, which. . .has brought forth for the last three hundred years the best qualities of the seaman and has been the brightest page in the history of our sea story. . . . It means much to the country, and it means a great deal to me.”

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