Shackleton had been advertising for men of various specialties to join the Endurance expedition. Lees, a captain in the Royal Marines, rode up to London on a motorcycle as a demonstration of his “practical knowledge of internal combustion engines.” Shackleton accepted his application on the spot, but the Navy was not so willing to let him go. He could retire, but “That I could not afford to do.”
–from Lees’ memoir “Beset by Berg and Floe”–
“I passes word to Shackleton. ‘Come up and see me again,’ he wired. I went up. We got into a taxi and drove to the Admiralty. . . .Straight into Mr. Churchill’s office we walked. He greeted Shackleton warmly but. . .seemed take aback when Shackleton said ‘I want you, if possible, to release this man for my expedition.’Churchill, addressing me, said, ‘Very well you can go if you’re willing to lose time and pay.’ I was at once in a dilemma, reflecting on my encumbrances, wife ad child. I turned to Shackleton for help and advice. With only a fraction of a twinkle in his eye and a simulation of a nod on his part, I turned to Mr. Churchill and said ‘Ay, ay Sir’ at which I thought he gave a faint smile. To my intense relief Shackleton then said ‘I’ll see to that Mr. Churchill,’ and he did.
“The moment we got outside he told me that he had decided to give me L300 a year, more than I was getting as captain of Marines.”