Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, January 14, 1916: “The decision was made this morning to shoot most of the dogs. . . .”

–from the diary of Sir James Wordie–

“14 January. Position 66º 57’ S., 52º 41’ W. Some important developments took place today; the Boss suddenly got anxious over the absence of seals which has held for some days, i.e. a possible shortage of dog food.

“Now there seems to be only two alternatives as regards our leaving—either we do it in the boats (and therefore do not require the dogs) or else, should the pack not open this season, we will have to remain in camp until April, when it will be a case of making to the land as fast as we can with only one boat; in the latter case dog teams certainly would be useful, but on the other hand we ourselves require the seal meet to feed us till that date, and to keep intact the seven sledge loads of Bovril rations: I think we should manage them with man haulage, as after all it is the boat which decides the pace, being the weakest link in the chain.

“The decision was made this morning to shoot most of the dogs this evening: Wild’s, Crean’s, Marston’s, and McIlroy’s teams were led out of the camp just before hoosh tonight and shot by Wild. I think we have done right, but cannot help regretting their loss.

“In the course of the day we moved camp about ¼ mile SE to a larger, but I think a thinner floe. I distinguish it now as Camp 12.

“Hurley and Macklin have gone off with empty sledges [drawn by their two teams, surviving for yet a little while] tonight to try and reach Ocean Camp—if they manage, our food supply will be replenished very considerably. Ever since we stopped the sledging effort, many of us wanted to make such an attempt for that very reason. And now it comes, because the Boss realizes the pack may not open up this season.

“But the season is not late yet: not till the end of February should we give up hope of getting away in the boats.”

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