Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, June 23, 1916: The day after Midwinter’s Day at Cape Wild, Elephant Island

—from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“23 June. Midwinter’s Day is a thing of the past and once more we have been hungry again. What then do we have to look forward to now? Our rescue, whenever that may be; but almost as cheering, the certainty of the sun’s return, and therefore increasingly lengthening days.

“Last night’s concert was voted a great success. Hussey is indefatigable with his banjo and it really does, as Sir Ernest said, supply brain food; not exactly intellectual food, but music hath charms altogether unique on Elephant Island. Hussey obliged with his inimitable recitations, with a very good-humoured sally at me. . .

“Wild, with his fine bass voice, sang a charming Negro ditty, “Massa’s Gone Away,” with two other songs; Marston, who has quite the best voice of any of us, sang “Widdecome Fair,” “The Golden Vanitee,” and “Captain Stormalong”; and How, “A Sailor’s Alphabet” and “Every Night,” a typical music hall song. Wordie croaked the one and only item of his repertoire, “The Son of a Gambolier.” His croaking is as funny as it is popular. James rendered a splendid topical song, “Elephant Isle,” and the remainder of the turns ranged from weak and indifferent, in which category were topicals by Hurley and myself, the first of which I forget and the latter I hope to as soon as possible.”

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