Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, June 28, 1916: “Really, we deserve to go without if we deliberately throw valuable food away lie this.”

—from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“28 June. The sea is quite calm, which is a bad omen, and what looks like a line of ice on the horizon is a worse one. A seal made quite a little pretence at trying to land. Had we a little more ammunition we should attempt to shoot him in the water, but we have less than 20 cartridges left and cannot therefore afford to take pot-shots at seals out of our reach, however badly we may be in need of them.

“We had, however, a wonderful haul of 81 penguins, killing them by our favourite expedient of driving them up Penguin Hill and making them jump the 80ft precipice at the end, where they fall easy prey to members armed with sticks standing at the foot. Unfortunately our sticks are gradually getting lost and broken, but we find our four snow-shovels make very satisfactory lethal weapons.

“Owing to the alleged abundance of our food reserve, we were told that no part of the penguins need be kept except the heart, liver and skins, with the result that most of the carcasses were thrown away with the whole of the breast and the legs on. [Wild did not want to have it seem that their fates had already been decided. He wanted to maintain the illusion that ‘the Boss’ would be coming at any time.]

“Surely they could have been put away as a possible reserve in case subsequent supplies did not come up to expectations. Really, we deserve to go without if we deliberately throw valuable food away lie this.”

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