The TERRA NOVA Expedition 1910-13
On January 28, 1907 Scott wrote to the secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, Mr. Scott Keltie, requesting financial assistance (£30,000) for a second expedition to Antarctica. He was already in touch with Barne, Mulock and Skelton of the DISCOVERY EXPEDITION.
Unfortunately, Ernest Shackleton announced on February 12 that he was pressing forward with his own plans to lead an expedition to the South Pole. He had already raised £30,000 and was soliciting the RGS for help as well. Now the RGS felt caught in the middle which led to a huge rift between Scott and Shackleton that was never to be closed.
A Clydebank shipbuilder, William Beardmore, had agreed to guarantee funding for Shackleton with the money to be repaid on Shackleton's return by writing a book, lecturing and selling articles. Shackleton tried to persuade Mulock to join him but Mulock declined because he had already committed to Scott.
This caught Shackleton by surprise as he had no idea that Scott was planning on a return expedition. Dr. Wilson was also approached by Shackleton but likewise declined as he was in the middle of an exhaustive project concerning his bird research in Antarctica; it just wouldn't be appropriate to abandon his studies at this time.
The day after Wilson received the request from Shackleton, a letter showed up from Scott in which he was curious if Shackleton had mentioned his own desire to return to McMurdo Sound. This was the first Wilson had heard of Scotts' plans. Scott was clearly upset for essentially one basic reason: the view that an explorer may have an exclusive right to his own territory was an unspoken given.
As the Frenchman Jean Charcot said,
Shackleton had announced that he intended to make his winter quarters at McMurdo Sound, an announcement that should have been respectfully cleared through Scott first.
The courtesy was never extended to his former commander.
Nevertheless, Scott made an effort to not let his personal feelings stand in his way as he wrote Scott Keltie on March 1 and told him,
On the other hand, Dr. Wilson wrote Shackleton,
Shackleton and Scott met in London on May 17, 1907 where Shackleton put in writing to leave,
Shackleton bought a small, dilapidated sealer, the NIMROD, and attracted two former mates from the DISCOVERY expedition to join him, Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce. The NIMROD sailed from the East India docks on July 30, 1907, taking a motor car, the first to be landed in Antarctica.
Scott went back to sea as Captain of HMS ALBERMARLE, a battleship with a complement of over 700 men. His appointment ended on August 25, 1907 and Scott went on half-pay until his next appointment, on January 1, 1908, to HMS Essex. It was between appointments that Scott met, for the second time, a twenty-eight-year-old sculptor, Kathleen Bruce. The two were invited to tea at Mabel Beardsley's where Kathleen was struck by Scott's "rare smile".
Scott was hooked and for the next ten days he either visited with her or wrote love notes:
By the end of November the two were engaged to be married.
A sailor's wife in those days was one to be pitied as husbands were generally at sea for perhaps ninety percent of their married life.
The wife was left to maintain the home and care for the children while the husband was away at sea, presumably having a gay old time with his fellow sailors and a wife in every port. This was a popular theory but in this case, the opposite were true. Kathleen was living it up in London with all her friends while making a name for herself as a sculptor.
Meanwhile, Con was living a lonely life as captain aboard the HMS BULWARK.
But Kathleen had her moments too, as she wrote Con in November 1908, telling him she was as "desperately, deeply, violently and wholly in love" as he was and was missing him terribly.
Early in 1909 good news finally arrived. Kathleen wrote,
Kathleen was pregnant. Also, an opportunity arose for Con to spend nine months living at home with his wife as an ordinary human. A position as Naval Assistant to Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman was offered and accepted at the end of March 1909.
Also in March 1909 the news came that Shackleton had not reached the Pole. Despite all the hardships, Shackleton, Adams, Marshall and Wild had crossed the Barrier, struggled up the glacier which Shackleton named after his patron, Mr. Beardmore, and planted the flag at 88°23'S, some 97 miles from the Pole.
Meanwhile, Professor Edgeworth David, Scott's surgeon A. F. Mackay and Douglas Mawson pushed on beyond the point reached by Scott on his western journey in 1903 and planted a flag on the South Magnetic Pole.
On July 1, 1909, Scott wrote Shackleton,
Shackleton replied that his plans "will not interfere with any plans of mine". On September 13, 1909, Scott announced his plans:
That very same day a son, Peter, was born to Kathleen and Con. James Berrie, a personal friend and the Scots playwright who wrote "Peter Pan", and Clements Markham were chosen as the godfathers.
On April 6, 1909, Robert Edwin Peary, a fifty-six-year-old commander on leave from the US Navy, together with Matthew Henson, his Negro servant and companion, reached the North Pole on their sixth attempt. The North was won so all thoughts of polar exploration now turned towards the South.
Several nations now commenced with preparations for the trek:
Scott went to work to raise the needed £40,000 for the expedition.
Unfortunately, donations were slow in coming. Sir Edgar Speyer, the City financier, became Honorary Treasurer of the British Antarctic Expedition's fund and donated £1,000.
Touring the countryside giving lectures to unenthusiastic audiences, Scott spent many cold nights in cheap hotel rooms.
But, £2,000 came from Manchester, £1,387 from Cardiff and £750 from Bristol.
In November 1909 Shackleton got the knighthood Scott had missed and his book, The Heart of the Antarctic, was published.
In January 1910 the Government announced a grant of £20,000 and now the expedition could buy a ship. Scott wanted the DISCOVERY but the Hudson's Bay Company refused to sell her. After considering several others, Scott purchased the TERRA NOVA for a down payment of £5,000 with a promise of an additional £7,500 when the funds could be raised.
Experiments with motor sledges were now under way. Michael Barne, still dealing with frostbitten hands from the DISCOVERY EXPEDITION, had designed a new sledge. (Barne declined the opportunity to join Scott and was married before the departure of the TERRA NOVA).
Early in March 1910, Scott went to Norway with Kathleen, Reginald Skelton, two mechanics and a "motor expert", Bernard Day, to test the experimental sledges. While in Christiania, Nansen introduced an expert skier, Tryggve Gran, to them. Gran was planning his own assault on the Pole but dropped his plans and joined Scott.
Lieutenant Teddy Evans, who had talked his way into his appointment in the MORNING, had started to raise funds for yet another expedition to the Pole. When he heard of Scott's plans, he agreed to abandon his personal desires and join forces with Scott provided he was offered the position of second-in-command.
Although Skelton was deeply hurt, Scott could not refuse the offer as the funds raised by Evans would be a real windfall. Evans was given the charge of getting the ship prepared for the South. Upon her return from the DISCOVERY expedition, the TERRA NOVA had been used for whaling and sealing and was now in a filthy, stinking condition.
Money may have been slow in coming but volunteers were coming in from all over the world.
More than 8,000 men volunteered to join the expedition. Five members of the DISCOVERY crew were accepted: Petty Officers Thomas Williamson, Edgar Evans and Thomas Crean, also Chief Stoker William Lashly and William Heald.
The scientists were carefully picked and from the onset, Edward Wilson was Scott's first choice. Three geologists were chosen: two Australians, Frank Debenham and T. Griffith Taylor, plus Raymond Priestley who had been with Shackleton's NIMROD EXPEDITION. Canadian Charles Wright was selected as the physicist while George Simpson came from the Indian meteorological service.
The one physicist who didn't go was the young lecturer from the University of Adelaide, Douglas Mawson, who was making his own plans, like many others, to explore an unmapped stretch of coast and country west of Victoria Land.
In a letter to Griffith Taylor on February 15, 1910, Mawson wrote,
The biologists were Edward Nelson and D. G. Lillie.
While Wilson was selecting the scientists, Scott and Evans worked on forming the rest of the crew. From the Admiralty came naval lieutenants: Harry Pennell, navigator and magnetic observer, Henry Rennick in charge of the hydrographical surveys and deep-sea soundings and Victor Campbell.
Two Lieutenant-Surgeons, G. Murray Levick and Edward Atkinson, were appointed along with twenty-six petty officers and seamen. Various other volunteers were taken for a number of reasons. Herbert Ponting was a skilled, experienced photographer whose pictures taken during the Russo-Japanese War and been published in leading magazines in Great Britain and the United States.
Apsley Cherry-Garrard, aged twenty-four and a relative of Reginald Smith's, contributed £1,000 to be appointed assistant biologist. Captain L. E. G. Oates of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, who walked with a slight limp due to a wound received in the Boer War, also contributed a similar amount and was put in charge of the ponies as this was his area of expertise. Like Oates, Henry Bowers, of the Royal Indian Marine, came from India to join the expedition.
Bowers, a WORCESTER cadet, was a short, stocky man with red hair and a large nose which quickly earned him the nickname Birdie. Another former cadet from the WORCESTER, Wilfrid Bruce, joined the expedition. This was Kathleen's thirty-six-year-old brother.
Bruce was instructed to travel to Vladivostok and meet up with Cecil Meares who had just selected twenty Siberian-bred ponies and thirty-four sledge-dogs for the expedition. The animals were escorted to Lyttleton via Japan and Australia. Losing only one pony and one dog on the long journey, the animals were inoculated ten times and put ashore on Quail Island.
Perhaps Scott still retained fresh memories of the disastrous results with the dogs during his southern journey on the DISCOVERY EXPEDITION, but whatever the reasons, his transportation choices undoubtedly led to the expedition's final results.
The motor sledges were obviously experimental, since none had ever been used before, while the ponies would prove an even weaker link in the disastrous chain of events. It is true that Shackleton took nineteen ponies with him on his NIMROD EXPEDITION, but only four survived to set out on the journey towards the Pole.
Of these, one had to be shot at the second depot; another gave up at the third; and by the time they reached the foot of the Beardmore Glacier only one was left. Soon afterwards, this pony fell into a crevasse, leaving Wild, who had been leading him, suspended by one elbow over the dark chasm.
Scott planned to use the sledges to motor across the Barrier as far as possible, establishing depots along the way.
The ponies would then take over and haul the sledges to the foot of the glacier. Scott felt that the animals would not be able to make it up the glacier but would be a good source of fresh meat upon their return from the Pole. In retrospect, it is felt that Scott would have had an easy go of it to the Pole had he adequately trained men and dogs to make the assault.
Nevertheless, Scott wrote,
On June 1, 1910, the TERRA NOVA was towed away from the South-West India Docks as cheering crowds stood by.
Ponting, who was standing beside Scott, wondered what their homecoming would be like and Scott answered,
Five new species of spiders were collected and a new moth.
After leaving the island, the ship went "booming along" before strong westerlies. They arrived in Simon's Bay, Cape Town on August 15, 1910. The crew was soon reunited with Scott and for the next few days each member was left to himself to do as he pleased.
Although not happy about it, Wilson was instructed to take an ocean liner to Melbourne as Scott took over command of the TERRA NOVA. Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Evans, Wilson and his wife all sailed together aboard RMS CORINTHIC and upon arrival in Melbourne, Wilson consulted with Professor Edgeworth David and selected a third geologist.
Meanwhile, Scott was enjoying himself aboard the TERRA NOVA . The object of taking command at Cape Town was to acquaint himself with the crew and select the members of the two shore parties; one party would remain at the expedition's base of operations, in or near McMurdo Sound, carrying out scientific research while the second party made the final assault on the Pole.
A splinter group of six men, called the Eastern Party, was to be dispatched in unexplored King Edward VII Land, four hundred miles to the east. This group would be led by Victor Campbell. The naval lieutenants, Pennell and Rennick, would remain in charge of the ship.
Scott wrote to his mother, "My companions are delightful".
After six weeks at sea, the TERRA NOVA reached Melbourne on October 12, 1910. Wilson loaded the wives and a bag of mail in a motor launch and set out to find the ship in pitch darkness.
Kathleen wrote in her dairy, as they approached the ship,
In Scott's mail was a telegram sent from Madeira on September 9, 1910...a telegram from Amundsen saying,
Scott was clearly troubled by this announcement.
Scott and much of the public resented the fact that Amundsen's intentions appeared secretive in nature. He had raised money for the publicly proclaimed intention of going to the Arctic, managed to borrow the FRAM from Nansen without payment and then turned about face for the South Pole.
When the news arrived that Peary and Hansen had reached the North Pole, Amundsen felt left with little choice:
Amundsen was heavily in debt and knew if there was any chance to repay his debtors, a spectacular triumph would be needed.
The Norwegians left Christiania on August 9, 1910, with ninety-seven Greenland dogs, a hut in sections and provisions for two years. When they arrived in Madeira, only two members of the crew, his brother Leon and the ship's commander, Lieutenant Nilsen, knew of his intentions; the rest of the crew assumed they would be on their way to Buenos Aires and then northwards to the Arctic.
At Madeira he informed the crew of his real plans and all consented to go for the South. Amundsen chose to sail directly for the Ross Sea, a non-stop voyage, so the telegram for Scott was left with instructions for it not to be sent until after the FRAM had sailed. Once Amundsen left Madeira, he vanished into the unknown.
Clements Markham put his spin on the situation when he stated that,
On October 15, 1910, Markham reported to the RGS secretary that Amundsen had,
Scott, still chasing money, went on to New Zealand, via Sydney, by way of ocean liner.
Meanwhile, Teddy Evans resumed command of the ship as they left the harbor under full sail in full view of the Admiral's 13,000 ton flagship and the rest of the squadron.
The Scotts arrived in New Zealand on October 27 and were greeted by Clements Markham's sister, Lady Bowen, and her husband, Sir Charles. They stayed in Lyttleton with the expedition's agent, Joseph J. Kinsey.
The TERRA NOVA arrived and was promptly put into dry dock in order to fix her leak.
The ship had her stores rearranged and repacked with everything getting banded: red for the Main Party and green for the Eastern one. The scientific instruments were checked and the hut was erected on land by the men who would have the job of setting it up at winter quarters.
The three motor sledges, still in their crates, were lashed to the deck. Oates argued for forty-five tons of food for the ponies. (The ponies and dogs were waiting with Bruce and Meares on Quail Island in Lyttleton Bay).
Stalls were built for nineteen ponies while the thirty-nine dogs were chained to bolts and stanchions on the ice-house and the main hatch, between the motor sledges. Scott managed to get 430 tons of coal into the holds and 30 more tons stacked in sacks on the upper deck.
Oates managed to get an extra two tons of fodder on board without Scott's knowledge. In the ice-house were three tons of ice, 162 carcasses of mutton, three of beef, and cases of sweetbreads and kidneys. Scientific instruments were everywhere: sledges, an acetylene plant, the wooden huts, clothing, five ton of dog food and hundreds of other items had to be squeezed in...there was hardly room for the men.
And, of course, there were other minor details.
It seems Petty Officer Evans got drunk again, as in Cardiff, and disgraced the ship; and then the day before the final departure from Port Chalmers, the other Evans came to Scott with details of trouble between the wives.
Tempers had flared on the departure of their husbands and Oates reported that,
Once at sea, all was well and later Kathleen stated,
On November 26 the TERRA NOVA sailed for Dunedin and Port Chalmers.
The Scotts did not sail with her but came back in the harbor tug and spent their last two days together walking over hills to Sumner. The next day, in the afternoon, it was time to say farewell. There were massive cheering crowds on the shore as a tug took off the three wives.
Wilson wrote of his wife, Ory,
The ship sailed at 4:30 p.m. on November 29, 1910. For most of the men it would be a year and a half before they would see any green living thing; five others would never return.
Other than a little seasickness, the first few days at sea went quite well. However, on December 2 they were hit by a huge storm that dislodged the deck cargo creating dangerous conditions topside. The seas crashed over the decks, tossing the dogs from one side to the other, as water poured into the engine room and cabins below.
The ponies suffered the most and when all was said and done, one dog had been lost overboard while two ponies had been killed. Meanwhile, the seawater mixed with coal dust thereby creating a sludge that choked the bilge pumps. Water quickly rose to the furnaces and, for the first time, the men were in fear of losing their ship. The men finally resorted to using buckets to bale the water out by hand.
By morning the seas had begun to settle down. By 10:00 p.m. that evening Williams and Davies had succeeded in cutting a hole through the engine room bulkhead which allowed Teddy Evans a big enough hole to crawl through so he could reach the pumps.
Standing up to his neck in water, Teddy was able to clear the valves and,
Afterwards, Raymond Priestly wrote that the ship at her worst would have given Dante a good idea for another Circle of Hell,
I think this was because he was one of the few who did not suffer from seasickness! About ten tons of coal were lost, sixty-five gallons of petrol and a case of biologists' spirits.
On December 8 the first berg was spotted and on the following day, in latitude 65°8'S, the TERRA NOVA entered the pack. For the next three weeks the ship had to be shoved and bashed through a massive amount of ice, consuming a great deal of precious coal in the process.
On December 30 Scott wrote,
On New Year's Day, 1911, Mount Erebus came into view.
They attempted to land at Cape Crozier, where they had planned on setting up winter quarters, but the seas were too rough. So, McMurdo Sound was their next option. Rounding the northwest tip of Ross Island, they proceeded down the coast past Cape Royds, Inaccessible Island, and Cape Barne. When they arrived at the Skuary, soon renamed Cape Evans, Scott, Evans and Wilson made the decision to set up winter quarters.
About a mile and a half of ice lay between shore and open sea. On January 4 the TERRA NOVA anchored to the ice and the unloading began. The ponies were especially happy to finally be on firm ground as they rolled and kicked in the snow.
The first two motor sledges were unloaded and immediately put to work hauling stores to the new camp. As the third, and largest, sledge was unloaded and hauled by twenty men towards the shore, it decided to break through the ice and sink in sixty fathoms of seawater.
Scott blamed himself for the tragedy as he was in a hurry to get the ship unloaded so she could embark with Campbell and his crew for King Edward VII Land.
The hut went up rapidly: it measured fifty feet by twenty-five and was nine feet to the eaves. It was insulated with quilted seaweed, lined with matchboard, lit by acetylene gas, provided with a stove and cooking range and divided into two by a partition made of crates (including the wine) to separate the men's from the officers' quarters. Within two weeks the hut was built and occupied.
Before starting on the depot-laying journey across the Barrier and towards the Pole, Scott and Meares traveled the fifteen miles south to revisit Hut Point. Scott was furious to find a window had been left open. Snow had drifted in and frozen into a solid block of ice.
Scott knew that no one was to blame other than Shackleton since he was the last to use the hut when he had based at Cape Evans three years earlier.
On January 24 the depot-laying party got away, with all the dogs and eight ponies, across the Glacier Tongue and on to the Barrier.
Two days later, Scott and a team of dogs went back to the ship across the ice to say good-bye to Lieutenant Pennell and his crew. Scott figured that by the time they returned from the depot-laying, the TERRA NOVA would have already deposited Campbell and his five companions - Raymond Priestly, surgeon Levick, Browning, Dickason and Abbott - somewhere in King Edward VII Land, and would be on her return voyage to New Zealand.
Also on board were Griffith Taylor, Frank Debenham, Charles Wright and Edgar Evans who were to do scientific work in the mountains of Victoria Land.
The men were able to get them off but not before the pony had been badly bitten.
Next day the ponies were able to proceed but at Camp 15, on February 17, Scott decided to turn back before reaching, as he had hoped, the 80th parallel. At 79°28½' S, 142 miles from Hut Point, they built a cairn and deposited more than one ton of stores; this was One Ton Depot.
By this time Oates' nose had become frostbitten as well as Bowers' ears and, besides, Scott wanted to get back to Cape Evans to learn of any news left by Pennell concerning Campbell's party at King Edward VII Land. On the fourth day of the return trip, twelve miles from Safety Camp, Wilson saw Meares' and Scott's dogs disappear one after the other "exactly like rats running down a hole - only I saw no hole.
They simply went into the white surface and disappeared". The sledge hung precariously at the edge of the crevasse while eight dogs were left dangling in the abyss, howling and struggling. Two of the dogs had slipped their harness and fell forty feet to a ledge where they curled up and went to sleep.
Wilson and Cherry-Garrard came to the rescue and hauled the eight dogs out with great difficulty. There still remained the issue of the two dogs left on the ledge, some sixty-five feet below. Wilson protested but Scott insisted on being lowered into the chasm to retrieve the dogs. As soon as the dogs were hauled out, they engaged in a fight with Wilson's team. Scott was left dangling in the abyss as the others rushed off to separate the dogs. Finally, Scott was hauled in and the next day they reached Safety Camp where they found Teddy Evans, Ford and Keohane waiting for them.
The three reported to Scott that only one of the three ponies had survived the return trip as the others had died from exhaustion. They also had no news on Campbell, so after a meal and a few hours of sleep they went on to Hut Point pulling the sledges themselves.
When they reached the hut, they found it to be empty. A note was pinned to the wall which said, "Mail for Captain Scott is in bag inside south door" but there was no bag and no mail.
So, back they went to Safety Camp where they found Atkinson and Crean with the mail.
In the bag was a letter from Victor Campbell. The TERRA NOVA had sailed along the Barrier as far as King Edward VII Land but found it impossible to go ashore.
They turned back and on February 3 sailed into the Bay of Whales only to find a ship, anchored to the ice, which they recognized as the FRAM. Campbell, Levick and Pennell had breakfast in the FRAM and Amundsen, with two companions, had lunch in the TERRA NOVA. Amundsen offered to give Scott some dogs and Pennell offered to take the FRAM'S mail to New Zealand. Amundsen reported that his attempt for the Pole would not take place until the following Antarctic summer.
As it turns out, the Bay of Whales was the proper place for a starting point on an attempt for the Pole. Scott was afraid that too much was at risk to set up base camp at this location: it was afloat and large chunks of it broke off each year going out to sea.
However, Amundsen knew that the bay, charted by Ross in 1841, was still in the same position when Borchgrevink landed there in 1900 and when Shackleton sailed by in 1908 and named it the Bay of Whales. Besides, the Bay was sixty miles closer to the Pole than McMurdo Sound. Raymond Priestly was impressed when Amundsen drove his dogs up next to the TERRA NOVA for lunch.
When he arrived next to the ship, he gave a whistle and the whole team stopped as one dog. He turned the sledge upside down and left the dogs in their tracks, to remain there, without fighting, until he had finished his lunch. Dogs, plenty of dogs, well-trained dogs was impressive.
As much attention was given the dogs as the men on the FRAM: a false deck had been built above the real one to protect the dogs in stormy seas, an awning had been erected to protect them from the sun, and their diet was a carefully balanced mixture of dried fish, pemmican and lard.
When he read the news, Scott wrote,
Although Scott took the news in good stride, many of the others were very angry and wanted to march right into the Bay of Whales and have it out, once and for all, with Amundsen.
Scott now had to get everyone back to Hut Point.
On the last day of February the move began with Meares and Wilson leading off with the dog teams. Wilson went round by Cape Armitage and arrived safely at Hut Point. The others followed with the ponies and had to follow the sea-ice route. They had barely started when "Weary Willie" collapsed and died.
While Scott, Oates and Gran stayed by Weary Willie's deathbed, Bowers, Crean and Cherry-Garrard went on ahead with the four surviving ponies and the loaded sledges.
They dropped down off the Barrier onto sea-ice and started to probe their way round Cape Armitage. When the ponies could go no farther, they camped and turned in but were aroused two hours later by a strange noise. When they stepped outside, it was discovered that the ice had broke up and their camp was now adrift on a floe.
One of the ponies had disappeared and survival seemed unlikely. The only hope was to take the three remaining ponies and four sledges and "hop" from floe to floe as they made their way back to the Barrier.
Six hours passed before they made it to the edge of the Barrier.
Using sledges as ladders, Scott and the others were able to climb on to the Barrier but the ponies drifted away on their floe as killer whales stood by.
Next morning, Bowers spotted the ponies' floe resting against a spur jutting out from the Barrier.
Bowers and Oates were able to make their way out across the floes and reach the ponies. Unfortunately, one pony immediately fell in so Oates had to kill him with his pick-axe. Meanwhile, the other two ponies were brought to the brink of safety. Both were hauled out but one could not get to his feet.
The pony would slip and fall back into the water with each attempt and when the killer whales showed up, Bowers shouted,
Bowers grabbed the axe and killed him.
When all was said and done, only one pony had survived. They had started their depot-laying journey with eight ponies; they bot back to Hut Point with two.
Now they waited at Hut Point for the sea-ice to freeze over again so they could continue on to Cape Evans. On March 15 they were joined by the geologists, Griffith Taylor, Frank Debenham and Charles Wright along with Petty Officer Edgar Evans who had been exploring the western mountains in Victoria Land.
On April 11 Scott and half the party were able to get away for Cape Evans, with the rest to follow. When they reached the base they found the hut in good shape but one of the ponies and another dog had died. That left ten ponies out of the original nineteen. On April 23 the sun vanished beneath the horizon for the last time until August.
Scott wrote that the sledging season had come to an end. That is, except for one trip led by Wilson to Cape Crozier in search of birds. The adventure is best told in a book written by Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World.
A great deal of scientific work was accomplished during the winter at Cape Evans. Scott's diary is full of scientific data. He was constantly thinking and observing as he went on solitary walks, recording all things seen. He had a passion for science and was sensitive to nature and beauty alike.
His spiritual growth was boundless...
Needless to say, hours and hours of preparation were put into the plans for the push to the Pole. Always his thoughts came back to transport. During the winter three more dogs died.
Six men missing from the hut at Cape Evans were Victor Cambell and his five companions who, having failed to get ashore on King Edward VII Land, had been taken by the TERRA NOVA to Cape Adare, where they established their base near Borchgrevink's old camp.
The "Eastern Party" had thus become the "Northern Party".
It had been arranged that the TERRA NOVA would pick up Campbell's party from Cape Adare on her return from New Zealand in early 1912. Geology, with twenty-five-year-old Raymond Priestley in charge, was to be the main pre-occupation, and surgeon Murray Levick was to study birds and marine life.
So, the winter at Cape Evans passed. Scott celebrated his forty-third birthday with his companions.
A DISCOVERY EXPEDITION custom Scott revived was the issue of the South Polar Times.
The sun returned on Victor Campbell's thirty-sixth birthday, August 23. Scott fixed the date of departure for the Pole as November 1, 1911, at the latest. They couldn't start earlier because the ponies would not survive the cold so, to fill in the time, Scott, Bowers, Simpson and Edgar Evans left on September 15 on "a remarkably pleasant and instructive little spring journey" to the western mountains.
It was probably on this trip that Scott picked his companions for the push to the Pole. Wilson was a given; Edgar "Taff" Evans, too - the sterling sledger, strong as an ox; Bowers, the only man Scott could rely on to grasp details and remember them,
At the end of October, 1911, Scott called his men together to give them some bad news.
The expedition was under heavy financial strain and had literally ran out of funding. Those men capable of forgoing their salary for the coming year were asked to do so. Some had already decided to return with the TERRA NOVA when she called in the summer: Griffith Taylor was expected back at his university, Ponting and Day's work was finished while Clissold and Forde were in poor health.
Most of the others volunteered to stay another winter even if they received no pay. Before the departure of the Southern Party, Scott, like all the others, wrote to his family and friends.
He acknowledged in his letter to Kathleen,
Scott wrote on the last page of the diary that he left behind,
On November 1, 1911, the time came for the start of his last journey.
The first to leave Cape Evans were Day, Lashly, Teddy Evans and Hooper with the motor sledges while the others with ponies and dogs followed behind.
One machine gave out just beyond Safety Camp while the other had to be abandoned a mile beyond Corner Camp. On November 1, ten men, each with a pony and sledge, left Cape Evans in detachments: Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Oates, Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard, Wright, Edgar Evans, Crean and Keohane. Meares and Dimitri followed with the dogs.
Everyone else remained at Cape Evans to carry out further exploration and research in Victoria Land. Scott assumed the TERRA NOVA would return in January bringing Victor Campbell and his Northern Party back to Cape Evans whereby Campbell would take command.
The distance from Hut Point to the Pole and back was 1766 statute miles. Every step of the way had to be marched on foot, with or without skis. They traveled by night for the benefit of the ponies. Temperatures never rose above zero Fahrenheit. Fighting constant snowfalls, the team reached One Ton Camp on the fifteenth day.
There was a constant worry that the ponies would give out and upon reaching Camp 20, on November 24, the first pony was killed. Four camps later, on December 1, the second pony was shot.
Depots were made at regular intervals of roughly seventy miles, each containing food and fuel for a week for the returning parties. Scott wrote on December 3,
On December 5 they awoke to a blizzard.
The temperature normally rose just before and during a blizzard but in this case the temperature rose exceptionally high resulting in melting snow making everything wet.
The wet, warm blizzard kept them confined to their tents for the next four days. (This event quite likely led to their deaths. If they had not lost these four days they would have reached One Ton Depot ahead of the blizzard that kept them pinned at their last camp.)
On the third day of the blizzard Scott wrote,
On the fifth day the blizzard let up enough for the men to break camp. They had to beat the ponies as they floundered up to their bellies and, Wilson wrote,
They struggled for eleven hours after which time the party camped. Five ponies were shot, skinned and made into a depot. Wilson wrote,
Two days later found them on the foot of the Beardmore Glacier.
After setting up the Lower Glacier depot, Meares and Dimitri started back with the dogs and mail. Day and Hooper had already turned back so a party of twelve, divided into groups, set out to man-haul the sledges up the glacier towards the summit 10,000 feet above. (Amundsen was already there).
The glacier is over 100 miles long and in some places 40 miles wide. The struggle began with each man pulling over 200 pounds through the soft snow which they sank into nearly up to their knees. Some suffered from snow-blindness as others stumbled into crevasses, sledges and all. On December 13, the day before Amundsen reached the Pole, in nine hours the party had advanced less than four miles.
Bowers wrote that he had,
The situation gradually improved as they scaled the glacier and on December 20 Scott named the first returning party: Atkinson, Wright, Cherry-Garrard and Keohane.
Scott had dreaded this moment as all had pulled to the limit of their strength, but now four good men had to be deprived of their just reward: the Pole. The next day the men established Upper Glacier depot at 7,000 feet. After completion, the first supporting party left for home and reached Hut Point thirty-five days later on January 26, 1912.
The two remaining groups went on with two sledges and twelve weeks' supply of oil and fuel, pulling 190 pounds per man. In Scott's group were Oates, Wilson and Taff Evans while Bowers had Teddy Evans, Lashly and Crean. They went on climbing for another sixteen days to reach their highest altitude at 10,570 feet.
On Christmas day, with a strong wind in their faces, they advanced seventeen-and-a-half miles. The Christmas meal consisted of pony hoosh, ground biscuit, a chocolate hoosh made from cocoa, sugar, biscuit and raisins thickened with arrowroot, two-and-a-half square inches each of plum-duff, a pannikin of cocoa, four caramels each and four pieces of crystallized ginger.
From here they made remarkable marches of fourteen to seventeen miles a day. On January 3 Scott chose four men to continue with him to the Pole and instructed the other three to return. Bowers was brought into his tent and Teddy Evans, Lashly and Crean would become the second returning support party.
Teddy Evans was very bitter about Scott's decision but the rest of the crew knew it was a proper choice; aboard ship he was of great help but on land he was a failure. Wilson wrote,
Lashly and Crean were both in tears as the three men turned back at 87°32'S, at an altitude of 10,280 feet and 169 miles from the Pole.
There was no sign of the Norwegians as Scott and the others followed Shackleton's route. On January 6 they crossed the line of latitude where Shackleton turned back and were farther south, as they believed, than any man had been before. For the next few days the going was difficult.
On January 9 they stayed in their bags all day as a blizzard roared outside. On January 10 they resumed their march, made a depot of one weeks' provisions and reckoned they were only ninety-seven miles from the Pole. On this day came the first hint that everyone was growing tired.
A day later,
Two days later, despite higher temperatures Scott wrote,
On January 13 they crossed the 89th parallel.
Next day they started to descend and made their final depot of four days' food.
This was the last cheerful entry in Scott's diary. The next day, January 16, they made a good march and figured they would reach the Pole the following day. In the afternoon, Bowers spotted something ahead which looked like a cairn. Half and hour later they realized the black speck to be a flag tied to part of a sledge. Nearby was the remains of a camp along with tracks made by sledges and dogs...many dogs.
Scott felt he had let his loyal companions down and had utterly failed them. Scott wrote,
On January 17, a force five gale struck them along with temperatures falling to fifty-four degrees of frost.
Oates, Evans and Bowers all suffered from severe frostbite as they made an early lunch-camp.
Wilson wrote that it was "a tiring day" and despite Amundsen having,
The next morning they found the Norwegian's camp about two miles away.
Inside the tent was a sheet of paper with five names on it: Roald Amundsen, Olav Olavson Bjaaland, Hilmer Hanssen, Sverre H. Hassel and Oscar Wisting. The date of the note was December 14, 1911. They had taken twenty-one days less than Scott's party to reach the Pole.
They had arrived at the Pole with their dogs via a glacier they had named the Axel Heiberg. On the day Scott and his companions arrived at the Pole, Amundsen and his men were only one week out from their winter quarters in the Bay of Whales. The five men reached the FRAM in the Bay of Whales on January 25, 1912.
In the Norwegian tent Amundsen left a note for Scott and a letter to be delivered to King Haakon. Bowers took photographs, and then they marched seven miles south-south-east to a spot which put them within half a mile of the Pole, altitude 9,500 feet.
Here they built a cairn, planted "our poor slighted Union Jacks" and the rest of the flags, photographed themselves and headed for home.
His companions sledged him to the next camp and soon after midnight he died.
After a few hours rest, they were on their way again. At the foot of the glacier they reached the pony meat and enjoyed their first full meal since leaving the plateau.
From here the travelling became difficult as the snow became very soft.
They left the foot of the glacier on February 19.
On the 27th, Wilson's diary stopped. Bowers had given up on his on January 25. They arrived at the Southern Barrier depot six days later. Here they discovered a shortage of oil, presumably due to evaporation from the poorly sealed one-gallon tins. Another seventy miles brought them to the Middle Barrier depot where they once again discovered a short supply of oil.
By this time Oates could no longer conceal his pain: his toes were black and gangrene was setting in. Temperatures were down to -40°F and the surface was so bad that even a strong wind in the sail would not move the sledge.
On March 7 Scott mentions the dogs for the first time:
On the same day, the dogs, driven by Cherry-Garrard and Dimitri, were waiting at One Ton Depot, some seventy-two miles from Mt. Hooper.
On March 9 Scott and his men reached Mt. Hooper.
An unusual north-west wind kept them in camp the next day as it was simply too cold to face.
With half-cooked food, all of them getting frostbitten, all knowing they were doomed, they discussed the situation. Months before, at Cape Evans, they had discussed what to do if one of them became so injured as to not be able to continue on. Wilson carried lethal doses of morphine and opium in his medicine chest so one could eliminate himself if the situation called for it.
At this point Scott ordered Wilson to hand over the drugs so Wilson handed each man thirty opium tablets. They were never used as suicide was against the code.
Things got worse as the north wind continued to blow in their faces. Wilson was now becoming weak so Scott and Bowers had to make camp by themselves. The temperature fell to -43°F. On March 16 or 17 (they lost track of the days) Oates said he couldn't go on and wanted to be left in his bag. The others refused and he struggled on.
There was a blizzard blowing in the morning when Oates said "I am just going outside and may be some time" and he stumbled out of the tent.
Oates was never to be seen again. On March 20 they awoke to a raging blizzard. Scott's right foot became a problem and he knew "these are the steps of my downfall".
Amputation was a certainty "but will the trouble spread? That is the serious question".
They were only eleven miles from One Ton Depot but the blizzard stopped them from continuing on. They were out of oil and had only two days' rations.
They did not march again and on March 29 Scott made his last entry:
On another page he scribbled,
Remarkably, Scott was able to find the strength, despite being half starved and three quarters frozen, to write twelve complete, legible letters. He wrote to Kathleen and Hannah, to his brother-in-law, to his naval comrades Sir Francis Bridgeman and Sir George Egerton, to the Reginald Smiths and to Sir James Barrie.
To Barrie he wrote,
He wrote to Oates' and Bowers' mothers and to Wilson's wife.
Wilson wrote to his parents,
Letters were written to J. J. Kinsey in New Zealand and Sir Edgar Speyer expressing regrets for leaving the expedition in such a state of affairs,
In Scott's letter to Kathleen, he wrote of hopes for his son,
As for Kathleen,
Finally, there was a Message to the Public.
He explained how the expedition's disaster was not due to poor planning, but by bad weather and bad luck. It was no one's fault...
Even at the very end Scott still felt comfortable with his decisions and felt a need to defend that position when he wrote,
Death, to Scott, was not a failure since they had reached their goal - -the Pole. He hoped he had set an example of courage and loyalty to all those left behind when he wrote to Sir Francis Bridgeman,
The blizzard raged on for another ten days before Scott's last entry on March 29, 1912. It was not until November 12 that Surgeon Atkinson, leader of the search party, found their tent all but buried in snow.
When "Silas" Wright pulled the flap aside, they saw the three men in their sleeping bags. On the left was Wilson, his hands crossed on his chest; on the right, Bowers, wrapped in his bag. It appeared that both had died peacefully in their sleep. But Scott was lying half out of his bag with one arm stretched towards Wilson.
Tryggve Gran said,
Gran envied them.
Petty Officer Williamson said,
At the age of forty-three, Scott had been the last to die.
Atkinson took charge of the diaries and letters and read aloud the account of Oates' death and the Message to the Public. He then read the Burial Service and a chapter from Corinthians after which all the men gathered and sang Scott's favorite hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers".
The tent was then collapsed over the bodies and a snow cairn was built over all. Placed on top was a pair of crossed skis. Here they would lie until one day, drifting with the Barrier, they would find their final resting place in the sea. Atkinson led the search party back along the path believed taken by Scott in hopes of finding Oates.
They found his sleeping bag but nothing more. Near the spot where they assumed he had fallen, the men erected a cross with the following inscription:
The expedition was expected back in New Zealand early in April 1913.
In January, Kathleen set out to meet him by way of the United States. After a few days of camping with cowboys in New Mexico, she set out from San Francisco aboard RMS AORANGI. On February 19, between Tahiti and Raratonga, she was called to the captain's cabin.
With shaking hands, he showed her a message received by wireless:
She went into mental shock as she went about her business the rest of the day: playing cards, taking a Spanish lesson and discussing American politics.
Her brother Wilfrid met her in Wellington along with Ory Wilson, Atkinson and Teddy Evans who had taken the TERRA NOVA down to McMurdo Sound to embark Scott's party and the rest of the expedition.
Atkinson handed Kathleen her husband's diary and last letter. It was now Kathleen's turn to be courageous in the face of tremendous debt still owed from the expedition. Ironically, with the death of the leader came funding that retired the £30,000 debt. Before long, £75,509 had come in which paid all outstanding debt and allowed grants to all dependants.
There was still £12,000 remaining and this was handed over to Cambridge University which used the gift towards the foundation of the Scott Polar Research Institute.
Officially constituted in 1926, Frank Debenham became the first director. The honor that would have been bestowed upon Scott was awarded to his wife, Kathleen; she became Lady Scott. Kathleen continued to carve statues of many leaders of her day: kings, prime ministers, writers and adventurers, including Nansen, who wanted her to marry him.
She rejected the proposal but kept him as a friend. Kathleen went on to marry Edward Hilton Young, a politician who later became Lord Kennet of the Dene. She died of leukemia in 1947.
Other than Kathleen and the family, no one grieved more than Sir Clements Markham. He was now eighty-three and plagued by gout. The electric light bulb was widely used but Markam still preferred to read by candlelight. One night, while reading in bed, the bedclothes caught fire.
The butler rushed in and extinguished the flames but the shock was too great and the old man died, unconscious, in January 1916.