Only a matter of days before I launched this website in December 2014, Tim Foley from the Kerry Airport Should Be Renamed Tom Crean Airport campaign group, contacted me with a surprising piece of information, regarding Tom Crean’s date of birth.
On the websites Tom Crean page I had stated that Tom was born on July 20th 1877, and should you pick up any publication, relating to the Unsung Hero, it will no doubt quote the same date, as it was always assumed that this was his birthday.
That is until Aileen O Brien d’Arcy – Tom Crean’s granddaughter, contacted Kay Caball of Find Your Kerry Ancestors, and tasked her with tracing Toms ancestors.
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Tom Crean & The South Pole
Despite his heroics in Antarctic climes, Tom Crean never actually made it to the South Pole. On January 3rd 1912, Tom was only 150 miles from the Pole, when Captain Robert Falcon Scott opted to send him back to base as part of the last support party. Scott’s Polar Party did succeed in reaching The South Pole, but tragically all five men would perish on the gruelling return journey.
As perhaps the fittest and strongest of the eight men who stood within 150 miles of The Pole on the morning of January 4th, before the parties went their separate ways, it is a certainty that Tom Crean would also have made it to the Pole.
The questions are, could he have survived the trek back to base, that claimed the lives of his five comrades, and whether or not he could have done anything to save them? Bearing in mind that the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers were found in their tent, only around 11 miles from a huge, and potentially life saving supply cache, the question is a justified one.
Roald Amundsen had of course beaten Scott and his Polar Party to the South Pole, arriving there on December 14th 1911, around five weeks before Scott. Amundsen and his men were the first humans to stand at The South Pole.