On This Day, February 19, 1912 – Tom Crean Reaches Hut Point

Tom Crean Arrives At Hut Point

Terra Nova Expedition

It was 3.30 AM, on Monday the 19th of February, when Tom Crean stumbled through the door of the Discovery Hut, at Hut Point, and fell to his knees, gasping for breath. No doubt the two occupants of the hut, Edward Atkinson and Dimitri Gerov, were extremely startled by his entrance, as visitors seldom drop by remote huts on Ross Island, Antarctia.
Initially the exhausted and starving Crean was almost delirious, but Atkinson managed to get some brandy into him, and once lucid, he conveyed to them the plight of Edward Evans, who lay dying in a tent, 35 miles southwards, on the Ross Ice Shelf.
Tom Crean had left Evans with Bill Lashly around 10 AM, the previous day and decided to strike out alone to seek help, as any effort for the entire party to complete the journey would have taken days, with fatal consequences for Evans.

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Tom Crean’s Solo March – February 18th 1912

On This Day – February 18th 1912

Terra Nova Expedition

On the 18th of February 1912, Tom Crean, Bill Lashly and Edward Evans reached Corner Camp on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, but they were still 35 miles from the refuge of Hut Point. The three men had parted ways with Scott and his team, approximately 150 miles from the South pole on January 4th. Crean and Lashly had been hauling the scurvy ravaged Evans on the provisions sledge for days, their rations were all but depleted and they were utterly exhausted.

Evans had suffered snow blindness on the perilous descent of the Beardmore Glacier, and shortly afterwards, he started displaying signs of scurvy. These symptoms quickly escalated.
Twice in a few days prior to February 18th, they had thought that Evans had died, such was the graveness of his condition, and it was patently obvious to them that time was not on his side.
They calculated that at their current pace it would take them another four to five days to completed the journey, at which stage they knew, they would be arriving at Hut Point with the body of their Lieutenant.

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On This Day – February 17th 1912

Edgar Evans Dies On Scott’s Return March

Terra Nova Expedition

Edgar Evans - Terra Nova Expedition

Edgar Evans – Terra Nova Expedition

On February 17th 1912, Edgar Evans died near the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, as he returned from the South Pole with Scott, Oates, Wilson and Bowers.
The Welshman who Scott had described as “…a giant worker”, was 35 years old, and tragically, left behind a widow, Lois, and three young children.
The five men had arrived at the Pole a month earlier on January 17th, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them there, having arrived at 90º South, on the 15th of December.
The arduous return journey, soon became a desperate struggle for the Polar Party, and as they descended the Beardmore Glacier, both the physical and mental condition of Edgar “Taff” Evans were in steady decline.

As Scott’s party made their weary return from the pole, Evans was suffering badly from frostbite to his fingers, nose and cheeks. He had also fallen into crevasses on two occasions. The second of these falls on February 4th, when both he and Scott fell, prompted a rapid decline in Evans’ condition. He suffered a serious concussion from which he would never recover, and Scott described him afterwards as being “broken down in the brain”.
Evans did struggle onwards though, but dropped out of the harness, and no doubt his condition delayed the progress of the team. Considering the fine margins of the return plan, and the harshness of the theatre it was being played out in, it can be suggested that the decline of Edgar Evans between the 4th and 17th of February, would subsequently contribute to the deaths of the rest of the team. Surplus rations were used up as depots were not reached on schedule, and the consequent shortfall of distance covered, could perhaps be equated to the 11 mile expanse, between One Ton Depot, and the bodies of Scott, Bowers and Wilson.
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Tom Crean – The Tears Of A Giant – On This Day February 14th 1912

The Tears Of A Giant

The Terra Nova Expedition

On This Day February 14th 1912

Tom Crean and Bill Lashly were continuing their gruelling return march from the Polar Plateau, and were hauling the gravely ill Edwards Evans on their sledge, in a desperate attempt to save his life.

Evans who had suffered from snow blindness, having removed his goggles on the descent of the Beardmore Glacier, was by now ravaged by scurvy. The previous day, unable to stand, let alone walk, he had ordered Crean and Lashly to leave him behind and save themselves, but they had refused. Instead they placed their fragile Lieutenant onto the sledge, and endeavoured to get him back to base. Evans recorded later that, during a long and distinguished naval career it was “the first and last time my orders as a naval officer were disobeyed.”

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On This Day – February 13th 1912

Crean, Evans & Lashly – Return March From The Polar Plateau

Terra Nova Expedition

February 13th 1912

By February 13th 1912, Crean, Evans and Lashly had completed almost 650 miles of their return march, from the Polar Plateau. Yet they were still over 100 miles from Hut Point and Edward Evans was perilously close to death.

Tom Crean and Bill Lashly had been hauling their sledge along the Barrier for days, as the afflicted Evans had dropped out of the harness, barely able to walk. The scurvy symptoms which were first evident in Evans during the descent of the Beardmore Glacier, had rapidly progressed , to the point where, on February 13th, he was passing blood, and unable to walk.

Evans knew he was dying and felt that the burden of his condition would only hinder Lashly and Crean’s chances of survival, so he issued an order for the two men to proceed, and leave him behind.

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On This Day – February 11th 1912

Crean, Evans and Lashly- Return March

The Terra Nova Expedition

Less than 150 miles from the South Pole, on January 3rd, 1912, Scott decided to send Tom Crean, Bill Lashly and Lt. Edward Evans back to base, as the last supporting team, to his Polar Party.
Prior to this none of the seven men who had accompanied Scott to this point on the Polar Plateau, knew who would be among the number selected for the final leg of the journey.
Tom Crean was sorely disappointed not to have been chosen, and it must surely have rankled him, Evans and Lashly, that they were to be sent back as a three man team, instead of the usual four man unit, as Scott had decided his team would now have five members.

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On This Day, January 3rd 1912 – With Scott On The Polar Plateau.

Tom Crean – On The Polar Plateau

Scott decides his Polar Party

Ten years to the day, after first crossing the Antarctic Circle, aboard the Discovery with Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Tom Crean was deep in Antarctic territory, on the Polar Plateau, around 150 miles from the South Pole. He was again in the company of Scott, this time on the Terra Nova Expedition. Two of the supporting teams, for the assault on the Pole, had returned to base at various stages along the trek, and now two, four-man teams remained.

Scott had always intended that his Polar Party that would make the trek on final stage of the journey, would consist of 4 men, himself among this number. None of the men knew whether or not they would be selected for the honour of standing with their Captain at the Pole, for it was a decision Scott had not announced prior to their departure.
Then on January 3rd 1912 Scott made his announcement, deciding that he would in fact be taking four men with him to the Pole, which now lay 150 miles away, and sending the last supporting party home. Continue Reading →