Tom Crean Retires From The Royal Navy
On March 24th 1920, Tom Crean retired from the Royal Navy, after almost 27 years of service, having officially enlisted as Boy 2nd Class on July 10th, 1893. While serving aboard HMS Fox, in April 1919, Crean had suffered a serious fall, causing a bad head injury, which would have lasting effects on his eyesight.
Almost a year later, whilst serving on HMS Hecla, Tom Crean was declared medically unfit to serve, because of his defective vision, and the giant Irishman retired on medical grounds.
Crean returned home to Annascaul, where he and his wife Eileen would later open the South Pole Inn, public house. In 1920 he also turned down the chance to venture south again, when requested by Ernest Shackleton to join him on the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, aboard the Quest, stating that he now had ‘a long haired pal’ to look after.
Crean’s legacy in the Navy was that of an able, hard working, honest and most reliable seaman, but it is his exploits on three Antarctic expeditions of exploration, that have catapulted his name into the realms of heroes. His courage, compassion and selflessness, displayed during the harshest and most challenging of circumstances, in the icy climes of Antarctica, have led to him being regarded as one of the bravest men ever to have set foot on the frozen continent.
Tom Crean by GTV
Good Time Villains or GTV for short, are a Dublin based band playing indie folk music. The band originally formed in Perth Australia, when Richie and Mick met and started playing together, then later came back home to Ireland to form the full band with bassist Stephen Caulfield and drummer Carl O Connor.
The band are awaiting the launch of their upcoming EP, which will be entitled GTV, and among the six tracks is the song ‘Tom Crean’. The launch date for the EP is April 17th, and the group have decided to host the event in” The Strawberry Hall Bar”, which is located in the Strawberry Beds in Dublin. The pub is favored by the band due to its renowned reputation for music artists in Dublin. It is not unheard of for some of Ireland’s other finest musicians to be heard playing there and Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard, Declan O Rourke and the Riptide Movement have all been said to play a couple of tunes in the Strawberry Hall at one time or another.
Listen to ‘Tom Crean’ by Good Time Villains
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, as Scott had decided his team would now have five members.
Terra Nova Expedition
Tom Crean was one of the members of Scott’s depot-laying team that were tasked with establishing a supply route along the Barrier, that would be used by Scott and his Polar party, when they embarked upon their South Pole journey.
The aim was to lay supplies at strategic points along the ice shelf, from Safety Camp, at its edge, all the way to 80º S, where the largest cache – One Ton Depot would be located.
Joins HMS Essex under Captain Scott.
On January 29th 1908, Tom Crean joined the HMS Essex, which was under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott.
Having returned with Scott from the Discovery’s Antarctic expedition in 1904, Crean had reverted back to normal Navy duties, and served at Portsmouth’s torpedo school.
In September of 1906 Scott invited Crean to join him on HMS Victorious, and the Irishman duly accepted the offer. Victorious would be the first of four different ships, after the Discovery Expedition, that the Polar veterans would serve on together, before departing for Antarctica again in 1910, aboard the Terra Nova.
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The Terra Nova Expedition 1910 – 1913
The Terra Nova expedition was both Captain Scott’s and Tom Crean’s second journey to Antarctica, as both men had been part of the Discovery Expedition 1901 – 1904.
The aims of the British Antarctic Expedition ( official name of the Terra Nova expedition ) was chiefly to reach the South Pole, but also there was the important objectives of scientific research – meteorological, geological, geographical and zoological.
While many of the scientific aspects of the excursion were successful, and indeed Scott and his team did reach the Pole on January 17th 1912, the expedition ultimately ended in tragedy with the deaths of all five men of the Polar Party, on their return journey.
Despite the fact that this expedition took place over 100 years ago, the photographs of Herbert Ponting affords us an excellent visual backdrop to the fascinating stories of endeavour, bravery and tragedy, that unfolded on the harsh frozen continent of Antarctica.
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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 →
Written in memory of Tom Crean
A Hero’s Lament
Upon this frozen wasteland
and pillowed snowy dunes
I dream of dear old Kerry
And long to hear her tunes
The ripples of her rivers
The voices hearts do yearn
Her misty mountain’s whispering
To these I must return
Yet onward I must travel
As precious such is living
I ask you Lord please
guide me through
This land of unforgiving
And grant to me a wish O Lord
When duty I am done
Sail safely home to Erin green
An ever loving son
Tim Foley 2014
With special thanks to Tim Foley – Kerry Airport Campaign