Anchor From The Aurora – The Ross Sea Party

Anchor From The Aurora.

Picture Of The Day.

The Ross Sea Party had been tasked with laying the supply depots, that Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic team would avail of, having come through the Pole from the Weddell Sea. Of course this would never happen as the Endurance was held fast in the ice of the Weddell, and never even made landfall on Antarctica.
As the expeditions second ship, the Aurora sailed to the other side of the continent, through the Ross Sea, and made landfall at McMurdo Sound. They followed in the footsteps of Scott, and laid supply depots across the Ross Ice Shelf all the way to the foot of the Beardmore Glacier.

Anchor from the Aurora (Shackleton's Ross Sea Party) and Erebus Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Hut, Cape Evans Antarctica, September 2013

Anchor from the Aurora (Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party) and Erebus
Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Hut, Cape Evans Antarctica, September 2013


The ten men from the shore party, that ultimately completed the task of laying all the depots, had been left stranded after the Aurora was ripped from its moorings in May 1915, and was unable to return, due to the drifting ice which carried it out to sea. The ice would hold the ship captive on a drifting course of over 1,600 miles, before it managed to cut free, and then sailed to New Zealand for repairs.

Three of the men had died before Shackleton accompanied the re-equipped Aurora to rescue them on January 10th 1917. The expeditions photographer and chaplain, Arnold Spencer Smith succumbed to scurvy, returning from the Beardmore Glacier, in March 1916, and the Commander Aeneas Mackintosh and Victor Hayward perished after attempting to walk to Cape Evans across very unstable sea ice, on May 8th 1916.

Ross Sea party members: Back row from left: Joyce, Hayward, Cope, Spencer-Smith. Centre: Mackintosh third from left, Stenhouse fourth from left.

By Frank Hurley – This photograph comes from the expedition and was taken by Frank Hurley., Public Domain,

“On the night of 7 May a severe gale erupted, tearing the Aurora from its moorings and carrying it out to sea attached to a large ice floe. Attempts to contact the shore party by wireless failed. Held fast, and with its engines out of commission, the Aurora began a long drift northward away from Cape Evans, out of McMurdo Sound, into the Ross Sea and eventually into the Southern Ocean. Ten men were left stranded ashore at Cape Evans. Aurora finally broke free from the ice on 12 February 1916 and managed to reach New Zealand on 2 April.”


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