On This Day – January 5th 1922
Sir Ernest Shackleton dies at South Georgia
The expedition ship the Quest arrived in South Georgia on January 4th 1922. Sir Ernest Shackleton was sailing South again. This expedition which had been financed by Shackleton’s friend, John Quiller Rowett, intended circumnavigating Antarctica.
Tom Crean who was now married, had politely refused Shackleton’s request to join him on the expedition, stating that he now had ‘a long haired pal’ to look after.
Two of the crew on board when the Quest left Plymouth were Boy Scouts, James Slessor Marr and Norman Mooney, who had come through a rigorous competition, before being selected by Shackleton, for the honour of travelling with him to Antarctica. Shackleton was an admirer of the Boy Scout movement, and had arranged the competition with Baden Powell.
After encountering rough seas in the Bay of Biscay, the Quest had to detour to Lisbon for repairs, and the seriously seasick Scout, Norman Mooney left the expedition. James Slessor Marr would continue the voyage, and aided by Shackleton, he began a journal of his travels aboard the Quest, which would later be published as Into The Frozen South, by Scout Marr.
When the Quest anchored at Grytviken, South Georgia, Shackleton visited the nearby whaling station before returning, and retiring to his cabin. In the early hours of January 5th, Shackleton summoned Alexander Macklin, the ships physician, to the cabin, and complained of feeling unwell. A short time later Shackleton suffered a suspected heart attack, and died. At the request of his wife, Sir Ernest Shackleton was buried in South Georgia.
Sir Ernest Shackleton died on this day in 1922. A true leader of men, Shackleton had ventured South with Robert Falcon Scott, aboard the Discovery, before setting a Farthest South record when he commanded the Nimrod Expedition, and journeyed to within 97 miles of the South Pole. At this point Shackleton displayed the great traits of leadership, that would forge his name into the annals of Antarctic heroes. He correctly surmised that should he, Wild, Marshall and Adams forge ahead, they would in all probability be the first to stand at the pole, but would, with greater certainty, die on their return journey.
Shackleton Sets a New Farthest South Record – Nimrod
Shackleton put the lives of his men before his own personal glory, and at latitude 88° 23′ S, which they reached on 9th January, 1909, they turned for home. Lack of provisions to sustain the entire effort was the crucial factor in this decision. As the return journey descended into a desperate battle for survival, which all four were extremely fortunate to survive, the astuteness of Shackleton’s decision was lost on very few.
Nonetheless Shackleton felt somewhat a failure, having come so close, and being yet so far. He wrote to his wife on the matter, stating that he imagined she would prefer a “live donkey to a dead lion.”
Eric Marshall, Frank Wild and Ernest Shackleton at their Farthest South latitude, 88°23’S. Nimrod expedition 9 January 1909.
But the Nimrod Expedition was far from a failure. Shackleton had stood further south than any other human, and had pioneered the route to the Polar Plateau, via the Beardmore Glacier, which upon discovering, he named after his main sponsor Sir William Beardsmore. He would, upon his return, receive a knighthood, and much public and academic acclaim for his heroic efforts. He undertook an extensive lecture tour, but as time wore on Shackleton craved adventure, and a return to the ice. In 1914 he would venture south again.
His greatest moments as a leader came after his expedition ship Endurance was trapped and crushed by the ice of the Weddell Sea. Cast adrift on the frozen Southern Ocean, with three tiny lifeboats, the men somehow conspired to endure, overcome and survive. Over ice, sea and land Shackleton led his 27 crew, to eventual safety, in an utterly unbelievable story of bravery heroism and endurance.
Remembering Sir Ernest Shackleton.
On Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 a statue of Sir Ernest Shackleton by the sculptor Mark Richards was unveiled in Shackleton’s home town of Athy in Co. Kildare. The statue was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Kildare, Ivan Keatly, to coincide with the centenary of Shackleton’s rescue of the Endurance crew, after an epic, and now legendary ordeal, in 1916.
Present for the ceremony in Athy, were Shackleton family members including his grand daughter Alexandra Shackleton and second cousins Arthur and Jonathan Shackleton.
Mayor of Kildare, Ivan Keatley, and special guest The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of the explorer, with the sculpture of Ernest Shackleton in Emily Square, Athy.
Picture courtesy of the Leinster Leader
Sources Scout Guide Historical Society
Ernest Shackleton – Further Reading.
The Endurance Expedition – Tom Crean
South With Endurance The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914 – 1917 After Roald Admunsen had reached the Pole, Ernest Shackleton was still craving an Antarctic quest, and set himself the challenge of being the first man to cross Antarctica, by land, through the South Pole, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea.
Ernest Shackleton – Tom Crean
South by Ernest Shackleton – Tom Crean
Sailing The Lifeboats