A hundred years ago: Shackleton set sail for Antarctica on Endurance

Posted: Aug 08, 2014 10:37 pm EDT

(Newsdesk) A hundred years ago on August 8, 1914, Ernest Shackleton and his crew set off from Plymouth, England, on the Endurance for the Imperial Trans-Antarctica Expedition. This became one of the most heroic, endurance and leadership adventure stories in history.


In an introduction to his book, South, Shackleton writes: 


When I returned from the Nimrod Expedition on which we had to turn back [97 miles] from our attempt to plant the British flag on the South Pole, being beaten by stress of circumstances within ninety-seven miles of our goal, my mind turned to the crossing of the continent, for I was morally certain that either Amundsen or Scott would reach the Pole on our own route or a parallel one. After hearing of the Norwegian success I began to make preparations to start a last great journey—so that the first crossing of the last continent should be achieved by a British Expedition.


We failed in this object, but the story of our attempt is the subject for the following pages, and I think that though failure in the actual accomplishment must be recorded, there are chapters in this book of high adventure, strenuous days, lonely nights, unique experiences, and, above all, records of unflinching determination, supreme loyalty, and generous self-sacrifice on the part of my men which, even in these days that have witnessed the sacrifices of nations and regardlessness of self on the part of individuals, still will be of interest to readers who now turn gladly from the red horror of war and the strain of the last five years to read, perhaps with more understanding minds, the tale of the White Warfare of the South. The struggles, the disappointments, and the endurance of this small party of Britishers, hidden away for nearly two years in the fastnesses of the Polar ice, striving to carry out the ordained task and ignorant of the crises through which the world was passing, make a story which is unique in the history of Antarctic exploration.


Two ships were selected to take the men to Antarctica. Shackleton wrote:


The Endurance, the ship which will take the Trans-continental party to the Weddell Sea, and will afterwards explore along an unknown coast-line, is a new vessel, specially constructed for Polar work under the supervision of a committee of Polar explorers. She was built by Christensen, the famous Norwegian constructor of sealing vessels, at Sandefjord. She is barquentine rigged, and has triple-expansion engines giving her a speed under steam of nine to ten knots. To enable her to stay longer at sea, she will carry oil fuel as well as coal. She is of about 350 tons, and built of selected pine, oak, and greenheart. This fine vessel, equipped, has cost the Expedition £14,000.


The Aurora, the ship which will take out the Ross Sea party, has been bought from Dr. Mawson. She is similar in all respects to the Terra Nova, of Captain Scott’s last Expedition. She had extensive alterations made by the Government authorities in Australia to fit her for Dr. Mawson’s Expedition, and is now at Hobart, Tasmania, where the Ross Sea party will join her in October next.





Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on


South Pole 100 years ago: The World learns about Scott's fate


South Pole anniversary 100 years ago: Three bodies in a snowed-up tent


Hundred years ago: Amundsen breaking news; Scott in a very bad way




#polar #shackleton #endurance




'This picture taken from a rare lantern slide , shows the S.Y. Endurance in all her glory in early August 1914, still in her wonderful white livery.'
Ernest Shackleton