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Lieutenant Shackleton's Return

( Originally Published 1910 )

FEW events of the year 1909 have created more interest than the return to civilisation of the explorers who, for a time, had been lost to the world in their endeavour to solve the mystery of the Polar seas.

Whilst the achievements of Commander Peary and Dr. Cook are at present clouded by a bitter controversy between the explorers and their followers, the reception accorded Lieutenant Shackleton and his party has evidenced the confidence of the people in the new story of discovery which has been unfolded.

Lieutenant Shackleton has made his story all the more fascinating and real by reason of the simple and modest manner in which he has narrated it. In his lecture before the Royal Geographical Society on June 28th, in his short narrative in " Pearson's Magazine," and in his longer story in two massive volumes published by Mr. Heinemann, the same characteristic modesty is apparent. And yet great things were accomplished by this heroic band of comrades, and valuable scientific data collected.


In addition to Lieutenant Shackleton the exploring party included :óJ. Murray, biologist ; Dr. E. Marshall, surgeon and surveyor ; R. Priestley, geologist ; Dr. Forbes Mackay, surgeon ; Lieutenant J. B. Adams, R.N.R., meteorologist ; Sir Philip Brocklehurst, Bart., Ernest Joyce, Frank Wild, Professor T. W. David. F.R.S., Douglas Mason, B.E., B.Sc., G. E. Marston, B. Day, and W. C. Roberts.

The Nimrod left England for the Antarctic in August 1907. Previous to the start both the King and Queen had inspected the vessel and its stores, and expressed great interest in the expedition. Proceeding to Australia and New Zealand, the Nimrod was towed out from Port Lyttelton on January 1st, 1908. Every thought had been given to the organisation and equipment of the expedition. A new departure in such enterprises was the introduction of a motor car and a number of Manchurian ponies. The latter were utilised in place of dogs for drawing the sledges.


Winter quarters were established at Cape Royds in MacMurdo Sound, about twenty miles north of the " Discovery" expedition.

In his lecture by the Royal Geographical Society, Lieutenant Shackleton explained the difficulties that were encountered in landing the stores, including the ponies and the motor-car, in the face of moving ice and a blizzard, with a temperature down to about 16 degrees below zero. As a result of this blizzard the stores that had been landed on the shore were buried deep in solid ice caused by the freezing of the sea-spray, and picks and crowbars were required to dig out the cases. The hut was erected under the shelter of some small volcanic hills, in order that it might have some protection from the fierce gales that rushed down from the frozen south. Close behind rose the foothills of Erebus, with the great volcano itself towering into the sky about twenty miles away, .a cloud of steam and smoke generally trailing from its summit, and serving as a most valuable indicator of the direction of the upper currents of the air for the meteorologists of the expedition.

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