Mr. Chairman

My Title this evening is: Ernest Shackleton. British Antarctic Explorer

In the early 1900's Ernest Shackleton ..set a goal for himself.

He wanted to be the first man reach the South Pole

Shackleton was Anglo Irish. .He was Born in Ireland in 1874

his family were Quakers .. originally from England

As he grew up his restless character became apparent

He went to sea as a merchant sailor .at an young age,

Later on he was introduced to. Captain Robert Scott of the British Navy

And this led to S's interest in Antarctic exploration

Shackleton was a dreamer .he had a huge imagination.

He loved poetry he had memorized a lot of poetry in school

He frequently entertained his men with poetry while at sea

He was also a dreamer financially

When he was not exploring he participated in many schemes

intended .to make a fortune for his family

Howeverthese invariably failed

But.. He never seemed discouraged by this

It was an example of his eternal optimism..

Perhaps this was an Irish trait.

It was this optimism .

which saw him through the many dangers of Polar travel

Shackleton's first voyage to the Antarctic

Was led by Captain Robert Scott in1901

They sailed from New Zealand to the Ross Sea in Antarctica,

Where. they set up a shore camp..and from there

Scott and Shackleton and a third member of the party

set off ..on foot.. for the South Pole

They did this despite the fact that they were very poorly prepared.

they had no experience whatsoever .in Polar exploration

But.They did not see this as a problem

To them, It was simply a matter of attitude.

After all They were British,

They thought that walking to the South Pole

Which was a distance of some hundreds of miles. should pose no difficulty..

Now to make things easier in Polar travel..the Norwegians

Had already.developed. three important innovations

These were the use of skis.. and sled dogs and warm clothing


But the British.. refused to adopt these methods

Their method was simply to .manhaul their heavy sleds behind them,

without suitable clothing and without the use of skis or pack animals

The consequence of this was .that Scott's first expedition was a miserable failure

He did not get anywhere near the Pole..

And the trip .Ended very badly for Shackleton

He collapsed on the return journey ..

He had to be transported to the base camp on a sled

Which wasDragged along by his two colleagues

From there he was packed off .back to England on another ship

He was suffering from scurvy and heart trouble

And by now he and Scott were virtual enemies

Shackleton's future as a polar explorer. did not look promising

However as always..he was not discouraged

In 1910 he led his own expedition to the South Pole

And This proved to be .a Tremendous adventure indeed

On this occasion he did bring along . a number of ponies to haul the sleds

But unfortunately. these ponies all quickly died en route

So the expedition had to fall back on the old method of manhauling their loaded sleds

At that time.The Antarctic was unmapped and unknown

The greatest barrier between the explorers and the Pole

was the Transantarctic Mountain range

Somehow Shackleton had to find his way across these mountains.

Here he got lucky.he stumbled on a glacier.which he named the Beardmore glacier

Which was located in a pass in the mountain range

He was able to climb up this glacier.onto the Polar plateau

And miraculously he and his men got to within 100 miles of the Pole.

But the cost was very high

There were in desperate shape..they were almost out of provisions

They were continuously hypothermic ..

which is to say they were half frozen,.all of the time

And The weather, which had been unusually goodwas now threatening

So Shackleton had to decide whether to continue on, risking all, .or to turn back

But, as always.. His foremost concern was for the welfare of his men

So now. having got so very close to the Pole.

he decided to turn back

It must have been an agonizing decision

But. it proved to be the right one

And as it was the party only just survived the return journey.

Not long after, in 1911a Norwegian, Raold Amundsen

Using skis, sled dogs and warm clothing

became the first to reach the South Pole,

and soon after that. Captain Robert Scott..also reached the Pole

But tragically Scott and his men froze to death.on the return journey.

So For his 2nd Polar expedition, despite its failings

Ernest Shackleton was considered a hero by the British public

In1914 Shackleton led a 3rd expedition .

His goal this timewas to cross the Antarctic continent from one side to the other

This expedition also failed.. and again in a dramatic way

I will tell you more about that expedition..some other time

Finally 7 years later. in 1921 a 4th expedition was mounted

The mission this time .was to sail around the Antartic

but by now Shackleton .was a mere shell of his former self

He died in 1922 at age 48. as the 4th expedition was leaving South Georgia Island

which is just at the northern limits of the Antarctic Ocean

He was buried in a Norwegian cemetery

at the whaling station Grytviken on South Georgia

This was of course was somewhat ironic

As he had spent much of his life resisting Norwegian ideas

So after a life of incredible adventureShackleton was finally at rest.

Mr. Chairman

Second Shackleton Lecture: Ernest Shackleton, Success or Failure ?

Mr. Chairman

Tonight I would like to return once again

To the subject of British Antarctic explorer .Ernest Shackleton

You may recall .that a few months ago

I discussed E's. 2nd expedition. to the Antarctic

But This evening ..I want to come right to the point .about E and his "so called" career:

The question is. Was ES a success. or was he a failure?

My view is.. that ..although as an explorer

he failed to reach his goals,

As a man.. he had certain personal qualities.including

courage. optimismand leadership .

and as such his life was a great success

Let me present some evidence.. to support this view.

First of all. what were his failures?

Well, In the 1st expedition .. led by Robert Scott in 1901

they never got anywhere near the South Pole.

On his 2nd expedition in 1910Ernest got much closer to the Pole

But ..he never did actually get there. Either then or ever

In his 3rd expedition..intending to cross the Antarctic continent

E was not even able. to make a landing ..on the continent,

Ant on his 4th expedition of 1921

in which he planned to sail around Antarctica

E died on South Georgia Island, while preparing for the journey

So with all of these apparent failures..what were E's successes?

Well, as I mentioned his success came through his personal qualities of .

optimism & courage & leadership

and there are many examples..from his 20 year career as an explorer...

For instance, In his 2nd expedition . As we heard last time

His party travelled.over 900 miles of frozen uncharted Antarctic desert

to within 97 miles of his goal. the South Pole

at which point.he decided to turn back and why was this?

Well, As a leader, his first consideration ..was not.achieving his goal

it was always.for the safety of his men..which was severely compromised

But let's move on tonight .to the even more incredible

3rd expedition .of 1914 -1916

This was a privately sponsored expedition which E himself organized

Primarily through his own personal powers of persuasion .and fund raising

He secured a 300 ton wooden ship, called Endurance

Along with the services of . 27 British scientists and sailors

But unfortunately. this trip was one long series of problems

from beginning to end..

starting. on the very day that they were to sail from England.

Aug 1, 1914was the day that Germany declared war on Russia

which meant that ..the British Navy would not be available

To support Ernest's expedition in the event of trouble..

of which, as it turned out.. there was plenty

Nonetheless Endurance sailed from England first to the island of South Georgia

Then in Dec 1914.on towards Antarctica

Unfortunately . ice conditions were terrible

The ship became entrapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea. in Jan 1915

And over the next 10 months ..the men and the ship .drifted with the ice flow

hundreds of miles to the north west. Away from their destination

Until the ship eventually sank in Nov 1915

the crew was left on the ice flow

to subsist.on seals and sled dogs and penguins

They finally reached Elephant Island

Which was a desolate island in the Antarctic archipelago

But they were now stranded there was no hope of rescue from the outside world

So in a desperate attempt.. to save his men

E announced that he and 5 other volunteers would sail one of the lifeboats

800 miles across the Southern Ocean. back to South Georgia ..

Now the Southern said to be the stormiest sea on earth..

The gales are continuous The skies are constantly cloudy

The waves are HUGE..a mile apart and hundreds of miles wide

? Who knows how high

And it was into the freezing cold ..of this boiling ocean

That these six men sailed in their tiny 22 foot sailboat

Without even the benefit of.waterproof clothing

Their chances of survival seem vanishingly small

However . E did not betray to his men..any of his concern about their prospects

His antidote to the terror of the Southern Ocean

was hot milk and hot food ..served as often as possible to his men

Navigation is a big problem.their instruments are very primitive

They only get 4 sightings of the sun.. during the whole 16 day voyage

Half way through the voyagethere is a display of E 'incredible 6th sense as a sailor

purely on instinct He decides to alter the navigator's calculated course by a few points

and after two weeks at sealow and behold,.they approach South Georgia Island

without the course alteration .they would have overshot the island

and out into the South Atlantic..

But.. their problems continue

They run out of drinking water .and they run into a Hurricane

And when they finally do land.. it's on the wrong side of the island

There is a mountain range Between them

and the safety of the whaling stations .on the other side

Ernest sets off again this time on foot with 2 of his men,

they walk for two nights and a day .. over the mountains of south Georgia

and they finally arrive.

at the west coast whaling station .that they had left 18 mos before

The station manager.a good friend of E'

Does even recognize him at firstso poor is their condition

Shackleton's daring escape from E Island .has proved successful

And eventually he is able to rescue. all of the men left behind

In conclusion then.. as you have heard

The totality of the Shackleton expeditions rather overwhelming

He consistently failed to reach the defined goals of his journeys

But the British public of the time correctly regarded him as a national hero

He was obviously a man of incredible courage and leadership.

As such I believe ..that his life was a great success.

Mr. Chairman