|Annotation of text copyright ©2008 David Trumbull for Agathon Associates. All Rights Reserved.|
LAYING THE DEPOTS
|Mackintosh’s account of the depot-laying journeys undertaken by his parties in the summer of 1915–16 unfortunately is not available. The leader of the parties kept a diary, but he had the book with him when he was lost on the sea-ice in the following winter. The narrative of the journeys has been compiled from the notes kept by Joyce, Richards, and other members of the parties, and I may say here that it is a record of dogged endeavour in the face of great difficulties and serious dangers. It is always easy to be wise after the event, and one may realize now that the use of the dogs, untrained and soft from shipboard inactivity, on the comparatively short journey undertaken immediately after the landing in 1915 was a mistake. The result was the loss of nearly all the dogs before the longer and more important journeys of 1915–16 were undertaken. The men were sledging almost continuously during a period of six months; they suffered from frost-bite, scurvy, snow-blindness, and the utter weariness of overtaxed bodies. But the they placed the depots in the required positions, and if the Weddell Sea party had been able to make the crossing of the Antarctic continent, the stores and fuel would have been waiting for us where we expected to find them.|
|The position on October 9 was that the nine men at Hut Point had with them the stores required for the depots and for their own maintenance throughout the summer. The remaining dogs were at Cape Evans with Gaze, who had a sore heel and had been replaced temporarily by Stevens in the sledging party. A small quantity of stores had been conveyed already to Safety Camp on the edge of the Barrier beyond Hut Point. Mackintosh intended to form a large depot off Minna Bluff, seventy miles out from Hut Point. This would necessitate several trips with heavy loads. Then he would use the Bluff depot as a base for the journey to Mount Hope, at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, where the final depot was to be laid.|
|The party left Hut Point on the morning of October 9, the nine men hauling on one rope and trailing three loaded sledges. They reached Safety Camp in the early afternoon, and, after repacking the sledges with a load of about 2000 lbs., they began the journey over the Barrier. The pulling proved exceedingly heavy, and they camped at the end of half a mile. It was decided next day to separate the sledges, three men to haul each sledge. Mackintosh hoped that better progress could be made in this way. The distance for the day was only four miles, and the next day’s journey was no better. Joyce mentions that he had never done harder pulling, the surface being soft, and the load amounting to 220 lbs. per man. The new arrangement was not a success, owing to differences in hauling capacity and inequalities in the loading of the sledges; and on the morning of the 12th, Mackintosh, after consultation, decided to push forward with Wild and Spencer-Smith, hauling one sledge and a relatively light load, and leave Joyce and the remaining five men to bring two sledges and the rest of the stores at their best pace. This arrangement was maintained on the later journeys. The temperatures were falling below —30° Fahr. at some hours, and, as the men perspired freely while hauling their heavy loads in the sun, they suffered a great deal of discomfort in the damp and freezing clothes at night. Joyce cut down his load on the 13th by depot-ing some rations and spare clothing, and made better progress. He was building snow-cairns as guide-posts for use on the return journey. He mentions passing some large crevasses during succeeding days. Persistent head winds with occasional drift made the conditions unpleasant and caused many frost-bites. When the surface was hard, and the pulling comparatively easy, the men slipped and fell continually, “looking much like classical dancers.”|
|On the 20th a northerly wind made possible the use of a sail, and Joyce’s party made rapid progress. Jack sighted a bamboo pole during the afternoon; and Joyce found that marked a depot he had laid for my own “Farthest South” party in 1908. He dug down in the hope of finding some stores, but the depot had been cleared. The party reached the Bluff depot on the evening of the 21st and found that Mackintosh had been there on the 19th. Mackintosh had left 178 lbs. of provisions, and Joyce left one sledge and 273 lbs. of stores. The most interesting incident of the return journey was the discovery of a note left by Mr. Cherry Garrard for Captain Scott on March 19, 1912, only a few days before the latter perished at his camp farther south. An upturned sledge at this point was found to mark a depot of dog-biscuit and motor-oil, laid by one of Captain Scott’s parties. Joyce reached Safety Camp on the afternoon of the 27th, and, after dumping all spare gear, pushed on to Hut Point in a blizzard. The sledges nearly went over a big drop at the edge of the Barrier, and a few moments later Stevens dropped down a crevasse to the length of his harness.|
|“Had a tough job getting him up, as we had no alpine rope and had to use harness,” wrote Joyce. “Got over all right and had a very hard pull against wind and snow, my face getting frost-bitten as I had to keep looking up to steer. We arrived at the hut about 7.30 p.m. after a very hard struggle. We found the Captain and his party there. They had been in for three days. Gaze was also there with the dogs. We soon had a good feed and forgot our hard day’s work.”|
|Mackintosh decided to make use of the dogs on the second journey to the Bluff depot. He thought that with the aid of the dogs heavier loads might be hauled. This plan involved the dispatch of a party to Cape Evans to get dog-pemmican. Mackintosh himself, with Wild and Spencer-Smith, started south again on October 29. Their sledge overturned on the slope down to the sea-ice, and the rim of their tent-spread was broken. The damage did not appear serious, and the party soon disappeared round Cape Armitage. Joyce remained in charge at Hut Point, with instructions to get dog food from Cape Evans and make a start south as soon as possible. He sent Stevens, Hayward, and Cope to Cape Evans the next day, and busied himself with the repair of sledging-gear. Cope, Hayward, and Gaze arrived back from Cape Evans on November 1, Stevens having stayed at the base. A blizzard delayed the start southward, and the party did not get away until November 5. The men pulled in harness with the four dogs, and, as the surface was soft and the loads on the two sledges were heavy, the advance was slow. The party covered 5 miles 700 yards on the 6th, 4 miles 300 yards on the 7th, and 8 miles 1800 yards on the 9th, with the aid of a light northerly wind. They passed on the 9th a huge bergstrom, with a drop of about 70 feet from the flat surface of the Barrier. Joyce thought that a big crevasse had caved in. “We took some photographs,” wrote Joyce. “It is a really extraordinary fill-in of ice, with cliffs of blue ice about 70 feet high, and heavily crevassed, with overhanging snow-curtains. One could easily walk over the edge coming from the north in thick weather.” Another bergstrom, with crevassed ice around it, was encountered on the 11th. Joyce reached the Bluff depot on the evening of the 14th and found that he could leave 624 lbs. of provisions. Mackintosh had been there several days earlier and had left 188 lbs. of stores.|
|Joyce made Hut Point again on November 20 after an adventurous day. The surface was good in the morning and he pushed forward rapidly. About 10.30 a.m. the party encountered heavy pressure-ice with crevasses, and had many narrow escapes. “After lunch we came on four crevasses quite suddenly. Jack fell through. We could not alter course, or else we should have been steering among them, so galloped right across. We were going so fast that the dogs that went through were jerked out. It came on very thick at 2 p.m. Every bit of land was obscured, and it was hard to steer. Decided to make for Hut Point, and arrived at 6.30 p.m., after doing twenty-two miles, a very good performance. I had a bad attack of snow-blindness and had to use cocaine. Hayward also had a bad time. I was laid up and had to keep my eyes bandaged for three days. Hayward, too.” The two men were about again on November 24, and the party started south on its third journey to the Bluff on the 25th. Mackintosh was some distance ahead, but the two parties met on the 28th and had some discussion as to plans. Mackintosh was proceeding to the Bluff depot with the intention of taking a load of stores to the depot placed on lat. 80° S. in the first season’s sledging. Joyce, after depositing his third load at the Bluff, would return to Hut Point for a fourth and last load, and the parties would then join forces for the journey southward to Mount Hope.|
|Joyce left 729 lbs. at the Bluff depot on December 2, reached Hut Point on December 7, and, after allowing dogs and men a good rest, he moved southward again on December 13. This proved to be the worst journey the party had made. The men had much trouble with crevasses, and they were held up by blizzards on December 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 26, and 27. They spent Christmas Day struggling through soft snow against an icy wind and drift. The party reached the Bluff depot on December 28, and found that Mackintosh, who had been much delayed by the bad weather, had gone south two days earlier on his way to the 80° S. depot. He had not made much progress and his camp was in sight. He had left instructions for Joyce to follow him. The Bluff depot was now well stocked. Between 2800 and 2900 lbs. of provisions had been dragged to the depot for the use of parties working to the south of this point. This quantity was in addition to stores placed there earlier in the year.|
Joyce left the Bluff depot on December 29, and the parties were
together two days later. Mackintosh handed Joyce instructions to
proceed with his party to lat. 81° S and place a depot
there. He was then to send three men back to Hut Point and proceed
to lat. 82° S., where he would lay another depot. Then if
provisions permitted he would push south as far as lat. 83°.
Mackintosh himself was reinforcing the depot at lat. 80° S.
and would then carry on southward. Apparently his instructions to
Joyce were intended to guard against the contingency of the parties
failing to meet. The dogs were hauling well, and though their number
was small they were of very great assistance. The parties were now
ninety days out from Cape Evans, and “all hands were feeling fit.”
The next incident of importance was the appearance of a defect in one of the two Primus lamps used by Joyce’s party. The lamps had all seen service with one or other of Captain Scott’s parties, and they had not been in first-class condition when the sledging commenced. The threatened failure of a lamp was a matter of grave moment, since a party could not travel without the means of melting snow and preparing hot food. If Joyce took a faulty lamp past the 80° S. depot, his whole party might have to turn back at lat. 81° S., and this would imperil the success of the season’s sledging. He decided, therefore, to send three men back from the 80° S. depot, which he reached on January 6, 1916. Cope, Gaze, and Jack were the men to return. They took the defective Primus and a light load, and by dint of hard travelling, without the aid of dogs, they reached Cape Evans on January 16.
Joyce, Richards, and Hayward went forward with a load of 1280 lbs.,
comprising twelve weeks’ sledging rations, dog food and depot
supplies, in addition to the sledging-gear. They built cairns at
short intervals as guides to the depots. Joyce was feeding the
dogs well and giving them a hot hoosh every third night. “It is
worth it for the wonderful amount of work they are doing. If we
can keep them to 82° S. I can honestly say it is through their
work we have got through.” On January 8 Mackintosh joined Joyce,
and from that point the parties, six men strong, went forward
together. They marched in thick weather during January 10, 11,
and 12, keeping the course by means of cairns, with a scrap of
black cloth on top of each one. It was possible, by keeping the
cairns in line behind the sledges and building new ones as old ones
disappeared, to march on an approximately straight line. On the
evening of the 12th they reached lat. 81° S., and built a
large cairn for the depot. The stores left here were three weeks’
rations for the ordinary sledging unit of three men. This quantity
would provide five days’ rations for twelve men, half for the use
of the overland party, and half for the depot party on its return
The party moved southwards again on January 13 in bad weather.
“After a little consultation we decided to get under way,” wrote
Joyce. “Although the weather is thick, and snow is falling, it
is worth while to make the effort. A little patience with the
direction and the cairns, even if one has to put them up 200 yds.
apart, enables us to advance, and it seems that this weather will
never break. We have cut up an old pair of trousers belonging to
Richards to place on the sides of the cairns, so as to make them
more prominent. It was really surprising to find how we got on in
spite of the snow and the pie-crust surface. We did 5 miles 75 yds.
before lunch. The dogs are doing splendidly. I really don’t know
how we should manage if it were not for them. . . . The distance for
the day was 10 miles 720 yds., a splendid performance considering
surface and weather.”
The weather cleared on the 14th; and the men were able to get bearings from the mountains to the westward. They advanced fairly rapidly during succeeding days, the daily distances being from ten to twelve miles, and reached lat. 82° S. on the morning of January 18. The depot here, like the depot at 81° S., contained five days’ provisions for twelve men. Mackintosh was having trouble with the Primus lamp in his tent, and this made it inadvisable to divide the party again. It was decided, therefore, that all should proceed, and that the next and last depot should be placed on the base of Mount Hope, at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, in lat. 83° 30´ S. The party proceeded at once and advanced five miles beyond the depot before camping on the evening of the 18th.
The sledge loads were now comparatively light, and on the 19th the
party covered 13 miles 700 yds. A new trouble was developing, for
Spencer-Smith was suffering from swollen and painful legs, and was
unable to do much pulling. Joyce wrote on the 21st that Smith was
worse, and that Mackintosh was showing signs of exhaustion. A
mountain that he believed to be Mount Hope could be seen right ahead,
over thirty miles away. Spencer-Smith, who had struggled forward
gamely and made no unnecessary complaints, started with the party
the next morning and kept going until shortly before noon. Then
he reported his inability to proceed, and Mackintosh called a halt.
Spencer-Smith suggested that he should be left with provisions and
a tent while the other members of the party pushed on to Mount Hope,
and pluckily assured Mackintosh that the rest would put him right
and that he would be ready to march when they returned. The party
agreed, after a brief consultation, to adopt this plan. Mackintosh
felt that the depot must be laid, and that delay would be dangerous.
Spencer-Smith was left with a tent, one sledge, and provisions, and
told to expect the returning party in about a week. The tent was
made as comfortable as possible inside, and food was placed within
the sick man’s reach. Spencer-Smith bade his companions a cheery
good-bye after lunch, and the party was six or seven miles away
before evening. Five men had to squeeze into one tent that night,
but with a minus temperature they did not object to being crowded.
On January 23 a thick fog obscured all landmarks, and as bearings of the mountains were now necessary the party had to camp at 11 a.m., after travelling only four miles. The thick weather continued over the 24th, and the men did not move again until the morning of the 25th. They did 17¾ miles that day, and camped at 6 p.m. on the edge of “the biggest ice-pressure” Joyce had ever seen. They were steering in towards the mountains and were encountering the tremendous congestion created by the flow of the Beardmore Glacier into the barrier ice.
|“We decided to keep the camp up,” ran Joyce’s account of the work done on January 26. “Skipper, Richards, and myself roped ourselves together, I taking the lead, to try and find a course through this pressure. We came across very wide crevasses, went down several, came on top of a very high ridge, and such a scene! Imagine thousands of tons of ice churned up to a depth of about 300 ft. We took a couple of photographs, then carried on to the east. At last we found a passage through, and carried on through smaller crevasses to Mount Hope, or we hoped it was the mountain by that name. We can see a great glacier ahead which we take for the Beardmore, which this mountain is on, but the position on the chart seems wrong. [It was not.—E.H.S.] We nearly arrived at the ice-foot when Richards saw something to the right, which turned out to be two of Captain Scott’s sledges, upright, but three-quarters buried in snow. Then we knew for certain this was the place we had struggled to get to. So we climbed the glacier on the slope and went up about one and a quarter miles, and saw the great Beardmore Glacier stretching to the south. It is about twenty-five miles wide—a most wonderful sight. Then we returned to our camp, which we found to be six miles away. We left at 8 a.m. and arrived back at 3 p.m., a good morning’s work. We then had lunch. About 4 p.m. we got under way and proceeded with the two sledges and camped about 7 o’clock. Wild, Hayward and myself then took the depot up the Glacier, a fortnight’s provisions. We left it lashed to a broken sledge and put up a large flag. I took two photographs of it. We did not arrive back until 10.30 p.m. It was rather a heavy pull up. I was very pleased to see our work completed at last. . . . Turned in 12 o’clock. The distance done during day 22 miles.”|
|The party remained in camp until 3.30 p.m. on the 27th, owing to a blizzard with heavy snow. Then they made a start in clearer weather and got through the crevassed area before camping at 7 p.m. Joyce was suffering from snow-blindness. They were now homeward bound, with 365 miles to go. They covered 16½ miles on the 28th, with Joyce absolutely blind and hanging to the harness for guidance, “but still pulling his whack.” They reached Spencer-Smith’s camp the next afternoon and found him in his sleeping-bag, quite unable to walk. Joyce’s diary of this date contains a rather gloomy reference to the outlook, since he guessed that Mackintosh also would be unable to make the homeward march. “The dogs are still keeping fit,” he added. “If they will only last to 80° S. we shall then have enough food to take them in, and then if the ship is in I guarantee they will live in comfort the remainder of their lives.”|
|No march could be made on the 30th, since a blizzard was raging. The party made 8 miles on the 31st, with Spencer-Smith on one of the sledges in his sleeping-bag. The sufferer was quite helpless, and had to be lifted and carried about, but his courage did not fail him. His words were cheerful even when his physical suffering and weakness were most pronounced. The distance for February 1 was 13 miles. The next morning the party abandoned one sledge in order to lighten the load, and proceeded with a single sledge, Spencer-Smith lying on top of the stores and gear. The distance for the day was 15½ miles. They picked up the 82° S. depot on February 3, and took one week’s provisions, leaving two weeks’ rations for the overland party. Joyce, Wild, Richards, and Hayward were feeling fit. Mackintosh was lame and weak; Spencer-Smith’s condition was alarming. The party was being helped by strong southerly winds, and the distances covered were decidedly good. The sledge-meter recorded 15 miles 1700 yds. on February 4, 17 miles 1400 yds. on the 5th, 18 miles 1200 yds. on the 6th, and 13 miles 1000 yds. on the 7th, when the 81° S. depot was picked up at 10.30 a.m., and one week’s stores taken, two weeks’ rations being left.|
|The march to the next depot, at 80° S., was uneventful. The party made good marches in spite of bad surfaces and thick weather, and reached the depot late in the afternoon of February 12. The supply of stores at this depot was ample, and the men took a fortnight’s rations (calculated on a three-man basis), leaving nearly four weeks’ rations. Spencer-Smith seemed a little better, and all hands were cheered by the rapid advance. February 14, 15, and 16 were bad days, the soft surface allowing the men to sink to their knees at times. The dogs had a rough time, and the daily distances fell to about eight miles. Mackintosh’s weakness was increasing. Then on the 18th, when the party was within twelve miles of the Bluff depot, a furious blizzard made travelling impossible. This blizzard raged for five days. Rations were reduced on the second day, and the party went on half-rations the third day.|
“Still blizzarding,” wrote Joyce on the 20th. “Things are
serious, what with our patient and provisions running short.
Dog provisions are nearly out, and we have to halve their rations.
We are now on one cup of hoosh among the three of us, with one
biscuit and six lumps of sugar. The most serious of calamities
is that our oil is running out. We have plenty of tea, but no fuel
to cook it with.” The men in Mackintosh’s tent were in no better
plight. Mackintosh himself was in a bad way. He was uncertain about
his ability to resume the march, but was determined to try.
“Still blizzarding,” wrote Joyce again on the 21st. “We are lying in pools of water made by our bodies through staying in the same place for such a long time. I don’t know what we shall do if this does not ease. It has been blowing continuously without a lull. The food for to-day was one cup of pemmican amongst three of us, one biscuit each, and two cups of tea among the three.” The kerosene was exhausted, but Richards improvised a lamp by pouring some spirit (intended for priming the oil-lamp) into a mug, lighting it, and holding another mug over it. It took half an hour to heat a mug of melted snow in this way. “Same old thing, no ceasing of this blizzard,” was Joyce’s note twenty-four hours later. “Hardly any food left except tea and sugar. Richards, Hayward, and I, after a long talk, decided to get under way to-morrow in any case, or else we shall be sharing the fate of Captain Scott and his party. The other tent seems to be very quiet, but now and again we hear a burst of song from Wild, so they are in the land of the living. We gave the dogs the last of their food to-night, so we shall have to push, as a great deal depends on them.” Further quotations from Joyce’s diary tell their own story.
|“February 23, Wednesday.—About 11 o’clock saw a break in the clouds and the sun showing. Decided to have the meal we kept for getting under way. Sang out to the Skipper’s party that we should shift as soon as we had a meal. I asked Wild, and found they had a bag of oatmeal, some Bovril cubes, one bag of chocolate, and eighteen biscuits, so they are much better off than we are. After we had our meal we started to dig out our sledge, which we found right under. It took us two hours, and one would hardly credit how weak we were. Two digs of the shovel and we were out of breath. This was caused through our lying up on practically no food. After getting sledge out we took it around to the Skipper’s tent on account of the heavy sastrugi, which was very high. Got under way about 2.20. Had to stop very often on account of sail, etc. About 3.20 the Skipper, who had tied himself to the rear of the sledge, found it impossible to proceed. So after a consultation with Wild and party, decided to pitch their tent, leaving Wild to look after the Skipper and Spencer-Smith, and make the best of our way to the depot, which is anything up to twelve miles away. So we made them comfortable and left them about 3.40. I told Wild I should leave as much as possible and get back 26th or 27th, weather permitting, but just as we left them it came on to snow pretty hard, sun going in, and we found even with the four dogs we could not make more than one-half to three-quarters of a mile an hour. The surface is so bad that sometimes you go in up to your waist; still in spite of all this we carried on until 6.35. Camped in a howling blizzard. I found my left foot badly frost-bitten. Now after this march we came into our banquet—one cup of tea and half a biscuit. Turned in at 9 o’clock. Situation does not look very cheerful. This is really the worst surface I have ever come across in all my journeys here.”|
|Mackintosh had stayed on his feet as long as was humanly possible. The records of the outward journey show clearly that he was really unfit to continue beyond the 82° S. depot, and other members of the party would have liked him to have stayed with Spencer-Smith at lat. 83° S. But the responsibility for the work to be done was primarily his, and he would not give in. He had been suffering for several weeks from what he cheerfully called “a sprained leg,” owing to scurvy. He marched for half an hour on the 23rd before breaking down, but had to be supported partly by Richards. Spencer-Smith was sinking. Wild, who stayed in charge of the two invalids, was in fairly good condition. Joyce, Richards, and Hayward, who had undertaken the relief journey, were all showing symptoms of scurvy, though in varying degrees. Their legs were weak, their gums swollen. The decision that the invalids, with Wild, should stay in camp from February 24, while Joyce’s party pushed forward to Bluff depot, was justified fully by the circumstances. Joyce, Richards, and Hayward had difficulty in reaching the depot with a nearly empty sledge. An attempt to make their journey with two helpless men might have involved the loss of the whole party.|
|“February 24, Thursday.—Up at 4:30; had one cup of tea, half biscuit; under way after 7. Weather, snowing and blowing like yesterday. Richards, laying the cairns had great trouble in getting the compass within 10° on account of wind. During the forenoon had to stop every quarter of an hour on account of our breath. Every time the sledge struck a drift she stuck in (although only 200 lbs.), and in spite of three men and four dogs we could only shift her with the 1—2—3 haul. I wonder if this weather will ever clear up. Camped in an exhausted condition about 12.10. Lunch, half cup of weak tea and quarter biscuit, which took over half an hour to make. Richards and Hayward went out of tent to prepare for getting under way, but the force of wind and snow drove them back. The force of wind is about seventy to eighty miles per hour. We decided to get the sleeping-bags in, which took some considerable time. The worst of camping is the poor dogs and our weak condition, which means we have to get out of our wet sleeping-bags and have another half cup of tea without working for it. With scrapings from dog-tank it is a very scanty meal. This is the second day the dogs have been without food, and if we cannot soon pick up depot and save the dogs it will be almost impossible to drag our two invalids back the one hundred miles which we have to go. The wind carried on with unabating fury until 7 o’clock, and then came a lull. We at once turned out, but found it snowing so thickly that it was impossible to proceed on account of our weakness. No chance must we miss. Turned in again. Wind sprang up again with heavy drift 8.30. In spite of everything my tent-mates are very cheerful and look on the bright side of everything. After a talk we decided to wait and turned in. It is really wonderful what dreams we have, especially of food. Trusting in Providence for fine weather to-morrow.|
|“February 25, Friday.—Turned out 4.45. Richards prepared our usual banquet, half cup of tea, quarter biscuit, which we relished. Under way at 7, carried on, halting every ten minutes or quarter of an hour. Weather, snowing and blowing same as yesterday. We are in a very weak state, but we cannot give in. We often talk about poor Captain Scott and the blizzard that finished him and party. If we had stayed in our tent another day I don’t think we should have got under way at all, and we would have shared the same fate. But if the worst comes we have made up our minds to carry on and die in harness. If any one were to see us on trek they would be surprised, three men staggering on with four dogs, very weak; practically empty sledge with fair wind and just crawling along; our clothes are all worn out, finneskoe and sleeping bags torn. Tent is our worst point, all torn in front, and we are afraid to camp on account of it, as it is too cold to mend it. We camped for our grand lunch at noon. After five hours’ struggling I think we did about three miles. After lunch sat in our tent talking over the situation. Decided to get under way again as soon as there is any clearance. Snowing and blowing, force about fifty or sixty miles an hour.|
|“February 26, Saturday.—Richards went out 1.10 a.m. and found it clearing a bit, so we got under way as soon as possible, which was 2.10 a.m. About 2.35 Richards sighted depot, which seemed to be right on top of us. I suppose we camped no more than three-quarters of a mile from it. The dogs sighted it, which seemed to electrify them. They had new life and started to run, but we were so weak that we could not go more than 200 yds. and then spell. I think another day would have seen us off. Arrived at depot 3.25; found it in a dilapidated condition, cases all about the place. I don’t suppose there has ever been a weaker party arrive at any depot, either north or south. After a hard struggle got our tent up and made camp. Then gave the dogs a good feed of pemmican. If ever dogs saved the lives of any one they have saved ours. Let us hope they will continue in good health, so that we can get out to our comrades. I started on our cooking. Not one of us had any appetite, although we were in the land of plenty, as we call this depot; plenty of biscuit, etc., but we could not eat. I think it is the reaction, not only in arriving here, but also finding no news of the ship, which was arranged before we left. We all think there has been a calamity there. Let us hope for the best. We decided to have rolled-oats and milk for a start, which went down very well, and then a cup of tea. How cheery the Primus sounds. It seems like coming out of a thick London fog into a drawing-room. After a consultation we decided to have a meal of pemmican in four hours, and so on, until our weakness was gone. Later.—Still the same weather. We shall get under way and make a forced march back as soon as possible. I think we shall get stronger travelling and feeding well. Later.—Weather will not permit us to travel yet. Mended our torn tent with food-bags. This took four hours. Feeding the dogs every four hours, and Richards and Hayward built up depot. It is really surprising to find it takes two men to lift a 50-lb. case; it only shows our weakness. Weather still the same; force of wind at times about seventy to ninety miles an hour; really surprising how this can keep on so long.|
|“February 27, Sunday.—Wind continued with fury the whole night. Expecting every minute to have the tent blown off us. Up 5 o’clock; found it so thick one could not get out of the tent. We are still very weak, but think we can do the twelve miles to our comrades in one long march. If only it would clear up for just one day we would not mind. This is the longest continuous blizzard I have ever been in. We have not had a travelling day for eleven days, and the amount of snow that has fallen is astonishing. Later.—Had a meal 10.30 and decided to get under way in spite of the wind and snow. Under way 12 o’clock. We have three weeks’ food on sledge, about 160 lbs., and one week’s dog-food, 50 lbs. The whole weight, all told, about 600 lbs., and also taking an extra sledge to bring back Captain Mackintosh. To our surprise we could not shift the sledges. After half an hour we got about ten yards. We turned the sledge up and scraped runners; it went a little better after. I am afraid our weakness is much more than we think. Hayward is in rather a bad way about his knees, which are giving him trouble and are very painful; we will give him a good massage when we camp. The dogs have lost all heart in pulling; they seem to think that going south again is no good to them; they seem to just jog along, and one cannot do more. I don’t suppose our pace is more than one-half or three-quarters of a mile per hour. The surface is rotten, snow up to one’s knees, and what with wind and drift a very bad outlook. Lunched about 4.30. Carried on until 11.20, when we camped. It was very dark making our dinner, but soon got through the process. Then Richards spent an hour or so in rubbing Hayward with methylated spirits, which did him a world of good. If he were to break up now I should not know what to do. Turned in about 1.30. It is now calm, but overcast with light falling snow.|
|“February 28, Monday.—Up at 6 o’clock; can just see a little sky-line. Under way at 9 o’clock. The reason of delay, had to mend finneskoe, which are in a very dilapidated condition. I got my feet badly frost-bitten yesterday. About 11 o’clock came on to snow, everything overcast. We ought to reach our poor boys in three or four hours, but Fate wills otherwise, as it came on again to blizzard force about 11.45. Camped at noon. I think the party must be within a very short distance, but we cannot go on as we might pass them, and as we have not got any position to go on except compass. Later.—Kept on blizzarding all afternoon and night.|
|“February 29, Tuesday.—Up at 5 o’clock; still very thick. It cleared up a little to the south about 8 o’clock, when Richards sighted something black to the north of us, but could not see properly what it was. After looking round sighted camp to the south, so we got under way as soon as possible. Got up to the camp about 12.45, when Wild came out to meet us. We gave him a cheer, as we fully expected to find all down. He said he had taken a little exercise every day; they had not any food left. The Skipper then came out of the tent, very weak and as much as he could do to walk. He said, ‘I want to thank you for saving our lives.’ I told Wild to go and give them a feed and not to eat too much at first in case of reaction, as I am going to get under way as soon as they have had a feed. So we had lunch, and the Skipper went ahead to get some exercise, and after an hour’s digging out got everything ready for leaving. When we lifted Smith we found he was in a great hole which he had melted through. This party had been in one camp for twelve days. We got under way and picked the Skipper up; he had fallen down, too weak to walk. We put him on the sledge we had brought out, and we camped about 8 o’clock. I think we did about three miles, rather good with two men on the sledges and Hayward in a very bad way. I don’t think there has been a party, either north or south, in such straits, three men down and three of us very weak; but the dogs seem to have new life since we turned north. I think they realize they are homeward bound. I am glad we kept them, even when we were starving. I knew they would have to come in at the finish. We have now to look forward to southerly winds for help, which I think we shall get at this time of year. Let us hope the temperature will keep up, as our sleeping-bags are wet through and worn out, and all our clothes full of holes, and finneskoe in a dilapidated condition; in fact, one would not be out on a cold day in civilization with the rotten clothes we have on. Turned in 11 o’clock, wet through, but in a better frame of mind. Hope to try and reach the depot to-morrow, even if we have to march overtime.|
|“March 1, Wednesday.—Turned out usual time; a good south wind, but, worse luck, heavy drift. Set sail; put the Skipper on rear sledge. The temperature has gone down and it is very cold. Bluff in sight. We are making good progress, doing a good mileage before lunch. After lunch a little stronger wind. Hayward still hanging on to sledge; Skipper fell off twice. Reached depot 5.45. When camping found we had dropped our tent-poles, so Richards went back a little way and spotted them through the binoculars about half a mile off, and brought them back. Hayward and I were very cold by that time, the drift very bad. Moral: See everything properly secured. We soon had our tent up, cooked our dinner in the dark, and turned in about 10 o’clock.|
|“March 2, Thursday.—Up as usual. Strong south-west wind with heavy drift. Took two weeks’ provisions from the depot. I think that will last us through, as there is another depot about fifty miles north from here; I am taking the outside course on account of the crevasses, and one cannot take too many chances with two men on sledges and one crippled. Under way about 10 o’clock; lunched noon in a heavy drift; took an hour to get the tents up, etc., the wind being so heavy. Found sledges buried under snow after lunch, took some time to get under way. Wind and drift very heavy; set half-sail on the first sledge and under way about 3.30. The going is perfect; sometimes sledges overtaking us. Carried on until 8 o’clock, doing an excellent journey for the day; distance about eleven or twelve miles. Gives one a bit of heart to carry on like this; only hope we can do this all the way. Had to cook our meals in the dark, but still we did not mind. Turned in about 11 o’clock, pleased with ourselves, although we were wet through with snow, as it got through all the holes in our clothes, and the sleeping-bags are worse than awful.|
|“March 3, Friday.—Up the usual time. It has been blowing a raging blizzard all night. Found to our disgust utterly impossible to carry on. Another few hours of agony in these rotten bags. Later.—Blizzard much heavier. Amused myself mending finneskoe and Burberrys, mitts and socks. Had the Primus while this operation was in force. Hoping for a fine day to-morrow.|
|“March 4, Saturday.—Up 5.20. Still blizzarding, but have decided to get under way as we will have to try and travel through everything, as Hayward is getting worse, and one doesn’t know who is the next. No mistake it is scurvy, and the only possible cure is fresh food. I sincerely hope the ship is in; if not we shall get over the hills by Castle Rock, which is rather difficult and will delay another couple of days. Smith is still cheerful; he has hardly moved for weeks and he has to have everything done for him. Got under way 9.35. It took some two hours to dig out dogs and sledges, as they were completely buried. It is the same every morning now. Set sail, going along pretty fair. Hayward gets on sledge now and again. Lunched as usual; sledges got buried again at lunch-time. It takes some time to camp now, and in this drift it is awful. In the afternoon wind eased a bit and drift went down. Found it very hard pulling with the third man on sledge, as Hayward has been on all the afternoon. Wind veered two points to south, so we had a fair wind. An hour before we camped Erebus and Terror showing up, a welcome sight. Only hope wind will continue. Drift is worst thing to contend with as it gets into our clothes, which are wet through now. Camped 8 o’clock. Cooked in the dark, and turned in in our wet sleeping-bags about 10 o’clock. Distance about eight or nine miles.|
|“March 5, Sunday.—Turned out 6.15. Overslept a little; very tired after yesterday. Sun shining brightly and no wind. It seemed strange last night, no flapping of tent in one’s ears. About 8.30 came on to drift again. Under way 9.20, both sails set. Sledge going hard, especially in soft places. If Hayward had not broken down we should not feel the weight so much. Lunch 12.45. Under way at 3. Wind and drift very heavy. A good job it is blowing some, or else we should have to relay. All land obscured. Distance about ten or eleven miles, a very good performance. Camped 7.10 in the dark. Patients not in the best of trim. I hope to get in, bar accidents, in four days.|
|“March 6, Monday.—Under way 9.20. Picked up thirty-two mile depot 11 o’clock. Going with a fair wind in the forenoon, which eased somewhat after lunch and so caused very heavy work in pulling. It seems to me we shall have to depot someone if the wind eases at all. Distance during day about eight miles.|
|“March 7, Tuesday.—Under way 9 o’clock. Although we turn out at 5 it seems a long time to get under way. There is double as much work to do now with our invalids. This is the calmest day we have had for weeks. The sun is shining and all land in sight. It is very hard going. Had a little breeze about 11 o’clock, set sail, but work still very, very heavy. Hayward and Skipper going on ahead with sticks, very slow pace, but it will buck them up and do them good. If one could only get some fresh food! About 11 o’clock decided to camp and overhaul sledges and depot all gear except what is actually required. Under way again at 2, but surface being so sticky did not make any difference. After a consultation the Skipper decided to stay behind in a tent with three weeks’ provisions whilst we pushed on with Smith and Hayward. It seems hard, only about thirty miles away, and yet cannot get any assistance. Our gear is absolutely rotten, no sleep last night, shivering all night in wet bags. I wonder what will be the outcome of it all after our struggle. Trust in Providence. Distance about three and a half miles.|
|“March 8, Wednesday.—Under way 9.20. Wished the Skipper good-bye; took Smith and Hayward on. Had a fair wind, going pretty good. Hope to arrive in Hut Point in four days. Lunched at No. 2 depot. Distance about four and a half miles. Under way as usual after lunch; head wind, going very heavy. Carried on until 6.30. Distance about eight or nine miles.|
|“March 9, Thursday.—Had a very bad night, cold intense. Temperature down to —29° all night. At 4 a.m. Spencer-Smith called out that he was feeling queer. Wild spoke to him. Then at 5.45 Richards suddenly said, ‘I think he has gone.’ Poor Smith, for forty days in pain he had been dragged on the sledge, but never grumbled or complained. He had a strenuous time in his wet bag, and the jolting of the sledge on a very weak heart was not too good for him. Sometimes when we lifted him on the sledge he would nearly faint, but during the whole time he never complained. Wild looked after him from the start. We buried him in his bag at 9 o’clock at the following position: Ereb. 184°—Obs. Hill 149°. We made a cross of bamboos, and built a mound and cairn, with particulars. After that got under way with Hayward on sledge. Found going very hard, as we had a northerly wind in our faces, with a temperature below 20°. What with frost-bites, etc., we are all suffering. Even the dogs seem like giving in; they do not seem to take any interest in their work. We have been out much too long, and nothing ahead to cheer us up but a cold, cheerless hut. We did about two and a half miles in the forenoon; Hayward toddling ahead every time we had a spell. During lunch the wind veered to the south with drift, just right to set sail. We carried on with Hayward on sledge and camped in the dark about 8 o’clock. Turned in at 10, weary, worn, and sad. Hoping to reach depot to-morrow.|
|“March 10, Friday.—Turned out as usual. Beam wind, going pretty fair, very cold. Came into very soft snow about 3; arrived at Safety Camp 5 o’clock. Got to edge of Ice Barrier; found passage over in a bay full of seals. Dogs got very excited; had a job to keep them away. By the glass it looked clear right to Cape Armitage, which is four and a half miles away. Arrived there 8 o’clock, very dark and bad light. Found open water. Turned to climb slopes against a strong north-easterly breeze with drift. Found a place about a mile away, but we were so done up that it took until 11.30 to get gear up. This slope was about 150 yds. up, and every three paces we had to stop and get breath. Eventually camped and turned in about 2 o’clock. I think this is the worst day I ever spent. What with the disappointment of not getting round the Point, and the long day and the thought of getting Hayward over the slopes, it is not very entertaining for sleep.|
|“March 11, Saturday.—Up at 7 o’clock; took binoculars and went over the slope to look around the Cape. To my surprise found the open water and pack at the Cape only extended for about a mile. Came down and gave the boys the good news. I think it would take another two hard days to get over the hills, and we are too weak to do much of that, as I am afraid of another collapsing. Richards and Wild climbed up to look at the back of the bay and found the ice secure. Got under way 10.30, went round the Cape and found ice; very slushy, but continued on. No turning now; got into hard ice shortly after, eventually arriving at Hut Point about 3 o’clock. It seems strange after our adventures to arrive back at the old hut. This place has been standing since we built it in 1901, and has been the starting-point of a few expeditions since. When we were coming down the bay I could fancy the Discovery there when Scott arrived from his Farthest South in 1902, the ship decorated rainbow fashion, and Lieutenant Armitage giving out the news that Captain Scott had got to 82° 17´ S. We went wild that day. But now our homecoming is quite different. Hut half-full of snow through a window being left open and drift getting in; but we soon got it shipshape and Hayward in. I had the fire going and plenty of vegetables on, as there was a fair supply of dried vegetables. Then after we had had a feed, Richards and Wild went down the bay and killed a couple of seals. I gave a good menu of seal meat at night, and we turned in about 11 o’clock, full—too full, in fact. As there is no news here of the ship, and we cannot see her, we surmise she has gone down with all hands. I cannot see there is any chance of her being afloat or she would be here. I don’t know how the Skipper will take it.|
|“March 12, Sunday.—Heard groans proceeding from the sleeping-bags all night; all hands suffering from over-eating. Hayward not very well. Turned out 8 o’clock. Good breakfast—porridge, seal, vegetables, and coffee; more like a banquet to us. After breakfast Richards and Wild killed a couple of seals whilst I made the hut a bit comfy. Hayward can hardly move. All of us in a very bad state, but we must keep up exercise. My ankles and knees badly swollen, gums prominent. Wild, very black around joints, and gums very black. Richards about the best off. After digging hut out I prepared food which I think will keep the scurvy down. The dogs have lost their lassitude and are quite frisky, except Oscar, who is suffering from over-feeding. After a strenuous day’s work turned in 10 o’clock.|
“March 13, Monday.—Turned out 7 o’clock. Carried on much the
same as yesterday, bringing in seal blubber and meat. Preparing
for departure to-morrow; hope every one will be all right. Made
new dog harness and prepared sledges. In afternoon cooked sufficient
seal meat for our journey out and back, and same for dogs. Turned
in 10 o’clock, feeling much better.
“March 14, Tuesday.—A beautiful day. Under way after lunch. One would think, looking at our party, that we were the most ragged lot one could meet in a day’s march; all our clothes past mending, our faces as black as niggers’—a sort of crowd one would run away from. Going pretty good. As soon as we rounded Cape Armitage a dead head wind with a temperature of —18° Fahr., so we are not in for a pleasant time. Arrived at Safety Camp 6 o’clock, turned in 8.30, after getting everything ready.
“March 15, Wednesday.—Under way as usual. Nice calm day. Had a very cold night, temperature going down to —30° Fahr. Going along at a rattling good rate; in spite of our swollen limbs we did about fifteen miles. Very cold when we camped; temperature —20° Fahr. Turned in 9 o’clock.
“March 16, Thursday.—Up before the sun, 4.45 a.m. Had a very
cold night, not much sleep. Under way early. Going good.
Passed Smith’s grave 10.45 a.m. and had lunch at depot. Saw
Skipper’s camp just after, and looking through glass found him
outside tent, much to the joy of all hands, as we expected him to
be down. Picked him up 4.15 p.m. Broke the news of Smith’s death
and no ship. I gave him the date of the 17th to look out for our
returning, so he had a surprise. We struck his camp and went north
for about a mile and camped. We gave the Skipper a banquet of
seal, vegetables, and black currant jam, the feed of his life.
He seems in a bad way. I hope to get him in in three days, and
I think fresh food will improve him. We turned in 8 o’clock.
Distance done during day sixteen miles.
“March 17, Friday.—Up at 5 o’clock. Under way 8 a.m. Skipper feeling much better after feeding him up. Lunched a few yards past Smith’s grave. Had a good afternoon, going fair. Distance about sixteen miles. Very cold night, temperature —30° Fahr. What with wet bags and clothes, rotten.
“March 18, Saturday.—Turned out 5 o’clock. Had rather a cold
night. Temperature —29° Fahr. Surface very good. The
Skipper walked for a little way, which did him good. Lunched as
usual. Pace good. After lunch going good. Arrived at Safety Camp
4.10 p.m. To our delight found the sea-ice in the same condition and
arrived at Hut Point at 7 o’clock. Found Hayward still about same.
Set to, made a good dinner, and all hands seem in the best of
spirits. Now we have arrived and got the party in, it remains to
themselves to get better. Plenty of exercise and fresh food ought
to do miracles. We have been out 160 days, and done a distance of
1561 miles, a good record. I think the irony of fate was poor Smith
going under a day before we got in. I think we shall all soon be
well. Turned in 10.30 p.m. Before turning in Skipper shook us by
the hand with great emotion, thanking us for saving his life.”
Richards, summarizing the work of the parties, says that the journeys made between September 1 and March 18, a period of 160 days, totalled 1561 miles. The main journey, from Hut Point to Mount Hope and return, was 830 miles.
“The equipment,” he adds, “was old at the commencement of the
season, and this told severely at the later stages of the journey.
Three Primus lamps gave out on the journeys, and the old tent brought
back by one of the last parties showed rents several feet in length.
This hampered the travelling in the long blizzards. Finneskoe were
also in pieces at the end, and time had frequently to be lost through
repairs to clothing becoming imperative. This account would not be
complete without some mention of the unselfish service rendered by
Wild to his two ill tent-mates. From the time he remained behind
at the long blizzard till the death of Spencer-Smith he had two
helpless men to attend to, and despite his own condition he was ever
ready, night or day, to minister to their wants. This, in a
temperature of —30° Fahr. at times, was no light task.
“Without the aid of four faithful friends, Oscar, Con, Gunner, and Towser, the party could never have arrived back. These dogs from November 5 accompanied the sledging parties, and, although the pace was often very slow, they adapted themselves well to it. Their endurance was fine. For three whole days at one time they had not a scrap of food, and this after a period on short rations. Though they were feeble towards the end of the trip, their condition usually was good, and those who returned with them will ever remember the remarkable service they rendered.
|“The first indication of anything wrong with the general health of the party occurred at about lat. 82° 30´ S., when Spencer-Smith complained of stiffness in the legs and discolouration. He attributed this to holes in his windproof clothing. At lat. 83° S., when he gave way, it was thought that the rest would do him good. About the end of January Captain Mackintosh showed very serious signs of lameness. At this time his party had been absent from Hut Point, and consequently from fresh food, about three months.|
|“On the journey back Spencer-Smith gradually became weaker, and for some time before the end was in a very weak condition indeed. Captain Mackintosh, by great efforts, managed to keep his feet until the long blizzard was encountered. Here it was that Hayward was first found to be affected with the scurvy, his knees being stiff. In his case the disease took him off his feet very suddenly, apparently causing the muscles of his legs to contract till they could be straightened hardly more than a right angle. He had slight touches in the joints of the arms. In the cases of Joyce, Wild, and Richards, joints became stiff and black in the rear, but general weakness was the worst symptom experienced. Captain Mackintosh’s legs looked the worst in the party.”|
|The five men who were now at Hut Point found quickly that some of the winter months must be spent there. They had no news of the ship, and were justified in assuming that she had not returned to the Sound, since if she had some message would have been awaiting them at Hut Point, if not farther south. The sea-ice had broken and gone north within a mile of the point, and the party must wait until the new ice became firm as far as Cape Evans. Plenty of seal meat was available, as well as dried vegetables, and the fresh food improved the condition of the patients very rapidly. Richards massaged the swollen joints and found that this treatment helped a good deal. Before the end of March Mackintosh and Hayward, the worst sufferers, were able to take exercise. By the second week of April Mackintosh was free of pain, though the backs of his legs were still discoloured.|
|A tally of the stores at the hut showed that on a reasonable allowance the supply would last till the middle of June. Richards and Wild killed many seals, so that there was no scarcity of meat and blubber. A few penguins were also secured. The sole means of cooking food and heating the hut was an improvised stove of brick, covered with two sheets of iron. This had been used by the former Expedition. The stove emitted dense smoke and often made the hut very uncomfortable, while at the same time it covered the men and all their gear with clinging and penetrating soot. Cleanliness was out of the question, and this increased the desire of the men to get across to Cape Evans. During April the sea froze in calm weather, but winds took the ice out again. On April 23 Joyce walked four miles to the north, partly on young ice two inches thick, and he thought then that the party might be able to reach Cape Evans within a few days. But a prolonged blizzard took the ice out right up to the Point, so that the open water extended at the end of April right up to the foot of Vinie’s Hill. Then came a spell of calm weather, and during the first week of May the sea-ice formed rapidly. The men made several short trips over it to the north. The sun had disappeared below the horizon in the middle of April, and would not appear again for over four months.|
|The disaster that followed is described by both Richards and Joyce. “And now a most regrettable incident occurred,” wrote Richards. “On the morning of May 8, before breakfast, Captain Mackintosh asked Joyce what he thought of his going to Cape Evans with Hayward. Captain Mackintosh considered the ice quite safe, and the fine morning no doubt tempted him to exchange the quarters at the hut for the greater comfort and better food at Cape Evans.” (Mackintosh naturally would be anxious to know if the men at Cape Evans were well and had any news of the ship.) “He was strongly urged at the time not to take the risk, as it was pointed out that the ice, although firm, was very young, and that a blizzard was almost sure to take part of it out to sea.”|
However, at about 1 p.m., with the weather apparently changing for
the worse, Mackintosh and Hayward left, after promising to turn
back if the weather grew worse. The last sight the watching party
on the hill gained of them was when they were about a mile away,
close to the shore, but apparently making straight for Cape Evans.
At 3 p.m. a moderate blizzard was raging, which later increased in
fury, and the party in the hut had many misgivings for the safety
of the absent men.
On May 10, the first day possible, the three men left behind walked over new ice to the north to try and discover some trace as to the fate of the others. The footmarks were seen clearly enough raised up on the ice, and the track was followed for about two miles in a direction leading to Cape Evans. Here they ended abruptly, and in the dim light a wide stretch of water, very lightly covered with ice, was seen as far as the eye could reach. It was at once evident that part of the ice over which they had travelled had gone out to sea.
The whole party had intended, if the weather had held good, to have attempted the passage across with the full moon about May 16. On the date on which Mackintosh and Hayward left it was impossible that a sledge should travel the distance over the sea-ice owing to the sticky nature of the surface. Hence their decision to go alone and leave the others to follow with the sledge and equipment when the surface should improve. That they had actually been lost was learned only on July 15, on which date the party from Hut Point arrived at Cape Evans.
The entry in Joyce’s diary shows that he had very strong
forebodings of disaster when Mackintosh and Hayward left. He
warned them not to go, as the ice was still thin and the weather
was uncertain. Mackintosh seems to have believed that he and
Hayward, travelling light, could get across to Cape Evans quickly
before the weather broke, and if the blizzard had come two or three
hours later they probably would have been safe. The two men
carried no sleeping-bags and only a small meal of chocolate and
The weather during June was persistently bad. No move had been possible on May 16, the sea-ice being out, and Joyce decided to wait until the next full moon. When this came the weather was boisterous, and so it was not until the full moon of July that the journey to Cape Evans was made. During June and July seals got very scarce, and the supply of blubber ran short.
Meals consisted of little but seal meat and porridge. The small stock of salt was exhausted, but the men procured two and a half pounds by boiling down snow taken from the bottom layer next to the sea-ice. The dogs recovered condition rapidly and did some hunting on their own account among the seals.
The party started for Cape Evans on July 15. They had expected
to take advantage of the full moon, but by a strange chance they
had chosen the period of an eclipse, and the moon was shadowed most
of the time they were crossing the sea-ice. The ice was firm, and
the three men reached Cape Evans without difficulty. They found
Stevens, Cope, Gaze, and Jack at the Cape Evans Hut, and learned
that nothing had been seen of Captain Mackintosh and Hayward.
The conclusion that these men had perished was accepted reluctantly.
The party at the base consisted now of Stevens, Cope, Joyce,
Richards, Gaze, Wild, and Jack.
The men settled down now to wait for relief. When opportunity offered Joyce led search-parties to look for the bodies or any trace of the missing men, and he subsequently handed me the following report:
“I beg to report that the following steps were taken to try and
discover the bodies of Captain Mackintosh and Mr. Hayward. After
our party’s return to the hut at Cape Evans, July 15, 1916, it was
learned that Captain Mackintosh and Mr. Hayward had not arrived;
and, being aware of the conditions under which they were last
seen, all the members of the wintering party were absolutely
convinced that these two men were totally lost and dead—that they
could not have lived for more than a few hours at the outside in
the blizzard that they had encountered, they being entirely
unprovided with equipment of any sort.
“There was the barest chance that after the return of the sun some trace of their bodies might be found, so during the spring—that is, August and September 1916—and in the summer—December and January 1916–17—the following searches were carried out:
“(1) Wild and I thoroughly searched Inaccessible Island at the end of August 1916.
“(2) Various parties in September searched along the shore to the vicinity of Turk’s Head.
“(3) In company with Messrs. Wild and Gaze I started from Hut
Point, December 31, 1916, at 8 a.m., and a course was steered
inshore as close as possible to the cliffs in order to search for
any possible means of ascent. At a distance of half a mile from
Hut Point we passed a snow slope which I had already ascended in
June 1916; three and a half miles farther on was another snow
slope, which ended in Blue Ice Glacier slope, which we found
impossible to climb, snow slope being formed by heavy winter
snowfall. These were the only two places accessible. Distance
on this day, 10 miles 1710 yds covered. On January 1 search was
continued round the south side of Glacier Tongue from the base
towards the seaward end. There was much heavy pressure; it was
impossible to reach the summit owing to the wide crack. Distance
covered 4 miles 100 yds. On January 2 thick weather caused party
to lay up. On 3rd, glacier was further examined, and several
slopes formed by snow led to top of glacier, but crevasses between
slope and the tongue prevented crossing. The party then proceeded
round the Tongue to Tent Island, which was also searched, a complete
tour of the island being made. It was decided to make for Cape
Evans, as thick weather was approaching. We arrived at 8 p.m.
Distance 8 miles 490 yds.
“I remain, etc.,
“ERNEST E. JOYCE.
“To Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON, C.V.O.,
THE AURORA’S DRIFT
|After Mackintosh left the Aurora on January 25, 1915, Stenhouse kept the ship with difficulty off Tent Island. The ice-anchors would not hold, owing to the continual breaking away of the pack, and he found it necessary much of the time to steam slow ahead against the floes. The third sledging party, under Cope, left the ship on the afternoon of the 31st, with the motor-tractor towing two sledges, and disappeared towards Hut Point. Cope’s party returned to the ship on February 2 and left again on February 5, after a delay caused by the loose condition of the ice. Two days later, after more trouble with drifting floes, Stenhouse proceeded to Cape Evans, where he took a line of soundings for the winter quarters. During the next month the Aurora occupied various positions in the neighbourhood of Cape Evans. No secure moorings were available. The ship had to keep clear of threatening floes, dodge “growlers” and drifting bergs, and find shelter from the blizzards. A sudden shift of wind on February 24, when the ship was sheltering in the lee of Glacier Tongue, caused her to be jammed hard against the low ice off the glacier, but no damage was done. Early in March Stenhouse sent moorings ashore at Cape Evans, and on March 11 he proceeded to Hut Point, where he dropped anchor in Discovery Bay. Here he landed stores, amounting to about two months’ full rations for twelve men, and embarked Spencer-Smith, Stevens, Hook, Richards, Ninnis, and Gaze, with two dogs. He returned to Cape Evans that evening.|
|“We had a bad time when we were ‘sculling’ about the Sound, first endeavouring to make Hut Point to land provisions, and then looking for winter quarters in the neighbourhood of Glacier Tongue,” wrote Stenhouse afterwards. “The ice kept breaking away in small floes, and we were apparently no nearer to anywhere than when the sledges left; we were frustrated in every move. The ship broke away from the fast ice in blizzards, and then we went dodging about the Sound from the Ross Island side to the western pack, avoiding and clearing floes and growlers in heavy drift when we could see nothing, our compasses unreliable and the ship short-handed. In that homeless time I kept watch and watch with the second officer, and was hard pressed to know what to do. Was ever ship in such predicament? To the northward of Cape Royds was taboo, as also was the coast south of Glacier Tongue. In a small stretch of ice-bound coast we had to find winter quarters. The ice lingered on, and all this time we could find nowhere to drop anchor, but had to keep steam handy for emergencies. Once I tried the North Bay of Cape Evans, as it apparently was the only ice-free spot. I called all hands, and making up a boat’s crew with one of the firemen sent the whaler away with the second officer in charge to sound. No sooner had the boat left ship than the wind freshened from the northward, and large bergs and growlers, setting into the bay, made the place untenable. The anchorage I eventually selected seemed the best available—and here we are drifting, with all plans upset, when we ought to be lying in winter quarters.”|
A heavy gale came up on March 12, and the Aurora, then moored off
Cape Evans, dragged her anchor and drifted out of the bay. She
went northward past Cape Barne and Cape Royds in a driving mist,
with a heavy storm-sea running. This gale was a particularly
heavy one. The ship and gear were covered with ice, owing to the
freezing of spray, and Stenhouse had anxious hours amid the heavy,
ice-encumbered waters before the gale moderated. The young ice,
which was continually forming in the very low temperature, helped
to reduce the sea as soon as the gale moderated, and the Aurora got
back to Cape Evans on the evening of the 13th. Ice was forming in
the bay, and on the morning of the 14th Stenhouse took the ship
into position for winter moorings. He got three steel hawsers out
and made fast to the shore anchors. These hawsers were hove tight,
and the Aurora rested then, with her stern to the shore, in seven
fathoms. Two more wires were taken ashore the next day. Young ice
was forming around the ship, and under the influence of wind and tide
this ice began early to put severe strains upon the moorings.
Stenhouse had the fires drawn and the boiler blown down on the 20th,
and the engineer reported at that time that the bunkers contained
still 118 tons of coal.
The ice broke away between Cape Evans and Cape Barne on the 23rd, and pressure around the ship shattered the bay ice and placed heavy strains on the stern moorings. The young ice, about four inches thick, went out eventually and left a lead along the shore. The ship had set in towards the shore, owing to the pressure, and the stern was now in four-and-a-half fathoms. Stenhouse tightened the moorings and ran out an extra wire to the shore anchor. The nature of the ice movements is illustrated by a few extracts from the log:
“March 27, 5 p.m.—Ice broke away from shore and started to go out. 8 p.m.—Light southerly airs; fine; ice setting out to north-west; heavy pressure of ice on starboard side and great strain on moorings. 10 p.m.—Ice clear of ship.
“March 28.—New ice forming over bay. 3 a.m.—Ice which went out last watch set in towards bay. 5 a.m.—Ice coming in and overriding newly formed bay-ice; heavy pressure on port side of ship; wires frozen into ice. 8 a.m.—Calm and fine; new ice setting out of bay. 5 p.m.—New ice formed since morning cleared from bay except area on port side of ship and stretching abeam and ahead for about 200 yds., which is held by bights of wire; new ice forming.
“March 29, 1.30 p.m.—New ice going out. 2 p.m.—Hands on floe on port quarter clearing wires; stern in three fathoms; hauled wires tight, bringing stern more to eastward and in four fathoms; hove in about one fathom of starboard cable, which had dragged during recent pressure.
“April 10, 1.30 p.m.—Ice breaking from shore under influence of south-east wind. Two starboard quarter wires parted; all bights of stern wires frozen in ice; chain taking weight. 2 p.m.—Ice opened, leaving ice in bay in line from Cape to landward of glacier. 8 p.m.—Fresh wind; ship holding ice in bay; ice in Sound wind-driven to north-west.
“April 17, 1 am.—Pressure increased and wind shifted to north-west. Ice continued to override and press into shore until 5 o’clock; during this time pressure into bay was very heavy; movement of ice in straits causing noise like heavy surf. Ship took ground gently at rudder-post during pressure; bottom under stern shallows very quickly. 10 p.m.—Ice-moving out of bay to westward; heavy strain on after moorings and cables, which are cutting the floe.”
Stenhouse continued to nurse his moorings against the onslaughts of the ice during the rest of April and the early days of May. The break-away from the shore came suddenly and unexpectedly on the evening of May 6:
“May 6, 1915.—Fine morning with light breezes from east-south-east. . . . 3.30 p.m.—Ice nearly finished. Sent hands ashore for sledge-load. 4 p.m.—Wind freshening with blizzardy appearance of sky. 8 p.m.—. . . Heavy strain on after-moorings. 9.45 p.m.—The ice parted from the shore; all moorings parted. Most fascinating to listen to waves and chain breaking. In the thick haze I saw the ice astern breaking up and the shore receding. I called all hands and clapped relieving tackles (4-in. Manila luff tackles) on to the cables on the forepart of the windlass. The bos’n had rushed along with his hurricane lamp, and shouted, ‘She’s away wi’ it!’ He is a good fellow and very conscientious. I ordered steam on main engines, and the engine-room staff, with Hooke and Ninnis, turned to. Grady, fireman, was laid up with a broken rib. As the ship, in the solid floe, set to the north-west, the cables rattled and tore at the hawse-pipes; luckily the anchors, lying as they were on a strip-sloping bottom, came away easily, without damage to windlass or hawse-pipes. Slowly as we disappeared into Sound, the light in the hut died away. At 11.30 p.m. the ice around us started to break up, the floes playing tattoo on the ship’s sides. We were out in the Sound and catching the full force of the wind. The moon broke through the clouds after midnight and showed us the pack, stretching continuously to northward, and about one mile to the south. As the pack from the southward came up and closed in on the ship, the swell lessened and the banging of floes alongside eased a little.
“May 7, 8 a.m.—Wind east-south-east. Moderate gale with thick drift. The ice around ship is packing up and forming ridges about two feet high. The ship is lying with head to the eastward, Cape Bird showing to north-east. When steam is raised I have hopes of getting back to the fast ice near the Glacier Tongue. Since we have been in winter quarters the ice has formed and, held by the islands and land at Cape Evans, has remained north of the Tongue. If we can return we should be able now to moor to the fast ice. The engineers are having great difficulty with the sea connexions, which are frozen. The main bow-down cock, from which the boiler is ‘run up,’ has been tapped and a screw plug put into it to allow of a hot iron rod being inserted to thaw out the ice between the cock and the ship’s side—about two feet of hard ice. 4.30 p.m.—The hot iron has been successful. Donolly (second engineer) had the pleasure of stopping the first spurt of water through the pipe; he got it in the eye. Fires were lit in furnaces, and water commenced to blow in the boiler—the first blow in our defence against the terrific forces of Nature in the Antarctic. 8 p.m.—The gale has freshened, accompanied by thick drift.”
The Aurora drifted helplessly throughout May 7. On the morning of May 8 the weather cleared a little and the Western Mountains became indistinctly visible. Cape Bird could also be seen. The ship was moving northwards with the ice. The daylight was no more than a short twilight of about two hours’ duration. The boiler was being filled with ice, which had to be lifted aboard, broken up, passed through a small porthole to a man inside, and then carried to the manhole on top of the boiler. Stenhouse had the wireless aerial rigged during the afternoon, and at 5 p.m. was informed that the watering of the boiler was complete. The wind freshened to a moderate southerly gale, with thick drift, in the night, and this gale continued during the following day, the 9th. The engineer reported at noon that he had 40-lb. pressure in the boiler and was commencing the thawing of the auxiliary sea-connexion pump by means of a steam-pipe.
“Cape Bird is the only land visible, bearing north-east true about eight miles distant,” wrote, Stenhouse on the afternoon of the 9th. “So this is the end of our attempt to winter in McMurdo Sound. Hard luck after four months’ buffeting, for the last seven weeks of which we nursed our moorings. Our present situation calls for increasing vigilance. It is five weeks to the middle of winter. There is no sun, the light is little and uncertain, and we may expect many blizzards. We have no immediate water-supply, as only a small quantity of fresh ice was aboard when we broke drift.
“The Aurora is fast in the pack and drifting God knows where. Well, there are prospects of a most interesting winter drift. We are all in good health, except Grady, whose rib is mending rapidly; we have good spirits and we will get through. But what of the poor beggars at Cape Evans, and the Southern Party? It is a dismal prospect for them. There are sufficient provisions at Cape Evans, Hut Point, and, I suppose, Cape Royds, but we have the remaining Burberrys, clothing, etc., for next year’s sledging still on board. I see little prospect of getting back to Cape Evans or anywhere in the Sound. We are short of coal and held firmly in the ice. I hope she drifts quickly to the north-east. Then we can endeavour to push through the pack and make for New Zealand, coal and return to the Barrier eastward of Cape Crozier. This could be done, I think, in the early spring, September. We must get back to aid the depot-laying next season.”
A violent blizzard raged on May 10 and 11. “I never remember such wind-force,” said Stenhouse. “It was difficult to get along the deck.” The weather moderated on the 12th, and a survey of the ship’s position was possible. “We are lying in a field of ice with our anchors and seventy-five fathoms of cable on each hanging at the bows. The after-moorings were frozen into the ice astern of us at Cape Evans. Previous to the date of our leaving our winter berth four small wires had parted. When we broke away the chain two of the heavy (4-in.) wires parted close to shore; the other wire went at the butts. The chain and two wires are still fast in the ice and will have to be dug out. This morning we cleared the ice around the cables, but had to abandon the heaving-in, as the steam-froze in the return pipes from the windlass exhaust, and the joints had to be broken and the pipe thawed out. Hooke was ‘listening in’ from 8.30 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. for the Macquarie Island wireless station (1340 miles away) or the Bluff (New Zealand) station (1860 miles away), but had no luck.”
The anchors were hove in by dint of much effort on the 13th and 14th, ice forming on the cable as it was hoisted through a hole cut in the floe. Both anchors had broken, so the Aurora had now one small kedge-anchor left aboard. The ship’s position on May 14 was approximately forty-five miles north, thirty-four west of Cape Evans. “In one week we have drifted forty-five miles (geographical). Most of this distance was covered during the first two days of the drift. We appear to be nearly stationary. What movement there is in the ice seems to be to the north-west towards the ice-bound coast. Hands who were after penguins yesterday reported much noise in the ice about one mile from the ship. I hope the floe around the ship is large enough to take its own pressure. We cannot expect much pressure from the south, as McMurdo Sound should soon be frozen over and the ice holding. North-east winds would drive the pack in from the Ross Sea. I hope for the best. Plans for future development are ready, but probably will be checkmated again. . . . I took the anchors aboard. They are of no further use as separate anchors, but they ornament the forecastle head, so we put them in their places. . . . The supply of fresh water is a problem. The engineer turned steam from the boiler into the main water-tank (starboard) through a pipe leading from the main winch-pipe to the tank top. The steam condenses before reaching the tank. I hope freezing does not burst the tank. A large tabular iceberg, calved from the Barrier, is silhouetted against the twilight glow in the sky about ten miles away. The sight of millions of tons of fresh ice is most tantalizing. It would be a week’s journey to the berg and back over pack and pressure, and probably we could bring enough ice to last two days.”
The record of the early months of the Aurora’s long drift in the Ross Sea is not eventful. The galley condenser was rigged, but the supply of fresh water remained a problem. The men collected fresh-fallen snow when possible and hoped to get within reach of fresh ice. Hooke and Ninnis worked hard at the wireless plant with the object of getting into touch with Macquarie Island, and possibly sending news of the ship’s movements to Cape Evans. They got the wireless motor running and made many adjustments of the instruments and aerials, but their efforts were not successful. Emperor penguins approached the ship occasionally, and the birds were captured whenever possible for the fresh meat they afforded. The Aurora was quite helpless in the grip of the ice, and after the engine-room bilges had been thawed and pumped out the boilers were blown down. The pressure had been raised to sixty pounds, but there was no chance of moving the ship, and the supply of coal was limited. The story of the Aurora’s drift during long months can be told briefly by means of extracts from Stenhouse’s log:
“May 21.—Early this morning there appeared to be movements in the ice. The grating and grinding noise makes one feel the unimportance of man in circumstances like ours. Twilight towards noon showed several narrow, open leads about two cables from ship and in all directions. Unable to get bearing, but imagine that there is little or no alteration in ship’s position, as ship’s head is same, and Western Mountains appear the same. . . . Hope all is well at Cape Evans and that the other parties have returned safely. Wish we could relieve their anxiety.
“May 22.—Obtained good bearings of Beaufort Island, Cape Ross, and Dunlop Island, which put the ship in a position eighteen miles south 75° east (true) from Cape Ross. Since the 14th, when reliable bearings were last obtained, we have drifted north-west by north seven miles.
“May 24.—Blizzard from south-south-east continued until 9 p.m., when it moderated, and at 11.45 p.m. wind shifted to north-west, light, with snow. Quite a lot of havoc has been caused during this blow, and the ship has made much northing. In the morning the crack south of the ship opened to about three feet. At 2 p.m. felt heavy shock and the ship heeled to port about 70°. Found ice had cracked from port gangway to north-west, and parted from ship from gangway along to stern. Crack extended from stern to south-east. 7.35 p.m.—Ice cracked from port fore chains, in line parallel to previous crack. The ice broke again between the cracks and drifted to north-west for about ten yards. The ice to southward then commenced to break up, causing heavy strain on ship, and setting apparently north in large broken fields. Ship badly jammed in. 9.15 p.m.—Ice closed in again around ship. Two heavy windsqualls with a short interval between followed by cessation of wind. We are in a labyrinth of large rectangular floes (some with their points pressing heavily against ship) and high pressure-ridges.
“May 25.—In middle watch felt pressure occasionally. Twilight showed a scene of chaos all around; one floe about three feet in thickness had upended, driven under ship on port quarter. As far as can be seen there are heavy blocks of ice screwed up on end, and the scene is like a graveyard. I think swell must have come up under ice from seaward (north-east), McMurdo Sound, and broken the ice, which afterwards started to move under the influence of the blizzard. Hardly think swell came from the Sound, as the cracks were wending from north-west to south-east, and also as the Sound should be getting icebound by now. If swell came from north-east then there is open water not far away. I should like to know. I believe the Ross Sea is rarely entirely ice-covered. Have bright moonlight now, which accentuates everything—the beauty and loneliness of our surroundings, and uselessness of ourselves, while in this prison: so near to Cape Evans and yet we might as well be anywhere as here. Have made our sledging-ration scales, and crew are busy making harness and getting sledging equipment ready for emergencies. Temperature —30° Fahr.
“May 26.—If the ship is nipped in the ice, the ship’s company (eighteen hands) will take to four sledges with one month’s rations and make for nearest land. Six men and one sledge will endeavour to make Cape Evans via the western land, Butler Point, Hut Point, etc. The remaining twelve will come along with all possible speed, but no forced marches, killing and depot-ing penguins and seals for emergency retreats. If the ship remains here and makes no further drift to the north, towards latter end of July light will be making. The sun returns August 23. The sea-ice should be fairly safe, and a party of three, with one month’s rations, will proceed to Cape Evans. If the ice sets north and takes the ship clear of land, we will proceed to New Zealand, bunker, get extra officer and four volunteers, provisions, etc., push south with all speed to the Barrier, put party on to the Barrier, about two miles east of Cape Crozier, and land all necessary stores and requirements. The ship will stand off until able to reach Cape Evans. If necessary, party will depot all stores possible at Corner Camp and go on to Cape Evans. If worst has happened my party will lay out the depot at the Beardmore for Shackleton. If the ship is released from the ice after September we must endeavour to reach Cape Evans before going north to bunker. We have not enough coal to hang about the Sound for many days.
“May 28.—By the position obtained by meridian altitude of stars and bearing of Mount Melbourne, we have drifted thirty-six miles north-east from last bearings taken on 23rd inst. The most of this must have been during the blizzard of the 24th. Mount Melbourne is one hundred and eleven miles due north of us, and there is some doubt in my mind as to whether the peak which we can see is this mountain. There may be a mirage. . . . In the evening had the football out on the ice by the light of a beautiful moon. The exercise and break from routine are a splendid tonic. Ice-noises sent all hands on board.
“June 1.—Thick, hazy weather. In the afternoon a black streak appeared in the ice about a cable’s length to the westward and stretching north and south. 8 p.m.—The black line widened and showed long lane of open water. Apparently we are fast in a floe which has broken from the main field. With thick weather we are uncertain of our position and drift. It will be interesting to find out what this crack in the ice signifies. I am convinced that there is open water, not far distant, in the Ross Sea. . . . To-night Hooke is trying to call up Cape Evans. If the people at the hut have rigged the set which was left there, they will hear ‘All well’ from the Aurora. I hope they have. [The messages were not received.]
“June 8.—Made our latitude 75° 59´ S. by altitude of Sirius. This is a very monotonous life, but all hands appear to be happy and contented. Find that we are not too well off for meals and will have to cut rations a little. Grady is taking exercise now and should soon be well again. He seems very anxious to get to work again, and is a good man. No wireless calls to-night, as there is a temporary breakdown—condenser jar broken. There is a very faint display of aurora in northern sky. It comes and goes almost imperceptibly, a most fascinating sight. The temperature is —20° Fahr.; 52° of frost is much too cold to allow one to stand for long.
“June 11.—Walked over to a very high pressure-ridge about a quarter of a mile north-north-west of the ship. In the dim light walking over the ice is far from being monotonous, as it is almost impossible to see obstacles, such as small, snowed-up ridges, which makes us wary and cautious. A dip in the sea would be the grand finale, but there is little risk of this as the water freezes as soon as a lane opens in the ice. The pressure-ridge is about fifteen to twenty feet high for several hundred feet, and the ice all about it is bent up in a most extraordinary manner. At 9 p.m. Hooke called Cape Evans, ‘All well—Aurora,’ etc.; 10 p.m., weather reports for 8 p.m. sent to Wellington, New Zealand, and Melbourne, via Macquarie Island. [The dispatch of messages from the Aurora was continued, but it was learned afterwards that none of them had been received by any station.]
“June 13.—The temperature in the chart-room ranges from zero to a little above freezing-point. This is a very disturbing factor in rates of the chronometers (five in number, 3 G.M.T. and 2 Sid.T.), which are kept in cases in a padded box, each case covered by a piece of blanket, and the box covered by a heavy coat. In any enclosed place where people pass their time, the niches and places where no heat penetrates are covered with frozen breath. There will be a big thaw-out when the temperature rises.
“June 14.—Mount Melbourne is bearing north 14° W (true). Our approximate position is forty miles east-north-east of Nordenskjold Ice Tongue. At 9 p.m. Hooke called Cape Evans and sent weather reports to Wellington and Melbourne via Macquarie Island. Hooke and Ninnis on several evenings at about 11 o’clock have heard what happened to be faint messages, but unreadable. He sent word to Macquarie Island of this in hopes that they would hear and increase the power.
“June 20.—During this last blow with its accompanying drift-snow there has been much leakage of current from the aerial during the sending of reports. This is apparently due to induction caused by the snow accumulating on the insulators aloft, and thus rendering them useless, and probably to increased inductive force of the current in a body of snowdrift. Hooke appears to be somewhat downhearted over it, and, after discussing the matter, gave me a written report on the non-success (up to the present time) of his endeavours to establish communication. He thinks that the proximity of the Magnetic Pole and Aurora Australis might affect things. The radiation is good and sufficient for normal conditions. His suggestion to lead the down lead wires out to the ahead and astern would increase scope, but I cannot countenance it owing to unsettled state of ice and our too lofty poles.
“June 21.—Blowing gale from south-west throughout day, but for short spell of westerly breeze about 5 p.m. Light drift at frequent intervals, very hazy, and consequently no land in sight during short twilight. Very hard up for mitts and clothing. What little we have on board I have put to one side for the people at the hut. Have given Thompson instructions to turn crew to making pair mitts and helmet out of Jaeger fleece for all hands forward. With strict economy we should make things spin out; cannot help worrying over our people at the hut. Although worrying does no good, one cannot do otherwise in this present impotent state. 11 p.m.—Wind howling and whistling through rigging. Outside, in glare of moon, flying drift and expanse of ice-field. Desolation!
“June 22.—To-day the sun has reached the limit of his northern declination and now he will start to come south. Observed this day as holiday, and in the evening had hands aft to drink to the health of the King and the Expedition. All hands are happy, but miss the others at Cape Evans. I pray to God we may soon be clear of this prison and in a position to help them. We can live now for sunlight and activity.
“July 1.—The 1st of July! Thank God. The days pass quickly. Through all my waking hours one long thought of the people at Cape Evans, but one must appear to be happy and take interest in the small happenings of shipboard.
“July 3.—Rather hazy with very little light. Moderate west-north-west to south-west winds until noon, when wind veered to south and freshened. No apparent change in ship’s position; the berg is on the same bearing (1 point on the port quarter) and apparently the same distance off. Mount Melbourne was hidden behind a bank of clouds. This is our only landmark now, as Franklin Island is towered in perpetual gloom. Although we have had the berg in sight during all the time of our drift from the entrance to McMurdo Sound, we have not yet seen it in a favourable light, and, were it not for its movement, we might mistake it for a tabular island. It will be interesting to view our companion in the returning light—unless we are too close to it!
“July 5.—Dull grey day (during twilight) with light, variable, westerly breezes. All around hangs a heavy curtain of haze, and, although very light snow is falling, overhead is black and clear with stars shining. As soon as the faint noon light fades away the heavy low haze intensifies the darkness and makes one thankful that one has a good firm ‘berth’ in the ice. I don’t care to contemplate the scene if the ice should break up at the present time.
“July 6.—Last night I thought I saw open water in the shape of a long black lane to the southward of the ship and extending in an easterly and westerly direction, but owing to the haze and light snow I could not be sure; this morning the lane was distinctly visible and appeared to be two or three hundred yards wide and two miles long. . . . At 6 p.m. loud pressure-noises would be heard from the direction of the open lane and continued throughout the night. Shortly after 8 o’clock the grinding and hissing spread to our starboard bow (west-south-west), and the vibration caused by the pressure could be felt intermittently on board the ship. . . . The incessant grinding and grating of the ice to the southward, with seething noises, as of water rushing under the ship’s bottom, and ominous sounds, kept me on the qui vive all night, and the prospect of a break-up of the ice would have wracked my nerves had I not had them numbed by previous experiences.
“July 9.—At noon the sky to the northward had cleared sufficiently to allow of seeing Mount Melbourne, which appears now as a low peak to the north-west. Ship’s position is twenty-eight miles north-north-east of Franklin Island. On the port bow and ahead of the ship there are some enormous pressure-ridges; they seem to be the results of the recent and present ice-movements. Pressure heard from the southward all day.
“July 13.—At 5 p.m. very heavy pressure was heard on the port beam and bow (south) and very close to the ship. This occurred again at irregular intervals. Quite close to the ship the ice could be seen bending upwards, and occasional jars were felt on board. I am inclined to think that we have set into a cul-de-sac and that we will now experience the full force of pressure from the south. We have prepared for the worst and can only hope for the best—a release from the ice with a seaworthy vessel under us.
“July 18.—This has been a day of events. About 8 a.m. the horizon to the north became clear and, as the light grew, the more westerly land showed up. This is the first clear day that we have had since the 9th of the month, and we have set a considerable distance to the north-east in the meantime. By meridian altitudes of stars and bearings of the land, which proved to be Coulman Islands, Mount Murchison, and Mount Melbourne, our position shows seventy-eight miles (geographical) north-east by north of Franklin Island. During the last three days we have drifted forty miles (geographical), so there has been ample reason for all the grinding and growling of pressure lately. The ship endured some severe squeezes this day.
“July 20.—Shortly before breakfast the raucous voice of the emperor penguin was heard, and afterwards two were seen some distance from the ship. . . . The nearest mainland (in vicinity of Cape Washington) is ninety miles distant, as also is Coulman Island. Franklin Island is eighty miles south-east by south, and the pack is in motion. This is the emperor’s hatching season, and here we meet them out in the cheerless desert of ice. . . . 10.45 p.m.—Heavy pressure around ship, lanes opened and ship worked astern about twenty feet. The wires in the ice took the strain (lashings at mizzen chains carried away) and carried away fair-lead bollard on port side of forecastle head.
“July 21, 1 a.m.—Lanes opened to about 40 ft. wide. Ship in open pool about 100 ft. wide. Heavy pressure in vicinity of ship. Called all hands and cut wires at the forecastle head. [These wires had remained frozen in the ice after the ship broke away from her moorings, and they had served a useful purpose at some times by checking ice-movements close to the ship.] 2 a.m.—Ship swung athwart lane as the ice opened, and the floes on the port side pressed her stern round. 11.30 a.m.—Pack of killer whales came up in the lane around the ship. Some broke soft ice (about one inch thick) and pushed their heads through, rising to five or six feet perpendicularly out of the water. They were apparently having a look round. It is strange to see killers in this immense field of ice; open water must be near, I think. 5.15 p.m.—New ice of lanes cracked and opened. Floes on port side pushed stern on to ice (of floe); floes then closed in and nipped the ship fore and aft. The rudder was bent over to starboard and smashed. The solid oak and iron went like matchwood. 8 p.m.—Moderate south-south-west gale with drift. Much straining of timbers with pressure. 10 p.m.—Extra hard nip fore and aft; ship visibly hogged. Heavy pressure.
“July 22.—Ship in bad position in newly frozen lane, with bow and stern jammed against heavy floes; heavy strain with much creaking and groaning. 8 a.m.—Called all hands to stations for sledges, and made final preparations for abandoning ship. Allotted special duties to several hands to facilitate quickness in getting clear should ship be crushed. Am afraid the ship’s back will be broken if the pressure continues, but cannot relieve her. 2 p.m.—Ship lying easier. Poured Sulphuric acid on the ice astern in hopes of rotting crack and relieving pressure on stern-post, but unsuccessfully. Very heavy pressure on and around ship (taking strain fore and aft and on starboard quarter). Ship, jumping and straining and listing badly. 10 p.m.—Ship has crushed her way into new ice on starboard side and slewed aslant lane with stern-post clear of land-ice. 12 p.m.—Ship is in safer position; lanes opening in every direction.
“July 23.—Caught glimpse of Coulman Island through haze. Position of ship south 14° east (true), eighty miles off Coulman Island. Pressure continued intermittently throughout the day and night, with occasional very heavy squeezes to the ship which made timbers crack and groan. The ship’s stern is now in a more or less soft bed, formed of recently frozen ice of about one foot in thickness. I thank God that we have been spared through this fearful nightmare. I shall never forget the concertina motions of the ship during yesterday’s and Wednesday’s fore and aft nips.
“July 24.—Compared with previous days this is a quiet one. The lanes have been opening and closing, and occasionally the ship gets a nasty squeeze against the solid floe on our starboard quarter. The more lanes that open the better, as they form ‘springs’ (when covered with thin ice, which makes to a thickness of three or four inches in a few hours) between the solid and heavier floes and fields. Surely we have been guided by the hands of Providence to have come in heavy grinding pack for over two hundred miles (geographical), skirting the ice-bound western shore, around and to the north of Franklin Island, and now into what appears a clear path to the open sea! In view of our precarious position and the lives of men in jeopardy, I sent this evening an aerogram to H. M. King George asking for a relief ship. I hope the wireless gets through. I have sent this message after much consideration, and know that in the event of our non-arrival in New Zealand on the specified date (November 1) a relief ship will be sent to aid the Southern Party.
“July 25.—Very heavy pressure about the ship. During the early hours a large field on the port quarter came charging up, and on meeting our floe tossed up a ridge from ten to fifteen feet high. The blocks of ice as they broke off crumbled and piled over each other to the accompaniment of a thunderous roar. Throughout the day the pressure continued, the floes alternately opening and closing, and the ship creaking and groaning during the nips between floes.
“August 4.—For nine days we have had southerly winds, and the last four we have experienced howling blizzards. I am sick of the sound of the infernal wind. Din! Din! Din! and darkness. We should have seen the sun to-day, but a bank of cumulus effectually hid him, although the daylight is a never-ending joy.
“August 6.—The wind moderated towards 6 a.m., and about breakfast time, with a clear atmosphere, the land from near Cape Cotter to Cape Adare was visible. What a day of delights! After four days of thick weather we find ourselves in sight of Cape Adare in a position about forty-five miles east of Possession Isles; in this time we have been set one hundred miles. Good going. Mount Sabine, the first land seen by us when coming south, lies away to the westward, forming the highest peak (10,000 ft.) of a majestic range of mountains covered in eternal snow. Due west we can see the Possession Islands, lying under the stupendous bluff of Cape Downshire, which shows large patches of black rock. The land slopes down to the north-west of Cape Downshire, and rises again into the high peninsula about Cape Adore. We felt excited this morning in anticipation of seeing the sun, which rose about nine-thirty (local time). It was a glorious, joyful sight. We drank to something, and with very light hearts gave cheers for the sun.
“August 9.—Donolly got to work on the rudder again. It is a long job cutting through the iron sheathing-plates of the rudder, and not too safe at present, as the ice is treacherous. Hooke says that the conditions are normal now. I wish for his sake that he could get through. He is a good sportsman and keeps on trying, although, I am convinced, he has little hope with this inadequate aerial.
“August 10.—The ship’s position is lat. 70° 40´ S., forty miles north 29° east of Cape Adare. The distance drifted from August 2 to 6 was one hundred miles, and from the 6th to the 10th eighty-eight miles.
“August 12.—By observation and bearings of land we are forty-five miles north-east of Cape Adare, in lat. 70° 42´ S. This position is a little to the eastward of the position on the 10th. The bearings as laid off on a small scale chart of gnomonic projection are very inaccurate, and here we are handicapped, as our chronometers have lost all regularity. Donolly and Grade are having quite a job with the iron platings on the rudder, but should finish the cutting to-morrow. A jury-rudder is nearly completed. This afternoon we mixed some concrete for the lower part, and had to use boiling water, as the water froze in the mixing. The carpenter has made a good job of the rudder, although he has had to construct it on the quarterdeck in low temperatures and exposed to biting blasts.
“August 16.—We are ‘backing and filling’ about forty miles north-east of Cape Adare. This is where we expected to have made much mileage. However, we cannot grumble and must be patient. There was much mirage to the northward, and from the crow’s-nest a distinct appearance of open water could be seen stretching from north-north-west to north-east.
“August 17.—A glorious day! Land is distinctly visible, and to the northward the black fringe of water-sky over the horizon hangs continuously. Hooke heard Macquarie Island ‘speaking’ Hobart. The message heard was the finish of the weather reports. We have hopes now of news in the near future.
“August 23.—Saw the land in the vicinity of Cape North. To the south-south-west the white cliffs and peaks of the inland ranges were very distinct, and away in the distance to the south-west could be seen a low stretch of undulating land. At times Mount Sabine was visible through the gloom. The latitude, is 69° 44½´ S. We are fifty-eight miles north, forty miles east of Cape North.
“August 24.—We lifted the rudder out of the ice and placed it clear of the stern, athwart the fore-and-aft line of the ship. We had quite a job with it (weight, four and a half tons), using treble- and double-sheaved-blocks purchase, but with the endless-chain tackle from the engine-room, and plenty of ‘beef’ and leverage, we dragged it clear. All the pintles are gone at the fore part of the rudder; it is a clean break and bears witness to the terrific force exerted on the ship during the nip. I am glad to see the rudder upon the ice and clear of the propeller. The blade itself (which is solid oak and sheathed on two sides and after part half-way down, with three-quarter-inch iron plating) is undamaged, save for the broken pintles; the twisted portion is in the rudder trunk.
“August 25, 11 p.m.—Hooke has just been in with the good tidings that he has heard Macquarie and the Bluff (New Zealand) sending their weather reports and exchanging signals. Can this mean that they have heard our recent signals and are trying to get us now? Our motor has been out of order.
“August 26.—The carpenter has finished the jury-rudder and is now at work on the lower end of the rudder truck, where the rudder burst into the stern timbers. We are lucky in having this opportunity to repair these minor damages, which might prove serious in a seaway.
“August 31, 6.30 a.m.—Very loud pressure-noises to the south-east. I went aloft after breakfast and had the pleasure of seeing many open lanes in all directions. The lanes of yesterday are frozen over, showing what little chance there is of a general and continued break-up of the ice until the temperature rises. Land was visible, but far too distant for even approximate bearings. The berg still hangs to the north-west of the ship. We seem to have pivoted outwards from the land. We cannot get out of this too quickly, and although every one has plenty of work, and is cheerful, the uselessness of the ship in her present position palls.
“September 5.—The mizzen wireless mast came down in a raging blizzard to-day. In the forenoon I managed to crawl to windward on the top of the bridge-house, and under the lee of the chart-house watched the mast bending over with the wind and swaying like the branch of a tree, but after the aerial had stood throughout the winter I hardly thought the mast would carry away. Luckily, as it is dangerous to life to be on deck in this weather (food is brought from the galley in relays through blinding drift and over big heaps of snow), no one was about when the mast carried away.
“September 8.—This is dull, miserable weather. Blow, snow, and calm for an hour or two. Sometimes it blows in this neighbourhood without snow and sometimes with—this seems to be the only difference. I have two patients now, Larkman and Mugridge. Larkman was frost-bitten on the great and second toes of the left foot some time ago, and has so far taken little notice of them. Now they are causing him some alarm as gangrene has set in. Mugridge is suffering from an intermittent rash, with red, inflamed skin and large, short-lived blisters. I don’t know what the deuce it is, but the nearest description to it in a ‘Materia Medica,’ etc., is pemphigus, so pemphigus it is, and he has been ‘tonic-ed’ and massaged.
“September 9.—This is the first day for a long time that we have registered a minimum temperature above zero for the twenty-four hours. It is pleasant to think that from noon to noon throughout the night the temperature never fell below +4° (28° frost), and with the increase of daylight it makes one feel that summer really is approaching.
“September 13.—All around the northern horizon there is the appearance of an open water-sky, but around the ship the prospect is dreary. The sun rose at 6.20 a.m. and set at 5.25 p.m. Ship’s time eleven hours five minutes of sunlight and seventeen hours light. Three hours twilight morning and evening. The carpenter is dismantling the taffrail (to facilitate the landing and, if necessary, the boarding of the jury-rudder) and will construct a temporary, removable rail.
“September 16.—There has been much mirage all around the horizon, and to the eastward through south to south-west heavy frost-smoke has been rising. Over the northern horizon a low bank of white fog hangs as though over the sea. I do not like these continued low temperatures. I am beginning to have doubts as to our release until the sun starts to rot the ice.
“September 17.—This is the anniversary of our departure from London. There are only four of the original eleven on board—Larkman, Ninnis, Mauger, and I. Much has happened since Friday, September 18, 1914, and I can recall the scene as we passed down the Thames with submarines and cruisers, in commission and bent on business, crossing our course. I can also remember the regret at leaving it all and the consequent ‘fedupness.’
“September 21.—The sun is making rapid progress south, and we have had to-day over seventeen hours’ light and twelve hours’ sunlight. Oh for a release! The monotony and worry of our helpless position is deadly. I suppose Shackleton and his party will have started depot-laying now and will be full of hopes for the future. I wonder whether the Endurance wintered in the ice or went north. I cannot help thinking that if she wintered in the Weddell Sea she will be worse off than the Aurora. What a lot we have to look for in the next six months—news of Shackleton and the Endurance, the party at Cape Evans, and the war.
“September 22.—Lat. 69° 12´ S.; long. 165° 00´ E. Sturge Island (Balleny Group) is bearing north (true) ninety miles distant. Light north-west airs with clear, fine weather. Sighted Sturge Island in the morning, bearing due north of us and appearing like a faint low shadow on the horizon. It is good to get a good landmark for fixing positions again, and it is good to see that we are making northerly progress, however small. Since breaking away from Cape Evans we have drifted roughly seven hundred and five miles around islands and past formidable obstacles, a wonderful drift! It is good to think that it has not been in vain, and that the knowledge of the set and drill of the pack will be a valuable addition to the sum of human knowledge. The distance from Cape Evans to our present position is seven hundred and five miles (geographical).
“September 27.—The temperature in my room last night was round about zero, rather chilly, but warm enough under the blankets. Hooke has dismantled his wireless gear. He feels rather sick about not getting communication, although he does not show it.
“September 30.—Ninnis has been busy now for the week on the construction of a new tractor. He is building the body and will assemble the motor in the fore ’tween decks, where it can be lashed securely when we are released from the ice. I can see leads of open water from the masthead, but we are still held firmly. How long?
“October 7.—As time wears on the possibility of getting back to the Barrier to land a party deserves consideration; if we do not get clear until late in the season we will have to turn south first, although we have no anchors and little moorings, no rudder and a short supply of coal. To leave a party on the Barrier would make us very short-handed; still, it can be done, and anything is preferable to the delay in assisting the people at Cape Evans. At 5 a.m. a beautiful parhelion formed around the sun. The sight so impressed the bos’n that he roused me out to see it.”
During the month of October the Aurora drifted uneventfully. Stenhouse mentions that there was often an appearance of open water on the northern and eastern horizon. But anxious eyes were strained in vain for indications that the day of the ship’s release was near at hand. Hooke had the wireless plant running again and was trying daily to get into touch with Macquarie Island, now about eight hundred and fifty miles distant. The request for a relief ship was to be renewed if communication could be established, for by this time, if all had gone well with the Endurance, the overland party from the Weddell Sea would have been starting. There was considerable movement of the ice towards the end of the month, lanes opening and closing, but the floe, some acres in area, into which the Aurora was frozen, remained firm until the early days of November. The cracks appeared close to the ship, due apparently to heavy drift causing the floe to sink. The temperatures were higher now, under the influence of the sun, and the ice was softer. Thawing was causing discomfort in the quarters aboard. The position on November 12 was reckoned to be lat. 66° 49´ S., long. 155° 17´ 45´´ E. Stenhouse made a sounding on November 17, in lat. 66° 40´ S., long. 154° 45´ E., and found bottom at 194 fathoms. The bottom sample was mud and a few small stones. The sounding-line showed a fairly strong undercurrent to the north-west. “We panned out some of the mud,” says Stenhouse, “and in the remaining grit found several specks of gold.” Two days later the trend of the current was south-easterly. There was a pronounced thaw on the 22nd. The cabins were in a dripping state, and recently fallen snow was running off the ship in little streams. All hands were delighted, for the present discomfort offered promise of an early break-up of the pack.
“November 23.—At 3 a.m. Young Island, Balleny Group, was seen bearing north 54° east (true). The island, which showed up clearly on the horizon, under a heavy stratus-covered sky, appeared to be very far distant. By latitude at noon we are in 66° 26´ S. As this is the charted latitude of Peak Foreman, Young Island, the bearing does not agree. Land was seen at 8 a.m. bearing south 60° west (true). This, which would appear to be Cape Hudson, loomed up through the mists in the form of a high, bold headland, with low undulating land stretching away to the south-south-east and to the westward of it. The appearance of this headland has been foretold for the last two days, by masses of black fog, but it seems strange that land so high should not have been seen before, as there is little change in the atmospheric conditions.
“November 24.—Overcast and hazy during forenoon. Cloudy, clear, and fine in afternoon and evening. Not a vestige of land can be seen, so Cape Hudson is really ‘Cape Flyaway.’ This is most weird. All hands saw the headland to the south-west, and some of us sketched it. Now (afternoon), although the sky is beautifully clear to the south-west, nothing can be seen. We cannot have drifted far from yesterday’s position. No wonder Wilkes reported land. 9 p.m.—A low fringe of land appears on the horizon bearing south-west, but in no way resembles our Cape of yesterday. This afternoon we took a cast of the lead through the crack 200 yds. west of the ship, but found no bottom at 700 fathoms.”
An interesting incident on November 26 was the discovery of an emperor penguin rookery. Ninnis and Kavenagh took a long walk to the north-west, and found the deserted rookery. The depressions in the ice, made by the birds, were about eighteen inches long and contained a greyish residue. The rookery was in a hollow surrounded by pressure ridges six feet high. Apparently about twenty birds had been there. No pieces of egg-shell were seen, but the petrels and skuas had been there in force and probably would have taken all scraps of this kind. The floes were becoming soft and “rotten,” and walking was increasingly difficult. Deep pools of slush and water covered with thin snow made traps for the men. Stenhouse thought that a stiff blizzard would break up the pack. His anxiety was increasing with the advance of the season, and his log is a record of deep yearning to be free and active again. But the grip of the pack was inexorable. The hands had plenty of work on the Aurora, which was being made shipshape after the buffeting of the winter storms. Seals and penguins were seen frequently, and the supply of fresh meat was maintained. The jury-rudder was ready to be shipped when the ship was released, but in the meantime it was not being exposed to the attacks of the ice.
“No appreciable change in our surroundings,” was the note for December 17. “Every day past now reduces our chance of getting out in time to go north for rudder, anchors, and coal. If we break out before January 15 we might get north to New Zealand and down to Cape Evans again in time to pick up the parties. After that date we can only attempt to go south in our crippled state, and short of fuel. With only nine days’ coal on board we would have little chance of working through any Ross Sea pack, or of getting south at all if we encountered many blizzards. Still there is a sporting chance and luck may be with us. . . . Shackleton may be past the Pole now. I wish our wireless calls had got through.”
Christmas Day, with its special dinner and mild festivities, came and passed, and still the ice remained firm. The men were finding some interest in watching the moulting of emperor penguins, who were stationed at various points in the neighbourhood of the ship. They had taken station to leeward of hummocks, and appeared to move only when the wind changed or the snow around them had become foul. They covered but a few yards on these journeys, and even then stumbled in their weakness. One emperor was brought on board alive, and the crew were greatly amused to see the bird balancing himself on heels and tail, with upturned toes, the position adopted when the egg is resting on the feet during the incubation period. The threat of a stiff “blow” aroused hopes of release several times, but the blizzard—probably the first Antarctic blizzard that was ever longed for—did not arrive. New Year’s Day found Stenhouse and other men just recovering from an attack of snow-blindness, contracted by making an excursion across the floes without snow-goggles.
At the end of the first week in January the ship was in lat. 65° 45´ S. The pack was well broken a mile from the ship, and the ice was rolling fast. Under the bows and stern the pools were growing and stretching away in long lanes to the west. A seal came up to blow under the stern on the 6th, proving that there was an opening in the sunken ice there. Stenhouse was economizing in food. No breakfast was served on the ship, and seal or penguin meat was used for at least one of the two meals later in the day. All hands were short of clothing, but Stenhouse was keeping intact the sledging gear intended for the use of the shore party. Strong, variable winds on the 9th raised hopes again, and on the morning of the 10th the ice appeared to be well broken from half a mile to a mile distant from the ship in all directions. “It seems extraordinary that the ship should be held in an almost unbroken floe of about a mile square, the more so as this patch was completely screwed and broken during the smash in July, and contains many faults. In almost any direction at a distance of half a mile from the ship there are pressure ridges of eight-inch ice piled twenty feet high. It was provident that although so near these ridges were escaped.”
The middle of January was passed and the Aurora lay still in the ice. The period of continuous day was drawing towards its close, and there was an appreciable twilight at midnight. A dark water-sky could be seen on the northern horizon. The latitude on January 24 was 65° 39½´ S. Towards the end of the month Stenhouse ordered a thorough overhaul of the stores and general preparations for a move. The supply of flour and butter was ample. Other stores were running low, and the crew lost no opportunity of capturing seals and penguins. Adelies were travelling to the east-south-east in considerable numbers, but they could not be taken unless they approached the ship closely, owing to the soft condition of the ice. The wireless plant, which had been idle during the months of daylight, had been rigged again, and Hooke resumed his calls to Macquarie Island on February 2. He listened in vain for any indication that he had been heard. The pack was showing much movement, but the large floe containing the ship remained firm.
The break-up of the floe came on February 12. Strong north-east to south-east winds put the ice in motion and brought a perceptible swell. The ship was making some water, a fore-taste of a trouble to come, and all hands spent the day at the pumps, reducing the water from three feet eight and a half inches in the well to twelve inches, in spite of frozen pipes and other difficulties. Work had just finished for the night when the ice broke astern and quickly split in all directions under the influence of the swell. The men managed to save some seal meat which had been cached in a drift near the gangway. They lost the flagstaff, which had been rigged as a wireless mast out on the floe, but drew in the aerial. The ship was floating now amid fragments of floe, and bumping considerably in the swell. A fresh southerly wind blew during the night, and the ship started to forge ahead gradually without sail. At 8.30 a.m. on the 13th Stenhouse set the foresail and foretopmast staysail, and the Aurora moved northward slowly, being brought up occasionally by large floes. Navigation under such conditions, without steam and without a rudder, was exceedingly difficult, but Stenhouse wished if possible to save his small remaining stock of coal until he cleared the pack, so that a quick run might be made to McMurdo Sound. The jury-rudder could not be rigged in the pack. The ship was making about three and a half feet of water in the twenty-four hours, a quantity easily kept in check by the pumps.
During the 14th the Aurora worked very slowly northward through heavy pack. Occasionally the yards were backed or an ice-anchor put into a floe to help her out of difficult places, but much of the time she steered herself. The jury-rudder boom was topped into position in the afternoon, but the rudder was not to be shipped until open pack or open water was reached. The ship was held up all day on the 15th in lat. 64° 38´ S. Heavy floes barred progress in every direction. Attempts were made to work the ship by trimming sails and warping with ice-anchors, but she could not be manoeuvred smartly enough to take advantage of leads that opened and closed. This state of affairs continued throughout the 16th. That night a heavy swell was rolling under the ice and the ship had a rough time. One pointed floe ten or twelve feet thick was steadily battering, with a three-feet send, against the starboard side, and fenders only partially deadened the shock. “It is no use butting against this pack with steam-power,” wrote Stenhouse. “We would use all our meagre supply of coal in reaching the limit of the ice in sight, and then we would be in a hole, with neither ballast nor fuel. . . . But if this stagnation lasts another week we will have to raise steam and consume our coal in an endeavour to get into navigable waters. I am afraid our chances of getting south are very small now.”
The pack remained close, and on the 21st a heavy swell made the situation dangerous. The ship bumped heavily that night and fenders were of little avail. With each “send” of the swell the ship would bang her bows on the floe ahead, then bounce back and smash into another floe across her stern-post. This floe, about six feet thick and 100 ft. across, was eventually split and smashed by the impacts. The pack was jammed close on the 23rd, when the noon latitude was 64° 36½´ S. The next change was for the worse. The pack loosened on the night of the 25th, and a heavy north-west swell caused the ship to bump heavily. This state of affairs recurred at intervals in succeeding days. “The battering and ramming of the floes increased in the early hours [of February 29] until it seemed as if some sharp floe or jagged underfoot must go through the ship’s hull. At 6 a.m. we converted a large coir-spring into a fender, and slipped it under the port quarter, where a pressured floe with twenty to thirty feet underfoot was threatening try knock the propeller and stern-post off altogether. At 9 a.m., after pumping ship, the engineer reported a leak in the way of the propeller-shaft aft near the stern-post on the port side. The carpenter cut part of the lining and filled the space between the timbers with Stockholm tar, cement, and oakum. He could not get at the actual leak, but his makeshift made a little difference. I am anxious about the propeller. This pack is a dangerous place for a ship now; it seems miraculous that the old Barky still floats.”
The ice opened out a little on March 1. It was imperative to get the ship out of her dangerous situation quickly; as winter was approaching, and Stenhouse therefore ordered steam to be raised. Next morning he had the spanker gaff rigged over the stern for use as a temporary rudder while in the heavy pack. Steam had been raised to working pressure at 5.15 p.m. on the 2nd, and the Aurora began to work ahead to the westward. Progress was very slow owing to heavy floes and deep underfoots, which necessitated frequent stoppages of the engines. Open water was in sight to the north and north-west the next morning, after a restless night spent among the rocking floes. But progress was very slow. The Aurora went to leeward under the influence of a west-south-west breeze, and steering by means of the yards and a warp-anchor was a ticklish business. The ship came to a full stop among heavy floes before noon on the 3rd, and three hours later, after vain attempts to warp ahead by means of ice-anchors, Stenhouse had the fires partially drawn (to save coal) and banked.
No advance was made on March 4 and 5. A moderate gale from the east-north-east closed the ice and set it in motion, and the Aurora, with banked fires, rolled and bumped, heavily. Seventeen bergs were in sight, and one of them was working southwards into the pack and threatening to approach the ship. During the night the engines were turned repeatedly by the action of ice on the propeller blades. “All theories about the swell being non-existent in the pack are false,” wrote the anxious master. “Here we are with a suggestion only of open water-sky, and the ship rolling her scuppers under and sitting down bodily on the floes.” The ice opened when the wind moderated, and on the afternoon of the 6th the Aurora moved northward again. “Without a rudder (no jury-rudder can yet be used amongst these swirling, rolling floes) the ship requires a lot of attention. Her head must be pointed between floes by means of ice-anchors and warps, or by mooring to a floe and steaming round it. We kept a fairly good course between two bergs to our northward and made about five miles northing till, darkness coming on, the men could no longer venture on the floes with safety to fix the anchors.”
The next three days were full of anxiety. The Aurora was held by the ice, and subjected to severe buffeting, while two bergs approached from the north. On the morning of the 10th the nearest berg was within three cables of the ship. But the pack had opened and by 9.30 a.m. the ship was out of the danger zone and headed north-north-east. The pack continued to open during the afternoon, and the Aurora passed through wide stretches of small loose floes and brash. Progress was good until darkness made a stop necessary. The next morning the pack was denser. Stenhouse shipped a preventer jury-rudder (the weighted spanker gaff), but could not get steerage way. Broad leads were sighted to the north-west in the afternoon, and the ship got within a quarter of a mile of the nearest lead before being held up by heavy pack. She again bumped severely during the night, and the watch stood by with fenders to ease the more dangerous blows.
Early next morning Stenhouse lowered a jury-rudder, with steering pennants to drag through the water, and moved north to north-west through heavy pack. He made sixteen miles that day on an erratic course, and then spent an anxious night with the ship setting back into the pack and being pounded heavily. Attempts to work forward to an open lead on the morning of the 13th were unsuccessful. Early in the afternoon a little progress was made, with all hands standing by to fend off high ice, and at 4.50 p.m. the Aurora cleared the main pack. An hour was spent shipping the jury-rudder under the counter, and then the ship moved slowly northward. There was pack still ahead, and the bergs and growlers were a constant menace in the hours of darkness. Some anxious work remained to be done, since bergs and scattered ice extended in all directions, but at 2 p.m. on March 14 the Aurora cleared the last belt of pack in lat. 62° 27.5´ S., long. 157° 32´ E. “We ‘spliced the main brace,’ ” says Stenhouse, “and blew three blasts of farewell to the pack with the whistle.”
The Aurora was not at the end of her troubles, but the voyage up
to New Zealand need not be described in detail. Any attempt to
reach McMurdo Sound was now out of the question. Stenhouse had a
battered, rudderless ship, with only a few tons of coal left in
the bunkers, and he struggled northward in heavy weather against
persistent adverse winds and head seas. The jury-rudder needed
constant nursing, and the shortage of coal made it impossible to
get the best service from the engines. There were times when the
ship could make no progress and fell about helplessly in a
confused swell or lay hove to amid mountainous seas. She was
short-handed, and one or two of the men were creating additional
difficulties. But Stenhouse displayed throughout fine seamanship
and dogged perseverance. He accomplished successfully one of the
most difficult voyages on record, in an ocean area notoriously stormy
and treacherous. On March 23 he established wireless communication
with Bluff Station, New Zealand, and the next day was in touch
with Wellington and Hobart. The naval officer in New Zealand
waters offered assistance, and eventually it was arranged that the
Otago Harbour Board’s tug Plucky should meet the Aurora outside
Port Chalmers. There were still bad days to be endured. The
jury-rudder partially carried away and had to be unshipped in
a heavy sea. Stenhouse carried on, and in the early morning of
April 2 the Aurora picked up the tug and was taken in tow.
She reached Port Chalmers the following morning, and was welcomed
with the warm hospitality that New Zealand has always shown towards
THE LAST RELIEF
|After discussing the situation fully with Dr. McNab, I agreed that the arrangements already made for the relief expedition should stand. Time was important and there were difficulties about making any change of plans or control at the last moment. After Captain Davis had been at work for some months the Government agreed to hand the Aurora over to me free of liability on her return to New Zealand. It was decided, therefore, that Captain Davis should take the ship down to McMurdo Sound, and that I should go with him to take charge of any shore operations that might be necessary. I “signed on” at a salary of 1s. a month, and we sailed from Port Chalmers on December 20, 1916. A week later we sighted ice again. The Aurora made a fairly quick passage through the pack and entered the open water of the Ross Sea on January 7, 1917.|
|Captain Davis brought the Aurora alongside the ice edge off Cape Royds on the morning of January 10, and I went ashore with a party to look for some record in the hut erected there by my Expedition in 1907. I found a letter stating that the Ross Sea party was housed at Cape Evans, and was on my way back to the ship when six men, with dogs and sledge, were sighted coming from the direction of Cape Evans. At 1 p.m. this party arrived on board, and we learned that of the ten members of the Expedition left behind when the Aurora broke away on May 6, 1915, seven had survived, namely, A. Stevens, E. Joyce, H. E. Wild, J. L. Cope, R. W. Richards, A. K. Jack, I. O. Gaze. These seven men were all well, though they showed traces of the ordeal through which they had passed. They told us of the deaths of Mackintosh, Spencer-Smith, and Hayward, and of their own anxious wait for relief.|
|All that remained to be done was to make a final search for the bodies of Mackintosh and Hayward. There was no possibility of either man being alive. They had been without equipment when the blizzard broke the ice they were crossing. It would have been impossible for them to have survived more than a few days, and eight months had now elapsed without news of them. Joyce had already searched south of Glacier Tongue. I considered that further search should be made in two directions, the area north of Glacier Tongue, and the old depot off Butler Point, and I made a report to Captain Davis to this effect.|
|On January 12 the ship reached a point five and a half miles east of Butler Point. I took a party across rubbly and waterlogged ice to within thirty yards of the piedmont ice, but owing to high cliffs and loose slushy ice could not make a landing. The land-ice had broken away at the point cut by the cross-bearings of the depot, but was visible in the form of two large bergs grounded to the north of Cape Bernacchi. There was no sign of the depot or of any person having visited the vicinity. We returned to the ship and proceeded across the Sound to Cape Bernacchi.|
The next day I took a party ashore with the object of searching
the area north of Glacier Tongue, including Razorback Island, for
traces of the two missing men. We reached the Cape Evans Hut at
1.30 p.m., and Joyce and I left at 3 p.m. for the Razorbacks. We
conducted a search round both islands, returning to the hut at 7
p.m. The search had been fruitless. On the 14th I started with
Joyce to search the north side of Glacier Tongue, but the surface
drift, with wind from south-east, decided me not to continue, as
the ice was moving rapidly at the end of Cape Evans, and the pool
between the hut and Inaccessible Island was growing larger.
The wind increased in the afternoon. The next day a south-east
blizzard was blowing, with drift half up the islands. I considered
it unsafe to sledge that day, especially as the ice was breaking
away from the south side of Cape Evans into the pool. We spent
the day putting the hut in order.
We got up at 3 a.m. on the 16th. The weather was fine and calm. I started at 4.20 with Joyce to the south at the greatest possible speed. We reached Glacier Tongue about one and a half miles from the seaward end. Wherever there were not precipitous cliffs there was an even snow-slope to the top. From the top we searched with glasses; there was nothing to be seen but blue ice, crevassed, showing no protuberances. We came down and, half running, half walking, worked about three miles towards the root of the glacier; but I could see there was not the slightest chance of finding any remains owing to the enormous snowdrifts wherever the cliffs were accessible. The base of the steep cliffs had drifts ten to fifteen feet high. We arrived back at the hut at 9.40, and left almost immediately for the ship. I considered that all places likely to hold the bodies of Mackintosh and Hayward had now been searched. There was no doubt to my mind that they met their deaths on the breaking of the thin ice when the blizzard arose on May 8, 1916. During my absence from the hut Wild and Jack had erected a cross to the memory of the three men who had lost their lives in the service of the Expedition.
Captain Davis took the ship northward on January 17. The ice
conditions were unfavourable and pack barred the way. We stood
over to the western coast towards Dunlop Island and followed it
to Granite Harbour. No mark or depot of any kind was seen. The
Aurora reached the main pack, about sixty miles from Cape Adare,
on January 22. The ice was closed ahead, and Davis went south in
open water to wait for better conditions. A north-west gale on
January 28 enabled the ship to pass between the pack and the land
off Cape Adare, and we crossed the Antarctic Circle on the last day
of the month. On February 4 Davis sent a formal report to the New
Zealand Government by wireless, and on February 9 the Aurora was
berthed at Wellington. We were welcomed like returned brothers by
the New Zealand people.|
THE FINAL PHASE
|To the credit side of the Expedition one can safely say that the comradeship and resource of the members of the Expedition was worthy of the highest traditions of Polar service; and it was a privilege to me to have had under my command men who, through dark days and the stress and strain of continuous danger, kept up their spirits and carried out their work regardless of themselves and heedless of the limelight. The same energy and endurance that they showed in the Antarctic they brought to the greater war in the Old World. And having followed our fortunes in the South you may be interested to know that practically every member of the Expedition was employed in one or other branches of the active fighting forces during the war. Several are still abroad, and for this very reason it has been impossible for me to obtain certain details for this book.|
|Of the fifty-three men who returned out of the fifty-six who left for the South, three have since been killed and five wounded. Four decorations have been won, and several members of the Expedition have been mentioned in dispatches. McCarthy, the best and most efficient of the sailors, always cheerful under the most trying circumstances, and who for these very reasons I chose to accompany me on the boat journey to South Georgia, was killed at his gun in the Channel. Cheetham, the veteran of the Antarctic, who had been more often south of the Antarctic circle than any man, was drowned when the vessel he was serving in was torpedoed, a few weeks before the Armistice. Ernest Wild, Frank Wild’s brother, was killed while minesweeping in the Mediterranean. Mauger, the carpenter on the Aurora, was badly wounded while serving with the New Zealand Infantry, so that he is unable to follow his trade again. He is now employed by the New Zealand Government. The two surgeons, Macklin and McIlroy, served in France and Italy, McIlroy being badly wounded at Ypres. Frank Wild, in view of his unique experience of ice and ice conditions, was at once sent to the North Russian front, where his zeal and ability won him the highest praise.|
Macklin served first with the Yorks and later transferred as
medical officer to the Tanks, where he did much good work. Going
to the Italian front with his battalion, he won the Military Cross
for bravery in tending wounded under fire.
James joined the Royal Engineers, Sound Ranging Section, and after much front-line work was given charge of a Sound Ranging School to teach other officers this latest and most scientific addition to the art of war.
Wordie went to France with the Royal Field Artillery and was badly wounded at Armentières.
Hussey was in France for eighteen months with the Royal Garrison Artillery, serving in every big battle from Dixmude to Saint-Quentin.
Worsley, known to his intimates as Depth-Charge Bill, owing to his success with that particular method of destroying German submarines, has the Distinguished Service Order and three submarines to his credit.
Stenhouse, who commanded the Aurora after Mackintosh landed, was with Worsley as his second in command when one of the German submarines was rammed and sunk, and received the D.S.C. for his share in the fight. He was afterwards given command of a Mystery Ship, and fought several actions with enemy submarines.
Clark served on a mine-sweeper. Greenstreet was employed with the barges on the Tigris. Rickenson was commissioned as Engineer-Lieutenant, R.N. Kerr returned to the Merchant Service as an engineer.
Most of the crew of the Endurance served on minesweepers.
Of the Ross Sea Party, Mackintosh, Hayward, and Spencer-Smith died for their country as surely as any who gave up their lives on the fields of France and Flanders. Hooke, the wireless operator, now navigates an airship.
Nearly all of the crew of the Aurora joined the New Zealand Field Forces and saw active service in one or other of the many theatres of war. Several have been wounded, but it has been impossible to obtain details.
On my return, after the rescue of the survivors of the Ross Sea
Party, I offered my services to the Government, and was sent on
a mission to South America. When this was concluded I was
commissioned as Major and went to North Russia in charge of Arctic
Equipment and Transport, having with me Worsley, Stenhouse,
Hussey, Macklin, and Brocklehurst, who was to have come South with
us, but who, as a regular officer, rejoined his unit on the
outbreak of war. He has been wounded three times and was in the
retreat from Mons. Worsley was sent across to the Archangel
front, where he did excellent work, and the others served with me
on the Murmansk front. The mobile columns there had exactly the
same clothing, equipment, and sledging food as we had on the
Expedition. No expense was spared to obtain the best of
everything for them, and as a result not a single case of
avoidable frost-bite was reported.
Taking the Expedition as a unit, out of fifty-six men three died in the Antarctic, three were killed in action, and five have been wounded, so that our casualties have been fairly high.
Though some have gone there are enough left to rally round and form a nucleus for the next Expedition, when troublous times are over and scientific exploration can once more be legitimately undertaken.