June 15, 2010

Wednesday, 15 June 1910


"The Terra Nova heading down the Bristol Channel after leaving Cardiff, 15 June 1910". [1]

The Terra Nova departed from Cardiff.

"Neither before or since in time of peace have I hear such an uproar as that which made the air tremble as Terra Nova glided out through the docks," wrote Gran of the scene. "People in their thousands yelled as if they had taken leave of their senses. Railway wagons were rolled over a line covered with dynamite detonators, and vessels in their hundreds completed the noise with whistles and sirens. At the last lock gates we were met by a little squadron of beflagged boats, and with this as escort we steamed out into the open sea." [2]

Scott came off with the pilot boat, busy with last-minute publicity and fund-raising efforts, and decided to travel out by mailboat and join the expedition in New Zealand.

"I am glad you are not going to see me off," Oates wrote to his mother, "I hate those awful goodbyes." [3]


[1] Cardiff Central Library (item reference: Astudiaethau Lleol/Local Studies 2247); found at Casglu'r Tlysau/Gathering the Jewels.
[2] Tryggve Gran, Slik var Det, p.80, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.284.
[3] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, [date not given], quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.97.

June 12, 2010

Sunday, 12 June 1910


During a calm spell, Bjaaland was told to take the helm of the Fram. He had never even been to sea, let alone steered a ship. "You can take it from me," he wrote in his diary, "that she made some beautiful swerves ... for Fram is slow to turn, so she always overshoots the mark if you don't stop her in time. But a lovely hour it was, and just imagine being allowed to steer Fram, that historic thingumabob which has brought the country so much honour." [1]


[1] Olav Bjaaland, diary, 12 June 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.288.

June 8, 2010

June 1910


Peary, who had of course planned to personally lead his expedition to the Antarctic via the Weddell Sea, was persuaded that "anything short of perfect success ... would detract from the great achievement already reached" in the Arctic [1], and to let the US National Geographic Society take charge. Despite assurances, however, that the American Antarctic Expedition would be "a project which promised unusually rich scientific results, with the well defined possibility of bringing to our country an honor such as it now holds in the north" [2], the escalating controversy between Peary and Cook led to dwindling contributions from the public, and in June the expedition was postponed -- permanently, it turned out -- due to lack of funds.


[1] Thomas Hamlin Hubbard, letter to Robert E. Peary, 24 December, 1909, quoted by Robert M. Bryce in Cook & Peary: the Polar Controversy, Resolved (Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole, c1997), p.499.
[2] Henry Gannett, letter to Thomas H. Hubbard, 28 February, 1910, quoted by Robert M. Bryce in Cook & Peary: the Polar Controversy, Resolved (Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole, c1997), p.499.

June 7, 2010

Tuesday, 7 June 1910


Fram on her way to the Antarctic, 10 June 1910. Photograph by Anders Beer Wiltse. [1]

"Sailed at midnight," Amundsen wrote in his diary. "Quietly and calmly we stand out of the Christiania Fjord. Soon the land will have disappeared from view and Fram will have begun her third voyage. God grant it will be to our credit." [2]

Most of he crew of the Fram, 1910. Back, from left: sailmaker Martin Rønne, engineer Knut Sundbeck, seaman and ice pilot Andreas Beck, carpenter Jørgen Stubberud. Middle row, from left: seaman and ice pilot Ludwig Hansen, ship's cook Karenius Olsen, second officer Lt. Kristian Prestrud, first mate Lt. Frederick Gjertsen, deck-hand and later third engineer H. Kristensen, cook Adolf Lindstrøm. Front, from left: dog-driver Sverre Hassel, Oskar Wisting, carpenter Olav Bjaaland, ice pilot and dog-driver Helmer Hanssen. [3]

They would spend a month on a preliminary cruise in the North Atlantic, taking oceanographical readings for Nansen. They would also, of course, be testing the Fram's new diesel motor and the men.

The 7th of June was, significantly, Norwegian Independence Day, marking the peaceful separation of the country from Swedish rule in 1905, the first time that Norway had been fully independent in over five hundred years.

The night before, Amundsen had revealed to Gjertsen and Prestrud that they were going south. "When asked whether they wished to take part in the new plan," he wrote laconically, "they both answered at once in the affirmative, and that settled it." [4]


[1] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[2] Roald Amundsen, diary, 8 June 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.287-288.
[3] Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[4] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.3.

June 3, 2010

Friday, 3 June 1910


Debenham, Wright, Priestley, and Taylor (reading). Debenham and Priestley would meet the expedition in New Zealand and Australia, respectively. [1]

The Terra Nova arrived in Cardiff. Here they would be joined by more of the scientific staff.

T. Griffith Taylor, thirty, was an Australian geologist who received a Bachelor of Engineering in mining and metallurgy and had recently been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society. Encouraged by his Cambridge tutors and by his friend Douglas Mawson, recently returned from Shackleton's expedition, Taylor applied for the post of physiographer and geologist on Scott's expedition, and was accepted.

Charles S. Wright, nicknamed "Silas", was a twenty-three-year old Canadian physicist who had studied at the University of Toronto and won a postgraduate scholarship to Cambridge where he was now at the end of his two years research into cosmic rays. Impressed by Mawson, Wright had applied for Scott's expedition and been rejected.

Taylor then suggested to his friend that he should reapply to Scott in person; being academics and thus chronically short of funds, they decided to walk the fifty miles from Cambridge to London, with only a dozen hard-cooked eggs for sustenance. "Wright came through 'smiling'," Taylor later wrote of their ten-hour walk, "but my feet were so sore I could hardly stand the next day. My chief recollection is one of loathing for hard-boiled eggs, and of the relief with which I dropped three-quarters of our provisions in a secluded corner of King's Cross." [2]

After a brief interview, Scott changed his mind and Wright was engaged as expedition physicist, for the standard expedition rate of £4 per week for the first year. [3] It was still uncertain as to whether the expedition would remain for a second year.


The Fram off Uranienborg, June 1910. Amundsen stands in front with his dog. Photograph by Anders Beer Wilse. [4]

The Fram left Christiania and sailed down to anchor off Amundsen's home at Bundefjord. Verdens Gang, a Christiania newspaper, wrote that her "three yellow masts glistened in the sunlight, and ... the ship's black bulk stood out ... against the green ... forest-clad background.... Broad, sturdy and sober is she [and] a certain Sabbath peace hung over the vessel, as she lay there, at the edge of the gently rippled, slightly sombre fjord." [5]

Uranienborg, June 1910. Photograph by Anders Beer Wiltse. [6]

The "ice hut", June 1910. Photograph by Anders Beer Wiltse. [7]

The hut stood on the lawn at the water's edge for all to see, and was disassembled and stowed on board. "The more experienced among the members of the expedition," Amundsen wrote later, "were evidently absorbed in profound conjectures as to the meaning of this 'observation house,' as the newspapers had christened it. It may willingly be admitted that they had good reason for their speculations. By an observation house is usually meant a comparatively simple construction, sufficient to provide the necessary shelter from wind and weather. Our house, on the other hand, was a model of solidity, with three double walls, double roof and floor. Its arrangements included ten inviting bunks, a kitchen, and a table; the latter, moreover, had a brand-new American-cloth cover. 'I can understand that they want to keep themselves warm when they're making observations,' said Helmer Hanssen; 'but what they want with a cloth on the table I can’t make out.'" [8] Amundsen did not enlighten them.


[1] "The TERRA NOVA Expedition 1910-13", south-pole.com.
[2] T. Griffith-Taylor, With Scott: the Silver Lining (London: Smith Elder, 1916), p.5, quoted by Adrian Raeside in Return to Antarctica: the Amazing Adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's Journey to the South Pole (Mississauga, Ont.: John Wiley, c2009), p.37-38.
[3] Wheeler, Sara, Cherry : a life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard (New York : Modern Library, 2003, c2001), p.66.
[4] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[5] Verdens Gang, 6 June 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.287.
[6] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[7] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[8] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.3.

June 2, 2010

Thursday, 2 June 1910


Amundsen speaks with King Haakon before the Fram's departure. Behind the King, Queen Maud stands with Nansen (partly obscured) and a group of visitors. Thorvald Nilsen stands outboard behind Amundsen. Photo: Anders Beer Wilse. [1]

King Haakon and Queen Maud visited the Fram on the Christiania waterfront. "We were warned in advance of Their Majesties' arrival," Amundsen wrote, "and we tried as best we could to bring a little order into the chaos on board. I am not sure whether we had much luck." [2]

Stowing the ship had taken over a month, for not only would there be no opportunity to take on stores on the journey, as the Terra Nova would have, but Fram's stores had to be loaded in such a way that once she reached the ice, each item was available in the correct order.


[1] GalleriNOR, Norske Folkemuseum.
[2] Roald Amundsen, quoted by Roland Huntford in The Amundsen Photographs (London : Hodder & Stoughton, c1987), p.49.

June 1, 2010

Wednesday, 1 June 1910


The Terra Nova in Cardiff. [1]

Canadian explorer Robert Bartlett, who had been with Peary in 1908-09, attended the farewell luncheon at the RGS on 31st May, and, by special invitation, was at the docks to see the Terra Nova depart London for Cardiff the next day.

"Two things especially struck me about what I saw," Bartlett later wrote, "the attitude of the country and the kind of equipment ... there were gold lace and cocked hats and dignitaries enough to run a Navy. I couldn't help comparing all this formality with the shoddy, almost sneering attitude of the American public towards Peary's brave efforts.... The basis of all Peary's work was application of Eskimo methods .... In contrast to this, the British worked out their own theories. [They] proved on paper that it wasn't worth while to use dogs .... I thought of these things as I looked at the fine woollen clothing, the specially designed (in England) ... other gear. None of it looked like the Eskimo stuff that we were used to." [1]

Scott was not aboard; he stayed behind for last-minute fund-raising and final arrangements, leaving Teddy Evans in charge of the ship. Six of the staff were aboard -- Atkinson, Wright, Taylor, Gran, Oates, and Cherry -- the others were to join the ship in New Zealand and Australia.


[1] Source unknown.
[2] Captain Robert Bartlett, The Log of Bob Bartlett, p.224, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.283.