February 13, 2013

February 1913


Amundsen could not bring himself to write a letter of condolence to the RGS, and got Leon to do it for him. "Scott," Leon wrote, "has shown us how to die." [1]

Helmer Hanssen, though, wrote some years later, "What shall one say of Scott and his companions who were their own sledge dogs?... I don't think anyone will ever copy him." [2]


[1] Leon Amundsen, letter to Scott Keltie, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.562.
[2] Helmer Hanssen, Gjennem Isbaksen, p.100, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.563.

February 12, 2013

Wednesday, 12 February 1913


The Terra Nova put in at Lyttelton, to find flags at half-mast.

"Yes, Scott is dead, the adventure is at an end," wrote Gran, "and the future lies ahead." [1]

Amundsen was on a lecture tour in Madison, Wisconsin when he heard the news. "In a spirit of absolute dejection," wrote the New York Times, "travel-stained and woebegone, [the] discoverer of the south pole paced his apartment at the Blackstone Hotel this afternoon, and with an intensity of emotion, which he unsuccessfully endeavored to conceal, paid tribute to Capt. Scott and his brave associates who perished with him in the Antarctic.

"'Horrible, horrible!' exclaimed Capt. Amundsen, as he walked back and forth .... 'I cannot read that last message of Scott's without emotion. I never met him, personally, but I know he was a brave man. That is the way he died, like a brave man.'

"'And to think,' added the Captain in a hushed tone, 'that while those brave men were dying out there in the waste of ice, I was lecturing in warmth and comfort in Australia.'"

Asked about his Arctic ambitions, he replied, guarded as ever, "'I do not seek the pole. I may not even reach it. I do not care whether I do. These stories that I am actually to seek the pole are untrue. I am going up into that vicinity only on a scientific expedition, chiefly to study air and ocean currents. If I am close to the pole and conditions are favorable I will go there, not otherwise.'" [2]


[1] Tryggve Gran, diary, 12 February, 1913, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.237.
[2] New York Times, 11 February, 1913.

February 10, 2013

Monday, 10 February 1913


The Wellington Evening Post, 10 February, 1913. [1]

The Terra Nova arrived at Oamaru, New Zealand. Because of press contracts, she had to remain at sea for 24 hours after a cable had been sent to England.

"And so at 2.30 a.m. on February 10," Cherry wrote later, "we crept like a phantom ship into the little harbour of Oamaru on the east coast of New Zealand. With what mixed feelings we smelt the old familiar woods and grassy slopes, and saw the shadowy outlines of human homes. With untiring persistence the little lighthouse blinked out the message, 'What ship's that?' 'What ship's that?' They were obviously puzzled and disturbed at getting no answer. A boat was lowered and Pennell and Atkinson were rowed ashore and landed. The seamen had strict orders to answer no questions. After a little the boat returned, and Crean announced: "We was chased, sorr, but they got nothing out of us." [2]


[1] Papers Past.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.19.