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John Scott, having sold the brewery and invested the proceeds unwisely, had lost all his capital and was now virtually bankrupt. Archie's own death in the autumn of , after contracting typhoid fever , meant that the whole financial responsibility for the family rested on Scott. Promotion, and the extra income this would bring, now became a matter of considerable concern to Scott.

Early in June , while home on leave, he had a chance encounter in a London street with Clements Markham, who was now knighted and President of the Royal Geographical Society RGS , and learned for the first time of an impending Antarctic expedition with Discovery , under the auspices of the RGS.

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It was the opportunity for early command and a chance to distinguish himself, rather than any predilection for polar exploration which motivated Scott, according to Crane. A long-cherished dream of Markham's, it required all of his skills and cunning to bring the expedition to fruition, under naval command and largely staffed by naval personnel. Scott may not have been Markham's first choice as leader but, having decided on him, the older man's support remained constant. Eventually, however, Markham's view prevailed; [20] Scott was given overall command, and was promoted to the rank of commander before Discovery sailed for the Antarctic on 6 August Experience of Antarctic or Arctic waters was almost entirely lacking within the strong party and there was very little special training in equipment or techniques before the ship set sail.

Nevertheless, the dogs' performance impressed Scott, and, despite moral qualms, he implemented the principle of slaughtering dogs for dog-food to increase their range. The expedition had both scientific and exploration objectives; the latter included a long journey south, in the direction of the South Pole. A harrowing return journey brought about Shackleton's physical collapse and his early departure from the expedition.

This has been described by one writer as "one of the great polar journeys". At the end of the expedition it took the combined efforts of two relief ships and the use of explosives to free Discovery from the ice.

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Second-in-command Albert Armitage , a merchant officer, was offered the chance to go home on compassionate grounds, but interpreted the offer as a personal slight, and refused. Discovery returned to Britain in September The expedition had caught the public imagination, and Scott became a popular hero. He was awarded a cluster of honours and medals, including many from overseas, and was promoted to the rank of captain. Scott's next few years were crowded.

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For more than a year he was occupied with public receptions, lectures and the writing of the expedition record, The Voyage of the Discovery. Scott was cleared of blame. With his only other option being to return home, he set up his headquarters at Cape Royds , close to the old Discovery base. Among modern polar writers, Ranulph Fiennes regards Shackleton's actions as a technical breach of honour, but adds: "My personal belief is that Shackleton was basically honest but circumstances forced his McMurdo landing, much to his distress.

Scott, who because of his Discovery fame had entered Edwardian society, first met Kathleen Bruce early in at a private luncheon party. A stormy courtship followed; Scott was not her only suitor—his main rival was would-be novelist Gilbert Cannan —and his absences at sea did not assist his cause. Shackleton returned from the Antarctic having narrowly failed to reach the Pole, and this gave Scott the impetus to proceed with plans for his second Antarctic expedition. In December, he was released on half-pay, to take up the full-time command of the British Antarctic Expedition , to be known as the Terra Nova expedition from its ship, Terra Nova.

It was the expressed hope of the RGS that this expedition would be "scientific primarily, with exploration and the Pole as secondary objects" [59] but, unlike the Discovery expedition , neither they nor the Royal Society were in charge this time. In his expedition prospectus, Scott stated that its main objective was "to reach the South Pole, and to secure for the British Empire the honour of this achievement".

In a memorandum of , Scott presented his view that man-hauling to the South Pole was impossible and that motor traction was needed. Dog expert Cecil Meares was going to Siberia to select the dogs, and Scott ordered that, while he was there, he should deal with the purchase of Manchurian ponies. Meares was not an experienced horse-dealer, and the ponies he chose proved mostly of poor quality, and ill-suited to prolonged Antarctic work.

Scott meanwhile was fundraising in Britain and joined the ship later in South Africa. Arriving in Melbourne , Australia in October , Scott received a telegram from Amundsen stating: "Beg leave to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctic Amundsen," possibly indicating that Scott faced a race to the pole. The expedition suffered a series of early misfortunes which hampered the first season's work and impaired preparations for the main polar march. At Cape Evans, Antarctica, one of the motor sledges was lost during its unloading from the ship, breaking through the sea ice and sinking.

Oates is reported as saying to Scott, "Sir, I'm afraid you'll come to regret not taking my advice. However, during the winter Scott's confidence increased; on 2 August, after the return of a three-man party from their winter journey to Cape Crozier , Scott wrote, "I feel sure we are as near perfection as experience can direct". Scott outlined his plans for the southern journey to the entire shore party, [75] leaving open who would form the final polar team, according to their performance during the polar travel.

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Eleven days before Scott's teams set off towards the pole, Scott gave the dog driver Meares the following written orders at Cape Evans dated 20 October to secure Scott's speedy return from the pole using dogs:. About the first week of February I should like you to start your third journey to the South, the object being to hasten the return of the third Southern unit [the polar party] and give it a chance to catch the ship.

The date of your departure must depend on news received from returning units, the extent of the depot of dog food you have been able to leave at One Ton Camp, the state of the dogs, etc It looks at present as though you should aim at meeting the returning party about March 1 in Latitude 82 or The march south began on 1 November , a caravan of mixed transport groups motors, dogs, horses , with loaded sledges, travelling at different rates, all designed to support a final group of four men who would make a dash for the Pole.

The southbound party steadily reduced in size as successive support teams turned back. Scott reminded the returning Surgeon-Lieutenant Atkinson of the order "to take the two dog-teams south in the event of Meares having to return home, as seemed likely". The chosen group marched on, reaching the Pole on 17 January, only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by five weeks.

This is an awful place". Cherry-Garrard reached One Ton Depot, on 4 March and was left to make his own decision on whether to proceed further. He had just enough dog food to run to the next depot and then dash for home but Scott's original timetable would have made it possible to pass Scott travelling in the opposite direction, if he attempted to proceed further. Cherry-Garrard decided that it was better to wait for Scott rather than risk failing to meet him on the march. At the limit of his supplies he turned for home on 10 March barely making it through the worsening weather, reaching Hut Point on 16 March with both men and dogs unfit for further travel.

It is a critical position. We may find ourselves in safety at the next depot, but there is a horrid element of doubt.


In a farewell letter to Sir Edgar Speyer , dated 16 March, Scott wondered whether he had overshot the meeting point and fought the growing suspicion that he had in fact been abandoned by the dog teams: "We very nearly came through, and it's a pity to have missed it, but lately I have felt that we have overshot our mark.

No-one is to blame and I hope no attempt will be made to suggest that we had lacked support. Born and Bred in Antarctica. The Premature Start. The Decisive Ejection and the Change of Plan. Snow Trek. The Dogs at the South Pole. The Return Trek from the South Pole. Impressions that Dog Us. Back Matter Pages It breaks ground in presenting the entire story of how the South Pole was truly discovered using animals, and how deep and profound the differences of perception were regarding the use of canines for exploration.

Authors and affiliations Mary R. Shackleton ordered the crew to abandon the sinking ship and make camp on a nearby ice floe. A day later, in the privacy of his diary, he was more candid about the gauntlet in front of him. View all New York Times newsletters. After the Endurance sank, leaving the men stranded on the ice with three small lifeboats, several tents and supplies, Shackleton realized that he himself had to embody the new survival mission — not only in what he said and did, but also in his physical bearing and the energy he exuded.

He managed his own emotional intelligence — to use a modern term — to keep his own courage and confidence high; when these flagged, he never let his men know. Andrew Little, group managing director for the Melbourne unit of DDB, the advertising firm, has been strongly influenced by Shackleton in his own work with his team.

Leadership Lessons From the Shackleton Expedition - The New York Times

Little read the case several years ago in a company-sponsored executive education course. In the face of enormous obstacles, Shackleton found a way to do this. The ship was gone; previous plans were irrelevant. Now his goal was to bring the team home safely, and he improvised, adapted and used every resource at hand to achieve it. When a few men expressed skepticism about his plans, he acted quickly to contain their opposition and negativity by trying to win them over and keeping close watch on them.

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  4. By April , the ice began breaking up, and Shackleton ordered the men to the lifeboats, hoping to reach land along the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. After a week of stormy seas, they arrived at the deserted Elephant Island. They were exhausted, seasick and dehydrated. Almost immediately, Shackleton began planning his next move.

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    Along with five other men, he managed to guide a foot lifeboat to South George Island; from there, a smaller party reached a whaling station and help. Then he began looking for a vessel capable of rescuing the rest of his crew. During the next several months, he set sail in three different ships, but none could cut through the pack ice surrounding Elephant Island. Finally, on Aug. Certainly, Shackleton was far from perfect, as executives and M. And the expedition might have fared better had he given more than sporadic attention to training his men how to manage and drive the odd sled dogs on board.

    Then there is the question of responsibility for the Aurora, whose crew had been charged with setting out supply depots for the Endurance party as it crossed the continent.

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    After unloading men and supplies in early , the Aurora was also trapped by pack ice and carried into open waters, stranding 10 men. Three of them perished before Shackleton and others arrived in January to rescue them. Would the outcome have been different had Shackleton devoted more time, energy and money to preparing the Aurora and its crew? The historical record offers no definitive answers.