Ernest Shackleton was born on 15th February 1874.
Shackleton was to become one of the most renowned Antarctic Explorers of his age.
"For scientific discovery, give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when you are seeing no way out, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton."
Shackleton was given permission by his father to leave school to go to sea. However, his family could not afford the fees of a Royal Naval College, so he joined the Merchant Navy.
Shackleton sailed as a member of the Merchant Navy. In 1899 he transferred to the crew of a ship called Tintagel Castle, which transported British troops to South Africa during the Boer War.
Shackleton married Emily Mary Dorman.
Shackleton became the Secretary to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
Shackleton joined the Discovery expedition led by Captain Scott to Antarctica. (Ten years later, in 1912, Scott was to die, with four other members of his crew, on their return from reaching the South Pole. Scott had reached the pole just 33 days after the Norwegian explorer Amundsen).
Shackleton edited the expeditions in-house magazine ‘The South Polar Times’ and also was in charge of the expedition’s entertainments.
The expedition took a hydrogen balloon, and Shackleton rose to 180 metres taking the first aerial photography of the ice shelf.
Scott picked Shackleton and Wilson to join him sledging into the interior of Antarctica. All developed scurvy on the return to their Antarctic base and Shackleton was invalided home on a relief ship.
With money from private sponsorship, Shackleton bought a forty-year-old sealer ship called Nimrod.
Shackleton moored at Ross Island and set up a base to stay in Antarctica over the winter.
Shackleton’s men made the first ascent of Mount Erebus, a live volcano 3,794 M high.
Shackleton and his men set out to trek to the South Pole.
Shackleton and his men turned back - just 97 miles short of the pole. He described this decision to Emily Shackleton as “I thought you would rather have a live donkey than a dead lion”.
King Edward VII knighted Shackleton and called the expedition the ‘greatest geographical event of his reign’.
Shackleton purchased a ship for £11,600 and rechristened it Endurance after the Shackleton family motto, “By endurance we conquer”.
The Trans-Antarctic Expedition set out “to cross the Antarctic from sea to sea, securing for the British flag the honour of being the first carried across the South Polar Continent”. Shackleton had a crew of 27 men.
Britain and its other allies were facing Germany at the start of World War I. Whilst Endurance was being prepared war was declared. Shackleton offered the ship and crew to the British Navy but was permitted to continue in a one-word telegram from Winston Churchill (then the First Lord of the Admiralty), which read ‘Proceed’.
On entering the Weddell Sea, the Endurance encountered pack ice and progress slowed to a crawl.
The Endurance was trapped in the ice - on Shackleton’s birthday.
Endurance was severely damaged by the pressure of the ice and was abandoned. The men created ‘Ocean Camp’ on the ice.
Endurance was crushed and slipped below the ice to the sea bed of the Weddell Sea.
The ice floe on which the men were camping started to split and break up, so the men took to small boats.
The men sailed to Elephant Island and set foot on land for the first time since 5 December 1914.
Shackleton, the navigator Worsley and a crew of four left Elephant Island to sail hundreds of miles to South Georgia in the James Caird, a lifeboat just 22 feet long.
On reaching South Georgia Shackleton, Worsley and Crean crossed previously untraversed glaciers to reach the settlement of Grytviken, from which they could arrange the rescue of the 24 men left on Elephant Island.
The men on Elephant Island were eating a lunch of boiled seal carcass and called out the magic words ‘A Ship’. Shackleton arrived on the Yelcho to rescue all of his crew. He later wrote a message to his wife ‘I have done it. Not a life lost, and we have been through Hell!’.
This Map tracks the voyage of Endurance from South Georgie to the Weddell Sea where the ship was trapped and finally sank on 21.11.1915. It also shows the journey the crew made to Elephant Island and then from Elephant Island to South Georgia.
Whilst Shackleton was planning to cross from the Weddell Sea to the South Pole, the accompanying Aurora expedition would sail to the Ross Sea and lay food and fuel supplies that Shackleton’s team could rely on for the second half of their planned expedition.
The ship, the Aurora, broke from her moorings to drift away from the shore. This left ten men abandoned on Antarctica with limited supplies to face winter and lay the supplies they believed Shackleton would need.
Shackleton rescued the Aurora party, although three of the ten men had died during their work to lay the food depots.
After their rescue, members of the Endurance joined the Navy, the Merchant Navy and the British Army to fight in WWI. Three of these men died during WWI, and five were wounded.
Shackleton served as an advisor to the British forces in the Russian Civil War who were supporting the White Russian (Tzarist) forces against the Communist Red Army.
Quest sailed from London Docks, reaching South Georgia.
Grytviken Bay, South Georgia. Shackleton’s last diary entry described a ‘cheery’ day with the men. And how “in the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover, gem-like above the bay”. At Lady Shackleton’s request, his body was buried on March 5 1922, at Grytviken, South Georgia.
The expedition sets off to search for the wreck of Endurance.
Endurance has been found.
Endurance was discovered at 3000 metres on 5 March 2022, 100 years to the day since Shackleton was buried.