Captain Scott And His Doomed Mission To The South Pole
Born on 6th June 1868, in Devonport, into a seafaring family, Robert Falcon Scott was an explorer who would risk his life in a bid to become the first man ever to reach the South Pole.
Destined to Discover
He became a naval cadet at the tender age of thirteen and served on a number of ships in the 1880s and 1890s, where he progressed through the ranks. It was in 1901 that he caught the attention of the Royal Geographical Society and was asked to lead a national Antarctic expedition. The purpose of this expedition was to learn more about the geology, weather and animals of the Antarctic. It was after this that Scott caught the travelling bug and started to plan a trip to the South Pole, an expedition which he would spend years raising money to fund.
A Tragic Ending
In 1910, Scott took on the expedition aboard a ship known as Terra Nova. He had high hopes of becoming the first man to reach the South Pole but had strong competition from Norwegian Roald Amundsen. He set off with mechanical sledges, ponies, and dogs in tow. Upon arriving, it was discovered that the ponies and sledges could not cope with the extreme conditions and so the expedition carried on without them. By mid-December, the dog teams turned back and in January only five men remained: Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers and Evans. On the 17th January, the team would reach the pole, only to find they had been pipped at the post by their rival Roald Amundsen.
Defeated, they started the 900-mile return journey back, and it was this return journey that would see the team’s demise. The first of the team to meet their untimely end was Evans, in mid-February, and by March Oates was suffering from severe frostbite. Knowing he was holding the team back, he wandered into freezing conditions and was never seen again, nor was his body ever found. The remaining men died of starvation on 29th March, only 12 miles away from a pre-arranged supply depot. Eight months later, a search party discovered their tent, bodies, and Scott’s diary. They were buried where they were discovered, under a cairn of ice and snow to mark the spot.
A Legend is Born
News of the tragedy didn’t reach England until February 1913. Four days later, a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral was held for the men. It was attended by King George V, the Archbishop of Canterbury and many other elite personalities from British society. Around 10,000 people stood outside the cathedral while the service took place, and even though Scott and his men failed their mission, they were considered heroes.
Final letters of Scott and his men can be found at the Scott Polar Research Institute's museum in Cambridge and are displayed in drawers for visitors to study them. However, if you would like to go one better and explore Scott’s final resting place, then contact us for information about our Antarctic cruises and see what we can arrange.