This year marks the centenary of Captain Scott and his men attaining the South Pole.
St. Paul's Commemorative Service
A century after Captain Scott wrote his final diary entry, the men of the ‘Terra Nova’ Expedition have been commemorated in a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the 29th March 2012. The service which paid tribute to the courage and fortitude of Scott and his men was attended by over 2000 people including descendants, historians, scientists and members of the general public. The service included contributions from the Bishop of London, The Trust's Patron, HRH The Princess Royal and Sir David Attenborough who read extracts from the last diary entry. The service was jointly organised and sponsored by UKAHT and SPRI. The commemorative service programme prepared especially for the event can be seen here and hard copies can be ordered from the UKAHT (a donation of at least £5 to cover cost and postage would be appreciated). Bishop Richard's address made during the service can also be seen here.
National Scott Memorial Rededication Ceremony
The Trust's patron, HRH The Princess Royal attended a special ceremony to mark the centenary of Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. The Rededication Ceremony of the National Scott Memorial in Plymouth took place on 23 March 2012. The memorial, which features bronze portraits of Scott and the polar party, was first unveiled in 1925.
29th March 1912
Scott's polar party died on their return journey under horrific conditions, Evans in mid-February and later Oates on the 17th March. The remaining three men died of starvation and exposure in their tent on 29 March 1912, only 11 miles away from a pre-arranged supply depot. Scott’s final journal entry on the 29th March is written knowing he was near the end and includes a special ‘message to the public’. Eight months later, a search party found the tent and the bodies of Scott, Dr Edward Wilson and Lieutenant Bowers including Scott’s diary. The bodies were buried under the tent, with a cairn of ice and snow to mark the spot. It was a number of months before the news reached New Zealand and the rest of the world.
17th March 1912
Oates’ dramatic exit from Scott’s tent, with the words “I am just going outside and may be some time” is probably the most poignant and well-known episode in the history of British involvement in Antarctica. On March 17th 1912 and on the day of his 32nd birthday, Captain Lawrence Oates suffering from severe frostbite knowingly walked out of his tent into an Antarctic blizzard. His death is now remembered as one of the most famous moments of self-sacrifice but it was most immediately recognised by the men he left behind – Captain Scott praises Oates' bravery in his diary entry: “Should this be found I want these facts recorded. Oates’ last thoughts were of his Mother, but immediately before he took pride in thinking that his regiment would be pleased with the bold way in which he met his death. We can testify to his bravery. He has borne intense suffering for weeks without complaint, and to the very last was able and willing to discuss outside subjects. He did not – would not – give up hope to the very end. He was a brave soul. This was the end. He slept through the night before last, hoping not to wake; but he woke in the morning – yesterday. It was blowing a blizzard. He said, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since.”
17th February 2012 marks the centenary of the death of Edgar Evans. One of the five men making up Scott’s team that reached the South Pole, Royal Navy petty officer Evans was the first to die on the return march in 1912.
A big man, he was the first to suffer from starvation and scurvy on rations that were inadequate for smaller men than him. Weakened and suffering from frostbite and falls during the journey, on February 17th, he fell back behind the group. Scott and his men skied back to find him in a state of near collapse. Back in the tent he fell into a coma and died quietly that night. Scott describes the event in his diary entry and begins with the words ‘A very terrible day.....’
17th January 1912. Captain Scott, Doctor Wilson, Captain Oates, Lieutenant Bowers and Petty Officer Evans arrived at the Pole, just 33 days after the Norwegian Amundsen and his men became the first men to reach the Pole. Disheartened Scott and his men built a cairn, planted the Union Jack and photographed themselves before starting the long march home. Their disappointment was obvious when Scott wrote: ‘The POLE. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected. Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority.’'
There are heaps of Scott Centenary exhibitions going on around the country now until Easter and beyond. The Trust is delighted to have been able to assist financially the following:
- Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, Captain Scott: South for Science
- Devon, Fairlynch Museum, Budleigh Salterton,(2-4.30, not Saturdays) Dr. Murray Levick, local hero, 01395 442666
- Hampshire, the Oates Museum in Hampshire has opened its newly re-furbished Galleries
London, Natural History Museum, Scott’s Last Expedition (the centrepiece of the exhibition, the ward room table). You can also watch some of the excellent film material that is shown as part of the NHM exhibit here. It includes many aspects of the Terra Nova expedition and Scott's science as well as several interviews with historians and other experts.
You can see more details of of these and all the other exhibitions underway at www.scott100.org