Shackleton-Rowett ‘Quest’ Expedition 1921-22

After the First World War, and quickly tiring of lecturing about the ‘Endurance’ Exhibition, Ernest Shackleton set off on his third expedition to Antarctica. Shackleton had originally planned an expedition to the unexplored region of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic funded by the Canadian Government, but as they pulled out an old school friend funded an expedition of observation and scientific data gathering to the Antarctic on the renamed vessel Quest.

Shackleton Passes Away

With unclear aims including the circumnavigation of Antarctica, the expedition left England on 24 September 1921, arriving in South Georgia on 4 January 1922. Shackleton had been ill throughout the journey, suffering a massive heart attack at Rio de Janeiro, and the ship had required repair at every port of call. On arrival at South Georgia Shackleton went ashore. In the early hours of 5 January Shackleton suffered another heart attack and died.


His body was to be sent back to England for burial, but on hearing the news his wife asked that he be returned to South Georgia. On 5 March 1922 Shackleton was buried in the Grytviken cemetery on South Georgia, after a short service at the Lutheran church. In London, a memorial service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 2 March, at which the King and other members of the royal family were represented.

The End of the Heroic Era

Whilst Frank Wild took over leadership of the expedition, little of note was achieved before the expedition returned to Plymouth a year later. Shackleton’s death is often considered to mark the end of the Heroic Age in Antarctica.


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