Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition: A crewman’s view

By Thomas Orde-Lees, Quartermaster

“July 1915, 19.

A moderate easterly blizzard confines us to our bags.

Both bays are full of close big lumpy pack.

On days like this we talk and talk. The principal topic is always food, good solid boiled suet puddings being generally voted as the things best worth living for, then apple and black currant puddings with cream, and then how new cake. I suppose it sounds beastly greedy to write like this but we are always in deadly earnest about it and

“The Night Watchman” – courtesy of Shackleton Endurance Photography

get quite heated over arguments as to whether muffins are more filling than crumpets. One has the sort of feeling that if a genie were to suddenly appear and offer us muffins or crumpets some idiot might go and say crumpets. I am a muffineer and know that the muffin is incomparably better food value that the crumpet. “Conspue”(?) the crumpet advocates!

We so seldom mention the war that it is hardly worth referring to it. I think we are all a little ashamed of having run away from it now that we find ourselves in this position of forced inertia, I know I am, and am most anxious to get back in time to do my bit. Most, though by no means all, of us think it must by over by now. I am one of those who think the contrary. If it is over it must have ended in a draw and Brittain could never tolerate that. Wordie is the best debater on this subject and sometimes gives us very interesting information as to pre-war conditions in Germany. For the rest, discussions on processes described in the Encyclopaedia, how things are done and made and semi-scientific talk fills the bill.

No poor penguins today.

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One hundred years ago this August, Ernest Shackleton rescued his crew after the failure of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Rauner holds a complete transcript of the diary and the manuscript diary from March 24th, 1915, through April 16th, 1916.” These entries are a selection from the diary of the expedition’s quartermaster Thomas Orde-Lees.

Rauner Special Collections Library in Webster Hall holds a complete transcript of the diary and the manuscript diary from March 24th, 1915, through April 16th, 1916. To see them, come to Rauner and ask to see MSS-185 or Stefansson G850 1914 .O7 1997 during normal hours of operation.  An exhibit on Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations will be on display in Rauner from July 1-September 2, 2016.

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