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Shackleton’s <i>Endurance</i> Expedition: A crewman’s view

By Thomas Orde-Lees, Quartermaster

"June 1915, 19.

It is still mild but overcast again. A big swell bids fair to disperse the enveloping pack; open-water leads are increasing.

The nut-food sugar gamble is still rankling. I cannot help feeling I bear Wild a grudge and he no doubt feels contemptuous of me, even so it is better that we should give our emotions some rein than vegetate in mental torpor. As a matter of fact, Macklin agrees with me that we are none of us quite normal mentally owing to privation and improper nourishment.

"Tom Crean Husky pups" - courtesy of Shackleton Endurance Photography

I feel sure that had we been in possession of sufficient alcohol to make it a "swopable" commodity and had some members made a corner in it they would have revelled in their shrewdness and a reinstatement of rights would have been the last thing that they would have tolerated, but after all who am I that I should point the finger.

I find that my diary of impersonal impartiality is lately becoming inconveniently egoistic to the elimination of the more general affairs that really do matter, but I dare say the personal side of the case in the case of even only one person may have its uses.

I have another little bone to pick with Wild. Some weeks ago, as previously stated, in order no doubt to allay any uneasiness as to our future food supply Wild stated that we had ample meat to last us until the end of August. To anyone capable of simple calculation it was obvious that this was an over estimate and one could not help thinking that perhaps it was a case of "the wish being father of the thought", at any rate since then we have killed 300 penguins and 5 seals, and as far as I can estimate, (and I have had a good deal of experience now at estimating and calculating food supplied) we have no more than will last us until August 15th at the present rate of consumption. A large Weddell seal was lying for several hours on a small floe which drifted in to within 20 yards or so from the beach but unfortunately for want of a boat it never became accessible. It is very tantalizing to see so much prospective meat within one's gasp and yet to be unable to secure it."

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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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