A First Rate Tragedy: A Brief History of Captain Scott's Antarctic Expeditions
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On November 12, 1912, a rescue team trekking across Antarctica's Great Ice Barrier finally found what they sought - the snow-covered tent of the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Inside, they made a grim discovery: Scott's frozen body lay between the bodies of two fellow explorers. They had died just eleven miles from the depot of supplies which might have saved them.
Why did Scott's meticulously laid plans finally end in disaster, while his rival, Norwegian Roald Amundsen, returned safely home with his crew after attaining the Pole only days before the British team?
In a newly revised and updated version of her original book, Diana Preston, returns to Antarctica and explores why Scott's carefully planned expedition failed, ending in tragedy.
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all the time was something that never left him. The dreamer, the enthusiast and the idealist had to take second place to the pragmatist. Doubts had to be put aside, insoluble philosophical questions avoided and uncertainties mastered. And there was more sadness ahead. In 1898 Archie came home on leave ‘so absolutely full of life’ as Scott wrote to their mother.8 A month later he went to Hythe to play golf, contracted typhoid and was dead. An even greater burden now fell on Scott, though Ettie had
their four sledges became damaged. The runners, made of German silver, had split and the wood beneath was deeply scored forcing them to return to the Discovery for repairs. On 26 October the party set out again, this time consisting of only nine men. Continuing to learn from hard experience Scott was horrified to discover that the lid of the instrument box on the one good sledge, which they had depoted and left behind, had blown open in a gale with the result that Skelton’s goggles had gone
By the spring he knew he needed greater solitude and moved to Ashdown where, with the help of Reginald Smith, senior partner in the publishers Smith, Elder and Co and editor of the Cornhill Magazine who became a lifelong friend, the book at last took substance. Scott dedicated it to Sir Clements Markham as ‘the Father of the Expedition and its Most Constant Friend’ as Markham no doubt expected. Published in October 1905 in two volumes it immediately sold out and the accolades poured in – the
companion as the sun rose, the closeness to nature as he sat sketching on the deck and the ‘happy family’. He was therefore disappointed when Scott dispatched him ahead to Melbourne by mail steamer to recruit the expedition’s geologist, Raymond Priestley, and to persuade the Federal Government to stump up funds. As Scott was going to sail with the Terra Nova, Wilson was also given the job of looking after Kathleen Scott – a preposterously difficult task given their diametrically opposed outlooks