Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kathleen's Letter

Scott will not get this letter from Kathleen:

174 Buckingham Palace Road October 8 1912

To think that you will get this in quite a reasonably few months! Last night I had a party! To show your films at the tiny theatre of the Gaumont Co, very elect indeed!!! It houses 24 people & I'll tell you who they were, & will you please say I'm a good wife!

There was Lord Curzon & Prince Louis of Battenberg & his princess & his son, & Sir Francis and Lady Bridgeman & Sir George & Lady Egerton & Mrs McKenna (an excitement in the House of Commons prevented Mr McKenna & Winston Churchill coming, the latter sent a nice telegram) and Sir Henry Clissold & Gertrude Bell & Leonard Darwin & Mr Longstaff & Willy and Ettie & the Baroness Erlenger & Sir Henry Galway & Admiral Parry Cust and Mr Newell and Peter!!

Don't you think that was a nice party, & everybody was so thrilled. They are the most wonderful thing I ever saw, the ones in the tent are so splendid. Sir George Egerton was so excited he could scarcely contain himself, & Prince Louis hopped about & asked questions. I got Ponting to come & introduced him to everyone & made a great fuss of him & was ever so elated.

It really was lovely, & Peter was so adorable & sensible. He said 'The motor sledge' — can't imagine how he knew. It is the first time in his life he has been up after 6.30 & he was out till 11.30 & this morning looks fitter than ever, apparently he is like his mother & thrives on dissipation!

I'm going to have another little show on Sat. afternoon, the Gaumont people love it & I think it does good. They are so wonderful.

Lambie dear, there's another thing I want to impress upon you — I don't know whether you have just heard the Amundsen news or whether you learnt it at the Pole (neither bear thinking of) but I want to tell you with six months knowledge of it upon one that it matters very very little — so far less than one thought at first — indeed in some respects it has done good for it has laid great stress on the differences of the two ventures & the greater scientific importance of yours is percolating in to the public mind in a manner it never would have done had not contrast been shown — upon my word I don't think it has made a scrap of difference. I couldn't have believed it would matter so little.
Of course everybody says he didn't play the game, but I can make myself see another point of view — If a man is doing anything that only one man can do — be the first man to invent anything, first man to find gold, first man to perform some long thought of operation etc etc galore. Anything wherein the main shout is in being first he does not perhaps apprise all the people working along the same lines as his progress and intents, and yet no one thinks his gains ill gotten — It is only a point of view.

Oh my darling how I love you and long to talk with you and know that you are content. You're not going to let the little Amundsen pinprick (upon my word it's no more) worry you, are you? It looked huge when it first met the eye and has now dwindled into nothing.
You are loved and respected in England in a way that makes me very happy. To see your little face in the Cinematograph last night, almost like a stranger after all these years, and your dear toes when you took off your socks then to feel that in a few short months —!

Don't ever be sad, my darling, life is ever so glorious. I'm so happy everybody is so nice to me for your sake I like to know and our little home's so nice and my work prospers and I'm so well and Peter so magnificent & you're coming home to us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Message To The Public

The causes of the disaster are not due to faulty organisation, but to misfortune in all risks which had to be undertaken.
1. The loss of pony transport in March 1911 obliged me to start later than I had intended, and obliged the limits of stuff transported to be narrowed.
2. The weather throughout the outward journey, and especially the long gale in 83º S., stopped us.
3. The soft snow in lower reaches of glacier again reduced pace.
We fought these untoward events with a will and conquered, but it cut into our provision reserve.
Every detail of our food supplies, clothing and depôts made on the interior ice-sheet and over that long stretch of 700 miles to the Pole and back, worked out to perfection. The advance party would have returned to the glacier in fine form and with surplus of food, but for the astonishing failure of the man whom we had least expected to fail. Edgar Evans was thought the strongest man of the party.
The Beardmore Glacier is not difficult in fine weather, but on our return we did not get a single completely fine day; this with a sick companion enormously increased our anxieties.

As I have said elsewhere we got into frightfully rough ice and Edgar Evans received a concussion of the brain – he died a natural death, but left us a shaken party with the season unduly advanced.
But all the facts above enumerated were as nothing to the surprise which awaited us on the Barrier. I maintain that our arrangements for returning were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year. On the summit in lat. 85º 86º we had -20º, -30º. On the Barrier in lat. 82º, 10,000 feet lower, we had -30º in the day, -47º at night pretty regularly, with continuous head wind during our day marches. It is clear that these circumstances come on very suddenly, and our wreck is certainly due to this sudden advent of severe weather, which does not seem to have any satisfactory cause. I do not think human beings ever came through such a month as we have come through, and we should have got through in spite of the weather but for the sickening of a second companion, Captain Oates, and a shortage of fuel in our depots for which I cannot account, and finally, but for the storm which has fallen on us within 11 miles of the depot at which we hoped to secure our final supplies. Surely misfortune could scarcely have exceeded this last blow. We arrived within 11 miles of our old One Ton Camp with fuel for one last meal and food for two days. For four days we have been unable to leave the tent – the gale howling about us. We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. But if we have been willing to give our lives to this enterprise, which is for the honour of our country, I appeal to our countrymen to see that those who depend on us are properly cared for.
Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March, 1912

Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W. and S.W. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot, 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.

It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott.

Last Entry

For God's sake look after our people.

28 March, 1912

Kathleen and I

Have been writing this to Kathleen for a while now. 

To my widow,

Dearest Darling – we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through – In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end – the first is naturally to you on whom my thought mostly dwell waking or sleeping – if anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart.

I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also – I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour – this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot.

Therefore you must not imagine a great tragedy — we are very anxious of course and have been for weeks but in splendid physical condition and our appetites compensate for all discomfort. The cold is biting and sometimes angering but here again the hot food which drives it forth is so wonderfully enjoyable that we would scarcely be without it.

We have gone down hill a good deal since I wrote the above. Poor Titus Oates has gone — he was in a bad state — the rest of us keep going and imagine we have a chance to get through but the cold weather doesn't let up at all – we are now only 20 miles from a depot but we have very little food or fuel.

Well dear heart I want you to take the whole thing very sensibly as I am sure you will — the boy will be your comfort. I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you. I think both he and you ought to be specially looked after by the country for which after all we have given our lives with something of spirit which makes for example — I am writing letters on this point in the end of this book after this. Will you send them to their various destinations?

I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found to be read when he grows up — dearest that you know I cherish no sentimental rubbish about re marriage — when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again.

I hope I shall be a good memory certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud. Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold — 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent.

You know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again. The inevitable must be faced — you urged me to be leader of this party and I know you felt it would be dangerous — I've taken my place throughout, haven't I?

God bless you my own darling I shall try and write more later — I go on across the back pages. Since writing the above we have got to within 11 miles of our depot with one hot meal and two days' cold food and we should have got through but have been held for four days by a frightful storm — I think the best chance has gone. We have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don't worry.

I have written letters on odd pages of this book — will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy's future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.

Oh my dear my dear what dreams I have had of his future and yet oh my girl I know you will face it stoically — your portrait and the boy's will be found in my breast and the one in the little red Morocco case given by Lady Baxter. There is a piece of the Union flag I put up at the South Pole in my private kit bag together with Amundsen's black flag and other trifles — give a small piece of the Union flag to the King and a small piece to Queen Alexandra and keep the rest a poor trophy for you!

What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey. How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home — what tales you would have for the boy but oh what a price to pay — to forfeit the sight of your dear dear face.

Dear you will be good to the old mother. I write her a little line in this book. Also keep in with Ettie and the others — oh but you'll put on a strong face for the world — only don't be too proud to accept help for the boy's sake — he ought to have a fine career and do something in the world.

I haven't time to write to Sir Clements — tell him I thought much of him and never regretted him putting me in command of the Discovery.

Monday, March 28, 2011

27 March, 1912

Letter to my Mother, Hannah Scott:

My Own Darling Mother,

The Great God has called me and I fear it will add a fearful blow to the heavy ones that have fallen on you in life. But take comfort that I die in peace with the world and I myself am not afraid—not perhaps believing in all that you hold so splendidly, but still believing there is a God—a merciful God. I wish I could remember that I had been a better son to you, but I think you will know that you were always very much in my heart, and that I strove to put you into more comfortable circumstances....

For myself I not unhappy, but for Kathleen, you and the rest of my family my heart is very sore. 

Your ever loving son,

26 March, 1912

Henry Robertson "Birdie" Bowers

Letter to Birdie's mother:

My Dear Mrs. Bowers,

I am afraid this will reach you after one of the heaviest blows of your life.

I write when we are very near the end of our journey, and I am finishing it in company with two gallant, noble gentlemen. One of these is your son. He had come to be one of my closest and soundest friends, and I appreciate his wonderful upright nature, his ability and energy. As the troubles have thickened his dauntless spirit ever shone brighter and he has remained cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable to the end. 

The ways of Providence are inscrutable, but there must be some reason why such a young, vigorous and promising life is taken.

My whole heart goes out in pity for you.

R. Scott.

To the end he has talked of your and his sisters. One sees what a happy home he must have had and perhaps it is well to look back on nothing but happiness. 

Birdie and Bill having a lark on the ship

Friday, March 25, 2011

25 March, 1912

Edward Adrian Wilson

Letter to Oriana Wilson. Looks like Bill can't go on much more.

My Dear Mrs. Wilson,

If this letter reaches you Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end—everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others, never a word of blame to me for leading him into this mess. He is not suffering, luckily, at least only minor discomforts.

His eyes have a comfortable blue look of hope and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty. I can do no more to comfort you than to tell you that he died as he lived, a brave, true man—the best of comrades and staunchest of friends.

My heart goes out to you in pity,

R. Scott.

Oates wanted him to visit his mother if we returned and to give her his things, but he's had to write to her instead.

Here it is:

This is a sad ending to our undertaking. Your son died a very noble death, God knows. I have never seen or heard of such courage as he showed from first to last with his feet both badly frostbitten—never a word of complaint or of the pain. He was a great example. Dear Mrs. Oates, he asked me at the end, to see you and give you this diary of his—You, he told me, are the only woman he has ever loved.