Messages from Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance expedition. An illustrated account of the events of 1914-1916 based on the diaries

Shackleton Tweets
1: The Expedition Begins, up to Midwinter 1915

The events of the expedition: page 1 - South Georgia to Midwinter 1915 | page 2 - midwinter to the sinking of the Endurance | page 3 - life on the ice | page 4 - lifeboats to Elephant Island | page 5 - rescue mission to South Georgia | page 6 - rescue from Elephant Island


1 Dec 1914
I have decided to leave South Georgia about December 5, whaling captains advise ice conditions very severe - Ernest Shackleton, Endurance, 1914.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

2 Dec 1914
Orde-Lees made storekeeper by Shackleton at South Georgia, Lees regrets it hadn't happened in London.

4 Dec 1914
Coal stacked 7-8ft high on the deck of the Endurance, preparing to sail into the Weddell Sea Antarctica tomorrow. currently at Grytviken.

5 Dec 1914
Shackleton gave the order to heave anchor at 8.45 am, the real adventure has begun, the Endurance is ready to sail into the Weddell Sea.

6 Dec 1914
Endurance makes good progress south-easterly. Weather hazy, pass two bergs, several growlers, numerous lumps of ice, bird life plentiful.

8 Dec 1914
Large numbers of bergs mostly tabular lay to the west. The presence of so many is ominous, later we faced a belt of heavy pack-ice.

9 Dec 1914
This morning brought an easterly breeze and hazy weather with snow, at 4.30 p.m. we encountered the edge of pack-ice.

13 Dec 1914
We found several good leads to the south in the evening. The pack extended in all directions as far as the eye could reach.

13 Dec 1914
Frank Wild shot a young Ross seal on the floe. He was a young male and proved very good eating, a square meal for our twenty-eight men.

14 Dec 1914
A platform has been rigged under the jib-boom so Hurley might secure kinematograph pictures of the ship breaking through the ice.

17 Dec 1914
The Endurance has remained against the floe for the last 24 hours. The pack extends to the horizon all around broken by innumerable narrow lanes.

22 Dec 1914
The longest day, Dec 21 1914, was beautifully fine, gentle WNW breeze. Made a start at 3am, proceeded through the pack to the SW.

25 Dec 1914
Grog served at midnight to all on deck and again at breakfast for those who had been in their bunks at midnight.

25 Dec 1914
A really splendid dinner, turtle soup, whitebait, jugged hare, Christmas pudding, mince-pies, dates, figs crystallized fruits, rum & stout.

28 Dec 1914
Southerly gale blowing snow in clouds off the floe, temp fallen to 23F. The dogs are having an uncomfortable time in their deck quarters.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

28 Dec 1914
Lupoid, one of the dogs taken by Shackleton on the Endurance.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

31 Dec 1914
Endurance is having a serious encounter with ice. Stopped by floes closing on us, at noon jammed between two while pressure heeled us over 6 deg.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

31 Dec 1914
Endurance in pack ice, looking for a way through.

3 Jan 1915
2 a.m. leads ended in hummocky ice impossible to penetrate. By midnight we came to a full stop in weather thick with snow.

8 Jan 1915
Endurance passed not fewer than five hundred bergs on this day. One, a rampart berg was 150ft high and a quarter of a mile long.

14 Jan 1915
Passed through large schools of seals swimming splashing and blowing around us Hurley made a record with the kinematograph-camera.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

14 Jan 1915
Tom Crean with Husky puppies on board ship with Shackleton in the Weddell Sea Antarctica.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

20 Jan 1915
A survey of our position shows the ship firmly beset. Ice is packed heavily and firmly all round us in every direction.

21 Jan 1915
Slight movement of ice caused the rudder to be dangerously jammed had to cut it away with ice-chisels heavy iron with 6-ft. wooden hafts.

18 Feb 1915
The sun, continually above the horizon for two months set at midnight last night. Open water soon freezes, the season is getting late.

19 Feb 1915
Trying to break through the ice to a lead to free the Endurance. Wordie - "the fates are still against us".

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

22 Feb 1915
22nd Feb Endurance reaches farthest south at 77S 35W. Temps are low day and night, pack freezing solidly around the ship. -10F (minus 23C) at 2am.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

24 Feb 1915
Stopped observing ships routine today, the Endurance is now a winter station, the men are reconciled to not being freed until the end of the year.

24 Feb 1915
We are stuck "like an almond in toffee" as "Chippy" McNish describes it.

25 Feb 1915
The dogs were taken off the ship today with a huge amount of joyous noise to be away from their unstable quarters.

25 Feb 1915
Kennels for the dogs being made on the ice from ice blocks and wood, they have been named "dogloos" by Worsley.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

27 Feb 1915
All the fit dogs are being exercised in the sledges and take to the work with enthusiasm, sometimes laughably so.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

1 Mar 1915
Listened to Endurance radio equipment in vain for Saturday time signals from the Argentinians, no 2 am Port Stanley monthly signal either.

1 Mar 1915
Controversy surrounds how best to preserve 2000 onions, airy shelves or freezing, they are valuably anti-scorbutic (anti-scurvy) - Orde-Lees.

6 Mar 1915
Icebergs within the Endurance's circle of vision have all become familiar objects, we have names for some of them.

12 Mar 1915
This is the red letter day of my Antarctic life so far, I have succeeded in breaking down the sailors prejudice against seal meat - Orde-Lees.

18 Mar 1915
A huge ice crack 20yds wide just 200yds from the ship opened up during an overnight blizzard, no use, but it shows the movements of the floe.

18 Mar 1915
Bi-weekly we all get involved in the most basic of tasks, while it breaks down the hierarchy it's not universally popular!

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

24 Mar 1915
Frank Hurley - My night watch. Have a warm bath in front of the bogie fire. Change my 3 months worn garments and wash socks.

24 Mar 1915
7-8 mile long crack, 100yds wide opened in the ice. One feels one is going to remain imprisoned in the ice forever.

26 Mar 1915
We heard a great yell from the floe and found Clark dancing about, shouting Scottish war-cries.

26 Mar 1915
He has secured his first complete specimen of an Antarctic fish, apparently a new species.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

27 Mar 1915
Gramophone concert in the evening, at which all hands attend, fo'c'stle included. (Endurance crew as well as officers).

30 Mar 1915
Mirages are frequent. Sometimes it appears that barrier-cliffs are all around us even in places where we know there is deep water.

15 Apr 1915
April has not been uneventful. During the nights we hear the ice grinding, by morning young ice is rafted 8-10ft high.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

15 Apr 1915
Samson, a 75lb dog justified his name starting at a smart pace with a sledge carrying 200lbs of blubber and a driver.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

29 Apr 1915
Worsley reports that a minute after an impressive sun set he saw a golden glow, the sun appeared again and 15 mins later the sun set a second time.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

29 Apr 1915
A strong drift relieved our fears carrying us to the lee of an iceberg which finally left our sight by the end of the month.

1 May 1915
An extraordinary mild and bright day, our enjoyment was tempered with sadness as we saw the sun for the last time for 4 months today.

1 May 1915
The moon shone tonight with great splendour, Orde-Lees went for a moonlight cycle ride along the dog team track, 3 miles out and back.

9 May 1915
Remarkable reappearance of the sun at noon, it rose, disappeared and rose again, all due to abnormal mirages and refraction.

9 May 1915
A great day for the dog teams, 6 teams of 7 dogs each put to the test. A 20 mile run with 400lbs and 2 men on each sledge, temp -15 to -19.

13 May 1915
We take a turn at night watch every 28 days, duties include keeping the fires lit, it is rewarded by the luxury of a bath.

13 May 1915
A blizzard still rages outside all but urgent work stops, the dogs are unexercised, Clark is skinning a large penguin on the dinner table!

20 May 1915
An hilarious evening where everyone had their hair shorn, we look like a party of convicts. We are living largely on roast penguin meat now.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

24 May 1915
May 24 Empire Day celebrate by singing patriotic songs all hands wish a speedy victory for the British arms. We do not know how the war goes.

2 Jun 1915
Frank Hurley - Succeeded in taking a picture of the dogs being fed and weighed using flash powder and electrical firing. .

8 Jun 1915
An occasional friendly moon or faint noon twilight each day reminding us of the sun are the only light we have

15 Jun 1915
The day of the "Antarctic Derby" betting has been heavy, the serious bets involve chocolate or cigarettes, money isn't so useful here.

15 Jun 1915
5 teams of 7 dogs each set out in the dim noon twilight, the pups joined in the cacophony, Wild came out of the gloom to win in 2 min 16s.

22 Jun 1915
June 22nd, we celebrate Midwinter's Day, 6 hours of twilight and a good moon at noon. The day is observed as a holiday with a feast.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

22 Jun 1915
A three hour concert held in "The Ritz" with everyone convulsed with laughter. The sailors were not invited but had gifts of rum, tobacco etc.

 

Next page:  2 - midwinter to the sinking of the Endurance



Credits, sources and references

Diaries -
the diaries of expedition members were used to get the information and quotes that make up this narrative of the expedition.
    Ernest Shackleton - South! - at Project Gutenberg
    Thomas Orde-Lees - see book links below
    Frank Worsley - see book links below
    Frank Hurley - link
    Harry McNeish (Henry McNish) - link

Pictures - from a variety of sources particular credit to:
    State Library of New South Wales - link
    National Library of Australia - link
    National Library of New Zealand - link
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - link

I have in the past linked to particular search landing pages for images, but site structures seem to alter every now and then and so such links just go to error pages.

  Ernest Shackleton Books and Video

South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
original footage
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Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
Shackleton
dramatization
Kenneth Branagh (2002)
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Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (Large Format)
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
IMAX dramatization
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The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage
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Endurance, The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, book
Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing (Preface)
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South with Endurance:
Frank Hurley - official photographer
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South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-17
South! Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton's own words
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 Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
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Shackleton's Boat Journey: The narrative of Frank Worsley
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Shackleton
biography by Roland
Huntford
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The Quest for Frank Wild
biography by Angie Butler
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The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
by Caroline Alexander
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Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition:
The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat
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Shackleton's Forgotten Men
Lennard Bickel
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Elephant Island and Beyond: The Life and Diaries of Thomas Orde Lees
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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, The True Story of the Endurance Expedition
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World -
Jennifer Armstrong
for ages 12 and up
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