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

Shackleton Tweets
2: Midwinter 1915 to the Sinking of the Endurance

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


2 Jul 1915
Early July, hints of the returning sun with beautiful sunrise glows on the horizon about noon. Ice good for runs with dogs, poor for skiing.

15 Jul 1915
Severe blizzard been blowing for last two days, temps from -21F to -33.5F winds of 60-70 mph making the ship tremble, subsiding a little now.

15 Jul 1915
All hands out to shovel snow, many dogs buried in their kennels but all survive. At least 100 tons of snow piled at the port side of the ship.

20 Jul 1915
Ice-pressure indicated by distant rumblings and formidable ridges appearing is an increasing cause of anxiety as they gradually approach us.

20 Jul 1915
Catch 4 emperor penguins today in a small lead, a very welcome addition to our larder, they are from 45 to 75lbs.

21 Jul 1915
It is as if a mighty giant is beneath the ice, ice is rafting to 15ft high moving at 200 yds an hour, driven by the power of distant storms.

21 Jul 1915
Creaking and groaning ice, we have 24 hour watches, the deck is cleared to bring the dogs aboard in a moment.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

23 Jul 1915
An unknown practical joker substituted coal in the bucket for Sir Ernest's stove with ice, spluttering, steam and swearing ensued...

23 Jul 1915
Ship shaken by heavy bumps in the night. Long months of rest and safety seem to be at an end, and a period of stress has begun.

30 Jul 1915
The sun's edge has been seen thrown above the horizon by refraction, it is now delightfully light at noon, the end of the darkness is near.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

30 Jul 1915
SW storms have set the ice northwards, chances of clearing the pack in spring rest on getting north, real fears of the ship being nipped.

1 Aug 1915
10 am a year to the day we left London our floe began to break up cracking creaking and rafting of ice tips the ship to one side and back.

1 Aug 1915
Our 45 dogs were brought aboard in 8 mins, split floes push together again and rise up. Picture - Worsley with rafted ice.

1 Aug 1915
Dog Town and landmarks are no more, left behind or broken up, the ship groans under the pressure, we pole away an ice lump from the rudder.

1 Aug 1915
We were standing at the ready to take to the boats and leave the threatened ship when it all stopped in an instance, Antarctic serenity prevailed once more.

3 Aug 1915
9 hours of twilight. Occasional rumbles from the ice. Dogs rehoused on deck in wooden kennels we have moved 37 miles north in 3 days.

18 Aug 1915
Rigging encrusted with rime. 10 hours daylight today but cold with drifting snow.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

19 Aug 1915
Two emperor penguins captured yesterday and a further ten today, Hudson is our champion catcher, a highly valued skill.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

29 Aug 1915
Hurley took a picture of the ship at night with 20 flashes, stumbling around half blinded banging his shins after!

1 Sep 1915
The ice was active in the night, ships timbers groaning and creaking, snapping sounds, planks on deck buckle and relax again but no leaks yet.

3 Sep 1915
Very cold, temp down to -47C, heavy rime on all surfaces, Having to melt snow for dogs to drink, they used to eat snow when out on the ice.

3 Sep 1915
Exercise the dogs, soccer in the afternoon.

4 Sep 1915
Explosions from the ice in the night, ship creaks as if in pain, some doors no longer close, the ship is leant over.

9 Sep 1915
Hercules is the leader of the canine orchestra. 2 or 3 times a day he starts a deep melodious howl, in 30secs the pack is in full song...

9 Sep 1915
We live very well, looking forwards to getting fresh seal meat again. Powdered milk formerly disliked and given to the dogs is now popular with the men.

1 Oct 1915
The ice seems on the move again the ship is shaken from stem to stern, nearly shook Orde-Lees out of the crows nest! It moves and then nothing.

5 Oct 1915
Dozens of crab eater seals appearing, managed to get 3. Many bear large scars from close encounters with killer whales. The floes are moving.

5 Oct 1915
Several cracks appeared in the ice, the rudder can be seen not to be as damaged as feared though we are held in a huge ice cradle 40ft deep.

12 Oct 1915
Today we move to summer quarters in the upper cabins in high spirits, everywhere drips with a thaw, we eagerly anticipate an early release.

13 Oct 1915
The ship is upright again and free of the floe, dogs are in uproar at the penguins, seals and even whales all around.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

14 Oct 1915
The breeze freshened today and we progressed 200-300 yds along a lead before the ice closed and held us fast again.

17 Oct 1915
Huge ice pressure, metal floor plates bent and buckled, at last the ship rode upwards, the stern lifted 9ft we survived against expectations.

19 Oct 1915
Spent the day making good after yesterday, at 4pm floe pressure pushed the ship over to 50 degrees, we thought the ship might turn turtle..

19 Oct 1915
Rescued dogs from kennels, everything is at a ridiculous angle. Battens have been fixed to the deck to aid walking, later the ship righted herself gently.

20 Oct 1915
Got steam up today for the first time in 8 months and turned the engines, watchmen are set to take immediate advantage of any open lead.

21 Oct 1915
The ice grinds all around making a sound like distant traffic, the Endurance shakes slightly but constantly, only major upheavals cause concern.

22 Oct 1915
The open water is freezing again and cementing the floe together once again, nothing to do but wait, some are better at this than others...

23 Oct 1915
A strong NW wind results in formidable movement of the floes and pressure ridges, water-sky over 100 miles to the north shows open water.

24 Oct 1915
A great crash this evening, the Endurance listed over at 8 deg, all went out to find Shackleton already there.

24 Oct 1915
Worse than imagined, sternpost almost wrenched out, water pouring in, steam got up and the bilge pumps started.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

24 Oct 1915
The ship is bent by the pressure, McNish is building a coffer dam to keep the water back, others are moving stores preparing to abandon ship.

24 Oct 1915
The steam pumps are not up to the job and water is still rising. Worsley Greenstreet and Hudson are down in the bilges to clear ice from the hand pump.

24 Oct 1915
Worsley - We dig a hole down through the coal, beams and timbers groan and crack around us like pistol-shots. The darkness is almost complete.

24 Oct 1915
Hand pump working through the night, trenches dug in the ice are easing the pressure, all are wearing extra clothing ready to abandon ship.

25 Oct 1915
Ice pressure has subsided, hand pump is being worked round the clock, McNish has worked without sleep to build a dam across the inside stern.

25 Oct 1915
The outlook is bad, heavy pressure ridges are all about, many tons of ice are pushed by winds or currents, piled up and tossed aside.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

25 Oct 1915
We are helpless intruders in a strange world, our lives depend upon the play of grim elementary forces that made a mock of our puny efforts.

26 Oct 1915
Pumping water from Endurance continues, we are burning seal blubber as extra fuel to try and eke out the coal, the roar of ice pressure surrounds us.

26 Oct 1915
Serene sunshine, blue skies and over 22 hours of daylight contrast with our predicament, 3 boats, sledges and provisions are lowered to the ice.

27 Oct 1915
Our worst fears are realised, the Endurance is stove in, crushed by the ice beyond anything we can do for her.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

27 Oct 1915
Shackleton - A sickening sensation to feel the decks break under one's feet, great beams bending and snapping with a noise like heavy gunfire.

27 Oct 1915
Like a cat with a mouse, the ice plays with her lifting and letting her slip, holds flooded but she does not yet sink "Out all sledges".

27 Oct 1915
Our intention is now to make for one of 3 islands, the nearest is 346 miles away. We have 2 boats on runners and all dog sledges, a camp is made on the ice floe.

27 Oct 1915
We were putting tents up for the night when the ice began to split beneath us, boats, stores and equipment had to be moved 200 yds to a larger floe.

28 Oct 1915
A cold and uncomfortable night, at midnight the ice cracked right through the camp, all were roused to rescue gear and move once more.

28 Oct 1915
Continuous and terrible sound of cracking timbers all day and night from Endurance, yards on foremast carried away.

29 Oct 1915
Polar clothing issued by Marston, lots were cast for the 18 reindeer fur sleeping bags Bakewell called shenanigans.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

30 Oct 1915
We are to start a march across the ice at 3pm to reach land, limited gear only, all other items to be thrown away, we call this place "Dump Camp".

30 Oct 1915
Shackleton set an example and threw away his watch, 50 gold sovereigns, silverware etc we did the same, piles of scientific and navigation gear lie discarded in the snow.

30 Oct 1915
Mrs Chippy, the ships cat, and 4 pups were shot as we set off, decades later McNish when interviewed would only say "Shackleton shot my cat"!

30 Oct 1915
28 men and 49 dogs set off pulling sledges and boats we thought 5-7 miles a day possible, this first day we did 3/4 of a mile.

31 Oct 1915
A wretched day, heavy snow, warm, everything wet, very heavy work pulling the boats, made just 3/4 of a mile again, sounds of killer whales all night.

1 Nov 1915
It has been slow and hard progress across the floe, Shackleton has decided to sit it out, we make "Ocean Camp" 1.5 miles from the ship.

1 Nov 1915
Awful surface for travel, the snow is 2 ft deep everywhere, we sink hip deep at times, to save sledging rations we are to live on seal and penguin.

2 Nov 1915
Wild took dog teams and sleds to retrieve supplies from Dump Camp and the ship, though her deck is now under water.

2 Nov 1915
Hurley cut through a thick wall and dived through 4ft of mushy ice to rescue his negatives. (so we have the pictures on this page today).

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

3 Nov 1915
Wood, rope and other provisions are being retrieved from the ship by relays of sledges, short rations are leading to weakness.

4 Nov 1915
A party cut through the 3" deck of the Endurance 3ft under water to get stores, a gush of water with walnuts and onions emerged.

4 Nov 1915
Cases are guided to the opening by boathooks, cheers or groans when they buoyantly emerge according to their contents, calm ice conditions help.

4 Nov 1915
We now have 3 tons more stores, all the flour and most of the sugar, for the first time in 10 days we have eaten well, it has been hard work.

5 Nov 1915
A galley has been made from sails and spars, the wheel house has been removed intact, a lookout has been made to sight our position and also to spot seals and penguins.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

6 Nov 1915
Howling blizzard, drifts everywhere, provisions are under 2ft of snow, Hurley & engineers are cutting an ash chute with a chisel to make a blubber stove.

10 Nov 1915
The blizzard is over but has pushed us north. We are 300 miles from Snow Hill Island which we hope to reach. Weather warm and fine, we would prefer to be pushed by a blizzard.

10 Nov 1915
It is almost beyond conception we are living on a colossal ice raft, 5ft separates us from 2000 fathoms of ocean drifting to who knows where.

11 Nov 1915
Hurley and Shackleton sort through photographic negatives to reduce weight and space, 400 are broken to prevent later rescue and 120 kept.

11 Nov 1915
All food is eaten carefully and accurately divided. One man shuts his eyes calls random name, while cook points to each portion, saying "Whose?"

14 Nov 1915
No dry place to go in the thaw, warm temps enable us to pack rations and provisions for the sledges in preparation for our journey.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

14 Nov 1915
A distant crash from the Endurance later in the day as the mast went, the bows are under water and are over-ridden by ice, soon she will be gone.

17 Nov 1915
We keep returning to Dump Camp to retrieve what we can, it is a monument of desolation with costly equipment and expensive clothes scattered.

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

18 Nov 1915
Our 3 boats have been named James Caird (25ft), Dudley Docker and Stancomb Wills (both 21ft) after the main backers of our expedition.

18 Nov 1915
The carpenter is adding the gunwale from the now derelict motor boat to the James Caird, raising her height by 10".

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

20 Nov 1915
The blubber stove performs admirably, baked "bannocks" of flour, fat, water, salt and baking powder alleviate our craving for bread somewhat.

21 Nov 1915
She has gone. Lying in our tents, the Boss called "She's going!" 1.5 miles away we saw the bows down, stern in the air..

 Shackleton - Endurance expedition

21 Nov 1915
...one quick dive and ice closed over the Endurance for ever. She was a link with the outer world our isolation is complete "She's gone boys".

Next page:  3 - life on the ice



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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