Abbott, George Percy - Petty Officer, R.N.
(1880 - 1923)
- Biographical notes
Petty Officer, R.N. - Terra Nova 1910-13
March 10th 1880 - November 1923
George Abbott joined the Navy three days after his 15th birthday, he became an Ordinary Seaman by 18, he was one of the men selected to pull the gun carriage at Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901, an outstanding athlete and instructor in physical fitness.
In Antarctica on the Terra Nova expedition, he was part of the Northern Party under Campbell, they spent one planned winter away from the main expedition base in hut built at Cape Adare and another unplanned winter in an ice cave when the party could not be picked up due to heavy sea ice. Abbott and Browning constructed an entrance hatch to the cave from ski-sticks and ice blocks after the original snow construction kept collapsing bringing with it the threat of asphyxiation.
During the winter Abbott gave himself a terrible cut on his right hand, severing the ligaments to three of the fingers. Levick, the surgeon treated him as best he could under the primitive conditions and while Abbott's injury didn't become any worse, he was only ever able to bend the fingers on that hand a very small amount afterwards.
Before leaving Antarctica, Abbott took part in a ascent of Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost active volcano.
He had a breakdown on the ship on the way home and was institutionalized for a time, it led to him being invalided out of the Navy for over a year. He served with the Royal Navy in WW1 from 1914, in the Royal Naval Air Service. After the war he was an instructor his last posting was to to RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire where he learned to fly.
He died in 1923 of pneumonia at the age of 43 and was given a funeral with full military honours in Northampton, all 600 men came from his aerodrome, there was a full parade through the town with a Royal Air Force band, many shops closed for the occasion in the town centre.
He received the Antarctic medal.
References to George Abbott by Cherry-Garrard in "The Worst Journey in the World"
The cave is lighted up with three or four small blubber lamps, which give a soft yellow light. At one end lie Campbell, Dickason and myself in our sleeping-bags, resting after the day's work, and, opposite to us, on a raised dais formed by a portion of the floor not yet levelled, Levick, Browning and Abbott sit discussing their seal hoosh, while the primus hums cheerily under the cooker containing the coloured water which served with us instead of cocoa.
They had their bad days: those first days of realization that they would not be relieved: days of depression, disease and hunger, all at once: when the seal seemed as if they would give out and they were thinking they would have to travel down the coast in the winter - but Abbott killed two seals with a greasy knife, losing the use of three fingers in the process, and saved the situation.
At a point about 9000 feet up, Priestley, Gran, Abbott and Hooper started to make the ascent to the active crater on December 10. They packed the tent, poles, bags, inner cooker and cooking gear, with four days' provisions, and reached the second crater at about 11,500 feet, to be hung up by cloud all the next day. At these altitudes the temperature varied between -10° and -30°, though at sea-level simultaneously they were round about freezing-point.
Landmarks named after Frank Browning
Feature Name: Abbott Peak
Latitude: 77° 26' 00.0" S
Longitude: 167° 00' 00.0" E
Description: Pyramidal peak on Ross Island, on the N side of Mount Erebus, between it and Mount Bird. Charted by the BrAE under Scott, 1910-13, and named for Petty Officer George P. Abbott, RN, a member of the expedition.
Feature Name: Mount Abbott
Latitude: 74° 42' 00.0" S
Longitude: 163° 50' 00.0" E
Description: A mountain 1,020 m, which stands 3 mi NE of Cape Canwe and is the highest point in the Northern Foothills, in Victoria Land. Mapped by the Northern Party of the BrAE, 1910-13, and named for Petty Officer George P. Abbott, RN, a member of the expedition.
Other Crew of the Terra Nova Expedition
George Percy - Petty Officer, R.N. - 1, 2, N
Atkinson, Edward L. - R.N. - surgeon, parasitologist - 1, 2, D, P, S
Balson, Albert - Leading seaman, R.N.- 1, 2
Bowers, Henry Robertson - Lieutenant - 1, 2, D, C, Po
Browning, Frank Vernon - Petty Officer - 1, 2, N
Campbell, Victor - Lieutenant, R.N. - 1, 2, N
Cheetham, Alfred B. - Boatswain (Bosun), R.N.R.
Cherry-Garrard, Apsley - Assistant zoologist - 1, 2, D, C, S
Crean, Tom - petty officer, R.N. - 1, 2, D, P, S
Debenham, Frank - Geologist - 1, 2, iW, iiW
Dickason, Harry - Able Seaman - 1, 2, N
Evans, Edgar - petty officer, R.N. - 1, iW, Po
Evans, Edward R.G.R. - Lieutenant, R.N. "Teddy Evans" - second in command, and Captain of the Terra Nova - 1, D, P
Girev (Geroff), Dmitriy - Dog driver - 1, 2, D, P, S
Tryggve - ski expert - 1, 2, D, iiW, S
Lashly, William - chief stoker, R.N. - 1, 2, P, S
Levick, G. Murray - Surgeon, R.N. - 1, 2, N
Lillie, Dennis Gascoigne - Biologist on the ship
McLeod, Thomas F. - Able seaman - 1, 2
Meares, Cecil H. - in charge of dogs - 1, D, P
Oates, Lawrence - Capt. 6th Iniskilling Dragoons - 1, D, Po
Ponting, Herbert G. - Camera artist - 1
Priestley, Raymond E. - Geologist - 1, 2, N
Omelchenko, Anton - Groom - 1
Scott, Robert Falcon - Commander, R.N. - Expedition leader - 1, D, Po
Simpson, George - Meteorologist - 1
Taylor, T. Griffith - Geologist - 1, iW, iiW
Wilson, Edward Adrian - chief of scientific staff and biologist - 1, D, C, Po
Wright, Charles Seymour - Physicist - 1, 2, iW, P, S
1 - first winter
2 - second winter
iW - first western party
iiW - second western party
N - northern party
D - depot laying for south pole journey
P - south pole party
C - winter journey to Cape Crozier
S - search party for south Pole party
Po - reached South Pole
- I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved.
Any further information or pictures visitors may have will be gratefully received.
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?