Excited and enthusiastic supporters kept the Terra Nova company, as it carried Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his crew, out to the Lyttelton Heads on its way to Antarctica in the race to the South Pole. How bittersweet this image is now that we know how fateful this adventure would end up being.
“We advertised our start at 3pm, and at three minutes to that hour the Terra Nova pushed off from the jetty. A great mass of people assembled.” – Captain Scott – 26th November 1910
During the weeks of preparation in Christchurch, Scott and his men were the darlings of the city. Despite the social scene their presence demanded, supplies were collected and equipment tested. In the wastelands of Lyttelton, huts and tents were erected for practice and 15 Manchurian ponies, 32 Siberian dogs were stationed on Quail Island for further sledge training.
Scott and his men reached the pole on 17th January 1912 – 33 days after the Norwegians. All five men who made the last dash to the pole were dead less than three months later. Scott kept his journal going as long as he could; his last entry was on 29th March 1912:
“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 can not be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott”.
The bodies were recovered 8 months later, while Scott’s wife and their little boy were on their way to New Zealand to meet him on his return. She received the news while still at sea.
*This image was courtesy of Fairfax Media – http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/*