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HMS Discovery
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Sitter: Crew of HMS Discovery [unidentified]

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"Discovery's story started in Dundee, and now, after a lifetime's voyaging, she is back in her home city once more. Her time with Captain Scott during the Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04 was by no means the end of her adventuring. Chart Discovery's story through the 20th century from her construction in 1900 to the present day in our Discovery Timeline ...

"CONSTRUCTION The Discovery is built by the Dundee Shipbuilders' Company for the Royal Geographical Society. Dundee's reputation for building whalers makes the city the best choice for building Discovery. The work is undertaken at a cost of 34,050 plus 10,322 for the engines. Her keel is laid in March 1900 at the old Stephen's (Panmure) Shipyard in Dundee, and she is launched into the Tay on 21 March 1901, christened by Lady Markham, wife of Sir Clements Markham, President of the Society. She is registered in London as SY (Steam Yacht) Discovery

"NATIONAL ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1901 - 04 The Discovery sails from Cowes under the command of Scott on 6 August 1901 for South Trinidad and the Cape. After leaving New Zealand, she finally crosses the Antarctic Circle on 3 January, 1902. The first sighting of Antarctica is made five days later. Edward VII Land is discovered on 30 January. She reaches her winter quarters at Ross Island, McMurdo Sound on 8 February. Living quarters are erected at Hut Point and preparations made for the over-wintering of the expedition. Discovery is soon locked in the ice, where she is destined to remain for over two years. Much scientific research is undertaken during this time, gathering a great wealth of specimens and enriching our knowledge of the Antarctic. A number of expeditions are mounted into Antarctica. A heroic attempt on the Pole is made by the Southern Party, consisting of Scott, Shackleton and Wilson. The attempt fails, but a record-breaking southern latitude is achieved.


Website: The Heritage Trail

Most famous as the ship that carried Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first unsuccessful trip to reach the South Pole, RRS Discovery was the last wooden three-masted ship to be built in the British Isles, and the first specifically designed for research. Built by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company, at a cost of £51,000, her keel was laid on 16th March 1900 at the Panmure Shipyard, Dundee. Built of Oak and Elm, with an ice casing of Greenheart, she is 172ft long, 33ft wide, has a displacement of 1570 tons, and a maximum speed of just 8 knots. She carried a compliment of 11 officers and 36 men.

Built in a little over a year RRS Discovery was launched on March 21st 1901 by Lady Markham, wife of the President of the Royal Geographical Society. The following June RRS Discovery sailed from Dundee to London to take on stores leaving on July 31st to be on show during Royal Regatta Week, on the Isle of Wight. It was here, on 5th August 1901, that she received a royal visit from King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The following day she set sail for Antarctica.

Stopping at Macquarie Island and New Zealand the journey south had taken a full five months when, on January 8th 1902, she sighted the Antarctic coastline for the first time. Charting the coastline for the first month RRS Discovery weighed anchor for the winter on February 8th 1902, in McMurdo Sound. Unbeknown at the time this was where she would to remain, locked in ice, for the next two years. Eventually freed from the frozen seas on February 16th 1904, by the use of controlled explosives, RRS Discovery finally sailed for home, arriving back at Spithead on September 10th 1904, to a heroes welcome.

By this time the National Antarctic Expedition was in serious financial trouble and the RRS Discovery had to be sold. In 1905 the Hudson’s Bay Company purchased her for use as a cargo vessel between London and Hudson Bay, Canada. During the Great War she carried munitions to the Russians under charter from the French Government, and in 1917 she carried supplies to the White Russians during the Russian Revolution. At the cessation of hostilities RRS Discovery found herself chartered by various companies for work in the Atlantic, but outdated and outclassed by more modern merchant vessels she was soon laid up, spending the early 1920’s as the headquarters for the 16th Stepney Sea Scouts.

In 1923 her fortunes were revived when the Crown Agents for the Colonies purchased her for further research work in the Antarctic. Re-registered to Port Stanley in the Falklands and designated as a Royal Research ship, Discovery underwent a £114,000 re-fit before sailing in October 1925 for the South Seas to chart the migration patterns of whale stocks. Her research role continued when the British Government lent her in 1929, to the B.A.N.Z.A.R.E. (British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Expeditions) expeditions, lasting until 1931.

Returning to Britain, her research days now over, RRS Discovery was laid up until 1936 when she was presented to the Boys Scouts Association as a training ship for Sea Scouts. During the war years her engines and boilers were removed for scrap to help with the war effort. Too costly for the Scouts Association to maintain she was transferred to the Admiralty in 1955 for use as a drill ship for the Royal Navy Auxiliary Reserve. As the years passed her condition deteriorated and when no longer of use to the Navy, she was in danger of being scrapped. Saved from the breakers Yard by the Maritime Trust, into whose care she passed in 1979, her future had been secured. Berthed on the River Thames and open to the public, the trust spent some £500,000 on essential restoration until she was passed into the ownership of the Dundee Heritage Trust in 1985.

On March 28th 1986 RRS Discovery left London aboard the cargo ship ‘Happy Mariner’ to make her only journey home to the town that built her, arriving on the river Tay on April 3rd to a tumultuous Scottish welcome. Moved to a custom built dock in 1992, RRS Discovery is now the centrepiece of Dundee’s fabulous new visitor attraction ‘Discovery Point’.

Website of South Pole Philately

Robert Falcon Scott

Robert Falcon Scott was born at Outlands on June 6, 1868, to John and Hannah Scott. Robert's father, John Edward Scott, was the youngest of eight children. Of John's four older brothers, one died young, two went into the Indian army and one became a naval surgeon. However, poor health kept John from the family service tradition. Instead, John inherited a small brewery in Plymouth which his father and uncle had bought for £4782 out of prize money received during the Napoleonic wars. The family home was also inherited from his father, Robert. This was a house called Outlands near Stoke Damerel, just outside Devonport. The property, a small country estate, was complete with a nice home, a stream at the bottom of the garden, three large greenhouses, dogs, a peacock on the lawn and a small staff of maids and gardeners. In 1861 John Scott married Hannah Cuming, daughter of William Bennett Cuming of Plymouth, a Lloyd's surveyor, Commissioner of Pilotage, Commissioner for the Catwater Improvement, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Suffice it to say, this family was a highly respected, very conservative and rather well-to-do Plymouth family. The sons of such Devon families took to the sea as birds to the air and one of Hannah's brothers, Harry Cuming, became a Vice-Admiral. Thus, there was a significant naval tradition on both sides of Robert Falcon Scott's parentage. "Con", as his parents called him, was born into a large family; he had two older sisters, Ettie and Rose, a younger brother, Archie, and a younger sister, Katherine.

Throughout Con's childhood, daydreaming was a habit he worked hard to overcome as everyone, including himself, considered it a flaw. Other weaknesses, equally shameful in this era, were his uneasiness with the sight of blood and of suffering in animals. Although he tried hard to conceal it, he never really overcame these perceived problems. As a boy, he was "shy and diffident, small and weakly for his age, lethargic, backward, and above all, dreamy" as one of his biographers wrote. On the other hand, he had a happy childhood as the first five children were born within a nine year period providing plenty of playmates. Although subject to occasional fits of temper, Con's father, John, was considered an easygoing father with plenty of patience. Con's mother, Hannah, was loved and worshipped by all the Scott children; to Con she was always "the dear Mother". Not much is known about Hannah but one thing is certain: she had strong religious principles and never questioned the teachings of the Church of England. "My own dearest Mother," wrote Con on his departure from New Zealand on his last journey in 1910, "I quite understand and anticipated your anxiety concerning our spiritual welfare. I read the Church service every Sunday on our voyage to Melbourne and I propose to do the same with equal regularity throughout the voyage. You need not have any anxiety on this point".

Robert F. Scott joined his first seagoing ship in August, 1883, at the age of thirteen. The ship, HMS Boadicea, was the flagship of the Cape Squadron, and in her he served as midshipman for two years. This was the first time that young Con had earned money, about £30 a year. Midshipmen were still students with naval instructors as their teachers. Training was intense for these young men as Admiral Sir William Jameson wrote that midshipmen were "up aloft in all sorts of weather and away for long hours in boats under oars and sail. In spite of rigid barriers, young officers learnt the lower deck point of view in a way which is often difficult to achieve in these more democratic days". The young men worked in the rigging 120 feet above deck. They slept in hammocks, bathrooms were unknown, instructors were strong and intense in their verbal attacks, and punishment included beatings and extra drill. As a result, survival created a man, from a boy, with complete suppression of a young boy's natural feelings of fright, homesickness and lack of self-confidence. He had to learn to bear pain without flinching, to obey orders directly, and disregard any immature tendencies. This treatment could be quite traumatic for a young boy coming from a comfortable home. Con Scott was considered an excellent example of a student as he learned the lessons thoroughly while climbing up the lower branches of the navy. After a brief tour with the Liberty , he served a year on HMS Monarch , whose captain rated Con a "promising young officer". At the end of 1886 he joined HMS Rover and was rated by her captain as an "intelligent and capable young officer of temperate habits". Con was 18 when the Royal Navy's Training Squadron, to which the Rover belonged, was cruising in the Caribbean. The midshipmen of the four participating ships raced their cutters across the bay at St. Kitts in the West Indies. The race was narrowly won by Con and a few days later young Con was invited aboard the Active to dine with the Commodore, Albert Markham. Present at the dinner was Albert's cousin and guest, a middle-aged geographer named Clements Markham. Clements was thoroughly impressed by Con's intelligence, enthusiasm and charm and later wrote "My final conclusion was that Scott was the destined man to command the Antarctic expedition". Destiny had arrived for young Scott.

After nine months on the Rover , Scott went on to spend the winter of 1887-8 at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and in March 1888 he was awarded first-class certificates in pilotage, torpedoes and gunnery, coming in with the highest marks in his class in his year of seamanship. He was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant and at the end of 1888, he was instructed to join the cruiser Amphion stationed near Vancouver, Canada. He had to make his own way across North America with the last stage of his trip being a long journey in a tramp steamer from San Francisco to Esquimault, BC.

After Scott's tour of service in the Pacific, he joined HMS Caroline briefly in the Mediterranean. The summer of 1891 was spent on leave with his family at Outlands. This was undoubtedly the most carefree time of Con's life as his lieutenant's salary of £182 10s a year provided him with independence allowing him to pay his own expenses. He played golf with his brothers and played tennis with his sisters. It was a happy time for the twenty-two year-old.

In September 1891 Con reported to the torpedo training ship HMS Vernon. He graduated with first-class certificates in all subjects and was appointed to HMS Vulcan in the Mediterranean. By the end of 1894, at the age of twenty-five, Con received tragic news from his mother: the family was virtually bankrupt. John Scott had sold the brewery on Hoegate Street a few years before and was now enjoying his life of retirement while working in his greenhouses. Hannah had assumed that interest income from the sale of the brewery would allow them a comfortable life and one can imagine her shock when John revealed the necessity to give up Outlands as he had drawn on the capital and, although never confirmed, likely made a poor investment which resulted in the loss of their remaining capital. In questionable health and 63 years old, John Scott had to look for a job.

John actually did find a job, as a manager of a small brewery. Outlands was let go and the family, except for Con's sister Rose, moved to Holcombe House, near Shepton Mallet, which they rented for £30 a year. Rose had landed a job at Nottingham Hospital and it wasn't long before the three remaining sisters began searching for their own careers. The oldest sister, 32-year-old Ettie, went on to become an actress. Attractive and single, she joined a touring company whose leading lady was Irene Vanbrugh. The two younger sisters, Grace (Monsie) and Kate (or Kitty) chose the more conventional trade of dressmaking.

The financial disaster of 1894 was bad enough, but three years later, in October 1897, John Scott died of heart disease at the age of 66, leaving his family without any support or life insurance. Hannah had to leave Holcombe House and the family became, briefly, penniless and homeless. Monsie and Kate had moved to a room over a shop in Chelsea so it was not long before Hannah moved in with them. The financial burden of Hannah fell upon her two sons who were struggling themselves on very meager Service pay. At the time, Archie was in West Africa. After the financial collapse of his family, he had himself moved from the Royal Artillery to the post of ADC and private secretary to the Governor of Lagos, Sir Gilbert Carter. The pay was better and living expenses were less. A year later he transferred to the Hausa Force which was engaged in bringing law and order to warring tribes of the interior of the Oil Rivers Protectorate. After his father's death, Archie contributed £200 a year to his mother's welfare. This was nearly as much as Con's entire salary but Con still managed to send £70 a year to his mother. This period was extremely difficult for Con. He had very little money left to cover his personal expenses and enjoying a mild weekend of shore leave was out of the question. He had to pinch every penny as even an occasional glass of wine, game of golf, and so forth were normally too expensive. To take a young woman to dinner would have been impossible. He was cut off from his friends as he never had the funds to share in the same enjoyments as his comrades. Poverty, and real poverty it was, could only have forced Con to withdraw unto himself. Years later he wrote to his future wife "Do you remember I warned you that secretiveness was strongly developed in me? Don't forget that at forty the reserve of a lifetime is not easily broken. It has been built up to protect the most sensitive spots". The "sensitive spots" were his lack of self-confidence, his sense of inferiority, of frustration and isolation, born from his inability to share life's experience with his peers due to his lack of money. But, self-pity was not among his faults. There are no complaints in any recorded document written by Con.

His devotion to family remained constant throughout his life. Once he learned of the financial crisis in 1894, he applied for a transfer to HMS Defiance, stationed at Devonport, so that he could help with the sale of Outlands and assist his mother and sisters in moving to Somerset. When they were settled, he applied for another seagoing job and was appointed torpedo lieutenant in HMS Empress of India, a battleship in the Channel Squadron. This appointment lasted less than one year but while in the Mediterranean, he once again encountered Clements Markham and his cousin.

In the summer of 1897, Scott was appointed torpedo lieutenant to the flagship of the Channel Squadron, HMS Majestic. From this ship came a number of future expedition members on Scott's first trip to the Antarctic aboard Discovery: Lieutenant Michael Barne, Engineer-Lieutenant Reginald Skelton, Warrant Officer J. H. Dellbridge, and two petty officers, Edgar Evans and David Allan. It was at this time, while serving aboard the Majestic, that his father died. His oldest sister, Ettie, had married a promising politician, William Ellison-Macartney, only a few months before John's death. Con felt good about this as certainly Ettie would be in a much more stable and secure environment than if she had remained at Outlands with a looming financial crisis. Ettie's husband helped Monsie and Kate study the fashion industry in Paris by advancing them a loan. In addition, he contributed a small sum towards his mother-in-law's support. Meanwhile, Rose took a bold step that same year by taking a nursing job in the Gold Coast, then known as the White Man's Grave.

Hannah Scott
In the autumn of 1898 Archie came home on leave and Con took him for a cruise off the Irish coast in the Majestic. Con was extremely proud of his brother and said Archie was "absolutely full of life and enjoyment and at the same time so keen on his job. He deserves to be a success. Commissioner, Consul and Governor is the future for him I feel". A little over a month later Archie went to Hythe to play golf, contracted typhoid fever and died within a week. Hannah was devastated and felt fully responsible for his death. Hannah felt that Archie served in West Africa solely to earn extra money which he could send home to his financially strapped mother and sisters. It was there, in West Africa, that Hannah felt Archie's health deteriorated. Con wrote to her, "Don't blame yourself for what happened, dear. Whatever we have cause to bless ourselves for, comes from you. He died like the true-hearted gentleman he was, but to you we owe the first lessons and example that made us gentlemen. This thing is most terrible to us all but is no penalty for any act of yours". Now the whole financial burden of the family fell on Con, other than what little his brother-in-law could afford to give. His brother-in-law was not a rich man and soon they had children. The first of three, Phoebe, was born in 1898.

Rose, still a nurse in the Gold Coast, worked hard to save her own money and in 1899 she married Captain Eric Campbell of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, one of her brother Archie's fellow officers in the Hausa Force.

While serving on the Majestic, the third meeting between Con and Clements Markham took place. While home on leave in June, 1899, "chancing one day to be walking down the Buckingham Palace Road, I espied Sir Clements Markham and accompanied him to his house. That afternoon I learned for the first time that there was such a thing as a prospective Antarctic Expedition; two days later I wrote applying to command it". Scott wrote, in The Voyage of the Discovery, that "I may as well confess that I had no predeliction for polar exploration". His sister Ettie confirmed that "he had no urge towards snow, ice, or that kind of adventure" but had grown restless with the navy and "wanted freedom to develop more widely" as he had "developed great concentration, and all the years of dreaming were working up to a point". After sending his application, Con returned to duty aboard HMS Majestic for the best part of a year.

Sir Clements Markham
In 1894 Markham had invited the Royal Society to join with the Royal Geographic Society, of which he was President, to finance the Antarctic project of his dreams. In hindsight, Markham felt this was a mistake as he was essentially snubbed by the Royal Society as their members felt the RGS was beneath them. Markham was then put off by the First Lord of the Admiralty and worse, by the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, who "regretted that he was unable, under existing circumstances, to hold out any hope of HMG embarking upon an expedition of this magnitude". Markham fought on by lobbying his friends, addressing meetings and writing papers, all in vain. He became very concerned as he felt other nations would rush in ahead of them and claim the riches certainly awaiting the first continental explorers. Markham was furious. In 1895, a wealthy British publisher, George Newnes, put up the money for Carsten Borchgrevink's 1898 Southern Cross expedition. Here was a penniless Norwegian schoolmaster in Australia securing good British money while Markham, with all his influence, was left with empty hands. Finally, in 1897, the Council of the Royal Geographic Society pledged £5000. Markham "kept on writing letters to rich people" and suddenly Mr. Llewellyn Longstaff, a paint manufacturer living in Wimbledon, pledged £25,000. This generous gift caught the attention of the Prince of Wales, who had "declined to connect himself with the expedition until public feeling was manifest", and soon others followed. In July, 1899, the Government announced a grant of £45,000, provided that private sources matched it with an equal amount. At that time Markham had raised £42,000 in pledges so, with a little arm-twisting, he persuaded the RGS to contribute the additional £3,000. A joint committee of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographic Society was formed to plan the expedition, acquire a ship, and assemble the personnel. This is when the fireworks started. From the very beginning, the two societies disagreed over the aim of the expedition. The RS saw it as an opportunity for extensive scientific research; Markham and the RGS declared it an opportunity for research and advancement in scientific knowledge concerning magnetism, meteorology, biology and geology. Actually, the real aim to Markham was twofold: geographical discovery and opportunities for young naval officers to win distinction in times of peace. The RS felt the expedition leader should be a scientist while Markham felt he "must be a naval officer; he must be in the regular line and not in the surveying branch, and he must be young. These are essentials". Markham was soon in for a serious struggle as the scientists joined forces with the "hydrographic clique" to offer their own choice for leadership. They didn't have a problem with a naval officer commanding the ship, but they expected him to simply ferry the scientists to the ice, drop them off for their year of work, and come back the following year to pick them up and bring them home. Their choice to fill the position of Director of the Scientific Staff was John Walter Gregory, an eminent geologist. Although his scientific ability was unchallenged, Markham felt he was unsuitable as commander of such an expedition. Actually, he was well qualified as he had not only been on safari in East Africa's Rift Valley when it was wild, unmapped and dangerous, he had scaled Alpine peaks and explored Spitzbergen within the Arctic circle.

The joint committee began searching for an expedition leader the same month that Markham invited Scott to apply for that same position. Gregory was appointed Scientific Director in February 1900, four months before Scott was named the expedition's naval commander. Markham then sent a request to the First Lord of the Admiralty for the release of two young officers, one to lead and the other to be second in command:

The work involved in the stress of contest with the mighty powers of Nature in the Antarctic regions calls for the very same qualities as are needed in the stress of battle. Our application is that a young Commander should be allowed to take charge of its executive work...Youth is essential in polar service. No efficient leader of discovery in icy seas has ever been over forty, the best have been nearer thirty.

Markham offered three names: Commander John de Robeck, aged thirty-eight, Robert F. Scott, aged thirty-two and Charles Royds, aged twenty-four. Although Robeck's request was denied, Scott and Royds were approved for release on April 5, 1900. The joint committee met on April 18, 1900, and Markham informed the committee that the Admiralty had released Scott and Royds. Sir William Wharton, of the joint committee, was extremely angry at Markham for going over the committee's head and assuming authority for naming leadership. Meanwhile, the remaining committee members were furious and now Scott's appointment was questionable. At the next meeting, on May 4, another committee was appointed to settle the issue, six on Markham's side and six on the side of the "hydrographic clique" who would "strive to secure a job for the survey department with obstinate perversity". As luck would have it, at the next committee meeting on May 24, two of the "hydrographic clique" representatives stayed away which placed the majority with Markham. The fight was over as Scott's appointment was confirmed. The next day the committee unanimously approved Scott as the expedition leader. In December 1900 Professor Gregory arrived in Great Britain from Australia to organize his side of the expedition. When he arrived in London he was shocked to learn of his position on the team since he expected the Antarctic command had been placed under his direction. He expected to lead the expedition on the ice while Scott wintered over in Melbourne. According to Markham, instead of going to work on his scientific program, Gregory set about conspiring with the hydrographers to have Scott's leadership role overturned. Try as he might, Gregory was unsuccessful in his bid to capture the command. In May, 1901, Gregory was sent a telegram with a choice to either serve under Scott's command, or resign. Gregory resigned in disgust. Dr. George Murray, head of the botanical department of the British Museum, was appointed in his place on the condition that he go only as far as Melbourne to give scientific advise and training to the other scientists and then return to his duties at the museum. Gregory went on to occupy the Chair of Geology at Glasgow University for twenty-five years. At the age of sixty-eight, while crossing a river in Peru, he drowned.

The Discovery Expedition, 1901-04
After his meeting with Markham in June 1899, Scott went back to sea and resumed his duties aboard the Majestic. On June 9, 1900 Scott received his letter of appointment and two days later wrote a formal letter of acceptance to the committee. A follow-up letter arrived on the desk of the two Presidents shortly thereafter in which Scott wrote:

I must have complete command of the ship and landing parties. There cannot be two heads.
I must be consulted on all matters affecting the equipment of the landing parties.
The executive officers must not number less than four, exclusive of myself.
I must be consulted in all future appointments, both civilians and others, especially the doctor.
It must be understood that the doctors are first medical men, and secondly members of the scientific staff, not vice versa.
I am ready to insist on these conditions to the point of resignation if, in my opinion, their refusal imperils the success of the undertaking.
Scott went on leave for a few weeks and then started work by taking a course in magnetism at Deptford. Living with his two sisters and mother over the shop in Chelsea, Scott started his day by jogging across Hyde Park for exercise. He plunged himself into the planning of the expedition. Extraordinary details had to be worked out and even Hugh Robert Mill, distinguished librarian of the Royal Geographic Society (1892-1900), thought that Scott "if anyone, could bring order out of the chaos which had overtaken the plans and preparations".

In October 1900 Scott and the Markhams went to Christiania (Oslo) to consult Nansen. His vessel, the Fram, had just returned intact with her crew after drifting right across the Arctic from the Siberian sea to emerge, after thirty-five months, north of Spitzbergen, which proved the Arctic region to be an ocean rather than a continent. The Fram was designed like a saucer so that she would be lifted above the ice floes rather than crushed by them. It was a revolutionary design but to reach the Antarctic a ship would have to cross terrible seas and force her way through hundreds of miles of ice pack, so they thought a whaling vessel would be more suitable. (Ironically, Amundsen later borrowed the Fram from Nansen and sailed her to Antarctica and right into the Ross Sea.) Scott and Nansen quickly became fast friends. Of Nansen, Scott wrote to his mother, "He is a great man, absolutely straightforward and wholly practical, so our business flies along apace. I wish to goodness it would go as well in England". Later, Nansen wrote of Scott, "I see him before me, his tight, wiry figure, his intelligent, handsome face, that earnest, fixed look, and those expressive lips so seriously determined and yet ready to smile--the features of a kindly, generous character, with a fine admixture of earnestness and humour". Nansen told him to get dogs so he did as Nansen and bought them in Russia. It was suggested that he buy Greenland dogs which were bigger and better, but they were hard to get as the many Arctic expeditions of the previous fifty years had taken a toll on the supply of these dogs. Twenty dogs and three bitches were selected in Archangel and sent to the London zoo where they were kept until they could be shipped to New Zealand.

The Crew

On May 29, 1900 Albert Armitage was appointed to serve as second-in-command and navigator. Armitage, aged thirty-six, came from the Merchant Navy where he had been an officer in the P and O fleet. His prior experience came from his participation, as navigator, with the Jackson-Harmsworth Arctic expedition in 1894. The expedition's primary goal was to determine if Franz Josef Land was part of a continent which might extend all the way to the North Pole. Armitage, and seven others, landed at Franz Josef Land and proceeded to spend three years in a hut within the 80°N circle, shooting polar bears and doing scientific research. Franz Josef land was simply a series of scattered islands that had been incorrectly mapped by their discoverer, Julius Payer. One day Armitage was searching the area with his field glasses when he spotted someone approaching on skis. The man was covered in oil and grease and black from head to foot. It was Nansen! Nansen and one companion had left the Fram and her crew to make a dash for the North Pole. Unfortunately, they too soon discovered the impossibility of such a trek. They wintered in a tiny hut, living on bear meat in a latitude of 86°13'N, the farthest-north record that stood until Peary reached the Pole in 1909. Nansen and his companion had been dragging sledges and two kayaks, having eaten all the dogs by then, across seven hundred miles of ice, hoping to reach Spitzbergen where whaling vessels occasionally called. Finding Armitage saved their lives as a trip across the open seas to Spitzbergen in kayaks would have resulted in certain death. They returned to civilization in July 1896 in the Windward.

The doctor on the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition had been Reginald Koettlitz, a six foot tall man with drooping mustaches of German heritage. At the age of thirty-nine, Koettlitz received his appointment in 1900. Markham described him as "a very honest food fellow, but exceedingly short of commonsense". However, Koettlitz was in agreement with other notable doctors that scurvy, the plague of all polar expeditions, was caused by a poison resulting from putrefaction of preserved food. The remedy was absolutely pure food.

The assistant surgeon was a young man recently qualified at St. George's Hospital. He had a wonderful talent for drawing and painting in water colors, was a deeply religious man and had a passion for birds. His name was Edward Adrian Wilson, son of a Cheltenham doctor. A courageous young man, Wilson spent too many chilly nights bird-watching, too many long nights with his studies to make up for time spent in art galleries, too much starving himself so he could give money to beggars or to buy books, and probably too much smoking. He ruined his health and contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. After spending two years in Norway and a Swiss sanitarium, he shook the disease but as soon as he began his duties as junior house surgeon he contracted blood poisoning which resulted in a painful abscess in his armpit. When Scott met him in 1900, his arm was still in a sling. Scott appointed him on the spot but he still had to pass an Admiralty Medical Board. He failed the first time and the second exam, only weeks before sailing, reported "Mr. E. A. Wilson unfit on account of disease in the right lung". Scott told Markham he must have him and Wilson told Scott "I quite realize it will be kill or cure, and have made up my mind that it will be cure". Dr. Wilson's contributions to the expedition were enormous and his incredible gallery of original artwork left for our enjoyment is highly prized and very valuable.

Discovery, by E. A. Wilson The three naval officers appointed, at about the same time as Scott, were Charles Royds as first lieutenant, Michael Barne as second naval lieutenant and Reginald Skelton as chief engineer. Royd's charge was to deal with the men and internal economy of the ship. He was serving on HMS Crescent, which was the flagship on the North America station, at the time of his appointment. Michael Barne had been educated at Stubbington School in preparation for the navy and later served with Scott on HMS Majestic. Reginald Skelton also served with Scott on the Majestic. A Norfolk man, he had joined the navy as an engineer-student in 1887, served in various ships on various stations until Scott finally met him when he was appointed senior engineer on the Majestic.

There were still three scientific positions to be filled and the first of those, as naturalist, was offered to a Scot, W. S. Bruce. Unfortunately he was busy organizing his own Scottish expedition (the Scotia in 1902) and he declined. The position was then offered to Thomas Vere Hodgson, aged thirty-seven, director of the marine biological laboratories in Plymouth. ("Young to have a polished bald head, sometimes needing a skull cap, but otherwise apparently strong and healthy" as Markham wrote).

The geologist, Hartley Ferrar, aged twenty-two, had just graduated from Cambridge with an honor's degree. Born in Ireland and raised primarily in South Africa, Markham felt he was capable but "very young, very unfledged, and rather lazy; however, he most likely could be "made into a man in this ship" by "the young lieutenants".

The physicist was Louis Bernacchi, aged twenty-five. His appointment was so late in coming that he had to join the ship in New Zealand. He had spent a very adventurous childhood on a mountainous island that was uninhabited except for his family and their dependents. His father was a silk merchant from Lombardy and had bought the island from the Tasmanian Government for £20,000. Louis studied physics and astronomy at the Melbourne Observatory and was the only member of the expedition to have prior experience in the Antarctic. He had just spent two years with Borchgrevink's Southern Cross expedition and had wintered over in the hut at Cape Adare. Markham declared him "Always grown up--never a boy".

Ernest Shackleton was an unusual choice. He was a Merchant Navy officer, like Armitage, but no one had invited him to join. Shackleton went to sea at the age of sixteen as an apprentice in a sailing vessel and his captain considered him "the most pigheaded, obstinate boy I ever came across". He worked his way up the ladder and was soon the third officer in a Union Castle liner. He became engaged to become married and told his future father-in-law "my fortune is all to make but I intend to make it quickly". He was ambitious but had no special interest in the polar regions or scientific research, for that matter. He applied to join the expedition and was promptly turned down. In Shackleton's case, it was a simple "who-you-know" matter--Llewellyn Longstaff, who had been the first to pledge financial backing to the expedition, had a son who was a passenger to Cape Town on the liner in which Shackleton served. The two men became friends and Shackleton persuaded young Longstaff to set him up for an interview with Armitage. The second-in-command was impressed and recommended him to Scott who, in February 1901, appointed him third lieutenant in charge of holds, stores, provisions and deep sea water analysis. Armitage wrote "His brother officers considered him a very good fellow, always quoting poetry and full of erratic ideas". Shackleton was forced to leave the expedition in 1903 and was replaced by George F. A. Mulock, who remained with the expedition until conclusion. Mulock was only twenty-one but had received excellent instruction as a surveyor in HMS Triton, and his services provided were invaluable.

This concluded the complement of primary officers and scientists. The navy also released three warrant officers and six petty officers, including Edgar Evans and David Allan from the Majestic.

L to R: Lt. Armitage, Lt. Mulock, Lt. Shackleton, Dr. Wilson, Lt. Skelton, Capt. Scott,
Lt. Royds, Dr. Koettlitz, Mr. Bernacchi and Mr. Ferrar on board Discovery

The Discovery was built at Dundee. She was the sixth of her name and the first to be specifically designed and built for scientific work. She had to be a wooden ship to withstand the pressure of the ice since steel would simply buckle. She had to be a sailing ship but with auxiliary engines. The ship was to be exceptionally strong, built from a variety of timbers: English oak for the frames, eleven inches thick; Riga fir for the lining, eleven inches; Honduras mahogany, pitch pine or oak for the four-inch-thick lining, all sheathed with two layers of planking--twenty-six inches of solid wood in all. Her bow was incredibly strong; some of the bolts running through the wood were eight and a half feet long. The vessel was 172 feet long and 34 feet wide, of 485 tons register and a displacement of 1620 tons. She had to have room to store fuel, oil, 350 tons of coal, fresh water, dog food, medical supplies, scientific instruments, axes and saws, a sectional wooden hut, a piano and a library. Invitations for bids were offered but only two were received. On December 14, 1899 a contract with the Dundee Ship Building Company was signed. The keel was laid on March 16, 1900 and the final cost, including engines, was £49,277. On March 21, 1901 Lady Markham, with a pair of golden scissors, cut the tape and the Discovery was launched. Food for the 47 men was stored aboard: 150 tons of roast pheasant, 500 of roast turkey, whole roast partridges, jugged hare, duck and green peas, rump steak, wild cherry sauce, celery seed, black currant vinegar, candied orange peel, Stilton and Double Gloucester cheese, 27 gallons of brandy, 27 gallons of whiskey, 60 cases of port, 36 cases of sherry, 28 cases of champagne, lime juice, 1800 pounds of tobacco, pemmican, raisins, chocolate and onion powder. While being loaded, many visitors came to see her. Among them were two former colleagues of Sir James Clark Ross: Sir Erasmus Ommaney (now aged eighty-seven) who had sailed with Ross to the Arctic in 1835, and the famous botanist Sir Joseph Hooker, naturalist in James Clark Ross's Erebus and Terror expedition. It was upon Hooker's advice that Scott found £1300 to purchase a balloon for the voyage. With much fanfare and a Godspeed service on board, the Discovery weighed anchor on July 31, 1901, paused at Spithead to correct her compasses and proceeded to Cowes to receive the royal blessing. The new King and Queen, still uncrowned, came aboard. The Queen's Pekinese fell overboard and one of the sailors had to rescue it. The next day, August 6, the Discovery passed Needles on her way to the unknown. As Markham noted, "Truly, they form the vanguard of England's chivalry. No finer set of men ever left these shores, nor were men ever led by a finer Captain".

Discovery launched March 21, 1901
The Discovery was so heavy in the seas that she could not make more than seven knots. This became an immediate concern as New Zealand was 14,000 miles away. Her first stop was at Madeira Island where they took on more coal and sent back considerable mail. After leaving Madeira, the men were shocked to find that the Discovery was leaking water into the hold and, as a result, had ruined a significant amount of food. What could be dried was saved and the rest was thrown overboard. The ship arrived in Cape Town on October 3, 1901 where nearly everyone proceeded to get drunk. Owing to the slowness of the voyage, Scott decided to cut the Melbourne leg of the journey and sail directly to Lyttleton, New Zealand. As a result of this decision, Dr. Murray was left in Cape Town so that he could return to his post at the British Museum.

The Discovery arrived at Lyttleton at the end of November where the leak at last received attention. Meanwhile, the hospitality extended to the crew was generous, at the very least. Royds wrote that there was "Not a single sober man on board. The men are rushed at as soon as they get ashore and all good Service feeling is lost and I have awful times. Better men never stepped a plank whilst they are at sea, but in harbor they are nothing but brute beasts, and I am ashamed of them, and told them so, and penitent indeed they are, but only until they are drunk again". Scott wrote that the drunken men "disgust me, but I'm going to have it out with them somehow. There are only a few black sheep but they lend colour to the flock". A few were discharged and replaced. The men were nearly all bachelors and the young sailors soon were welcomed right into New Zealand homes. Skelton lived with the Meares family and eventually married the youngest daughter, Sybil, while Ferrar went on to meet his future wife in Christchurch.

While in New Zealand, Scott was to receive some good news from Markham. The men had determined that a relief ship would be needed to resupply the Discovery the following year and, of course, check on their condition. In May 1901 Mr. Llewellyn Longstaff contributed £5000 which Markham used to purchase the Morgenen. In September she sailed from Norway to England where she was refitted and renamed the Morning. Lieutenant William Colbeck, RNR, was appointed her commander. Colbeck had Antarctic experience as he had been the magnetic observer on Borchgrevink's Southern Cross expedition.

On December 21 the Discovery was escorted by HMS Ringarooma and HMS Lizard out of the harbor as cheering crowds stood on the shore waving farewell.

Soon after crossing the Antarctic Circle they entered the ice pack. Just before midnight on January 8, 1902, Royds sighted land off the port bow. They headed for Cape Adare, where Borchgrevink's party had wintered, and soon landed on the beach. From Cape Adare they sailed nearly due south along the shore of Victoria Land and eventually landed at Cape Crozier on the northeastern tip of Ross Island where Royds and Wilson climbed to 1350 feet and viewed the Great Ice Barrier stretching as far as the eye could see. From Cape Crozier they steamed along the eastern edge of the Barrier and on January 30, after emerging from a whiteout in a snowstorm, the eastern extremity of the Barrier was reached where patches of rock were determined to rise 2000 feet above them. Scott named the new discovery King Edward VII Land. Scott turned about and retraced their route back to McMurdo Sound where they intended to set up winter quarters. Along the way they stopped long enough for Scott and Shackleton to take a trip aloft in the balloon. The balloon developed a leak and was never used again.

After arriving at their winter quarters, the ship was secured by ice-anchors to an ice-foot and a 36-foot square hut was built. Two smaller huts were put up to house the magnetic instruments and the dogs were moved into their kennels.

On February 16, 1902, the sun slipped below the horizon for the first time. It was too late in the season for any long-distance sledge trips so Scott planned a few short practice trips to test the equipment and men. As it turned out, Armitage and Bernacchi were the only men with a little dog-driving experience. It was hilarious to watch them but many hard lessons were learned.

The first trip was a three-day affair to White Island by Wilson, Shackleton and Ferrar. A hard lesson was learned on this first sledge trip as the three nearly became the first casualties of the expedition. Distances in the Antarctic are very deceptive and when plans were made, the three felt the island could easily be reached in a day and a half of sledging. The men had decided to haul the sledge themselves. It was two days before they reached the island whereupon a blizzard set in and frostbite struck their faces and feet. They were so exhausted from the trip that they could hardly pitch their tent and cook their meal. The trip taught them how little they actually knew about the Antarctic.

The next trip was taken by four officers and eight men with four sledges (Leader Royds, Quartley, Vince, Weller, Wild, Barne, Skelton, Evans, Heald, Plumley, Koettlitz and Hare). On the morning of March 4 the men started out for the penguin rookery at Cape Crozier where they were to leave a canister containing directions on how to find the expedition's winter quarters. Scott was to lead the party but had to decline as he had injured his knee in a skiing accident. The dogs did hardly anything but fight, frostbite attacked, the snow was so soft that they sank in well above their ankles and progress was so slow that on the second day they only made five miles. The rations got mixed up in the bag so that a mush of sugar, cheese, butter, soup tablets and chocolate had to be cooked together. Most of the dogs went lame and the men were exhausted so on the fourth day Royds decided to push ahead with Koettlitz and Skelton and send the rest, under leadership of Barnes, back to the ship. Royds and his men had a terrible struggle and after five days of hard going, they still hadn't found the rookery. Royd's decided to give up the search and return to the ship as temperatures reached -42°F. Royds, Koettlitz and Skelton reached the hut in four days but the other men had not been so lucky. Barnes and the returning party, eight members in all, had arrived to within four miles of the ship at a hill called Castle Rock. When they reached the summit, a blizzard came up and reduced visibility to nearly nil. They pitched their tents and since they couldn't get their cookers to work, frostbite began to set in. An experienced crew would have remained, no matter how uncomfortable, but the novice crew decided to head out into the storm. They soon found themselves on a steep slippery slope where Evans stepped on a patch of bare ice and tumbled out of sight. Barne sat down and slid after him with Quartley following close behind. All three men miraculously came to a halt when a patch of soft snow stopped them at the edge of a precipice with the sea pounding below. A howling dog flashed past and disappeared over the edge. Frank Wild took charge of leading the remaining five who were left at the head of the slope. He led them off in the direction of the ship but suddenly came upon a cliff with the dark sea below; another step and he would have gone right over the edge. Unfortunately, Vince could get no grip on the slippery ice and, like the dog, he vanished over the edge and into the sea. Wild, Weller, Heald and Plumley were able to fight their way back to the ship. Of the original twelve, only four had returned. A search party was quickly organized and led by Wild who came upon Barne, Evans and Quartley wandering about in a daze at Castle Rock. That evening Royds brought in his party and so it seemed only two men were lost, Vince and Clarence Hare. Hare had last been seen heading back to the abandoned sledges to get his ski boots. Two days later a figure came walking down the hill towards the ship. Incredibly, it was Hare and without even a trace of frostbite. It seems he had fallen down and simply gone to sleep. The snow covered and preserved him as he slept for thirty-six hours!

One more sledging trip was undertaken before winter set in. On Easter Monday, Scott started off with Armitage, Wilson, Ferrar and eight men with three sledges and nine dogs. The objective was to lay depots towards the south for use of the sledging parties in the spring. The dogs refused to work and the temperature dropped to -47°F. When they became exhausted, the men crawled into their sleeping bags. As Wilson put it, "Once in, one can do literally nothing but lie as one falls in the tent. Reindeer skin hairs get in your mouth and nose and you can't lift a hand to get them out". At night the men would sweat which would produce a puddle beneath them and since nothing could be dried, by morning "you put on frozen mitts and frozen boots, stuffed with frozen grass and rime. There's a fascination about it all, but it can't be considered comfort". Two more days of this and Scott decided enough was enough. They packed up their gear and headed back to the ship with everyone learning from this experience. On April 23, 1901 the sun sank below the horizon and would not reappear for more than four months.

A winter routine was established with each man having his own special task. Royds was in charge of the seamen and petty officers, who were employed on routine activities such as "watering ship" every few days by hacking out blocks of ice and taking them on board to be melted in the boiler. Exercise was a problem as blizzards and extreme cold kept everybody inside for days on end. Birthdays were celebrated by special dinners and a religious service was held each Sunday. The South Polar Times appeared, edited by Shackleton, and all were invited to contribute; the first copy was formally presented to Captain Scott. Some men played cards and chess while others read and carried out scientific studies.

Summer sledging began on September 2 when Scott and eight others set out to lay a depot. They were back in three days as the conditions were impossible for both men and dogs. A typical sledging camp can be best described from descriptions written in the diaries of the men who fought the extremes. The first step was to set up a small tent just large enough for three men to lie down in. Snow was piled up around the outside of the tent in order to hold it down in case of a blizzard. The sledge would be unloaded and the cooker set up inside the tent. One had to be careful when grabbing metal as sometimes your skin would stick right to it. Changing from the day outfit into night gear was a laborious task, indeed. First you removed your finneskoes, making sure you left them in the shape of your feet since they froze as hard as bricks in a few minutes and would be impossible to put on in the morning until one could find a way to thaw them out. Then you had to unlace your leggings, which had to be done with bare hands. Needless to say, a pause was necessary periodically to stuff your hands back in your pants to keep them from frostbite. Three pairs of socks were pulled on which had been kept next to the body all day in order to keep them warm. Then came a long pair of fur boots reaching above the knee, then fur trousers and finally a loose fur blouse. Day-socks were often tucked inside the pant leggings in order to keep them warm for the next morning. Then came supper which consisted of a hoosh made of pemmican, cheese, oatmeal, pea-flour and bacon. At bedtime it was often discussed whether each man should sleep in his own bag or if three should try it together. When it's -40°F, it's certainly much easier to keep warm with three in a bag. Unfortunately, one could not move without disturbing the others, not to mention the fit of experiencing a leg cramp, which they often did. Condensation of breath was another problem. After a few days the inside of the tent became covered with a layer of ice and every time the wind shook it, a shower of ice fell on the men sleeping beneath. Also, their breath froze in their beards and around the necks of their fur coats which produced a collar as stiff as a board. Shivering fits could last for hours. Next morning, the whole process would be repeated in reverse. Then, Bernacchi wrote twenty-five years later, came a ceremony that no one ever talks about. Bathrooms were ruled out since they took too long to dig and besides, they would just fill up with snow. So, "feeling like a ham in a sack", each man took his turn loosening his clothes, going out into the snow, facing the wind and "watchfully awaiting a temporary lull. It's a ghastly business". No matter how quick you were, your clothes would fill with snow and for the next few hours you would walk around with a wet, cold bottom. Some of the men suffered from dysentery so one can easily imagine how much misery these men had to sustain when blizzards raged for days on end.

On September 17, 1902 Scott went on a preliminary reconnaissance with Barne and Shackleton. On the second night a blizzard came up and nearly took their tent away as they had neglected to pile enough snow around the outside. Before they made it back to the ship all had suffered from frostbite.

Many sledging trips took place over the spring and early summer. On November 2 Scott, Wilson and Shackleton set forth on their southern journey together with a large supporting party under Barne. This was to be the centerpiece of the expedition. Soon after leaving, they were slowed by sticky snow and deep sastrugi. A two-day blizzard kept them in their tent and on the third day Shackleton started to cough. Beyond Minna Bluff, they were into the unknown and "already appeared to be lost on the great open plain". At the 79th parallel, photographs were taken and half of Barne's supporting party turned back. The rest pushed on until November 15 at which time the balance of Barne's party took for home. From the next day, things began to go wrong. The major problem came with the dogs. Instead of bringing dog biscuit to feed them, dried stockfish was brought. The stockfish had become tainted as the Discovery sailed through the tropics and now the dogs wouldn't eat it. From November 16 onwards Scott's diary makes sad reading, with the dogs daily losing heart and condition, and the men's hopes of making a heroic journey slowly fading away. There was nothing they could do but to press on as far south as they could and when the dogs could do no more hauling, they simply would do the hauling themselves. They would have been better off just killing the dogs and depoting the meat as they sledged south but they went on hoping somehow the dogs would revive. On November 25, the party became the first to cross the 80th parallel, beyond which all maps were blank. "It has always been our ambition to get inside that white space and now we are there so the space can no longer be a blank; this compensates for a lot of trouble". Hunger now became a problem with the men as rations were significantly reduced in order to preserve what little food they had left. "We cannot stop, we cannot go back, and there is no alternative but to harden our hearts and drive", Scott wrote. "Certainly dog driving is the most terrible work one has to face in this sort of business". On December 5 Scott wrote, "The events of the day's march are now becoming so dreary and dispiriting that one longs to forget them when we camp; it is an effort even to record them in a diary. Our utmost efforts could not produce more than three miles for the whole march". Five days later the first dog died. The other dogs pounced on the fallen animal and ate the corpse. They decided to try and save the best nine dogs by feeding them the flesh of the others. Wilson volunteered for the job of butchering as Scott considered the job "a moral cowardice of which I am heartily ashamed". The victim was led away, with tail wagging, as the others howled in anticipation of the meal to come. Scott wrote, "We can only keep them on the move by constant shouting; this devolves on me. Stripes and Brownie doing absolutely nothing and vomiting. Poor old Grannie pulled till she could pull no longer and lay down in the snow; they put her on a sledge and she soon died. The dogs take away all idea of enjoying the marches".

More problems appeared as Dr. Wilson noticed that Shackleton's gums were swollen, the first sign of scurvy. Portions of seal meat were increased but "hunger is gripping us very tightly". On December 20 Wilson lay awake all night from sheer hunger. On December 26 snow-blindness was bothering Wilson's eyes so badly that he finally told Scott. The next day he hauled his sledge blindfolded as Scott described to him the mountains that were coming into view. Within sight was a huge peak which was larger than any mountain they had seen thus far. They estimated its height at 13,000 feet and named it Mt. Markham. Scott decided to turn for home on December 31, having reached 82°17'S. They had traveled 300 miles farther south than anyone before them and were only 480 statute miles from the Pole.

A dog a day was dropping dead or being slaughtered. Bismark was killed on January 4, Boss dropped behind and was never seen again, and when Kid died, they gave up trying to drive the rest and instead set them free to follow behind. When they were down to one day's ration, Scott pulled out his telescope and spotted the depot left on the outward march. Meanwhile, Shackleton's scurvy symptoms had reappeared; his throat was congested, his breath short, his gums were red and swollen and he started to spit blood. Now there were only two men to pull the sledges as Shackleton could only walk beside them in order to avoid too much exertion. On January 18, 1903, Shackleton completely gave out which forced them to camp for a number of days. Finally, on January 28 they reached Depot A, only sixty miles from the ship. "At length and at last we have reached the land of plenty". With Shackleton aboard one of the sledges, the team set off the next day and sledged fifteen miles. On February 2, White Island came into view and Scott wrote,"We are as near spent as three persons can be". On February 3, Skelton and Bernacchi came out and greeted them. Soon they were back on the ship with handshakes and congratulations coming from all. They had been gone for ninety-three days and had covered 960 statute miles.

The Morning, commanded by William Colbeck, had left Lyttleton on December 6, 1902. On January 24, 1903 she made fast with ice-anchors to the flow off Hut Point. A party from the Morning delivered bags of mail; Royds alone had sixty-two letters and a cake. But all the talk was whether the eight or nine miles of ice that penned in the Discovery would break up and be carried out to sea in time for her to return with the Morning to Lyttleton. Colbeck could not risk leaving any later than the end of February and by February 10 it appeared the Discovery would not break free as new ice was forming. On February 22 they tried blowing holes in the ice with explosives to crack the floes but this didn't work. By the 25th Scott accepted the fact that the Morning would have to leave without them or risk being trapped itself. Fourteen tons of stores were offloaded onto the ice along with twenty tons of coal. The crew of the Morning sledged them half way at which point they met the Discovery crew who finished the sledge back to Hut Point.

The Morning had one other primary purpose to fulfill: to remove any members of the expedition who wished to return to civilization. Eight men applied to return with the Morning but Scott struggled with how to handle Shackleton. In his diary, Scott wrote that "On board he would have remained a source of anxiety, and would never have been able to do hard out-door work". Dr. Koettlitz then put his opinion in writing: "Mr. Shackleton's breakdown during the southern sledge journey was undoubtedly, in Dr. Wilson's opinion, due in great part to scurvy taint. I certainly agree with him; he has now practically recovered from it, but referring to your memo: as to the duties of an executive officer, I cannot say that he would be fit to undergo hardships and exposure in this climate". Shackleton went home. There is much controversy over this decision as rumors were in circulation that Scott had other reasons for sending Shackleton home. Armitage disagreed with Scott's decision and bitterness towards Scott grew through the years that followed. Before the departure of the Morning, Scott went so far as to suggest that Armitage go home to be with his wife and a child that he had never seen. Armitage was offended and insulted and later wrote, "I had been told that Sir Clements Markham intended to make the expedition a great Royal Navy one only, but all went well with me for the first year, when Scott thought that he had enough experience to go on his own--he had not --then he endeavoured to rid himself of all the Merchant Service element. When he, in a most kindly manner, suggested that I should return in the Morning, I absolutely refused. But he never forgave me, as not only did I destroy the RN idea, but he feared that I would obtain kudos which he desired". It was in fact Armitage who never forgave Scott.

Once it was realized that the Morning would sail alone, all the men got busy writing letters. On March 1, 1903 there was a farewell party on the Morning which went on for half the night. The next morning the Morning set sail. Shackleton shed tears as he watched his friends and shipmates drop out of sight. In his place, Sub-Lieutenant George Mulock, aged twenty-one, transferred to the Discovery.

The winter of 1903 set in earlier and was much colder than the year before. Sledging plans were made for the following season while resentment grew between Scott and Armitage. Royds wanted to go back to Cape Crozier to look for more penguin eggs while Armitage wanted to go south across the Barrier, more or less in Scott's footsteps. Royds wrote, "In my opinion, his sole wish is to beat the Captain's record. This the Captain wouldn't allow, though not for that reason by any means". This put Scott in an awkward position. If he refused, Armitage would charge that Scott wanted to keep the "farthest south" record to himself and not "let a subordinate have a go". This raised the question with Scott: are they there to do scientific and discovery work or are they there to compete for a dash to the South Pole? Scott clearly felt that it was the first-named objective. Scott could find no purpose in allowing Armitage to make a dash to the south as he felt, without dogs, Armitage would be fortunate to get as far as he had and would only risk death for himself and his party. It simply made no sense to Scott. Wilson wrote, "The Captain worked out the possibilities on paper and showed them to me, and I agreed with him in thinking it was far better to apply all our sledging energies to new work, rather than covering old ground with the chance of doing so little at the end of it. The upshot of it all is that Armitage is off the sledging list for this year altogether, though whether this is due to himself or anyone else I cannot say". Armitage's resentment only deepened.

On August 21, 1903 the rim of the sun appeared for the first time over the horizon. The sledging plans were pinned to the notice board with instructions for everyone to return and be back on board Discovery by December 15 so that all hands could work together to free the ship, if possible before the return of the Morning. There were to be two major ventures, each with a supporting party to lay depots and then return. Scott was to go west up the Ferrar glacier as far as he could get; Barne was to explore an inlet south of McMurdo Strait. The first to leave the ship, on September 7, were Royds, Wilson and four men, bound for Cape Crozier. The journey was rather uneventful as eggs and two live chicks were collected. On the trip back to the ship the temperature fell to -61°F which resulted in significant frostbite among the men. They arrived back at the ship without any further hardship. On September 9 Scott set out with Skelton and four others to lay a depot in preparation for the ascent of the western mountains. Meanwhile, Barne's party was out on the Barrier laying a depot southeast of White Island where the mercury in their thermometer dropped to -67.7°F and then broke. Scott's team left for their main journey on October 12. With four sledges, hauling 200 pounds per man, they reached New Harbor and dragged their loads up Ferrar glacier to a basin at about 4500 feet. The runners on the sledges became damaged to the point that the whole team had to turn around and travel eighty-seven miles back to the ship for repairs. Five days later they started out again and this time they succeeded in struggling to the top of the mountains where they were caught in a blizzard that nearly buried them alive. It was the most miserable week of his life, Scott wrote. They spent twenty-two out of every twenty-four hours in their sleeping bags for a whole week. They only climbed out long enough to get the cooker going and eat a hot meal. On November 14 they reached the summit at 8900 feet where they found themselves on a flat plain. For the next two weeks they sledged due west. A constant icy wind produced raw and bleeding lips. Lashly wrote, "The wind seems to be very troublesome here". On December 1 the team turned back. Scott wrote, "I don't know where we are but I know we must be a long way to the west. As long as I live, I never want to revisit the summit of Victoria Land". He was disappointed to find it an endless plateau nearly 9000 feet above sea level.

It was now a familiar story: hunger, exhaustion, deep sastrugi, fog, snowdrift, frostbite and snow-blindness. Food ran short and oil was nearly gone. On December 14 Scott faced the fact that they were lost. They had reached the edge of the plateau and were beginning to descend when Lashly slipped and started to slide on his back down the slope. In the process, he took the legs out from under the others and down they went, sledge and all, and when they came to a halt, they were stunned to find themselves at the head of the glacier, in familiar territory, only five or six miles from their depot. Miraculously, there were no broken bones. In Lashly's words, "all of a sudden the Captain and Evans disappeared down a crevasse and carried away one of the sledge runners, leaving me on top. It was now my duty to try and get them up again". Scott and Evans were left dangling with blue walls of ice on either side and nothingness below. Remarkably, Scott was able to swing his feet around and grip the wall with his crampons. Using the last of his strength, Scott was able to climb out to safety while Lashly pulled Evans up, whose only comment was "Well, I'm blowed". That night they reached the depot and eight days later, on Christmas Eve, they reached the ship. In fifty-nine days they had hauled their sledge 725 miles.

Only four men were at the ship to greet them when they arrived as the others were out on the ice, ten miles away, sawing and blasting at the ice in the hope of breaking it up to a point where the Discovery could be freed. Scott was pleased that all the sledging trips had returned safely. On the western mountains Ferrar had discovered a fossil leaf. Wilson was pleased with the results of his "penguin" expedition.

By the end of December, "twenty miles of ice hangs heavy on me". Scott had to start preparations for a third winter at Hut Point. On January 5, 1904 a ship came into view. It was the Morning and a few minutes later, Wilson exclaimed, "Why, there's another". Wilson wrote, "We were dumbfounded". Wilson and Scott set off for the two ships and were subsequently greeted at the edge of the ice by four men speaking "such perfect Dundee that we could hardly understand a word they said". They were from the second ship, the Terra Nova. Soon Wilson and Scott were aboard the Morning receiving their mail and questioning their old friend William Colbeck as to why two relief ships were at anchor in McMurdo Sound.

Terra Nova and Morning reach the Discovery
When the Morning returned from the Antarctic in 1903, Markham was delighted with the news of Scott's expedition but clearly a second relief expedition would be necessary. Unfortunately, there was little money left so together with Sir William Huggins, Markham appealed to the Government for a grant of £12,000. Markham knew all along that a second relief expedition would be necessary but this was a fact he had concealed from the Government when the original plans were laid. The Government felt misled and promptly took the matter out of the hands of the Societies. If left up to Markham and his group, the Government felt they would find an excuse to leave them on the ice for yet another year. The Government would take no chances as the goal would be to get the men home, safe and sound, even if it meant abandoning the Discovery. On June 20, 1903 the Government agreed to pay for the relief expedition provided the Morning was handed over "absolutely and at once", free of charge, to the Admiralty. Reluctantly, both societies agreed and the Morning now had new owners. Sir William Wharton, the hydrographer, was appointed by the Admiralty as chairman to the newly formed Antarctic Relief Committee.

Now the Government took an odd position. Wharton wrote, "It cannot be considered as certain that the Morning could get through single-handed, and a second vessel, if a suitable one could be found, would be a great additional safeguard". This decision by the Admiralty came on June 22, 1903 which gave them little more than four months to locate, refit and get her to Lyttleton by mid November. Wharton investigated resources all over Europe in an attempt to find a worthy whaling vessel that could accomplish the goal and it was from St. John's, Newfoundland that the suggestion came to purchase the Terra Nova. She was considerably larger than the Morning at 744 tons and 187 feet in length, and she came at a hefty price. She was purchased on July 6 for £20,000, some £17,200 more than Markham paid for the Morning and well above her appraised value. Try as they might, by the time she was ready to sail it was simply too late in the season for the Terra Nova to reach New Zealand on her own and still leave enough time to make McMurdo Sound. So, Wharton instructed her to be towed by naval vessels as far as the Persian Gulf from where she would continue on under her own sail and steam. HMS Minerva towed her from Portsmouth to Gibraltar, HMS Vindictive took her on to Aden and from there HMS Fox towed her to an area 120 miles off the east coast of Socotra where she was left on her own for the final leg. The Terra Nova abandoned plans to meet the Morning in Lyttleton as it was closer to sail directly to Hobart, Tasmania and meet up with her there. The two ships met in Hobart on October 31 and together they departed for McMurdo Sound.

Scott and his fellow officers were not only dismayed, but insulted, by the arrival of the Terra Nova along with the Morning. They had no idea of the problems encountered by Markham in England but one thing they knew for certain: one ship was all that was needed and to send two implied they were in deep trouble and unable to handle things on their own. Scott wrote, "It was not a little trying to be offered relief to an extent which seemed to suggest that we have been reduced to the direst need. No healthy man likes to be thought an invalid". Scott was very concerned that his career would be jeopardized. After all, if found an incompetent commander by his superiors, he might as well forget any promotion upon their return. Ironically, the Government seemed concerned that the expedition might be having too good a time. To them it made no sense to have their officers and men remain indefinitely in the Antarctic on full pay, all the while feasting on seals and provisions sent at great expense in an annual relief ship. In July 1903 the Government "could not consent to the officers and men of the Royal Navy being employed in any further expedition in the ice, even if sufficient private funds were raised for such a purpose, and that Commander Scott will receive directions to this effect". These directions were given to Colbeck, commander of the Terra Nova. To make matters even worse, instructions were given to Colbeck to have the Discovery abandoned if she could not be freed from the ice. Scott was furious. In normal conditions "a sailor would go through much rather than abandon his ship but the ties which bound us to the Discovery were very far beyond the ordinary", Scott wrote. She was dearly loved by her crew; she had been their home for two and a half years. She was considered the finest ship ever built for such a task and to abandon her would be like a broken marriage; it may not have been their fault but the men would have returned "as castaways with the sense of failure dominating the results of our labours".

Twenty miles of ice separated the ship from open water in mid January. Captain Mackay of the Terra Nova felt the departure date should not extend beyond February 25, 1904 and Colbeck agreed. Blasting and sawing proved useless so nothing was left but to pray for southeasterly gales. Aboard the Discovery Scott read the Admiralty's instructions to his crew and "There was a stony silence. I have not heard a laugh in the ship since I returned".

The crew began the difficult task of transferring all the scientific collections and equipment to the Morning and Terra Nova. For the next five weeks the ice slowly began to break up. An all-out attack on the ice was put into gear. Explosives, saws and everything imaginable was used in an attempt to free the ship. On January 27 Scott wrote, "I fear, I much fear, things are going badly for us". Royds wrote, "It is perfectly sickening. Why doesn't it break up? What the devil is holding it? The prospects are as cheerless as they could be and I could simply scream at our absolute helplessness". The thermometer fell to -14°F. By February 3 Royds wrote, "things look hopeless...everything is at a standstill". On February 12, Royds wrote, "As I write, the Terra Nova is now only about two miles away and the ice continues to break away. The ice was simply rushing out in huge lumps and floes, every blast sending more out, and cracking well behind". Now they worked harder than ever to free the ship as destiny was in the balance. St. Valentine's Day saw the break they needed as Scott and others raced up to Hut Point and noted that "The ice was breaking-up right across the strait, and with a rapidity which we had not thought possible. I have never witnessed a more impressive sight; the sun was low behind us, the surface of the ice-sheet in front was intensely white, and in contrast the distant sea and its forking leads looked almost black. The wind had fallen to a calm, and not a sound disturbed the stillness about us. Yet in the midst of this peaceful scene was an awful unseen urgency rending that great ice-sheet as though it had been naught but the thinnest without a word, without an effort on our part, it was all melting now, and we knew that in an hour or two not a vestige of it would be left, and that the open sea would be lapping on the black rocks of Hut Point".

The relief ships butted their way, side by side, to the Discovery. The men cheered as the Terra Nova broke through the last sheet of ice at 10:30 p.m. and freed the Discovery. A few days were hurriedly spent preparing the ships for departure. In memory to George Vince, a final emotional ceremony was held on the ice and a wooden cross was erected to mark his grave.

Despite a difficult departure to open water, the three ships finally were under way, leaving McMurdo Sound on February 19, 1904. Scott decided to take the Discovery round Cape Adare and explore to the west along the northern coast of Victoria Land. The Morning was to head straight for the Auckland Islands where the three ships would rendezvous and sail together to Lyttleton. After two years in the ice, the Discovery was far from seaworthy; water poured into the holds, the pumps wouldn't work, gales came up and subsequently everyone got seasick since they'd been landlocked for so long. The rudder was in such poor shape that it was ready to fall off; they had a spare but it was only half as big. The farther west they went, the thicker the ice became. Becoming short of coal, the ship turned north to find open water so they could use the sails. By this time she had lost touch with the Terra Nova. She was pushed so far north that she missed land altogether and instead rediscovered the Balleny Islands. On March 14 they reached the Auckland Islands with only 10 tons of coal left aboard. Neither of the other ships were there so while they waited, some of the crew cleaned and painted the ship while others went ashore and shot anything that looked edible, including wild cattle and pigs. The New Zealand Government maintained a depot of emergency supplies for the use of shipwrecked sailors (called by sealers Sarah's Bosom). The other vessels showed up a few days later and after three days sailing, on Good Friday, April 1, 1904, they reached Lyttleton Harbor. There was a wonderful welcoming party and guests and reporters swarmed the ships. Unfortunately, a remark made by Scott in a crowd was overheard by a reporter who took the comment totally out of context and falsely reported the incident. The men of the Discovery were in total agreement concerning the absurdity of sending the Terra Nova to rescue them. The story published by a Reuter's reporter made headlines in England: Commander Scott emphatically protests against the dispatch by the Admiralty of the Terra Nova, which he declares to have been a wasteful expense of money. He says that had the proper position of the Discovery been made known, it would have been obvious that she was perfectly safe, and no assistance beyond that which the Morning could render was requisite. Scott felt his goose was cooked when it came to a promotion. Even Royds commented, "Although it was the truth, he never said it".

Back home, matters weren't much better. Together with his brother-in-law, Scott was still supporting his mother. His two sisters were having a difficult time in the dressmaking industry as his mother wrote, "it is really a bad season, and no money going". Scott felt if he was not promoted, a certain life of poverty would return. Scott wrote to his mother from New Zealand, "If they wait till we get home, then two or three persons will inevitably leap over my head. The question is whether they will pass me over in June. It is such a close thing that it must make a great deal of difference".

Meanwhile, the ship was in need of repairs and yet money was so tight that Scott only paid the regular crewmembers while the officers were left to fend for themselves. Everyone wrote home from Lyttleton. Royds and Wilson wrote to Scott's mother, Hannah, telling her how proud they were of her son's efforts. Wilson wrote, "Without a doubt he has been the making of the Expedition and not one of us will but feel more and more grateful to him for the way he has acted throughout. Notwithstanding that it is a difficult thing, at least I imagine it is, for the Captain to make intimate friends with anyone, I feel as though we were real friends, and I need hardly say I am proud of it".

The Discovery was placed in dry dock for two months to complete repairs. Meanwhile, Scott was wined and dined by dignitaries all over the island. Scott wrote his mother, "We have had a very good time here but it is high time we were off, as all our young men are getting engaged. Skelton is actually caught. I believe the young lady is very nice". The young lady was Sybil. Others were caught as well: Teddy Evans of the Morning and Ferrar among the officers, Blissett and Weller among the men.

Incredibly, Royds and Scott were taken to court and fined £5 for shooting cattle on Enderby Island, in the Auckland Islands, while waiting for the other ships to rendezvous. Although running wild, they had no idea the cattle were private property.

As for the scientists work, the collections went to the British Museum of Natural History and their statistical material to the Royal Society. Upon arrival in England, all the scientists went their separate ways. Wilson worked on his huge collection at the Natural History Museum. He never went back to medical practice. The Service men had no problems with future employment; they simply slipped back into their regular jobs without any loss of seniority. Royd's figured it would take ten years before a promotion and he was quite accurate as he did not reach rank of Captain until 1914. Skelton made a brilliant career for himself in the Royal Navy. But it was Scott who pondered his fate as the Discovery sailed from Lyttleton on June 8, 1904. On September 10, over three years after leaving, the Discovery reached Spithead.

Sir Clements Markham and his wife were aboard the ship when she steamed into Portsmouth Harbor where "All the men of war, and a line of boats sent from Whale Island, gave hearty cheers". It was here that Scott learned of his appointment as post-Captain which was to take effect the following day. In his welcoming speech at the East India Docks on September 16, Markham declared, "Never has any polar expedition returned with so great a harvest of scientific results". Truly, this had been the most revealing of all Antarctic exploration as meticulous records were kept on the scientific work. But Scott could not accept full credit as he proclaimed that "An Antarctic expedition is not a one-man show, not a two-man show, nor a ten-man show. It means the co-operation of all...There has been nothing but a common desire to work for the common good".

Scott now moved his mother and two sisters to a house they found at 56 Oakley Street, off the Chelsea Embankment. This was to be Scott's home for four years and it still stands today marked by a blue commemorative plaque.

Initially, Scott received royal thanks but his only honor was the appointment to Commander of the Victorian Order, a step up from the Membership which he already had. Even the press hounded the Government as they felt he should have at least received an Order of the Bath, if not a knighthood.

An exhibition at the Bruton Galleries opened on November 4, 1904, which drew an estimated 10,000 visitors. Inside were a collection of Wilson's drawings, Skelton's photographs, a model of the Discovery, sledging equipment and rations. On November 7 Scott gave his first big lecture to 7,000 invited members and guests of the two Societies at Albert Hall. Now the praise was raining down on Scott. He was awarded the Patron's Gold Medal of the RGS, was made a member of the French Legion of Honour and the Russian Geographical Society, and received medals from the Geographical Societies of Philadelphia, Denmark and Sweden. What pleased him most was an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Cambridge University. When he left London he headed for Edinburgh for more lectures and the Royal Geographical Society's Livingstone Medal. Shackleton had arranged this and now the two were on excellent terms. Scott wrote his mother, "Everyone is very pleased with Shackleton. He is showing great energy and business capacity". Scott traveled with Shackleton to Glasgow and Dundee for more speaking engagements. Meanwhile, Markham pleaded with the Government to retain the Discovery for future polar work but his remarks fell on deaf ears. She was sold to the highest bidder, the Hudson's Bay Company, for £10,000, about one-fourth her original cost.

Scott continued to travel around the country giving lectures and making preparations to publish a book about the expedition. Scott wrote, "Of all things I dread having to write a narrative and am wholly doubtful of my capacity; in any event if I have to do it, it will take me a long time. I have not...the pen of a ready writer". By the start of 1905 the book was nearly completed. On October 12, 1905, in an edition of 3000 copies, the Voyage of the Discovery was published. An incredible piece of work, the two-volume edition was profusely illustrated with Wilson's drawings and Skelton's photographs. Scott needlessly worried about his abilities for writing as nearly all the critics praised it. The Times Literary Supplement called it "a masterly work". His former crewmembers each received a free copy and they all loved it. Scott insisted on sending Wilson a check for £100 as a fee for reproducing his drawings; Wilson refused but Scott made him take it anyway. (Today, a single drawing can fetch $10,000 or more.) The book sold reasonably well; the first edition sold out immediately so 1500 more copies were printed the following month. But then the sales fell dramatically; when the book went out of print in 1919, total sales amounted to 5,272 copies. (Try to find one!) Scott was a little concerned with Armitage's newly published book, Two Years in the Antarctic which also came out in the autumn of 1905, but he wrote nothing derogatory about his former leader.

Scott was single and thirty-seven years old when, in April 1906, he announced at an RGS meeting that "I am sorry to say that my lines are cast in such places that in all probability I shall not return to those regions". But there was a great deal of emotion as in the same speech he touched on "those fields of snow sparkling in the sun, the pack-ice and bergs and blue sea, and those mountains, those glorious southern mountains, rearing their heads in desolate grandeur. The movements of the pack, those small mysterious movements with the hush sound that comes across the water, and I hear also the swish of the sledge...I cannot explain to you, they will always drag my thought back to those good times when these things were before me". Bernacchi wrote years later, "Those were golden days and their memories are fraught with joy". Michael Barne, with frostbitten fingers, was already trying to raise money to finance his own expedition. Later in April, Scott was saying that "in all probability" he would return to the Antarctic as London society expected him to make a dash for the Pole. In September, Scottish playwright J. M. Barrie wrote to Scott, "I chuckle with joy to hear all the old hankerings are coming back to you. I feel you have to go out again, and I too keep an eye open for the man with the dollars". By early 1907 , Scott had made up his mind to lead a second expedition to the Antarctic.



Date: 1901 [April]

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Location: Now moored on the River Tay - see:


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Photographer: Lafayette Ltd., 179 New Bond Street, London.

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No of poses: 1.

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Provenance: Pinewood Studios; acquired 1989.


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Reproduced: The Sketch, 15 April, 1903, p 464; The Navy and Army Illustrated, 14 Dec 1901, p 336

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