SCOTT, Robert Falcon

(1868 - 1912)
“It is the work that matters, not the applause that follows.” 

Forever known as “Scott of the Antarctic”, Robert Falcon Scott was born into a seafaring family and joined the Royal Navy when only 13.  In his early 30’s he came to the attention of the Royal Geographical Society who appointed him as the commander of the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04, whose mission was to investigate the animals, weather and geology of the Antarctic in the area around the Ross Sea.  His expedition party, which included Ernest Shackleton, was partially funded by the government, and had a purpose built ship, the Discovery, which was specifically designed to go through icy seas.  The expedition reached further south than anyone before them and Scott returned to Britain a national hero.   Having caught the exploration bug, Scott spent the next few years raising funds for a second expedition – this time to be the first to reach the South Pole.  In a converted whaling ship, the Terra Nova, the expedition set off in 1910.  The party suffered from appalling weather conditions, which resulted in first the ponies and sledges, and then the dog teams, having to turn back.  By January 1912 five of the party remained on course, reaching the Pole on 17th January, only to find that Amundsen had already been there.  The 800 mile journey back was tortuous, Evans perishing  in February and almost a month later to the day, Oates famously walked out into the snow.  The remaining three members of the Polar Party, including Scott and only 11 miles from their supply depot, died from hunger and cold a short while later. Eight months afterwards, a search party found the tent, the bodies and Scott’s diary, which he had maintained until the very end.  The bodies were buried in the tent, with a cairn of ice and snow to mark the spot.

Scott’s enduring legacy is one of dedication and science – when approaching death he and his men kept with them their precious geological samples and scientific notebooks - and his work added enormously to the knowledge of the Antarctic.


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