Search for Ernest Shackleton’s lost expedition ship, The Endurance, in Antarctica Bedford News

Endurance (photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

History reporter Andrew Southam envisions the mission to find the famous explorer’s missing ship, crushed by ice as the crew watched it as it sank into the ocean.

“Not a life wasted and we’ve been through hell.”

Famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton described his world famous rescue mission to his wife 100 years ago.

His leadership kept 27 men alive through two years of hardship and danger on a failed expedition to cross the South Pole between 1914 and 1917.

The tragedy

In early 1915, an ice floe trapped his ship, Endurance, in the Weddell Sea before reaching Antarctica.

Endurance (photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

After ten months of life on this “winter station”, Sir Ernest camped his crew on the ice where they watched the ship sink.

epic journey

Two months later, they dragged three lifeboats out to sea and traveled 350 miles in five days to uninhabited Elephant Island. Here the crew built a makeshift camp using upturned boats and lived off penguins and seals.

With no prospect of rescue and 1916 now moving into spring, Sir Ernest decided to reach a whaling station on South Georgia Island 800 miles away.

Leaving in April, he and four men sailed for two weeks across the perilous Southern Ocean.

A hurricane caused them to change direction just as they saw distant lights – that same storm sank a 500 foot steamer traveling to South Georgia.

A dark determination

Sir Ernest decided to walk the remaining distance upon landing on the south bank.

He and two others hammered nails into their boots to make climbing shoes and left with just 50 feet of rope and a cutting tool.

They traveled 32 miles through an uncharted mountain range for a day and a half to reach the whaling station at Stromness Bay on May 20. The world had presumed them dead.


He quickly sent a boat to rescue his two men from South Georgia and organized the rescue of his crew from Elephant Island.

Ice thwarted three attempts until he finally reached them in late August. All were alive.

He then helped rescue his other crew, the Ross Sea Party, by dropping off supplies on the other side of Antarctica.

These suffered their own hardships, with three dying on land and adrift before reaching New Zealand stranded without money.

Sir Ernest died 100 years ago last January.

Centennial Marking

To mark this centenary, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust plans to find Endurance 3,500 meters deep in the Weddell Sea.

Experienced marine archaeologists, scientists and engineers aboard one of the world’s largest polar research vessels, SA Agulhas II, expect to find the wreckage within a month.

Aerial view of SA Agulhas II (photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

To help them, the captain’s logbook records where the ship sank and two underwater vehicles that travel 100 miles taking video and photos.

Endurance22 preparatory expedition (photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

Grim history repeats itself

Leaving Cape Town on February 5, history almost repeated itself last week when the expedition itself became stuck in the ice.

Among the crew is historian and broadcaster Dan Snow who says that “Shackleton’s wreck hunt will be the biggest story in the world in history in 2022… We’re going to tell Shackleton’s story and this expedition to find his lost ship like never before”. before. It’s a dream come true.

SAAB Sabertooth underwater research vehicle (photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

The restless Anglo-Irish Sir Ernest grew up in London where his family moved from Kildare when he was six. After a boring school life, he served an apprenticeship in the merchant navy up to the post of sea captain.

He cut his teeth on Captain Robert Scott’s first Antarctic expedition before setting his own records, including traveling the furthest south on the White Continent.


These exploits produced chivalry and influence to launch his ill-fated expedition.

Norwegian Roald Amundsen had already reached the South Pole in 1911 and Captain Scott died trying a year later, so Sir Ernest decided to make the first Antarctic crossing instead.

Thousands of people applied for the expedition which he reduced to two crews of 28 men.

Books and films depicting the trip include the 2002 TV movie, Shackleton, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh.


Reputation did not solve Sir Ernest’s perennial debts made worse by unsuccessful business ventures or help a worsening heart problem made worse by alcohol.

Nonetheless, he still aided the World War I effort when he returned to Britain.

Age and health ruled out a combat role, so the government used him in South America, Norway and then Russia against the Bolsheviks – earning him a mention in despatches.

Sir Ernest planned another expedition to Antarctica in 1919. Many of his original crew signed up although some had yet to receive their pre-war expedition pay.

premature death

Tragedy struck. On the morning of January 5, 1922, he suffered fatal heart failure in South Georgia at the age of 47. His wife Emily had him buried in a small grave at the Grytviken whaling station.

Although he never reached the pole, Sir Ernest Shackleton left a legacy of leadership and courage in addition to expedition firsts. His common touch created a bond with his men who knew him as “Boss”.

When the Endurance expedition photographer lost his mittens, Sir Ernest handed over his own suffering frostbite as a result.

Full expedition details can be found at Endurance22 – The Hunt For Shackleton’s Lost Ice Ship and at Dan

Snow’s History Hit History Hit, Little Dot is looking for Shackleton’s Endurance – Televisual. Shackleton’s first RRS Discovery ship can be viewed in Dundee.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-05 12:30:40

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