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Scott of the Antarctic

Posted by PJ on November 01, 2011 at 23:56:48:

100 years ago today on 1st nov 1911 the fateful Scott expedition departed Cape Evans en route to The South Pole. The group included a number of Irishmen among them the legendary Kerryman Tom Crean who was in the last party to turn back (on 4th jan 1912) and was therefore one of the last 3 to see Scott and the other 4 ill fated members of the Polar party alive.

Scott and the 4 arrived at Magnetic South Pole on 17th jan 1912 only to discover that Amundsen had made it there before them on 14 Dec 1911. The party perished on the way back, Scott's last diary entry was dated 29th march 1912.

Michael Smith in his excellent book on Tom Crean "An Unsung Hero" proposes that had Scott selected Crean instead of the injured and ailing Edgar Evans for the final push, they may have made it both there and back safely. On the other hand Crean too may well have perished and not had the chance for his future heroics in saving the life of Teddy Evans on the march back by walking 32 miles alone for help. Neither would he have went on to participated in Shackeltons legendary and equally ill fated (and appropriately titled) Endurance expedition.

Either way the judgement of Scott has posed countless questions for historians in the intervening 100 years and but for the tragedy of the outcome one would be compelled to wonder would he have otherwise been regarded as a mere footnote to Amundsen's heroic and much better calculated achievement?

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