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Rescue of the ship that went furthest south (1904)

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On the shorter sledge journeys it was, of course, possible to take an ample supply of provisions, sweet stuff such as jam and sugar being the best things, because of their warmth-giving properties. Pemmican also was one of the special foods, and cheese on account of its nourishing properties. Bread is too heavy to take and freezes hard, owing to the water in it, so biscuit forms tho most suitable farinaceous food.

On tho southern journey, however, weight had to be cut down to the lowest possible margin, and the food consisted of tea, cocoa, pemmican, bacon, biscuit, sugar, soup and some dried seal meat. This formed our diet for ninety-four days. The total allowance per man was barely two pounds, made up of these different items, although as time went on and provisions had to be shortened, the southern party were traveling on one pound eight ounces a day.

During a great part of the journey it was found impossible to halt for lunch, and, as fuel could ill be afforded more than twice a day, the lunch consisted of eight lumps of sugar, a biscuit, and a small piece of seal meat, about two ounces, which were eaten as we marched along. If forced to lie in the tent and not march when there was a blizzard, sometimes we had only two meals, breakfast and dinner, sleeping as much as possible for the rest of the day, with perhaps a chapter of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” for lunch, which, except the Book of Common Prayer, was the only book we took with us. The weight of these two volumes was only a little over a pound and a half, for the covers were taken off one of them.

The difficulty of dressing in the morning (the dressing consisted only of slipping out of our sleeping-bags and putting on our wind-clothes and foot-gear, for we never changed anything else during the whole time) may he imagined by the fact that it took from half-past five in the morning to half-past seven for us to get under way — that is, from the time we got up, cooked our breakfast, rolled the tent up, and loaded the sledges. Our foot-gear was finneskoe — that is, boots made of reindeer skin and used to freeze hard in the night, and one could only introduce one’s toes at first till it gradually thawed, and then work the whole foot into it. Our socks had to be changed, of course, at night, as the hot feet during the day made them damp, and the prospect of working into frozen socks in the morning was never very pleasant.

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Still, we all managed to got back with our lives, and, indeed, without permanent injury.

It was late in March before the Discovery, the Morning and the Terra Nova made their way out of the ice pack. The expedition steamed to New Zealand before returning to Liverpool.


Images, from start: Photo of the ship Discovery; drawing of Discovery, as it appeared in this newspaper article; Lieutenant Ernest Shackleton; Discovery Hut, which was built in 1902 on Ross Island, as seen in by the US Navy in 1955; Robert Falcon Scott in full regalia (London 1905); Supplies found still on the shelves of Discovery Hut in 2010 (Photograph by Peter Rejcek for the
National Science Foundation).

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