January 27, 2010

Thursday, 27 January 1910


L.E.G. Oates [1]

Captain Lawrence Oates of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, stationed in India, wrote (with characteristically indifferent spelling) towards the end of a chatty letter to his mother, "I have now a great confession to make. I offered my services to the Antarctic Expedition that starts this summer from home under Scott, they wrote and told me to produced [sic] my referrances [sic] which I did and they appear to have been so flattering that I have been practically accepted.... [Scott] appears to be a man who can make up his mind and having decided he told me at once.... Points in favour of going. It will help me professionally as in the army if they want a man to wash labels off bottles they would sooner employ a man who had been to the North Pole than one who has only got as far as the Mile End Road. The job is most suitable to my tastes Scott is almost certain to get to the Pole and it is something to say you were with the first party. The climate is very healthy although inclined to be cold." [2]

Oates was thirty years old, a member of the landed gentry and a cavalry officer who had seen action in the Boer War, suffering a gunshot wound that shattered his thigh and left that leg an inch shorter than his right.

He had in fact offered to be a "paying volunteer", giving £1,000 to the expedition and his services for free.


[1] Detail from a portrait reproduced on the dustjacket of Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley (London : Batsford, 1982).
[2] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, 27 January, 1910, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.374.

January 22, 2010

Saturday, 22 January 1910


An Oxo advertisement from around 1912. [1]

"[The] advertisement to be derived from the supply of stores to an Expedition such as this is thought of very highly in this country," Scott wrote to Joseph Kinsey, his agent in New Zealand, "and thanks to this and a patriotic wish for our success, we are getting goods on extraordinarily favourable terms." [2]

Other products ranged from Imperial Tobacco and Lyle's Golden Syrup to Tate's sugar and Oxford marmalade, Jaeger clothing and boots, and Bass "King's Ale".


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] R.F. Scott, letter to Joseph Kinsey, 22 January, 1910, quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998, c1997), p.117.

January 15, 2010

January 1910


Early in the new year, the expedition was given a government grant of £20,000, far short of the £40,000 he needed. Scott's application had emphasised the scientific aspect of the expedition, especially its geological ambitions. "It is anticipated that the accomplishment of very important scientific work will be fulfilled.... The steps which are being taken will ensure the Expedition being better equipped to deal with scientific problems that any other Polar expedition that has ever left these shores." [1]

"Captain Scott," wrote the Daily Mail with approval, "has a personal force which is plain for all men to see. Thick-set, deep-chested, with a thoughtful geniality in his clean-shaven 'naval-officer' face, he is much of the bull-dog type, with blue eyes that look out sparklingly from a face hard-bitten with adventure. 'Suppose you don't succeed at first?' he was asked.... Captain Scott took his cigarette from his lips and brought his finger down on to the table with slow emphasis. '... We shall jolly well stop there till the thing is done.'" [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, [source not given], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.359-360.
[2] Daily Mail, January 1910, quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998, c1997), p.118-119.