March 21, 2010

Monday, 21 March 1910


The officers of the 1901-1904 British Antarctic Expedition aboard the Discovery. From left: Edward Wilson, Ernest Shackleton, Albert Armitage, Michael Barne, Reginald Koettlitz, Reginald Skelton, Capt. Robert Scott, Charles Royds, Louis Bernacchi, Hartley Ferrar, Thomas V. Hodgson. [1]

Skelton had assumed that the rank of second-in-command would be his, but the hiring of Lt. Evans put paid to that, as, although Skelton himself was willing to go in any capacity, Evans was unable to accept the notion of a commander of senior rank serving under him.

"I should be delighted to have you on the Expedition," Scott wrote to Skelton, "but it would be folly for me to indulge in a personal predilection and this may lead to friction -- I hope you see my position -- Evans would of course assent if I put my foot down but I don't think I ought to do that, for yielding on his part should be voluntary." [2]

Skelton, not only having sailed with Scott on the Discovery, but having developed the motor sledges for the new expedition, was understandably bitter about being jettisoned in favour of the inexperienced Evans. "If the dispensing with my services is so easy, I think it might have been put so 3 years ago when you [first] wrote ... to me about the motor sledge." [3]

"My dear chap, you are bound to feel sore over this matter and I cannot expect you will quite appreciate my motives. I am very grieved that it should be so.... I have the highest regard for your capabilities, your integrity, & your loyalty to myself," Scott wrote, adding at last, "I'm sorry awfully sorry." [4]


[1] Wikimedia Commons.
[2] R.F. Scott, letter to Reginald Skelton, 21 March, 1910, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.361.
[3] Reginald Skelton, letter to R.F. Scott, 7 April, 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.279.
[4] R.F. Scott, letter to Reginald Skelton, 3 April, 1910, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.362.

No comments:

Post a Comment