June 3, 2010

Friday, 3 June 1910


Debenham, Wright, Priestley, and Taylor (reading). Debenham and Priestley would meet the expedition in New Zealand and Australia, respectively. [1]

The Terra Nova arrived in Cardiff. Here they would be joined by more of the scientific staff.

T. Griffith Taylor, thirty, was an Australian geologist who received a Bachelor of Engineering in mining and metallurgy and had recently been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society. Encouraged by his Cambridge tutors and by his friend Douglas Mawson, recently returned from Shackleton's expedition, Taylor applied for the post of physiographer and geologist on Scott's expedition, and was accepted.

Charles S. Wright, nicknamed "Silas", was a twenty-three-year old Canadian physicist who had studied at the University of Toronto and won a postgraduate scholarship to Cambridge where he was now at the end of his two years research into cosmic rays. Impressed by Mawson, Wright had applied for Scott's expedition and been rejected.

Taylor then suggested to his friend that he should reapply to Scott in person; being academics and thus chronically short of funds, they decided to walk the fifty miles from Cambridge to London, with only a dozen hard-cooked eggs for sustenance. "Wright came through 'smiling'," Taylor later wrote of their ten-hour walk, "but my feet were so sore I could hardly stand the next day. My chief recollection is one of loathing for hard-boiled eggs, and of the relief with which I dropped three-quarters of our provisions in a secluded corner of King's Cross." [2]

After a brief interview, Scott changed his mind and Wright was engaged as expedition physicist, for the standard expedition rate of £4 per week for the first year. [3] It was still uncertain as to whether the expedition would remain for a second year.


The Fram off Uranienborg, June 1910. Amundsen stands in front with his dog. Photograph by Anders Beer Wilse. [4]

The Fram left Christiania and sailed down to anchor off Amundsen's home at Bundefjord. Verdens Gang, a Christiania newspaper, wrote that her "three yellow masts glistened in the sunlight, and ... the ship's black bulk stood out ... against the green ... forest-clad background.... Broad, sturdy and sober is she [and] a certain Sabbath peace hung over the vessel, as she lay there, at the edge of the gently rippled, slightly sombre fjord." [5]

Uranienborg, June 1910. Photograph by Anders Beer Wiltse. [6]

The "ice hut", June 1910. Photograph by Anders Beer Wiltse. [7]

The hut stood on the lawn at the water's edge for all to see, and was disassembled and stowed on board. "The more experienced among the members of the expedition," Amundsen wrote later, "were evidently absorbed in profound conjectures as to the meaning of this 'observation house,' as the newspapers had christened it. It may willingly be admitted that they had good reason for their speculations. By an observation house is usually meant a comparatively simple construction, sufficient to provide the necessary shelter from wind and weather. Our house, on the other hand, was a model of solidity, with three double walls, double roof and floor. Its arrangements included ten inviting bunks, a kitchen, and a table; the latter, moreover, had a brand-new American-cloth cover. 'I can understand that they want to keep themselves warm when they're making observations,' said Helmer Hanssen; 'but what they want with a cloth on the table I can’t make out.'" [8] Amundsen did not enlighten them.


[1] "The TERRA NOVA Expedition 1910-13", south-pole.com.
[2] T. Griffith-Taylor, With Scott: the Silver Lining (London: Smith Elder, 1916), p.5, quoted by Adrian Raeside in Return to Antarctica: the Amazing Adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's Journey to the South Pole (Mississauga, Ont.: John Wiley, c2009), p.37-38.
[3] Wheeler, Sara, Cherry : a life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard (New York : Modern Library, 2003, c2001), p.66.
[4] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[5] Verdens Gang, 6 June 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.287.
[6] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[7] GalleriNOR, Norsk Folkemuseum.
[8] Roald Amundsen, The South Pole, ch.3.

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