December 1, 2010

Thursday, 1 December 1910


Oates with some of the ponies on the Terra Nova, photographed by Herbert Ponting. (Note the damage that the ponies have done to the edge of their stalls by windsucking.) [1]

Even in calm weather, life aboard ship for the ponies must have been a trial. Scott described their situation in his diary: "Under the forecastle fifteen ponies close side by side, seven one side, eight the other, heads together and groom between -- swaying, swaying continually to the plunging, irregular motion. One takes a look through a hole in the bulkhead and sees a row of heads with sad, patient eyes come swinging up together from the starboard side, whilst those on the port swing back; then up come the port heads, whilst the starboard recede. It seems a terrible ordeal for these poor beasts to stand this day after day for weeks together...." [2]

The rest of the scientific staff had joined the ship in New Zealand -- Taylor, Raymond Priestley, and Frank Debenham.

Australian Frank Debenham received a BA in English and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and after a few years teaching in New South Wales returned to university to study geology under Sir Edgeworth David, who, on Shackleton's expedition had led the first ascent of Mt Erebus as well as the first party to reach the South Magnetic Pole (although there is now some doubt about its then-location).

Raymond Priestley, recruited by Scott in Sydney, had just completed his second year reading geology at University College, Bristol, when he joined Shackleton's Nimrod expedition as geologist, working with Edgeworth David and Douglas (later Sir Douglas) Mawson.


Amundsen announced the landing party: Prestrud, Johansen, Hassel, Lindstrøm, Helmer Hanssen, Wisting, Bjaaland, Stubberud, and himself.

Gjertsen wanted so badly to go ashore that he asked Amundsen if he could change places with Prestrud. Amundsen agreed if Prestrud did, but Prestrud did not want to change.

Amundsen increased the wages of those sailing back by half again, partly in consolation for the disappointment. He had, however, chosen his men, with a few exceptions, from those who had originally signed on for the whole Arctic drift.


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] R.F. Scott, diary, 1 December, 1910, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

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