January 22, 2011

Sunday, 22 January 1911


Oates, photographed by Ponting, 1911. [1]

"The transport is of course the great question," Oates wrote to his mother just before the start of the first depot journey, "and between you and me things are not as rosy as they might be. To start with we had three sledges the best of which fell through the ice and sank in 100 fathoms to arise no more the other two have developed serious defects which prevent them being used on this depot journey, secondly I went a journey [sic] yesterday to Glacier Tongue with Meares and 9 dogs only 14 miles there and back and we returned both walking, one dog being dragged on the sledge two more not able to pull atal and the rest dead beat: now for the journey eleven is the team and they are expected to pull 450 lbs personally I am glad I have not much to do with them."

"The ponies are alright but as I say nobody understands severe marching with ponies except Meares and myself and Meares goes with the dogs and I can't run the lot especially as there are three people over me to give orders. Scott and Evans boss the show pretty well and their ignorance about marching with animals is colossal, on several points Scott is going on lines contrary to what I have suggested, however, if I can only persuade him to take a pony himself he will learn a lot this autumn. That is all the growl I have got."

"The ponies have improved out of all recognition since coming ashore they are fat but of course soft as after we had finished hauling stores ashore they have had no exercise no-one being available for the job, this is a point Scott cannot see the force of but if he wishes to march with soft animals I am content. We shall I am sure be handicapped by the lack of experience in trekking which the party possesses, Scott having spent too much of his time in an office, he would fifty times sooner stay in the hut seeing how a pair of Foxs spiral puttees suited him than come out and look at the ponies legs or a dogs feet [sic] -- however I suppose I think too much of this having come strate [sic] from a regiment where horses were the first and only real consideration."

"I wonder what has happened to Amundsen. Scott thinks he has gone to the Weddell Sea to try for the Pole from there, if it comes to a race he will have a great chance of getting there as he is a man who has been at this kind of game all his life and he has a hard crowd behind him while we are very young. Don't think from what I say that Scott is likely to endanger anyone, it is quite the reverse and I may be maligning the man altogether as I admit I am annoyed at him not having taken my advice more freely about the marches.... I don't know yet whether I shall stay or not as it is early yet and I shan't decide until I see the mail.... I'm afraid you will think my letter is full of growls, but as a matter of fact I am having a first class time am very fit and looking forward to the sledge journey." [2]


[1] Wikipedia.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, [22 January, 1911], quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.107-108.

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