November 13, 2012

Wednesday, 13 November 1912


"Hour after hour, so it seemed to me," Cherry wrote later, "Atkinson sat in our tent and read. The finder was to read the diary and then it was to be brought home -- these were Scott's instructions written on the cover. But Atkinson said he was only going to read sufficient to know what had happened -- and after that they were brought home unopened and unread. When he had the outline we all gathered together and he read to us the Message to the Public, and the account of Oates' death, which Scott had expressly wished to be known." [1]

"Of their sufferings hardship and devotion to one another the world will soon know," wrote Williamson, "the deeds that were done were equally as great as any committed on Battlefield and the respect and honour of every true Britisher." [2]

But, wrote Gran in his diary, "I cannot rid myself of the thought that we ought to have been able to save Scott. Perhaps we might have succeeded if Cherry could have navigated. My companions are too phlegmatic. It is sometimes a good thing to raise Hell. Perhaps Scott himself is most to blame. He did not want to risk others' lives to save his own. But I wonder if he didn't also think that if Shackleton managed to come back without help, so could he -- and so he could, if it had been Our Lord's intention .... Atkinson was too much the calm, conservative doctor. He is capable, but too unimaginative. Ah yes, it is sad indeed." [3]

"The question of what we might have done for them with the dog teams is terribly on my mind," wrote Cherry, "but we obeyed instructions, and did our very utmost -- up to breaking down ourselves -- and I know that we did our best. To have found that they were here when we were at One Ton could have been most terrible -- but they did not get here till 11 days after we had to leave: & we could not have waited longer." He added, "It is all too horrible -- I am almost afraid to go to sleep now." [1]


[1] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, ch.14.
[2] Thomas Williamson, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.556.
[3] Tryggve Gran, diary, [13 November, 1912?], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.555.
[4] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 12-13 November 1912, Scott Polar Research Institute.

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