Lurking – how to explore online

The text below is taken from a weekly email to the Alumni of the UCLP NHS Staff College

LURK – the low risk way to take a first step into the world of social media

I have been asked how I decide on what links to put into the weekly email,I hope this explanation answers that question but also offers you an opportunity to get more involved.

I only include material in the weekly email that has had an impact on me. That response maybe agreement, disagreement, curiosity, surprise, frustration or interest, and I may not always declare which it is. I look through many articles each week and some don’t get past the first line before they are rejected, others I read and if they impacted in some way I then share. I do occasionally make some personal comments but I often just reflect the piece. I also make sure, as much as possible, that the piece is a web link that does not require subscription or membership from the reader and does not use much computer memory (no big downloads).

The next question is often, why email ? Email works very well for this type of communication, you can read it, delete it, save it and forward it to others with edits. All these functions exist within a common set of existing skills and access. It has been suggested that I move to a more modern format and use networks and social media. To some extent I have, but I realise that many people remain anxious about such communications. When I have asked the opinion of groups to social media the response has been very clear and on the whole not supportive at this time. I believe that will change but I am not sure when or even that I know what the future needs of the Alumni look like. Some good questions yet to be asked.

Social media, email alerts, newsletters, colleagues, journals and newspapers all provide me with a great deal of material each week and I try and review and filter to help avoid you being swamped. In a recent article the unstoppable rise of social media in public services was discussed. The piece suggested that social media networks were here to stay and all organisations were using them and that use would only increase. So what do you do if you feel uncomfortable with social media but acknowledge that it is here to stay and you should learn something more about it? Well, perhaps you could start as I did and lurk!

Lurking is a term that is used to describe someone who signs in to social media sites and then watches but doesn’t contributes. I have a responsibility as an individual and an employee to manage all my communication and I share the concerns of many of you. The medium may have changed but my professional responsibility hasn’t. But I wanted to learn, understand and explore the potential of new media outlets and connect with others and share our work. I also wanted to make sure I had an understanding of this new world. So that is how I get many of the links you see, I lurk. I watch and listen to a lot of what is going on out there without contributing. When I find something of interest I read and then I share, I hope I am a useful filter for you as there is a great deal of ‘stuff’ produced each and every week. As time has progressed I have become a little more comfortable and have written a blog, responded to debates on twitter and used LinkedIn to connect with others, I also have auto emails generated from sites of interest, I let internet search engines alert me to news items and even facebook now contains many useful organisational sites (although it is my least favourite medium). 

A further concern is the cross over between sharing professional news and personal thoughts or social / family stories. You can often see a well respected professional is discussion with colleagues about important topics and then see an update on their weekend activity, holiday snaps or TV habits. Some of these observations are actually very revealing and show we have more in common than you first think. However, some are dull, boring and you can feel a little intrusive at times. I have worked around this challenge by creating two online lives. I have a personal email, facebook and twitter account on which I can share my personal and family life. I will not be sharing these and so you won’t be getting tweets from me letting you know how my kids are doing, what coffee I drink or how disappointed I am with Saturdays football results. My second online world is a combination of those social media outlets which connect to my work and wider professional interests. I have created a second set of twitter, email, facebook, blog, Google + accounts and keep my work and my personal world separate. I have found this a safe way to explore social media networks. This option may also be a safe way for you to learn about these services. Create an online presence for your professional interests and just lurk, listen, don’t talk and learn along the way. When you feel confident you may want to contribute.

New media platforms are springing up and I am sure the future for this style of communication will not be where we are now, but now is a good time to start learning. If people are interested I am very happy to share my experiences of lurking and also happy to help people set up connections. I am no expert and I have made several mistakes but I am happy to help if the need is there. If that is still a little too much of a jump then perhaps a more gentle way of bringing numerous sources together without creating social media accounts would be an App called Flipboard. This App allows you to have numerous online worlds feeding into one place and creates a personal journal, newspaper, and magazine. So if you have a tablet or a smart phone then try out this free App. If I can help in anyway, if you want to try some of this stuff then just let me know. I am sure some of you know and understand more than I do but this has been how I have experienced and learned about new online communication networks. If it helps you can explore and simply connect your new online world to mine and see how you get on. I have made lots of mistakes and I am sure my online presentation could be improved but I have learned and have enjoyed the experience.

My professional interest connections are below.

twitter : @steveandrews3

linkedIN :

facebook :

G+ :

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First they came for the Jews

First They Came for the Jews” By Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

We often see particular relevance in quotations and prose and it maybe useful to consider more deeply why some words and phrases evoke and impact more than others. The real events behind this short piece seem confused and unclear when you search for details. But for me the meaning is clear and evokes a sadness and committment. These lines speak of a connectivity between people. To ignore poverty, torture, brutality and discrimination and to justify that by believing it’s not your concern or business is fundamentally flawed. We are all connected. I remember what we were all taught at the beginning of my clinical career, ‘imagine it’s your father, mother, sister or brother in that bed’. While I understand the sentiment behind the words the idea is false. misleading and provides places to hide and shirk responsibility.

The patients we care for are not our mothers, fathers or siblings and so reality creates a space that allows us a get out, a deep-rooted escape in that challenging moment. Perhaps if we changed that easy, yet emotive, line from basic training to something that stood the test of reality we may better progress the debate on quality care. As committed carers and human beings we don’t need to imagine patients are our relatives. They are fragile connections and relationships that matter in just as fundamental way, they are strangers, and perhaps that matters even more. Caring for your family stirs a variety of emotions and pressures; duty, longevity of relationship, social expectation etc. Caring for strangers requires a deeper acceptance of need, vulnerability and ultimately of meaningful human connections. There are some very real expectations and pressures as well as an understanding of the duty of each member of the NHS to rise to the test. Deliver quality care to the stranger not because you imagine them as a member of your family but because they are worthy of your care in their own right. We are all connected and the words from Niemoller offer an opportunity to consider the shared experience, risk and heartache of life that binds rather than separates us.

That’s not to say that in my busy life I don’t stand by at times and see the misfortune of others and take no action. But I don’t delude myself either, I know what has happened in those moments. I have not been courageous enough or I have made other choices. What I don’t do is convince myself that it was not my concern. If we can only deliver quality care to our patients by pretending they are somebody they are not, then our relationships with them is vulnerable and weak. They are who they are and that matters. Despite the best efforts of mankind to separate us by race, creed, religion, politics and wealth we are all connected in some way, and we are all vulnerable. One day I will need help, and the delivery and quality of that assistance will be dependent on how those who are capable see me, a true human connection, an imaginary false relationship, a mundane task or non of their business.

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It is time to return and post

I started this blog on November 1st 2011. The 100th anniversary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott heading out for the south pole from his base camp at Hutpoint. Each day I read the corresponding page from his diary and posted a thought, reflection or comment. 153 entries later the last post sounded. Scott had successfully reached the pole but sadly failed to reach safety. I had shared my thoughts on his historic march and commented on the leadership lesson this historic event may have for us.

For me, the experience of creating a blog and posting daily was a success. I wanted to improve my writing, test my resolve, learn new tools and techniques, as well as understand better a famous moment in history. As well as posts on the blog I continued with assembling weekly emails to colleagues, sharing news, links and articles of interest. I also took a greater interest in social media and more on that in future posts. After the last post on Scott I paused, a little unsure on what to do next. But now is the time to write down new and current thoughts and reflections.

I am proud of the NHS and proud a work for an organisation that has a noble ambition. Proud of its existence, achievement and of my 20 years of service. The change that is gripping us at present is huge but soon a new storm will join the already choppy seas. When the Mid Staffs report is published we will be asked serious questions, not just on what we are doing but on how we are doing it. How we work, function, communicate, motivate and interact within each other, and with patients, will be the demonstration of how services and organisations are behaving. Organisational behaviour that delivers effective, safe care that continually improves patient experience will need leadership that builds on demonstrated values. Developing that leadership and creating environments in which it can prosper is the greatest of challenges.

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Scott 100 : Conclusion and References

Conclusion and References. I have not been to the South Pole or spent time in Cambridge at the Scott Polar Research Institute looking over primary material. I have been hungry but never starved and I have been cold but only for a short period of time, I am not an explorer, adventurer or even adventurous. But I have been in leadership roles and I have followed leaders. I have wanted to model myself on some leaders I have followed, while others I desire to do the very opposite, I have been in a cohesive team and I been in conflict ridden teams. I am just like most of you.

I have followed Scott’s march from Cape Evans, to the Pole and back to a cold lonely tent just short of life saving supplies. I accept that in examining these last five months I have, on the whole, ignored the life and career Scott had prior to the march. He had been to the Antarctic before onboard Discovery and was a Captain in the Royal Navy. He must have had determination and ambition to get the Terra Nova trip funded, organised and staffed. Scott is a leader, he had proven that before his first step towards the Pole on November 1st 1911. But what sort of leader was Scott and was he a victim of circumstance just as much as those men he commanded. The backdrop of Scotts trek has been a prompt for acknowledging and learning about leadership. I used the texts listed below as my references and I accept that some are stronger in original content than others. It is clear that some books follow the change in Scotts reputation very clearly while others try to find their own way through the vast amount of material. Working at speed to produce the daily posts inevitably meant I made some mistakes, I am happy to acknowledge that and update as and when required. But I have tried to tell the Scott story from the interpretation of those who write on the topic and make the connection to leadership through my own knowledge, understanding and experience. There were some very easy moments and these were usually when Fiennes and Huntford disagreed, which fortunately was often. The more difficult moments were when trying to deal with the support or criticism of Scott towards the end of the journey, even though this story was 100 years ago I felt a little uneasy picking at the bones of the dead.

From the experience of writing this blog and the swiftness required for daily posts I should have an opinion on Scott the leader, but I struggle to define or categorise him. The journal details from Scott and from the other expedition members just don’t seem to tell the whole story, there is something missing. But I don’t think he was the arrogant incompetent described by Huntford or the great leader hard done by in modern times portrayed by Fiennes. Perhaps Scott and his team were more like the leaders and teams we work with every day than we dare imagine. The argument is that we can’t compare his Imperial and class defined culture with our own modern liberal society. But that is only true in the context of the whole drama, within the story there are numerous personal relationships which run smooth at times but are susceptible to the same rivalry and bitterness we expose ourselves to in the modern workplace. There is poor communication, lack of respect, sub groups within the team, disillusionment, low morale, splits, ego and jealousy. Despite these team dynamics great things are achieved, just as there are in complex teams with challenging leaders each and everyday. It is impossible to compare cultures and expectations from 100 years ago with today but in describing Scott and his team I feel certain many people will recognise their behaviours.

I believe Scott was a magnificent planner, he sought detail and precision and recruited Bowers to add to his desire to have everything just so. He drew men to him and had a loyal deputy in Edward Wilson. he also understood the bigger picture of politics, funding and organisation. Scott was also not afraid of hard work and would expect similar enormous effort from his men. It must be remembered that he had to learn to lead and had been in the Navy since he was 13. But he was also temperamental, moody and his high expectations placed people in an anxious position, often uncertain of how to deliver his agenda. He could seem isolated and in pushing forward he would bruise others in the team. Wilson served as a great mediator but I wonder if a stronger more critical, yet supportive, deputy would have helped Scott even more. The team around Scott were just like any other team. They had moments of cohesion and times of competition, there was rivalry, mistrust, slight and outright dislike. Ambition and jealousy were present and while masked in the heroics of a task undertaken for the nation these emotions play a serious part in the final ability of the team to perform. Yet they were isolated, trapped in a hut together for long winters and still collaborated under Scotts leadership to achieve a great deal, not just the attempt on the pole but the scientific work as well. The difference between success or failure can be the slightest breath, it can balance on a second in time or a be squandered unknowingly in a minor insignificant decision taken many years previously. Scott’s leadership style contributed to each of those decisions made months before in England, on the Antarctic coast during the polar winter and on the greatest march in history. But what the combination of style, planning and choice made to the eventual outcome is hard to quantify. All I can say is that I have learned a great deal by reviewing Scott’s five months on the ice and for that I am grateful. Becoming a better leader is a lifelong quest and the only way to improve and develop is never to yield.

The Survivors. Edward Atkinson stayed in the Navy and served at Gallipoli and The Somme. He was awarded several medals and mentioned in dispatches. He was torpedoed and while injured continued to treat others. Victor Campbell served as a Navy Officer during the campaign in The Dardanelles, he emigrated to Newfoundland and married a Norwegian wife. Tom Crean joined Shackleton on board The Endurance. When the ship was trapped in the ice and crushed Tom Crean traveled with Shackleton all the way back to South Georgia making an epic South Atlantic boat journey and crossing the islands mountains. He retired to Ireland and opened a pub which is still there today called ‘The South Pole Inn’. Teddy Evans commanded ships during the war with great distinction. He became a Labour peer and married a Norwegian. Demetri Gerof returned home to mine for gold while Tyggve Gran became a fighter pilot in the war, he was the last survivor of the expedition to die. Bill Lashly fought in the Navy and his ship was sunk , he survived and worked as a customs official in Cardiff.  Cecil Meares joined the Royal Flying Corp and eventually retired to Canada. Apsley Cherry-Garrard saw action on the western front and after the war managed his wealthy estate. He was encouraged to write ‘The Worst Journey In The World’ by his friend George Bernard Shaw. It is said he would forever wonder if he could have done more to save his friends.

I completed this blog by reading the day’s entry in Scott’s journal on the corresponding day one hundred years later, I then relating Scott’s telling to the work of others and finally offered my own commentary. I have enjoyed and learned a great deal from the exercise and below are the books I used to support the daily posts. If anyone only had time to read one book on the adventure of the Terra Nova my recommendation would be ‘The Worst Journey In The World’ by Apsley Cherry -Garrard.

(the version of Scott’s journal I used for the daily entry)

Max Jones (2006) Captain Scott’s Last Expedition – Oxford World’s Classic

Ranulph Fiennes (2003) Captain Scott : Hodder & Stoughton

Roland Huntford (1979) Scott And Amundsen : Their Race To The South Pole : Abacus

Isobel Williams (2008) With Scott In The Antarctic : Edward Wilson, Explorer, Naturalist, Artist : The History Press

Stephanie Barczewski (2007) Antarctic Destinies, Scott, Shackleton And The Changing Face Of Heroism : Hambledon Continuum

Isobel Williams (2012) Captain Scott’s Invaluable Assistant Edgar Evans : The History Press

Edward R G R Evans (reprint 2006) South With Scott : The Echo Library

Michael Smith (2000) An Unsung Hero Tom Crean Antarctic Survivor : The Collins Press

David Crane (2006) Scott Of The Antarctic The Definitive Biography : Harper Press

Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922) The Worst Journey In The World : Pimlico

Meredith Hooper (2011) The Longest Winter, Scott’s Other Heroes : John Murray

Michael Smith (2002) I Am Just Going Outside, Captain Oates – Antarctic Tragedy : Spellmount

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Scott 100 : Legacy

Legacy. One Hundred years ago five men died on the ice, they didn’t even achieve their goal of being first to the Pole and yet the interest in their fate remains to this day. Several factors combine to make the story a lasting tale. Attempting to do something no one had ever done before, doing it in harsh conditions, to suffer in a way beyond our imagination and then to pay the ultimate price for failure fascinates us and connects to our curiosity and inadequacy.

Terra Nova reaches land and the news of the deaths spreads quickly. Amundsen is travelling and sharing his story of success while deciding about his own exploration future in the north. Huntford states that ‘as long as Scott appeared to be alive Amundsen’s victory was complete’. Scott is dead and the criticism that Amundsen had previously faced about his secret competitive plans increases. Scott had died because of a broken heart due to Amundsen’s success at reaching the Pole is one particular angle taken. Amundsen is said to have been gravely upset at the news. Amundsen’s victory was no longer complete, it would take up a very different position in the story of the Antarctic, British Failure would trump Norwegian success. Luck continued to be an element wrapped around the story of Scott but now the attention switched to Amundsen, he was only successful because he was lucky. Huntford refers to the introduction of Amundsen’s book in which Nansen wrote, ‘let no one come and prate about luck, Amundsen’s triumph is that of the strong and far seeing’. This matches Amundsen’s own view that luck and misfortune should be designed out of any plan. Some bitter exchanges followed between the British and Norwegian establishment and Nansen was convinced Scott would have survived had he listened to him to take dogs, dogs and more dogs. Amundsen was certain Scott made mistakes and had the wrong resources but he may also have carried a little doubt in his heart, did anything he do impact on Scott and force decisions that would otherwise not have been made. No one will ever know but it opens up a more human element to the expeditions aftermath. The public were heart broken and Smith believes it was one of those events that people remember exactly where they were as the news broke. Friends and relatives of the dead made statements which fired the emotion of an already emotional moment. A memorial service was held at St Pauls at which the King attended, awards were bestowed on the men and their families and Scott’s message to the public was read out in schools up and down the land. Scott’s bravery and sacrifice was held up as the proud and dignified response of the British when times are hard and the outcome bleak. Britain and the world were at the edge of the biggest conflict the planet had yet seen as the year following  the news of Scott’s death saw the outbreak of World War One. Scott’s sacrifice would now be required by many thousands.

While the establishment and media went to work in the immediate weeks and months following the news, they could not have been aware that they were laying the foundation of a story that would rumble on for many years to come. Just as the truth was being fought over by the media and establishments it also began to be disputed between those involved. Smith contends that the first doubts were surfaced by Teddy Evans. Evans had concerns over the running of the expedition and wrote to Oates’ mother. When he arrived back in England he went to see her and handed over Oates’ sealed diaries. These diaries, combined with the previous letters she had received, created uncertainty in the mind of Caroline Oates. She began contacting and meeting members of the expedition, a different story to the one portrayed started to emerge. It wasn’t so much in the facts but in the surrounding behaviours and actions and also the absolute certainty that the plan and equipment were all correct and fit for purpose. Smith highlights a particular concern of Teddy Evans, that of the carrying back of the rock samples for science. Evans is concerned that these were given priority over mens lives. Fiennes argues that the 35 pounds of rock would not have made any difference at all, he may well be right but Smith perhaps understands something that means that being right isn’t enough. In two years time Shackleton will stand on the ice after his ship has been crushed and tell the men to throw away all personal belongings, he will personally throw away the coins in his pocket. Shackleton’s gesture was significant, his focus will be on getting his men home safely. A few coins may not have made any difference at all but the moment was a leaders moment and it was powerful. Scott missed the importance of these moments and the dogged determination to keep the rocks is justified with the rationale of science and the benefit of a rest for the men. Perhaps these were facts generated after the event to support the decision and that in reality he was keeping a promise to his friend, Wilson. It is also argued that Scott could have been focussed on the science to ensure his legacy was secured even if the march ended in failure or to be able to minimise the loss to Amundsen with the gain to science. It is hard to be certain of the truth but what is fascinating is that such decisions are examined in detail after the event. Once this exchange between Teddy Evans and Caroline Oates began a small but significant industry began to develop. While Teddy Evans had shared his thoughts with Caroline Oates he produced his book ‘South With Scott’ in which he was loyal and supportive of Scott. The majority of the world saw the expedition through the eyes of Scott as described in his published book of the expedition. The story of Scott was being well managed and the printed version of Scott’s journal had several key omissions. Kathleen Scott had worked on the journal and edited out items which did not support her official view. Sacrifice and hardship were applauded and as the First World War required both from the population challenge to such a story would not have been welcome. After the war and as Empire shrank the other side of the story began to be told. The journals of the other men started to be questioned and when Cherry-Garrard wrote ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ a few previously unpublished snippets emerged. So as statues and plaques were placed around the Empire the industry that protected Scott’s legacy refused to crumble.

As the world lurched from war to depression and back to war the dominant story continued to be that of Scott the hero. Kathleen Scott made it her life long duty to keep the legacy as she wished it to be kept, it could be argued that hiding the flaws around her husband simply created more disbelief and questions not less. Caroline Oates was firmly in the other camp and continued to meet men from the expedition. Cherry-Garrard suffered greatly post the death of Scott, he was criticised for not doing more when he was at One Ton waiting for the polar party. Edgar Evan’s widow and family became upset and confused as his reputation was tarnished in the class system of Edwardian England. Books were produced and in 1948 a film is made which, more or less, sticks to the establishment stance. Although there is a scene in which Nansen tells Scott that he would use dogs not horses.

After World War Two the British withdraw from Empire and in doing so question the role of Imperial power, for good and for bad. The examination disclosed elements of national guilt and pride but nothing is sacred, everything is revisited and that includes its heroes. There had been enough rumours and back story to the Scott trip that it was an easy target for Roland Huntford to write a scathing attack of Scott in the late seventies. An attack which very quickly became established as the other extreme truth. The death of Scott became a subject ready for criticism and humour. While Scott’s published journals didn’t tell the whole truth because of omission Fiennes believes Huntfords book didn’t tell the whole truth because of inaccurate addition. Fiennes goes on to write a book challenging Huntford and within those two publications the extremes of Scott’s story are told.

Currently Scott’s legacy is in the balance, is he the Scott described by Fiennes or by Huntford ? He is probably both and neither but the current debate over Scott offers an opportunity for leaders to explore and learn lessons. For a self-aware and reflective leader there is a stark lesson, who is telling your story ? Consider your own style of leadership and imagine the two books that tell your story. The supportive book that looks at your decisions, actions and behaviours with understanding and from a similar personal experience. This story would have you in difficult circumstances with low resources and with tough decisions to make, you would be certain of your actions and you would have loyal colleagues who support you during the good and the bad times. You accept the loneliness of leadership and the unpopular nature of being the one with the vision and new idea. Ultimately you are a good leader whose detractors don’t really understand the pressure you are under. Then there is the critical book that attacks your decisions as being made without inclusion and without understanding the real nature of the issues you are faced with. Your colleagues and team mates are fickle and have numerous behind the scenes conversations when unhappy with the actions you have taken. Your idea is not visionary or new but misconceived and a folly. You are a poor leader who does not consult, always believes they are right and whose behaviour is poor when stressed. Most leaders could have these two books written about them and those that say they otherwise need to get out more. Your story as a leader is not real, it is only what is held in the perception of others. For most leaders perfection is some distance away and they are a combination of abilities and flaws. Functioning with flaws is the normal operating procedure for leaders now as it was for Scott 100 years ago. It could be argued that great leaders achieve despite their flaws not because of their abilities.

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Scott 100 : Why ?

Why ?. Why did Scott and his men perish on the ice and is the story the same now as it was 100 years ago ? Some writers argue that Scott would have made it back to Cape Evans except for an unforeseen immediate event, while others will say his fate was sealed before he ever set sail. Like any disaster that struck the heart of a nation its impact reverberated far beyond the lost lives of five brave men. Cherry-Garrard recreates an image of the whole Empire mourning the loss of heroic sons.

Scott made it clear in his message to the public why the expedition had run into difficulty, they were the immediate unexpected issues of the moment and yet when telling the tale of polar exploration the story begins in the North and the historical and accepted practices of the Navy. Manhauling was an enshrined method of transport deeply embedded in the culture of British polar exploration long before Scott was ever introduced to the Antarctic. Breaking tradition and culture is hard and often costly and Scott knew that his sponsor, Sir Clements Robert Markham, favoured manhauling after his own expeditions in the North. Scot is also a man of his time and comparison to modern culture and pressure needs to be mindful that Scott was a son of the most powerful empire the world had seen. Although imperial dominance was starting to decline it played a significant part in the culture and expectation of the expedition, from the supplies used to the men selected. It is difficult to know how Scott handled such pressure, he didn’t appear to challenge it or even significantly change it, but he did add elements to the expedition that perhaps showed he understood its limitation. He took a Norwegian skier, Gran, and new equipment, such as the tractors for pulling. He knew of the success of dogs and so they came and also the current furthest south point was reached with horses and so they would be added as well. Scott takes the old culture, the institutional expectation and the imperial etiquette with him to the Antarctic but added onto that he has new ideas and differing perspectives. Perhaps that was not the help and advantage he sought, it may well have diluted both positions. That dilution may have been ever more profound when they actually set sail in the Terra Nova as Scotts original plans had called for two ships, but finances decreed only one, something had to go.

While the ship is sailing south Meares is taking a different route to New Zealand and buying dogs and horses on route. Scott knows the horses are not the best they could be when he sees them and it is a significant moment in the relationship between Scott and Oates. Oates got the best from the poor stock but he despised Scott and this view may have had a bigger impact than simply the single relationship between the two men. Oates was popular and if others were aware of the tension it would ripple through the team. While on the way south Teddy Evans had formed a poor opinion of PO Edgar Evans but Edgar had the full support of Scott and perhaps another tense relationship is now present within the party. With one ship, poor livestock and some tense relationship brewing they headed south.

Through severe storms they made it to the Antarctic coast. Unloading the supplies was problematic as they were some way away from secure land and so ferried goods across the ice flow. During this time one of the tractors was lost as the ice cracked and dragged it to the bottom of the sea. Scott’s plan to get to the pole was a staged pyramid, with a large team setting out dropping supplies and then returning to base with a final four men making for the pole. This plan required deports dropping this summer and so the work began. Accidents on ice floes saw some of the horses lost and the struggle to lay the depots resulted in a change to the plan. Scott decided to position One Ton Depot 30 miles further north, this would make it 30 miles further away for the returning party. Scott and Oates clashed again at this decision. They returned to Cape Evans and prepared to shelter during the long polar winter. During this cold dark period Wilson, Bowers and Cherry-Garrard make the famous trip to collect penguin eggs, ‘the worst journey in the world’. They nearly die during the few weeks they are away but they survive and their experience with food and rations helps Scott plan the attempt on the pole. The work of preparation and science continues during the winter. As the return of the sun heralds the start of a the polar challenge, Scott shares his plan, leaves instructions with those at base and sets out. The men of the expedition had individual roles as well as generic duties. These may have not been the best balance for the mission, inexperience with the use of ski, only a small number of men with navigation skills and an even smaller number with dog sledge experience radically reduced the options available for task allocation.

On November 1st 1911 Scott takes the first step south, he is forced to start later than Amundsen as the horses would not have coped with the cold. Other members of the party have been laying more supplies and Teddy Evans is well ahead with the tractors. The tractors fail and those men turn to manhauling, the dogs do very well but the horses make heavy work of the march across the barrier. Bad weather delays them and eats into the margin of error allowed within the timetable. In order to get to the Glacier the dogs are taken further than planned and therefore get back to base camp later than expected. They are tired and the main dog expert prepares to leave on the Terra Nova and will not be available for any rescue attempts. They struggle to the top of the Beardmore but had begun on the extra rations sooner than anticipated. At this point another group turn for home and amongst them is Wright, Gran believes he should have been in the final party and Scott made a mistake omitting him. Wright says that he and Cherry-Garrard (who is also returning) are in better shape than at least one of those going on. PO Evans injures his hand fixing the sledge and keeps it quiet, Oates is said to have a leg injury and doesn’t want to continue, but this is also contentious and kept quiet, they struggle at times and it is hard work. There are two teams manhauling to the pole, Scott makes one team leave their ski behind. Blizzards, the poor condition of the snow made pulling harder and the low temperatures are faced by Scott’s men as they manhaul across the plateau. Then Scott informs the men who will return and who will go on to the pole.

Three men are set to return leaving five to go on. This is a change to the plan and carefully prepared supplies now need to be divided appropriately. Teddy Evans, Bill Lashly and Tom Crean all set off north, back to Cape Evans. Smith believes it was a ‘fundamental’ error not taking Crean forward to the pole. He was strong and resilient, attributes he demonstrated as the three men struggled back, with Teddy Evans near death from scurvy Crean made a magnificent solo march to get help. Scott’s choice of the final five is worthy of consideration, Wilson his personal friend is very resilient, PO Evans was a huge strong man, a lower rank and a favourite of Scott, Bowers was a powerhouse and another navigator, Oates represented the army and had done great work with the horses. These often stated reason are acceptable, but don’t relate to how fit they were at the time and how much effort they have already put in. It’s the last minute selection that may be the problem. Scott thought that he would wait and see how people performed on the march, this competitive position seemed to contradict the pyramid plan and played into Scott’s secretive nature. If the aim was to get four men into position for a final push, perhaps they should have had lighter duties prior to that final push. Smith describes Scotts attempt as a ‘relay race’ with the men in the final stages also having run all the previous laps.

Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers and PO Evans march on. Bowers is not on ski, Oates is struggling with his leg and PO Evans has a hand injury that is not healing. On the plateau they are at altitude and may be tiring quicker and using greater calories. They arrive at the pole only to find that Amundsen had been there weeks before. Their morale was hit badly and they turned for home knowing they were in a race for their lives. PO Evans was the first to suffer, he was a big man on the same rations as others, did he have enough vitamin C, did he fall an injury himself, was his morale crushed harder than the others, was he isolated from the officers or was he not the strong character Scott believed. The men continued the scientific work and spent time collecting samples, time that they were not in harness moving north. As Evans worsened he slowed the party down, each minor delay had a major impact. He is the first to die. The four remaining men struggle on, the weather varies and so do the conditions but Oates continues to deteriorate. They continue across the barrier, the low temperature and the sun  turn the soft snow into sand like crystals and the pulling is hard, but they continue to make slow progress. Back at Cape Evans the last returning party is in a poor way and the men consider what action could be taken, they have written instructions from Scott before he left but confusing orders had come back with the party. Men are sent out to One Ton Depot but Scott does not show and they are unsure of what to do next. The blizzards slow Scott and the miles they are achieving are not enough. Oates is in a poor way and leaves the tent to die, they are past the point at which the One Ton Depot should have been placed. There has been a problem with the fuel cans and hot food and water is limited. Scott, Wilson and Bowers finally camp 11 miles short of One Ton, the weather is so bad they cannot move forward, food and fuel run out and they slowly die.

Scott’s message to the public placed the reason for failure in the immediate moment, the loss of horses when they first arrived, the weather slowed them down and the snow in areas was impossible to pull through. It is certain by the distance covered that success and failure were close run and Scott is right about those elements impacting on the expedition. But Scott also states that the plan was good, the equipment satisfactory and the food sufficient. Over the last hundred years other reasons have been added to Scott’s rationale, but have not replaced the significance of the issues he highlighted. The right men were not chosen at the right time, the rations were short on vitamins, scurvy was a bigger problem than anticipated, the tractors failed early, the horses were of poor quality, the dogs not used properly, men were not trained to use ski correctly, too few men were trained to be navigators reducing future options, there was a confusion of orders, depots were in the wrong place, five men were taken to the pole not four, the fuel tanks leaked and injured men went forward to the pole slowing the return party. The reason this expedition failed is complex and and multifactorial.

Scott the leader is held accountable for many of these issues. He is described by some writers as being secretive and this could have impacted on the plans, orders and final choice of men. He was anxious at times and covered this by giving specific orders which he did not welcome being challenged. If Scott had created an environment where challenge was seen as healthy and a gift to the leader to be heard and responded to he may have created a little extra performance from the expedition. He may have heard Oates at One Ton, may have heard the need for more training with dogs, skis and navigation. He may have trusted others more with his intent and his detail and perhaps other rescue attempts may have been made. They died 11 miles from One Ton and it may not have needed many of these factors to swing a little bit the other way to have meant the difference between life and death. Scott was caught between a new age and an old empire, between exploration and science, between innovation and trusted technique and he was also caught between himself and the leader he wanted to be. While Teddy Evans was the official second in command Edward Wilson fulfilled that role for Scott. Wilson perhaps had the attributes Scott desired for himself as a leader, likable, calm, consistent and popular. This expedition is so complex in its planning, its numerous relationships and its operational reality that perhaps the flaw in the expedition was much more simple than people realise. Wilson was the man Scott wanted to be and not the man he needed as a deputy. Wilson smoothed the scene after Scott had upset others but this just isolated Scott further and prevented Scott for repairing broken relationships. Wilson also backed and supported Scott and offered him very little resistance, he also offered him very little challenge. Scott took Wilson as a scientist, confidante and a person he admired greatly and I wonder if the Terra Nova expedition would have turned out differently had he not taken a personal friend but a critical one.

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Scott 100 : Finding the men

Finding the men. Scott, Wilson and Bowers joined their fallen comrades Titus Oates and Edgar Evans, the three men lie in the tent while the wind and snow continue to batter their ice tomb. The raging that continued outside must have been very different to the stillness of the inside of their tent. But the rest of the continent wasn’t still, several expeditions bedded down for the winter, Campbell established an effective survival routine while Atkinson and the men at Cape Evans waited for the winter to pass certain in the knowledge that their friends and colleagues were now lost.

Smith describes the atmosphere at Cape Evans as being very different to the previous winter, of course subdued, locked in an Antarctic winter knowing the truth of their comrades end and perhaps imagining the awfullness of that end. There seems to be numerous comments suggesting the popular conclusion during that dark winter was that they fell into a crevasse and maybe this is an easier thought to hold onto, thinking the unthinkable may have been too difficult for men who called the dead their friends. That these men wasted away slowly, starving, cold and in agony was too possibly too much to bear. According to Smith Atkinson had a different style of leadership to Scott, ‘in his own quiet, unassuming manner, Atkinson proved an effective commander’. Organising with a ‘light touch’ and ‘asking’ for things to be done rather than ‘issuing orders’. Smith is attempting to compare leadership styles but the context is so very different it is hard to make such comparisons. While the winter preparations continued and the routine of science and survival bedded in Atkinson called the men together, what were they to do when the sun came back. Scott was certainly dead but Campbell could still be alive, what should they do ? Atkinson consulted the men, 12 of them voted to search for Scott and one abstained. Cherry-Garrard describes it as, ‘were we to forsake men who might be alive to look for those whom we knew were dead’. It seems a strange decision but Atkinson was limited is what he knew, the Terra Nova may have already picked up Campbell and their biggest risk was surviving the winter which no one could not help with now. The number of men needed to head south meant that two marches could not be undertaken and if Campbell had survived they would be able to march back to the camp. The decision was made, south they would go. Marching south may not uncover the bodies of the men but Scott had a habit of leaving notes at depots and if they found these they may yet be able to tell his story.

On October 29th 1912 the men left Cape Evan and headed south, they were well provisioned and new horses and dogs had arrived the previous summer onboard Terra Nova. Atkinson had the men eat onions to prevent scurvy. The party reached One Ton Depot on November 11th, they quickly realised that Scott had not made it this far and they also discovered that one of the fuel cans had leaked. They continued south and the following day, Wright was navigating ahead of the group and suddenly veered off to investigate an unusual feature. As he got closer he realised it was the top of a tent, almost completely covered with snow but there it was. Atkinson ordered camp to be made while the tent was dug out. They cleared the tent of snow and entered. Huntford describes Atkinson going in and then asking each member of the team to enter and view what was present so that there would be no dispute about what was found. Many of the men shed tears as they viewed a well put up and organised tent in which lay their three friends. The published account of Scott’s journal describes the discovery as, ‘Wilson and Bowers were found in the attitude of sleep, their sleeping-bags closed over their heads as they would naturally close them. Scott died later. He had thrown back the flaps of his sleeping-bag and opened his coat. The little wallet containing the three notebooks was under his shoulders and his arm flung across Wilson.’ From the diary of Cherry-Garrard comes, ‘we have found them – to say it has been a ghastly day cannot express it – it is too bad for words.’ Wilson and Bowers were secure in their bags, Scott’s skin was yellow and covered in frostbite, Gran noted, ‘it was a horrid sight… it was clear he had had a very hard last few minutes’. Atkinson collected the diaries and set about reading them, later he shared with the men the whole story. Smith describes the moment when it was certain that Amundsen had made it to the pole first, Tom Crean stood and reached out and shook the hand of the Norwegian Gran, congratulating him on reaching the pole first, both men were in tears. Atkinson collected the notebooks, watches and personal items and they collapsed the tent and buried it under the snow with skis as a cross to mark the spot. Words were said and hymns sung and then they headed further south to try and find the body of Titus Oates. They managed to find a sleeping bag left on one of the old snow walls that had been built to protect the horses but never found Titus. They stopped their search, built a cairn, made a cross and left a note, ‘Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L E G Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912 returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard to try and save his comrades beset with hardship. This note is left by the relief expedition of 1912’. They collected the diaries and rock samples, turned north and headed home.

The dog teams were the first to arrive back at Cape Evans on the 25th November to the glorious news that Campbell’s party had survived the winter in their ice cave and added yet a further heroic journey to the many on this expedition by walking back safely to Cape Evans. The rest of the search party returned safely and on the 18th January 1913 the Terra Nova sailed back into McMurdo Sound ready to collect the men. Teddy Evan was onboard after making a full recovery from his scurvy. Evans used a megaphone to shout to the men on shore, but he was greeted by silence. Then Victor Campbell shouted back, ‘The Southern Party reached the pole on January 18th last year but were all lost on the return journey – we have their records.’ Over the next few days preparation to leave were made and the ships carpenter made a cross which the men dragged upto Observation Hill as a lasting memorial to the men who had died. The cross remains there to this day with the names of the dead and a quote from Tennyson, ‘To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield’. The men packed their things, boarded Terra Nova and sailed away. On the 9th February 1913 Terra Nova sighted land and within a few days the world would know the fate of Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

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