Scott 100 Day 28 28th November : The end for Chinaman

Edward Atkinson. Atkinson was a doctor in the Royal Navy and at this stage of the journey his horse, Jehu, has been shot and he is now manhauling with Evans and Lashley. During the second winter on the Antarctic it was Atkinson who took command, Scott was dead, Evans was recovering from scurvy and the only other leader, Victor Campbell, was trapped with his party some distance from Cape Evans. It was Atkinson who sent dogs to rescue Teddy Evans and also sent Cherry-Garrard to assist the returning pole party. After the Terra Nova expedition Atkinson saw action in World War 1 and fought at The Somme and at Gallipoli. He was injured during a torpedo attack and cared for the other injured before himself. For several acts of bravery he was awarded the DSO and Albert Medal.

Edward Atkinson in his lab on the Terra Nova Trip – Picture from Wikimedia Commons

File:Edward Atkinson.jpg

Scotts Journal November 28th 1911. The snow is falling heavily and is thick with drifts blowing in from the south. The weather changed during the day but did not improve greatly. Scott asks ‘when will the wretched blizzard be over?’ The walking is better for horses than for the men and as they progressed they came upon ‘high hard sastrugi, widely dispersed’ and Scott is unsure what this indicates. After their rest the second march was no better then the first. The snow was hitting the men so hard it was stinging them in the face. The last four marches have been difficult but Scott notes they have been without a ‘hitch’. Chinaman was shot at the end of the march and Scott describes him as a ‘plucky little chap’. They are now 90 miles from the glacier with only four bags of forage left. Bowers tells Scott that the barometer was phenomenally low during the blizzard and last night. Scott comments that ‘this has certainly been the most unexpected and trying summer blizzard yet experienced in this region, I only trust it is over.’

Commentary. In looking at the biographies of the men on the expedition I am impressed by their courage and capability. This group of men suffered so much and then returned to face a world at war, each one appears worthy of study in their own right. The comment from Bowers is an important moment as we look at events 100 years ago. The science at our disposal allows us to study temperature trends and indeed the summer of 1911/1912 was an exceptionally harsh period. Scott had covered this terrain before on The Discovery trip, he must have been aware that conditions were worse than his previous marches. But Scott also has experience in making the decision to turn back north, he had made it previously. Poor conditions, weaker horses, depots further north than planned and they are behind the schedule achieved by Shackleton. I wonder what the unspoken pressure of Amundsen was doing to Scott, if he did not achieve success on this trip then someone else would have his prize. Scott was prepared to take risks to achieve his goal.

About hutpoint

Interested in leadership, teamwork, resistance, perseverence and change. A former senior nurse dedicated to learning from and sharing with other flawed humans.
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