Scott’s Spin Doctor. Scott mentioned today that he has not felt satisfied with the manhauling group that were previously the tractor party. What was omitted from the published diary is that he goes on to say ‘and very dissatisfied with its management’. Scott’s published criticism of Evan’s party is clear but his criticism of Evan’s himself goes much further. Cherry-Garrard later noted that Scott’s wife believed Evan’s should never be allowed to read the original diary. Evan’s was the man who ceased planning his own Antarctic expedition to become second in command to Scott on the Terra Nova trip. The tension between the two men is described in varying degrees. In the journal written by Evan’s some years after the return he comments on the hard work that his team had done guiding the way for the horses yesterday and then having to return for their own sledge. Evan’s describes the work, ‘we panted and sweated alongside the sledges and when at last Captain Scott sent us back to bring up our own sledge and tent we were quite done’. Evan’s party stopped for some tea and they had ‘struggled and wallowed’ for 15 hours, according to Evans, before they eventually caught up with the main party. Evans published his book ‘South With Scott’ in 1921 and the climate at the time was, Scott the hero and Scott the leader. Evan’s book in a gentle telling of the tale with little of the harshness that appear elsewhere, although he does declare that he wrote the piece to keep alive the story and for ‘Britain’s younger generation’.
Manhauling – Picture from Wikimedia Commons
Scotts Journal December 10th 1911. Scott was ‘anxious’ about getting forward and even though they were up early it took a long time to rearrange the loads. Scott was surprised that when they set off manhauling that the sledge ran very well over the surface, they managed 2 miles an hour in pace. They set off on ski and made good progress but as the slope began to rise the ski’s were removed and they pulled on foot. The pulling now becomes hard and ‘extraordinarily fatiguing’. The men sometimes sank to their knees and the sledges had to ‘plough’ through the snow. The sledges had ice on the runners and it was difficult to make progress. Evans and his party struggled and Wright and Lashly are ‘getting played out’. Scott comments that he has ‘not felt satisfied about this party’. Evan’s party took over an hour to catch upto Scott and ‘it is a very serious business if the men are going to crack up’. The team pulling with Scott,Wilson, Oates and PO Evans, are described as ‘doing splendidly’. They camped in some of the worst snow Scott has experienced at this same spot that Shackleton had found hard blue ice ‘an extraordinary difference in fortune and at every step Shackleton’s luck becomes more evident’ Scott writes a note for the dog teams to take back ‘Things are not so rosy as they might be, but we keep our spirits up and say the luck must turn. This is only to tell you that I find I can keep up with the rest as well as old’.
Commentary. Evan’s party had been the only ones manhauling since the failure of the tractors and after such a day it does seem a harsh journal entry from Scott. The tension between Evan’s and Scott appears too often in various diaries for there to have been no substance. Evan’s could edit his journal and only sections of it appear in his book, I wonder what Scott would have edited from his diary if he would have survived ? What people write and think in the moment of stress or fear may not always be expressed the way they would wish. The difficulty between Scott and Evan’s comes in several recorded events, an early clash with Petty Officer Evan’s and Teddy Evan’s over ship stores, the wives of the senior officers fueled further tension and Petty Officer Evans was discharged from the expedition after being found drunk by Teddy Evans. PO Evan’s and Scott were comrades from The Discovery and Scott relented allowing him back on board before they left New Zealand. Teddy Evan’s threatened to resign and others supported him, including Bowers, Oates and Atkinson. However Cherry-Garrard did not seem to have time for Teddy Evan’s and saw him as shallow. This is a team with petty differences, a team like many others. Yet they all bring something special to the overall group and the task of Scott the leader is to harness the uniqueness of them all and create a high performing team. Was Scott the right man to do this ?