Scott 100 Day 50 20th December 1911 : Rivalry – Starts

Rivalry – Starts. Scott’s sending home of Shackleton from the Discovery expedition is the concrete reason for the tension and rivalry between the two men. Yet these things begin in smaller more sensitive events. Before Scott, Shackleton and Wilson set out on their furthest south trip they spent a great deal of time together. They knew some of each others ability, although not tested on the march. Scott not only picked Shackleton for the trip but also made him editor of a regular newsletter ‘the south polar times’. Fiennes argues that Scott would not have done that if Shackleton was seen as a rival. Just because Scott didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t present. Scott does seem to have a blind spot with certain elements of human nature, he seems task focused and took Shackleton because of his ability which perhaps Scott saw as out trumping any other consideration. Huntford sees Scott and Shackleton in conflict over any minor issue and an often reported moment happened on their march south. Scott called Wilson and Shackleton over to him by calling them ‘bloody fools’.Wilson asked Scott if he was referring to him and Scott replied ‘no’. Shackleton responded with ‘then it must have been me, right, you’re the worst bloody fool of the lot and every time you speak to me like that you’ll get it back’. It was Wilson who patched up the relationship and persuaded them to continue but perhaps through minor irritations the seeds of a major disruption are sown.

Scotts Journal December 20th 1911. A great day’s march with 19 miles covered and they climb another 800 feet up the glacier. Scott writes on just one side of paper through his journal and when completed he turns it over and goes back filling the empty pages, he comments that since he turned the book they have had good luck. They are now walking with crampons with little difficulty. Bowers and Wilson walked back down the track to look for a broken sledgemeter but returned empty handed. There were patches of snow and periods of fog but progress continued. Scott compares progress against Shackleton and concludes that he is gaining on him. They can clearly see the banded structure of the rock around them and it is a ‘wonderful’ sight. Scott lets Atkinson, Wright, Cherry-Garrard and Keohane know that they will be returning tomorrow. They are all disappointed and Wright in particular seems bitter. Scott has calculated that from this approximate position 8 men would continue with 12 units of food. His original plan is out by one day of food. A unit of food is a week’s supply for 4 men. Scott concludes his entry by comparing his current position against the hardship faced so far, ‘after all our harassing trouble one cannot but be satisfied with such a prospect’.

Commentary. The behaviour of Scott on the Discovery expedition was repeated on this day on the Terra Nova trip. Bowers took the force of an angry Scott because the sledgemeter had been lost. Bower’s records his disappointment at letting Scott down but has a very mature approach and gets quickly on with his duty. It is impossible to know the truth within the hearts of these men. They write their diaries on the march under extreme conditions and on their return books are published within a particular culture and atmosphere and so much can be exaggerated or forgiven.

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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