Injury. Yesterday Lashly fell into a crevasses but was hauled out with no significant injury, but what would have happened if he had been badly hurt ? There was no possibility of rescue and no communication to the outside world and so any action would need to be carried or decided by them in the moment. Before the march Oates and Wilson had a conversation about what would happen if anyone had a serious injury. Oates was certain, if someone was injury and risked the life of the others they must take action themselves and not risk the others or place the others in the impossible situation of taking action themselves. Wilson thought differently, there would be a tent set up and a man dispatched to stay and comfort the injured while others completed tasks or went for help and that a comrade should never be left. The history of injuries is limited in the story. Shackleton struggled on the march back during the Discovery expedition and was pulled by Wilson and Scott. Teddy Evan’s collapses on his march back to Cape Evan’s and Tom Crean leaves him with Lashly and goes for help. But the injury, exhaustion and disease endured by the polar party has become the stuff of legend. What actually happened out there on the ice 100 years ago we will never fully know and no simply assembly of the facts will allow us to understand what the experience must have been like for them and the numerous and complex issues that went into decision making.
Scott’s Journal December 26th 1911. Scott notes that they were ‘perhaps a little slow after plum pudding’ and a late getting started. They are on a surface that Scott believes will be the same all the way to the pole, rising slightly but flattening out. Scott records his disappointment at a march of 15 miles and yet his plan was for only 10 when the men and sledges were fully loaded. The temperature is consistent at -10 to -12 during the night and -3 during the day. The wind is still present but a little milder today. Scott hoped to be clear of pressure but there is a slope to the right and they need to again be on the watch out for crevasses. The variation of the surface is due to its undulation and that creates different areas where it is hit by the wind.
Commentary. The discussion between Oates and Wilson on the action to be taken if injured is fascinating and tells us a lot about the men and may help explain actions later in the story. Wilson is the doctor on the trip and has access to all the medication, even medication which may end suffering. Oates the courageous soldier has a very certain view of the world and of a gentleman’s actions in support of comrades. Reading these accounts of conversations and looking at the diaries of the men I wonder if they would be selected to be a team today. Would modern psychometrics, assessment centres and team building but Scott in charge of Wilson, Teddy Evans, Oates, Crean, Lashly, Bowers and Petty Officer Evans ?