Scott 100 Day 60 30th December 1911 : Campbell – Scott’s other party

Campbell. Victor Campbell ran away from Eton three times before his father let him join the Royal Navy, a measure of the man’s determination. He was in charge of a party on board the Terra Nova that would sail the coastline exploring inlets before they froze over. He was on board the Terra Nova when they came across Amundsen moored in a bay. He met Amundsen and had breakfast with him before returning to tell Scott. As the Terra Nova navigated the inlets they would land men who would explore the area and then be picked up. In a few days Campbell and 5 other men would be landed but Terra Nova would not be able to get back and collect them, they would endure an Antarctic winter which would be a hardship equal to any experienced so far. They would have to carve a shelter out of ice and survive for months on rations designed for weeks. They did survive and this extract from Teddy Evan’s book ‘South With Scott’ is fascinating in that such statements are rare in other moments of the whole expedition. “His companions could not have been better chosen to help Campbell through this ordeal. The leader knew his men absolutely, and they themselves were lucky in having such a resourceful and determined officer in charge”.

Scotts Journal December 30th 1911. They only covered 11 miles today and it was a hard and difficult march. Scotts team pulled ahead of the second team and they fell behind. They were fighting their way over several rises and the collection of snow that seems to come at the end of each rise and fall. Scott declares his plan for tomorrow is to complete 10 miles and then make a depot and convert the sledges into 10 foot sledges. The last entry on this day by Scott reads, “The second party is certainly tiring, it remains to be seen how they will manage with the smaller sledge and lighter load. The surface is certainly much worse than it was 50 miles back. We have caught up with Shackleton’s dates. Everything would be cheerful if I could persuade myself that the second party were quite fit to go forward”.

Commentary. While still on the barrier and even up the Glazier Scott was falling behind Shackleton’s distances, the weather seemed to be worse and the situation with horses, dogs, supplies and men seemed poor. Our privileged position of hindsight, seems to indicate that they should have looked at turning back while on the barrier. Scott has now made it onto the plateau and caught up with Shackleton. There must be something in his planning and leadership that achieved this. It is often said he pushed himself harder than was reasonable and that he often asked his men to do the same. Maybe his stubborn, unyielding system of the ‘total march’ had achieved something, but at what cost to supplies and morale and is it sustainable ? The story of Campbell is told well in the Hooper book, The Longest Winter, but what strikes you most are the pictures of the men after living through an antarctic winter in an ice cave. They certainly do paint a thousand words. There were numerous other journeys from Cape Evan’s but the two most famous are Campbell’s and the ‘worst journey’ trip to recovery penguin eggs. Through all these trips from Cape Evan’s all of Scott’s men survived. After Shackleton’s heroic Endurance adventure he carried the tag of a leader who never lost a man. What is not often mentioned is that while Shackleton was fighting his way to survival after the sinking of Endurance he had another team on the Antarctic preparing the way for his march and not all of that party survived to tell the tale.

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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