Scott 100 Day 65 4th January 1912 : Breaking Bad News

Breaking Bad News. Scott mentions very little concerning the response of his men to the bad news that they will not be going forward to the pole. There is little emotion yesterday and today’s emotional content is entangled with the moment they depart and Evan’s, Lashly and Crean turn and head for home. Teddy Evan’s recalls the event with equal politeness and good grace. Evan’s had believed he would be going to the pole, he must have been disappointed to be denied the ultimate prize. Yesterday Scott came into the tent and after speaking to Crean and Lashly they leave so Scott could ask Evan’s if he could take Bower’s with him and Evan’s agrees. Smith believes that Crean was in fact devastated and upset that Scott could not tell him face to face the reasons he had not been selected to go forward but that he still remained loyal to Scott. Huntford declares that Oates knew he should not go on but contempt for Scott forced him on. Whatever the truth there must have been more consideration and more emotion than Scott records.

Scott’s Journal 4th January 1912. They were late setting off as they needed to pack the sledges differently and share out supplies. Scott is pleased with how the separation takes place and is also pleased that the pulling of the sledge as a 5 man team is easy. They have arranged that Bower’s (on foot) will pull in the middle with 2 men on each side of him on skis. Bower’s does not disturb the pulling action od Scott’s team. Teddy Evan’s, Lashly and Crean follow on for a little while to ensure there are no problems, then they stop and say farewell and turn about. Scott’s reports that ‘ Teddy Evan’s is terribly disappointed but has taken it very well and behaved like a man, poor Crean wept and even Lashly was affected’. Scott is confident that the 3 men will make a quick journey back. After parting they make good progress but later in the day loose sandy snow made the pulling harder. The wind died away as the day went on and once it had gone the sun was warm and they were able to stand outside of the tents in comfort, ‘it is amusing to stand thus and remember the constant horrors of our situation as they were painted for us’. Scott concludes, ‘At present everything seems to be going with extraordinary smoothness, and one can scarcely believe that obstacles will not present themselves to make our task more difficult. Perhaps the surface will be the element to trouble us’.

Commentary. Teddy Evan’s openly declares that he wrote his book with young people in mind and published in the early 1920’s. It is an easy read and a positive telling for all concerned in the adventure but much is omitted and this section of the story just seems to good be true. All these stiff upper lipped explorers with no emotion to show or work through. Evan’s was denied access to many of the notes from Scott that criticised him and he maybe a man of his times, Scott is dead, to speak ill would be bad form. Crean remained loyal to Scott and never uttered a bad word against him but more happened here than we know. It is hard to hear that the relationship between Scott and some of the men is so poor on one hand and yet have such loyalty on the other. Oates is the other character who seems to have numerous comments in his diary as to the poor regard in which he held Scott. But for Oates this was normal, he was a repeat offender at criticising of his superior, wherever he was. What fails Scott in this element of the adventure is his inability to spend time with each man and secure the truth between them. To have direct and meaningful exchanges and to have a clear and consistent message that they would then be able to cluster their disappointment around. This moment was not a moment for an authoritative order but for a leaders understanding.

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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