Animals. Huntford makes quite an unusual comment when referring to this part of the journey. Scotts men are without the companionship and diversion of any animals, they are forced to focus on the monotony of the march. The relationship with animals is another key element which runs through the telling of this story. Scott is often seen as being soft and that the British have a different relationship with animals than other nations. In previous encounters Scott had climbed down crevasses to rescue dogs and Bowers had jumped across ice floes to save horses. Scott had turned back early the previous summer when laying supply depots to save the harsh punishment on the horses, this now meant that One Ton Depot was not as far south as it was planned to be. Scott and Oates fell out at this decision with Oates wanting to push the horses further famously saying to Scott that he may regret this decision. Scott’s men knew the horses would be killed and at the foot of the Beardmore they did just that and supplied food for themselves and the dogs. They named the place ‘Shambles Camp’. But the relationship the Norwegians had with their dogs was as strong as any in Scotts camp, but perhaps with a different overall philosophy. Amundsen notes that the dogs had a good life, plenty of rest, exercise, food and sex. But when it came to the shooting of a large number of the dogs Amundsen took himself off to his tent and flinched at every gunshot. They named the place ‘The Butchers Shop’.
Scott’s Journal 25th January 1912. They wake and decide to forego breakfast and march. It was a tough job to dig out their gear and sledge but they set off and reach the Half Degree Depot, ‘thank god’ declared Scott. They had lunch at the depot and set off with over 9 days of supplies now onboard. The wind was a great help and they had the sail up during the afternoon and completed 12 miles for the day, they are now 89 miles from the next depot. Scott feels they need to get off the plateau as the condition of the men is deteriorating, ‘we are not without ailments, Oates suffers from a very cold foot, Evans’ fingers and nose are in a bad state and tonight Wilson is suffering tortures from his eyes’. Scott remains concerned over the weather and it’s possible worsening at this time of year but he is happy that they are making progress and following the outward tracks quite easily. Bowers has been on skis today as Wilson walked by the side of the sledge, Bowers also took sightings and Scott continues to praise Bowers and his ability to function in all conditions.
Commentary. There is criticism and less than gracious discussion on Scott, Oates, PO Evan’s and even a few concerns over the relationship of Wilson and Scott but Bowers stands tall through all the books, commentaries and discussion over the past 100 years. Why does Bowers hold onto such an immune reputation ? Physically he is strong and robust and so fit for the purpose selected for but mentally he has an underlying strength. He is diligent in his work, relentless in the task, persistent in the search for excellence, adaptable at solving problems, respected by all and seems to be one of those people who rises above the ‘office politics’ of any team. He remains loyal to the cause, the team members and the leader and it is hard to find consistent criticism from him of any element or person. But he did make mistakes and when he did receive the wrath of Scott he was apologetic in respect of the actions he had taken which had triggered Scott rather than attack Scott for his behaviour. Followership is an often under appreciated form of leadership and in Bowers there is a great case study of the loyal, impactful follower.