Not one of them. In Smiths biography of Oates he offers some general possibilities for Evans’ decline. The well discussed issue is his size, the biggest of all the men and therefore his need for food was greatest, not everyone agrees with this assumption. There is also talk of illnesses from the horses which Evans’ carried. Smith offers the view that as a Petty Officer and Navy man of 20 years he saw the pole as a means to an end. An opportunity for fame, wealth and a secure old age opening a pub with his wife. That future was denied him by the failure not to make the pole first. He also suggests that the relationship between him and the others was different, he was not an officer and the camaraderie, conversation and support of the lower deck was not available to him and neither was he fully accepted into the educated and culturally different world of the officer class. He was not one of them and it mattered.
Scott’s Journal 5th February 1912. Temperature is a little warmer at -17. A good beginning to the march but they quickly came upon difficulties with large crevasses ahead. They had to change course several times to navigate around the obstacles and this reduced the amount of miles north made. They rest in an area with light wind and make a comfortable camp, the best for many weeks. They are between 25 and 30 miles form the next depot but must make it through these crevasses first. There faces are ‘much cut up by all the winds’ and while Scotts is least affected the others feel their noses are getting worse. Scott concludes, ‘Evans’ nose is almost as bad as his fingers. He is a good deal crocked up’.
Commentary. Scott assembled his final polar team in a specific way, Fiennes is convinced it was done simply by talent and the likelihood of success, but other ideas persist, the scientist, the friend, the navy, the army and someone from the lower decks are all present. If we accept that Scott wanted a balance of backgrounds in the team to serve a purpose far beyond simply getting to the pole we need to consider what that could be. Wilson, the friend and scientist, served both these functions well and perhaps his role as loyal friend was of more importance than any other function. The Navy and Army balance created an opportunity for the expedition to be a collaborative success and the lower deck representation expanded further that notion. It may also have decreased criticism back home, increased his fame in different services and ranks and make further expeditions easier to arrange for. Balancing a team is extremely difficult for the leader, recruit the wrong person and the damage can be significant. The leader must be aware of their own style and character and avoid the very real, deep and often unrecognised desire to recruit like minded people. A good team is a balance of many things and needs huge committment from the leader to ensure it is fit for purpose. Modern day recruitment can range from informal or ad hoc to rigorous and prolonged assessment. Scott had a small group of men with him for months before they began the march, arguably the best assessment centre ever devised, but was Scott asking the right questions ? Scott did have some limitations on his selection, fitness and the holding of certain skills, such as navigation, guided him somewhat. Whatever the thoughts in Scott’s mind I see one significant issue all the way through, Scott had a wonderful calm, measured and compassionate friend as his functional second in command, Edward Wilson. What he needed was someone to balance his character, someone to tell him the truth and to say no when required. This is not just an issue over recruitment strategy but an issue with Scott the man and the culture his leadership created.