Omission. There is no entry from Scott today and in later entries it is suspected that confusion on actual dates is present. The stop at lunchtime or the need to get warm and rested at the end of a march make it unsurprising the entry is omitted. It is even more astonishing that they resume tomorrow and continue. Previous comments from other expedition members have indicated an awareness that the diaries may one day be read by the public and by their families. Content is therefore always subject to that consideration. Back at Cape Evans the activity that took place surrounding the decision to send Cherry-Garrard south also suffers from diary omissions. The day Cherry-Garrard was instructed to go south is blank in his diary, according to Hooper. The day after Cherry-Grrarad writes, ‘I’m right in it’ as he has a swift training session on the skills he lacks, navigation and dog handling. As members of the expedition prepared to return home on the Terra Nova the duties of the exploration and scientific elements of the mission needed to be reallocated. Wright was given new duties during this time and his diary entries for the whole of February are missing.
Scott’s Journal 9th March 1912. NO ENTRY
Commentary. The diaries and journals of this expedition do not tell the whole story, we have already accepted that PR and spin existed then much as they do today. The men were aware of the immediacy and power of the press and the need for a supportive public opinion. What is recorded is managed, what is omitted is not. Today’s omission by Scott maybe be fairly acknowledged to be due to fatigue but it is at a crucial stage. The thoughts on Oates and the possible actions they could take must have been present in the group, even if not spoken of. Other expedition omissions may also tell the story of more pressing immediate engagements or of some other fear suppressing diary input. The lesson for leaders is that omission leaves a void and that space will get filled. What rushes in to occupy the blank may be more or less damaging than the truth that was concealed by silence. Omission also begs the question from followers, ‘what else are they not telling us?’