Autographs from Captain Scott’s 1910 Antarctic Expedition.

Scott’s 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition

The Terra Nova loading in Bute East Dock, Cardiff, June 1910
The Terra Nova loading in Bute East Dock, Cardiff, June 1910

Scott’s 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition captured the imagination of the British public, most especially when the expedition ship, the Terra Nova, returned to Cardiff from the South without Scott and four of his companions. The autographs of the expedition members were much sought after.

In the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru there are three items, two dating from the start of the expedition and one from the end, together bearing the signatures of 27 of the officers, scientists and crew of Scott’s expedition. Amongst them are the signatures of Scott, Wilson, Bowers and Oates who died on the return march from the South Pole. Notably absent on the documents from the start of the expedition is the signature of Welshman Edgar Evans from Rhossili on Gower who was the first to die on the return from the South Pole; he was merely a Petty Officer.

Setting off from Cardiff

Sailing towards Antarctica, June 1910
Sailing towards Antarctica, June 1910

Accompanying a photograph of the Terra Nova and the ship’s and other officers are the signatures of:

  • E. L. Atkinson
    Surgeon Edward Leicester Atkinson, RN (1881-1929). Main Party Surgeon and parasitologist. Atkinson led the search party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in November 1912.
  • W. W. Archer
    W.W. Archer, RN (Retired).  Chief Steward, Shore Party.
  • G. Murray Levick
    Surgeon George Murray Levick, RN (1877-1956). Surgeon on the Northern Party of the expedition, surviving for seven months through the winter in an ice cave. He studied the Adélie Penguin colony at Cape Adare and later wrote a book on Antarctic penguins.
  • L. E. G. Oates
    Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates (1880-1912), 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. Weakened by severely frostbitten feet, Oates died on the return march from the South Pole, on 16 March 1912 when he famously told his companions Scott, Wilson and Bowers, “I am just going outside and may be some time” as left the tent and crawled out into the blizzard.
  • E. R. G. R. Evans
    Lieutenant Edward (Teddy) Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, RN (1881-1957). Second-in-Command. Evans was instrumental in garnering Welsh support and sponsorship for the expedition and took over command of the expedition after Scott died.
  • R. Scott
    Captain Robert Falcon Scott, CVO, RN (1868-1912). Expedition Leader. Scott had led the 1901-04 Discovery Expedition and returned to lead the Terra Nova Expedition. He reached the South Pole on 16 January 1912 with Wilson, Bowers, Oates and Edgar Evans. All five died on the return journey.

The Terra Nova Sails towards Antarctica

Sailing towards Antarctica, June 1910
Sailing towards Antarctica, June 1910

Letter dated June 17th 1910, At Sea, from Teddy Evans to P. Lowry Rusden of The Mercantile Pontoon Co Ltd, Roath Dock, Cardiff on British Antarctic Expedition headed paper:

Dear Mr Rusden

I enclose the autographs of the officers on board as promised. We had a fine breeze early yesterday & have been sailing over 8 knots ever since. I don’t think any of us will forget Cardiff.

With kind regards
Yours sincerely

Edward R.G.R. Evans

Signatures of

  • Edward R. G. R. Evans
    Lieutenant Edward (Teddy) Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, RN (1881-1957). Second-in-Command. With Welsh support and sponsorship, Evans had been planning his own Antarctic expedition when he heard about Scott’s plans. He later had a distinguished naval career and was created Lord Mountevens in 1946.
  • D. G. Lillie
    Dennis G. Lillie MA. Ship’s Party Biologist
  • Victor Campbell
    Lieutenant Victor Lindsey Arbuthnot Campbell, RN (1875-1956). Leader of the Northern Party, initially based at Cape Adare in Victoria Land. The six men of the Northern party were later stranded farther south along the coast and survived seven months of winter in an ice cave with little food and only their summer clothing.
  • Apsley Cherry-Garrard
    Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard BA (1886-1959). Assistant Zoologist. Cherry-Garrard paid £1000 to join the Expedition. With Wilson and Bowers he made a winter journey to collect Emperor Penguin eggs which he later described in his book, The worst journey in the world. He was a member of the search party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in November 1912.
  • H. Rennick
    Lieutenant Henry E. de P. Rennick, RN. First Officer on the Terra Nova.
  • E. W. Nelson
    Edward W Nelson (1883-1923). Biologist, Shore Party.
  • Edward A. Wilson
    Dr Edward Adrian Wilson (1872-1912). Chief Scientist and Zoologist, Shore Party. Wilson had been with Scott on the 1901-4 Discovery Expedition. A skilled and talented artist and zoologist, Wilson was a close friend of Scott. He died with Scott and Bowers in their tent on the Ross Ice Shelf on their return from the South Pole in March 1912.
  • E. L. Atkinson
    Surgeon Edward Leicester Atkinson, RN (1881-1929). Main Party Surgeon and parasitologist. Atkinson led the search party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in November 1912.
  • H. R. Bowers
    Lieutenant Henry Robertson Bowers, Royal Indian Marines (1883-1912). Scott put Bowers in charge of stores. He was a member of the final Polar Party and died with Scott and Wilson in their tent on the Ross Ice Shelf in March 1912 on the return march from the South Pole.

The Return to Cardiff

The Return to Cardiff, 1913
The Return to Cardiff, 1913

Signatures of officers and crew of RYS Terra Nova on their return to Cardiff June 14/13 (Saturday). New Zealand One Penny stamp, overprinted “Victoria Land” and franked “British Antarctic Expedition Ja 18 [19]13”.

The signatures on this sheet are of interest because although they include four of the officers and scientists, the signatures are mostly those of the lower ranks, indicating that all of the crew were regarded as celebrities upon the expedition’s return.

  • W. W. Archer
    W Archer, RN (Retired).  Chief Steward, Shore Party.
  • A. Cherry-Garrard
    Apsley Cherry-Garrard Assistant Zoologist.
  • E. W. Nelson
    Edward W Nelson. Biologist.
  • E. L. Atkinson
    Surgeon Edward L Atkinson RN. Main Party Surgeon and parasitologist.
  • Wm W. Williams
    C.E.R.A. 2nd Class William W. Williams, RN. Chief Engineer, Ship’s Party.
  • W. A. Horton
    E.R.A. 3rd Class William A. Horton, RN. Second Engineer, Ship’s Party.
  • T. S. Williamson
    Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas S. Williamson, RN.  Shore Party. He had served with Scott on the 1901-4 Discovery Expedition. He was a member of the search party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in November 1912.
  • H. Dickason
    Able Seaman Harry Dickason, RN. Northern Party.
  • A. Balson
    Leading Seaman Albert Balson, R.N. Ship’s Party.
  • W. H. Neale
    Steward W.H. Neale. Ship’s Party.
  • F. Parsons
    Petty Officer 1st Class Frederick Parsons, RN. Ship’s Party.
  • Victor Campbell
    Lieutenant Victor Lindsey Arbuthnot Campbell, RN (1875-1956). Leader of the Northern Party.
  • Mortimer McCarthy
    Able Seaman Mortimer McCarthy. Ship’s Party.
  • Wm L. Heald
    Petty Officer 1st Class William L. Heald, RN (Retired). Ship’s Party. He had served with Scott on the 1901-4 Discovery Expedition.
  • W. Lashly
    Chief Stoker William Lashly, RN (1867-1940). Shore Party. He served with Scott on the 1901-4 Discovery Expedition. He was a member of the search party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in November 1912. After the First World War, Lashly settled in Cardiff, working as a customs officer until 1932 when he retired to Hampshire.
  • H. Pennell
    Lieutenant Harry Lewin Lee Pennell, RN (1882-1916). Ship’s Party, Navigator.
  • F. E. Davies
    Leading Shipwright Francis E.C. Davies, RN. Carpenter, Ship’s Party.
  • A. S. Bailey
    Petty Officer 2nd Class Arthur S. Bailey, RN. Ship’s Party
  • J. Lees
    Able Seaman Joseph Lees, RN. Ship’s Party.

Article Date: 12 November 2010

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