FINALLY A PLAQUE TO HONOUR EDGAR EVANS

5 Dec

At last! A Blue Plaque has been put op on Middleton Hall Cottage, Gower. Wales, the birthplace of Edgar Evans. I say at last, because Edgar Evans was shamefully denigrated after his death, when news of the British expedition’s deaths reached England in 1913.
It was not understood, even by members of the returning party, why ‘The Welsh Hero’ a PT instructor and the strongest member of the party should be the first to fail and die.
Apart from suffering the problems endured by all five men: malnutrition, dehydration, hypothermia vitamin deficiencies and the most dramatic weight loss, Edgar suffered, I feel certain, from a blood infection that he received when he cut his hand whist shortening one of the sledges before the final attempt at the Pole (an organism staphylococcus aureus. can survive in the Antarctic). He would have been confused, weak, and increasingly unable to cooperate with pulling sledges and the work of the camp
The newspapers of the time make no mention of a physical weakness. Rather they concentrate on the psychological — Edgar (a man of the lower deck), had not had the education to prepare him to withstand the rigors and the monotony of the return trek, alternatively he was depressed because the British had arrived after the Norwegians at the Pole; this would affect his plans to open a pub on Gower. These blinkered comments by commentators who made little effort to analyse the situation must have been devastating to his mother wife and children, who had not only lost their man but were in addition, led to understand that his deterioration and increasing weakness had damaged the survival chances of the rest of the party.
No memorial was erected in Wales. It was of course a time of financial stringency, but the authorities in Wales must have been bothered by the clever newspaper reports and worried that Edgar HAD in fact damaged the party mortally. There was no point in a erecting a memorial to a dented hero.
Medical understanding of the horrors endured by the whole of the party has increased recently and in particular the specific problems suffered by Edgar
There was a superb memorial service in Wales at the centenary of the death, now this plaque has been unveiled. Plans for a statute (which I have mentioned in previous blogs) seem to be creeping along slowly, but the macquette is excellent and I hope will soon be on display
Also the Blue Plaque is wonderfully well deserved.

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