THE EDGAR EVANS CLUB

27 Sep

I was so pleased to attend the first meeting of the EDGAR EVANS CLUB in Portsmouth last weekend. Rob de Silva, a former Royal Naval Physical Training Instructor and Ginge Fullen, a Royal Naval Reserve Clearance Diver, have just started the club. Edgar Evans was a trainer of the Portsmouth Field Gun Crew, which won the Field Gun Competition in Olympia in 1906/7. Both Ginge and Rob were members of the 1999 Portsmouth crew.

Edgar Evans is now, and quite rightly, at last recognised as one of the heroes of Scott’s expeditions. But this acknowledgement has taken years.
The news of the deaths of the 5-man British party on their return from the Pole did not reach England until 1913, when Edgar was denigrated, by some, as being the main cause of the fatal deterioration.
Ah well for him who died, not ever knew
How his o’er wearied stumbling drew
Death’s snare about his friends to hold them fast
A ‘Medical Expert’ thought that Edgar could not stand the monotony of the return because of his lack of education. The Players cigarette cards of the time, (that seem to depict everyone connected with Antarctic ventures), missed out Edgar completely. St Katherine’s Press had a booklet (with photos,) of four heroes only.
The effect on his family must have been devastating.
My feeling is that, in addition to the privation suffered by all Scott’s party: malnutrition, hypothermia, dehydration, vitamin deficiency etc, Edgar suffered from blood poisoning from a cut in his hand that he sustained when he shortened a sledge prior to the final attempt at the Pole in 1912.

Rob and Ginge have opened the Edgar Evans Club in recognition of Edgar’s substantial contribution to both Scott’s Antarctic ventures of the early 1900s. The event started really impressively with a tug-o war on Bramble Bank. Bramble Bank is in the central Solent and is only uncovered at low water spring tides (at other times presenting a significant navigational hazard). It is known for an annual cricket match, which takes place when the bank is exposed but which never lasts long because the tide returns! And on this occasion there was also a magnificent tug-o-war, in which everyone got a thorough soaking, including the North Portsmouth M.P. Penny Mordant
The dinner was on the Victory. The event started a little late with some of the guests still bit damp. But it was a wonderful occasion, in the Senior Rates Mess in all its glory. A tour of the ship finished the evening

All the proceeds went to a local children’s’ charity. This has a link to Edgar in that Edgar lived in the same street as the children’s’ play centre which is the dedicated charity of the club. The Edgar Evans club supplies funds for trips and entertainments for example activity breaks in Devon.

I hope that there will be many more such occasions

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