Sir Hubert von Herkomer R.A.

10 Feb

Nestling amongst my talks on Antarctic heroes and Antarctic subjects is one on a Victorian artist, Hubert Herkomer, a man who was one of the most famous artists of the late Victorian era and the Edwardian period. Why is he there? I am not an art historian. I spent my working life as a Consultant in the National Health Service.

caption: self-portrait by Hubert Herkomer held in Bushey Museum Hertfordshire U.K.

The reason that Herkomer entered my life is that I wrote the biography of Edward Wilson, the doctor who died with Scott in 1912. Wilson and his wife made their home in Bushey, Hertfordshire. When I visited Bushey Museum to learn more about my subject, I found they were more interested in their celebrity Herkomer, who had lived in the town for forty years.

Caption: Lululaund Gothic style(built from 1880-1884). Designed by the American architect H.H.Richardson(Boston Mass.USA).

I learnt that during these years, in addition to the most prodigious artistic output he was a talented musician, ran an art school, wrote the music, the words and acted in plays and, with his father and uncles, built a huge Gothic house, designed by H.H. Richardson, the famous Bostonian American architect.

Caption:Students of Herkomer Art School started in 1883. Initially for 60 students, but soon rose to 100 students.

When I looked around the museum I was caught immediately by the numerous examples of his paintings and drawings on display. I decided I would make a presentation, which, I hoped might be of general interest

Caption: Drawn by Herkomer Woodcut printed in the Graphic Magazine 1870. Bushey Museum hertfordshire U.K.

Herkomer was an inexhaustible worker. Initially he produced many ‘Social Realism’ Illustrations. These graphically informed all Victoria’s subjects of the poverty and deprivation of the Victorian working class.

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Caption: THE SUNDAY TRADING QUESTION THE GRAPHIC 6 JANUARY 1872. BUTLER LIBRARY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY N.Y.

He continued with these for many years; his Diploma painting (presented to the Royal Academy when he was elected a Full Member) was ‘On Strike’, described as ‘a cry for humanity’.

Caption: THE COASTGUARDSMAN 20 SEPTEMBER 1879 THE GRAPHIC ;’HEADS OF PEOPLE’.
BUTLER LIBRARY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY N.Y.

Caption: THE LAST MUSTER ‘, 1875. LADY LEVER ART GALLERY, MERSEYSIDE. U.K.

He also produced numerous paintings and pictures, of scenes in England, Wales and Germany. Later in his career he concentrated on the ‘portrait market’ with great success, painting the great and the good in this country and in Germany.

Caption: watercolour painting of JOHN RUSKIN, H.Herkomer 1879. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY LONDON, U.K.

Caption: MARRIED ANNA WEISE 1873.Her portrait by Hubert Herkomer 1876. BUSHEY MUSEUM, HERTFORDSHIRE U.K.

In 1899 he was awarded the Order of Maximilien by Prince Luitpold of Bavaria; this allowed him to add von to his name, an honour he greatly appreciated as it raised the prestige of the Herkomer family as a whole.

He visited the States twice and on one of his visits to Boston he painted 36 portraits in a few months.

Caption: Herkomer built a THEATRE,created ELABORATE MUSICAL PLAYS,and WROTE AND ORCHESTRATED THE MUSIC, as well taking an active role in the plays. The image is of Edward Gordon Craige, who was the stage designer producing amazingly a mobile full moon, fully lit, that traversed from one side of the stage to the other steadily through out the performance. He was the son of Ellen Terry.

Hubert Herkomer’s original passport to success however was ‘The Last Muster’. This was painted when he was twenty-six. It depicts Chelsea Pensioners in the chapel of the Chelsea Hospital and drew spontaneous applause from the Hanging Committee, of the Royal Academy, when it was submitted for exhibition – surely unusual. It was one of the most popular paintings in England for 40 years and won the Medal of Honour in the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878. It is said to be a memento mori and a reminder both of patriotism and poverty.

Caption: HERKOMER’S DIPLOMA PAINTING ‘ON STRIKE’, 1891. ROYAL ACADEMY, PICCADILLY. LONDON U.K.

His watercolour portrait of Ruskin, described as one of the greatest portraits of the Victorian era, was painted when Ruskin was probably already suffering from a bipolar disorder. The portrait is considered outstandingly insightful; it certainly drew enthusiastic praise from Ruskin himself who nominated Herkomer for the Slade Professorship in Oxford.

Caption:Watercolour by Hubert Herkomer 1901 of Queen Victoria at Osborne House Isle of Wight.U.K.
The Royal Collection.
This image is from a copy held by Bushey Museum, Hertfordshire. U.K.

Edward VII invited him to paint Queen Victoria on her deathbed and subsequently granted him a knighthood.
But Hubert is now largely forgotten. Why? There are four main reasons. Firstly, although he was a naturalized British citizen, he was born in Bavaria and never lost his connection with Germany, visiting Bavaria regularly. Secondly, he was often perceived to be egotistical, self-praising and effusive, not traits likely to endear him to his fellow citizens and artistic rivals (Royal Academicians filed a question concerning his right to British citizenship). Thirdly, by the time he died in 1914, anti German feeling was rife.

But probably the most important reason was that by the end of World War 1 tastes in art had changed. There was no appetite for ‘vulgar, coloured photographs’. ‘Modernism’ had arrived

Although Herkomer was and is represented in galleries throughout Britain and word-wide, he sank into obscurity for some years. He has been reassessed for his significant contributions more recently.

I am making two presentations on him this year. I hope to kindle further interest in an undoubtedly brilliant artist.

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Why didn’t they ask Evans? x3+

16 Jan

Kristoffer has commented further on Professor Turney’s paper.

I have altered the order of the images to make sure the words Teddy Evans’interview (NZ press) are in the correct order.

New Book on Bruce

16 Jan

I am delighted that the book is to be published by Amberley Publishing in March. My co-author is John Dudeney who has visited the Antarctic frequently and who also has an invaluable access to government papers relating to the time when Bruce was having ongoing confrontations with the powers-that-be in London.

The book has taken some years to write. In theory I enjoy the research though I have to say that the practical problems of spending hours deciphering increasingly spidery handwriting in letters and statements that turn out to have no relevance to Bruce’s story can be trying! but I think we have presented William Speirs in a fair and balanced way and that the book will deliver him from the relative obscurity that he has somehow sunk to.

2018, ANTARCTICA AND THE OCEANS, WHERE DOES THE DETRITUS COME FROM?

6 Jan

Explorers of the early 1900 would be both taken aback and fascinated by the many changes and advances that have taken place in the past century – the scientific advances would enthuse them, climate change would not surprise them. Damage to the food chains that supply wild life and fish would concern them deeply, the detritus that has built up in the hitherto pristine oceans and the beaches and interior of Antarctica would outrage them.

The ‘Antarctic Treaty Protocol on Environmental Protection’ (ref), that aims to protect Antarctica, stipulates what can and can’t be left on the continent. But in spite of this agreement pollution continues. Antarctica is particularly sensitive to this problem because of its freezing temperatures — natural processes that remove waste in other parts of the world function slowly in the cold and this increases the build up of waste. For example organic material that would have disappeared in months in warmer environments can take decades to decay in Antarctica,

The biodiversity in the Antarctic – the mosses, lichens, algae, penguins, seals, and migratory birds – that attracts researchers, their support teams and tourists, results in all the problems that go with a permanent human settlement. Most research takes place during Antarctica’s summer season when the human population swells to around 5,000 scientists and support staff. An additional 25,000 – 30,000 people visit the area as tourists during this time (during the winter the population decreases to about 1,000). It is reported that research stations still contribute to the problem.

Clearly, a conflict of interest between an emphasis on science and tourism can develop in many ways – one small example, tyre treads of vehicles that veer from designated tracks can gouge up sparse vegetation that has taken years to establish. Boot prints will damage the delicate cold-climate moss-banks. When I went to the Peninsula I was given very strict instructions as to where I could, or could not, walk and in the areas we were allowed to explore we tried to walk in the footsteps of the person directly ahead – the penguins must have considered our single file as a strange species of penguin. In some cases the very biodiversity that researchers came to investigate has been threatened by invasive species they, or tourists, have inadvertently carried.

The effect of casual pollution remains a threat. There is still a large amount of rubbish including metal items, oil and other fuels and plastics in a variety of locations. In the past when a station was no longer needed, valuable items were removed, but everything else was left behind. This image shows some abandoned machinery, sleds, vehicles, oil drums and buildings in at what used to be a Russian base, closed in 1991. Although today these items would be removed, there are other similar examples.

http://www.coolantarctica.com/antarctica fact file/science/abandoned.jpg

More generally, the production world wide of synthetic polymers, plastics, is a rapidly increasing long-term threat to marine life – albatrosses, fulmars, shearwaters and petrels mistake floating plastics for food. Over forty percent of seabirds are known to ingest this plastic. Also seals as well as birds get tangled up in lines. Plastic bands can get caught around animals’ necks, causing injury, infection and, very likely, a long and slow death. A recent ‘Blue Planet’ graphically illustrated these problems. Ben Fogle has written in the ‘Geographical’ (November 2017, p.15), that plastic debris is accidentally transporting creatures for thousands of miles from their usual habitat on makeshift plastic ‘rafts’ – about 300 species have reached the US from Japan on marine debris; yet Coca Cola has increased production of its throw- away plastic bottles.

It has been reported that 95% of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger. Container Ships multiply the problem. These huge ships are the length of about six football pitches – it is said that if the shipping industry were a country, it would be ranked as the sixth biggest contributor to global CO2 emissions worldwide. Pollution problems originate when the ships are far from land (therefore difficult to identify the source without Satellite surveillance) and the situation is made worse (particularly in relation to wild life) as the industry apparently uses bunker oil (the dregs from the refinery process), which is heavy, toxic, does not evaporate, gives off sulphur and is poisonous to fish and crustaceans. The Shipping Industry is investigating alternative sources of energy, such as liquefied natural gas, some form of carbon capture, or simply slowing down, but it is thought nothing will be definitively agreed without further international legislation.

The hole in the ozone layer was recorded in the 1980s. The ozone LAYER is found in the lower stratosphere at about 20 to 30 kilometers. The ozone HOLE is a thinning of this layer that allows harmful ultra violet light to get through the earth’s atmosphere over the South Pole during the Antarctic Spring. It was enlarged by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) being pumped into the atmosphere by the industrialized world over a long time period. Enforced reduction of CFC emissions has reduced the hole in the ozone layer but it still remains, the best example of pollutants that are produced in one place, having their effects in another.

So the oceans, wildlife, and Antarctica itself remain in need of further proactive protection.

The Antarctic Treaty Protocol can be reviewed in four years, but will members have the will to agree to reinforce, develop and enforce the safe guards of 1991 treaty, to ensure that contamination of the oceans that surround Antarctica will be significantly cleared from man-made contamination?

Individual contributions, though small, will help in total.
Some suggestions:

1) Avoid supermarkets, which do not support ‘plastic free aisles’.
2) Buy loose fruit/vegetables in markets or local stores
3) Continue to support development of transport that do not produce any liquid or gaseous pollution. Support a significant levy on use of historic transportation.
4) Do not buy products wrapped in ‘disposable’ plastic

REF. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, Madrid. 1991

Further correspondence on Professor Chris Turney’s paper ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’

23 Dec

Bill Alp has asked further pertinent questions about this paper as shown below. Some excerpts from Gran’s book are included:
As mentioned above, I wrote to Professor Turney on 15 October 2017, requesting translations of the relevant parts of Gran’s book – the parts about Scott’s orders to Teddy Evans. As of 21 December, there has been no response. To make progress I have purchased a copy of Gran’s book and asked a Norwegian work-colleague to find and translate all paragraphs that mention Scott’s dog teams. Pages from the book have been scanned and inserted below, for those readers who would like to check the accuracy and context of translated passages.
I was expecting to receive from my colleague something akin to Roland Huntford’s well-known paragraph:
“Evans also carried a message from Scott changing the orders for the dogs yet again – for the fourth time. Meares now was to come to out and meet Scott between 82° and 83° S, some time towards the middle of February” (Huntford, 1979, p. 457).
Imagine the surprise when my colleague reported that ‘Kampen om Sydpolen’ contains no such statement. At no point in the book does Gran state that Scott gave orders to Evans about the dogs. There are however several separate statements in Gran’s book which Professor Turney may have combined in order to create his story. This post addresses that possibility and invites the reader to form his or her own opinion of the merits of Turney’s case against Evans.
Regardless of whether one accepts Gran’s story or not, the vital question is whether Professor Turney’s representation of Gran’s narrative is fair and accurate or whether it has been distorted, perhaps to create a headline-grabbing article.
On page 10 of the PDF version, the following paragraph is germane to Turney’s claim that Evans received orders from Scott that were not conveyed:
“Whilst no orders were apparently written by Scott for the Last Supporting Party, it does seem they were issued on the journey. By the time the two final parties had reached two-and-a-half degrees north of the Pole, Scott had settled on his plans for the dogs on their third journey. Meeting privately with Evans, he sent his second-in-command back and ordered the dogs should return across the Ross Ice Shelf to meet the returning party between 82° and 83° S (Gran, 1961).”
Turney’s paragraph does not contain any direct quotations, so I suggest it be treated as a combination of material from several sections of Gran’s book. Some readers may see this as conflation or contextual manipulation.
Only one piece of Turney’s paragraph, “Meeting privately with Evans, he sent his second-in-command back” actually matches Gran’s translated text:
“Scott wanted to take 4 men with him to the South Pole. The chosen were Wilson, Oates, Bowers and non-commissioned officer Edgar Evans.
Scott asked everybody, except Lieutenant ‘Teddy’ Evans to leave the tent, and when they were alone he said:
I know, my dear Teddy that my decision is a hard blow for you, but aside from the fact that it is the best for you, it is also necessary. You are my second-in-command, and the two of us cannot go in the same party. I need, in my absence, a man like you to look after my interests” (Gran, 1961, p. 159)

Assessment of the third part of Turney’s paragraph is more complex. It contains a reference to a region between 82° and 83° S. That region does in fact appear once in Gran’s book, but in a very different context to Turney’s. Gran was describing the discussions that (he claims) took place at Hut Point on 23 or 24 February 1912, where Evans and Atkinson were re-planning the third dog journey, to be led by Cherry-Garrard. Gran’s translated words are:
“The time for the meeting between Scott and the dogs, the directive said, could be set when the last support party had returned. And that happened on 23 February. The leader, Lieutenant Teddy Evans, had suffered from heavy scurvy and had caused the party to be severely delayed. [A couple of points may be noted here: Firstly, any directive for the dog teams to wait for the last support party would make no sense if conveyed via Evans and the last support party. Secondly, there is no suggestion here that the last return party would be bringing revised orders, it is simply a matter of the dates for the dogs departing southwards and meeting Scott.]
All the signs indicated that Scott and his South Pole party were close. According to Lieutenant Evans and his two companions, it was doubtful whether the dogs, even if they set out immediately, would reach One Ton depot before Scott. [This is consistent with Cherry-Garrard’s statement below.]
This was not just a happy piece of information, but came as a great relief. This was because the dog expert Cecil Meares – who had been disappointed with not being allowed to go with his dogs up the Beardmore Glacier – had shut down his work and handed the job over to the expedition physician Dr. Atkinson. And the doctor was no navigator. So if the mission with the dogs should have gone to 82° or 83° S either Charles Wright or the biologist Nelson would have been required to go along [as navigator for Atkinson]. And both of these scientists were practically indispensable in the winter quarters. They were taking over from the meteorologist, Dr. Simpson who quite unexpectedly had been called home. The remaining personnel on the expedition with expertise in navigation, including the author of this book, were all in the West Mountains” ( Gran, 1961, pp. 184-185)

As mentioned above, Cherry-Garrard’s book supports Gran’s statement about the Polar Party being expected to reach Hut Point within a few days, according to Evans’ Party:
“and indeed it appeared that we had been wrong to hurry out so soon, before the time that Scott had reckoned that he would return, and that the Polar Party would really come in at the time Scott had calculated before starting rather than at the time we had reckoned from the data brought back by the Last Return Party.” (Cherry-Garrard, 2010, p. 434)
The paragraph on page 10 of Professor Turney’s article, quoted above, appears to be his primary ‘evidence’ for the charge that Evans received orders from Scott that he failed to pass on. I invite readers to form their own opinions on whether Gran’s narrative has been accurately represented by Turney (regardless of whether you accept Gran’s narrative or not), and whether there is sufficient evidence to support the case made by Professor Turney in the ‘Failed orders’ section of his article.
References
Cherry-Garrard, A.G.B. (2010). The Worst Journey in the World. London, England: Vintage Books.
Gran, J.T.H. (1961). Kampen om Sydpolen. Oslo, Norway: Ernst G. Mortensens Forlag.
Huntford, R. (1979). Scott and Amundsen. [Kindle version] Retrieved from Amazon.com
Turney, C.S.M. (2017). Why didn’t they ask Evans? Polar Record 53(5), 498-511

Notes on Chris Turney’s article ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’

23 Nov

Bill Alp, a New Zealander, a project manager in information technology and a man with a passion for researching the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, has written a critique of the paper. I agree with his comments and give them in full

I have appended some general comments of my own at the end of his critique

Bill’s comments
General – the importance of verifiable facts in research articles
Professor Chris Turney’s article ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’ has recently been published by Polar Record. It may be viewed at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/polar-record/article/why-didnt-they-ask-evans/224A49CABBF71E72B99C8C9C3B7236A4
Whilst the article draws upon many historic documents, it is rather light on verifiable facts. There are plenty of conjectures, insinuations and rumours. However, statements such as: “before sending Atkinson and his team back, Scott repeated that the dogs were not to be risked” and “Whilst no orders were apparently written by Scott for the Last Supporting party, it does seem they were issued on the journey” and “Atkinson remained convinced the orders as he understood them had not been rescinded” would be more acceptable if supported by verifiable citations.
A significant proportion of the article reiterates the opinions of individuals back in England ( Lord Curzon, K Scott, O Wilson etc.), who could not possibly have witnessed Evans’ alleged transgressions in Antarctica. The article would have more substance if it included eye-witness accounts of Evans’ alleged transgressions.
Turney has worked hard to depict Teddy Evans as being a bad person, using a technique of presenting multiple adverse opinions and innuendo. This approach is not a trusted alternative to straightforward assembly and presentation of verifiable facts. In short, Turney’s article falls well-short of the standard normally associated with scholarly research.
Alleged theft of food by Evans
The common storyline of the Terra Nova expedition maintains that the energy content of Scott’s man-food rations fell well-short of what was required. For example, Fiennes assessed Scott’s summit ration at 4500 calories per day and stated that energy consumption would exceed 7000 calories per day when man-hauling in polar conditions (Fiennes, 2003, pp. 283-285). The Polar Party was close to a ‘starvation diet’ for 77 days, from commencement of man-hauling up the Glacier until arriving back on the Barrier on 24 February, and thence onto the even lower energy Barrier ration, until their deaths. It is surprising that Turney’s article makes no mention of the energy shortfall in the diet planned and organised by Scott, writing only about possible food shortages allegedly caused by Evans. For the article to be perceived as being well-reasoned and balanced, a distinction between problems caused by inadequate ration content versus alleged food theft would add credibility. A more balanced approach to analysis of food-related problems could have avoided press headlines such as “Captain Scott of the Antarctic’s doomed 1911 expedition to the South Pole was ‘sabotaged’ by his second in command who stole vital rations and rebelled against orders, expert claims” (Daily Mail (Australia), 12 October 2017).
The article provides no evidence that the Polar Party was forced to go onto short rations whilst returning across the Barrier. It may be noted that Scott’s Message to Public stated every detail of their food supplies worked out to perfection (obviously, Scott was silent about the adequacy of their fuel oil supplies}. Scott’s statement may be evaluated by investigating when the returning Polar Party was able to consume full rations and when it was obliged to go onto short rations. Based upon Shackleton’s average speed in his Nimrod expedition, Scott had decided upon a 144 day southern journey and took an appropriate number of ration packs (albeit with insufficient daily energy content). With a start date of 1 November 1911, 144 days’ worth of food would last until 22 March 1912, which is very close to when the Polar Party came off their full ration in the death tent. Scott’s journal shows he dared not cut back on food rations whilst returning across the Barrier. The evidence suggests the Polar Party enjoyed full rations until about 21 March 1912.
It is therefore apparent that even if 80 ounces of biscuit (5 man-days of summit ration, as highlighted by Turney) plus an unknown quantity of pemmican had been under-provisioned by Bowers, or had been misappropriated by any of the returning parties (be it the Dog Party, the First Return Party or Evans’ Second Return Party), this alone did not cause the Polar Party to go onto short rations.
Whilst Turney’s article puts up a convincing case that a few people in far-off England had fussed over possible shortages of biscuit or pemmican, no evidence is presented to demonstrate that such shortages, if they existed, had any adverse impact on the Polar Party at all.
In order to attain a better standard of proof about alleged food shortages, the article needs to analyse and compare its new theories against the well-established facts. If that analysis comes out in favour of the new theories then there would be a better chance of acceptance by historians and researchers.
As the article stands, the charge that Evans took food beyond his entitlement, to the detriment of the Polar Party, is unproven.
Alleged failure of Evans to convey orders
Turney’s article bases its case about Evans’ alleged failure to convey Scott’s revised orders upon a single thread, originating in Gran’s 1961 book Kampen om Sydpolen (not available in English). One is left wondering why such a pivotal piece of evidence is not quoted in full, in English and the original Norwegian, to allay any concern about biased or selective translation. I wrote to Professor Turney on 15 October 2017 requesting a copy of Gran’s text, but as at 22 November 2017 had received no response.
The common storyline of the Terra Nova expedition contains a lot of widely accepted information about Atkinson’s actions when he became responsible for the third dog journey. For example, Mike Tarver’s biography of Atkinson (Tarver, 2015, pp. 53-54) tells of the letters Atkinson wrote to his parents about responsibilities assigned to him by Scott. Independent journal entries by Wright, Simpson and Cherry-Garrard (all available from SPRI archives), plus a letter from Demetri to Meares and Evans’ book itself, all paint a consistent picture of how the events of the third dog journey evolved during Atkinson’s watch. There is so much primary evidence available that independent verification of Atkinson’s account is straightforward.
However, the new theory about the orders allegedly given by Scott to Evans is not independently verified in Turney’s article, at all. The article would be more believable if Gran’s 1961 account could be verified to a similar level of confidence as Atkinson’s account. Without verifiable evidence, the charge that Evans failed to convey orders is based solely on hearsay and conjecture.
In assessing Turney’s new theory, several points come to mind:
• Gran was not present at the time the alleged instructions were given to Evans; he was not even present on the southern journey. He was therefore not an eye-witness.
• He did not enjoy Scott’s confidence. It seems highly unlikely that Scott would have shared information about his plans and instructions with Gran that he did not share with others.
• All we have is Gran’s belated recollection of Evans alleged admission, made at an unspecified place on an unknown date, recorded for the first time in 1961.
• His book Kampen om Sydpolen, from which the new material is apparently drawn, was published almost 50 years after the event. It is surprising that the story of Evans’ alleged instructions does not appear in Gran’s published diary, covering the period from 29 November 1910 until 12 February 1913 (Gran, 1984).
• Perhaps Gran created the story from memory, almost 50 years after the event. Without seeing Gran’s text one cannot be sure, but it seems as though Gran’s story could be a jumbling together of Scott’s written orders to Meares (Evans, 1961, pp. 162-163) plus Atkinson’s verbal instructions from Scott (Atkinson, 2011, p. 665) with names changed (Evans instead of Atkinson) and destination changed (83° 00’ instead of 82° 30’).
Hypothetically, Gran’s account could be true. As with the charge of food theft, the article needs to analyse and compare its new theories against well-established facts. If the analysis comes out in favour of the new theory then there would be a better chance of acceptance by historians and researchers.
The article does not address the need to provide adequate dog food for the extended journey. From surviving records, such as Wilson’s sketchbook, we can see that Scott’s food-planning was thorough and it would have been out of character for him to issue instructions for the Dog Party to travel beyond their maximum (food determined) range, with fatal consequences for men and animals. The article would be more credible if it included an analysis of dog food planned for the extended journey.
Another concern is the vagueness arising from the absence of any timeline. Turney’s article provides no evidence about when Scott expected Evans to meet the Dog Party, in order to pass on the revised instructions, or when the dogs should meet up with the Polar Party. This is an important omission because the Dog Party would need to receive the revised instructions before departed south, in order to alter their payload to suit Scott’s revised instructions. The article would have more substance if it included a clear timeline analysis.
As the article stands, the charge that Evans failed to convey Scott’s revised orders, based solely upon Gran’s unverified story, is unproven. Verifiable facts would strengthen Turney’s charge that Evans failed to comply with Scott’s orders.
References
Atkinson, E.L. (2011). The last Year at Cape Evans, In: Scott, R.F. Scott’s Last Expedition. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.
Evans, E.R.G.R. (1961). South With Scott. London, England: Collins
Fiennes, R. (2003). Captain Scott. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton
Geroff, D. (1913). Letter to Cecil Meares 2 January 1913 (written by F. Debenham), Victoria, Canada: Royal British Columbia Museum MS0455
Gran, J.T.H. (1984). The Norwegian with Scott: Tryggve Gran’s Antarctic Diary 1910-1913. G. Hattersley-Smith (Ed.). London, England: HMSO
Tarver, M.C. (2015). The Man Who Found Captain Scott. Antarctic Explorer and War Hero. Surgeon Captain Edward Leicester Atkinson. Brixham, Devon UK: Pendragon Maritime Publications

Bill Alp
Wellington, New Zealand
22 November 2017

GENERAL COMMENTS; Isobel P. Williams

1) In relation to food:
Scott recorded in his journal on the evening of 10th December that ‘Evans’ party could not keep up …they took nearly half an hour to come up a few hundred yards’ (Robert Falcon Scott Journals, p 344).- this is hardly surprising as two of the men had been man-hauling for the previous 40 days on Barrier Rations. The Summit Rations for the assault on the Pole had been re-calculated (4,500 calories) after Edward Wilson’s winter expedition to Cape Crozier (27 June -1 August 1911). In the 1990s Mike Stroud calculated the calories needed for man-hauling to be 7,000 calories per day (Fiennes, ‘Captain Scott’, p. 284/5). Teddy Evans started to man-haul on the 1st November 1911, as did P.O.William Lashly (Lashly’s Antarctic Diaries. p.120). 65 days later they started the Return Journey, with Thomas Crean, on 4th.January 1912 (Lashly’s Diaries, p.135). By this time both Teddy Evans and P.O. Lashly would have already expended over 150,000 calories more than they had taken in (this deficit was less than it could have been, as they were held up by blizzards for 9 days). They would have lost more weight (muscle and fat) than their peers who had only started to man-haul from the foot of the Beardmore Glacier on 10 December 1911 (Lashly’s Diaries p.127).
In relation to the five men on Scott’s return party from the Pole – by the time they reached the Barrier, each man would have built up a deficit of 301,000 calories although they did not realize this, having man-hauled for 72 days.

2) On page 498, ‘Introduction’, Professor Turney states that C.P.O. EDGAR Evans, (as apposed to Teddy), died ‘apparently from the effects of concussion’. In my biography of Edgar Evans, ‘Captain Scott’s Invaluable Assistant Edgar Evans’, I go into the possible causes of Edgar’s death in considerable depth. My conclusion is that he probably died of a Staphylococcus Aureus bacteraemia that developed secondarily to his cutting his hand whilst shortening a sledge on 31st. December 1911 (Lashly’s Diaries p.133). I am unconvinced by the ‘concussion’ theory, for the reasons mentioned in the relevant chapter.

3) On page 501, in relation to vitamin C, Professor Turney states that ‘it would be twenty years before its importance of the prevention of scurvy was fully realized’. Here I must put in a plug for Shackleton. In his preparation for his Trans Antarctic Expedition he was fully cognizant of the dangers of scurvy, having suffered severely from the disease himself and was determined to do all he could to prevent this problem. This is explained in an article he wrote in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ July 1914, p. 5 ‘The Antarctic’—Considerations of Diet. In his preparations he consulted carefully with Colonel Beveridge of the Royal Army Medical College’ (each man was allocated a pack daily containing 5,452 cals).

4)The cause of scurvy was demonstrated in 1907 by the Norwegians Axel Holst and Theodor Frolich, when guinea pigs were shown to be the only mammals at that time (other than humans) that could not manufacture an ascorbic factor. The guinea pigs developed scurvy when fed a deficient diet and recovered when fed a diet that included vegetables (much later the factor was isolated as hexuronic acid, later re named Ascorbic Acid, commonly known as Vitamin C).

5) Undoubtedly Teddy Evans was a brave man- – on the ‘Terra Nova’ expedition he did sterling work when the ‘Terra Nova’ was in danger of sinking in the Southern Ocean after the suction pumps choked, Teddy, sometimes submerged in filthy oily water, squeezed through a hole in the engine room bulkhead and ‘wriggled over the coal, found his way to the pump shaft and down it. He soon cleared the suction of the coal balls which choked it’ (Journals, Captain Scott’s Last Expedition, Max Jones p.19). In WW1, on HMS Broke, he deliberately rammed a G42′, almost breaking it in two. This action gained him immediate promotion to the rank of Captain, and the award of the DSO

Ranolph Fiennes, 2003 Captain Scott, London, Hodder and Stoughton
A.R.Ellis, 1969 Under Scott’s Command, Lashly’s Antarctic Diaries, London, Victor Gollancz
Max Jones, 2005 Robert Falcon Scott Journals, Captain Scott’s Last Expedition, Oxford University Press UK
Isobel Williams, 2012 Captain Scott’s Invaluable Assistant Edgar Evans, The History Press, Gloucestershire UK

Lieutenant Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans—Teddy Evans

21 Nov

LIEUTENANT EDWARD RATCLIFFE GARTH RUSSELL EVANS—TEDDY EVANS

That the ‘Terra Nova’ sailed from Cardiff was due to Teddy Evans’ valuable connections with local
business men, commercial organisations and the enthusiastic support of the ‘Western Mail’. Evans had
originally planned to lead his own expedition, but after a London meeting with Scott in July 1909, the
men agreed to cooperate, rather than compete in their efforts to reach the South Pole – Scott would lead
the expedition, Evans would sail as second in command. The considerable resources from Wales were
put at the disposal of the ‘Terra Nova’.

Many months later, in late 1911, Scott and Evans were on at the final assault on the Pole. At this stage
there were twelve men man-hauling three sledges. Two of these groups were relatively rested, but on
Evans’ team, he and Petty Officer William Lashly had been man-hauling since 1 November 1911.
The strain showed and Scott became impatient with Evans’ perceived carelessness and
disorganisation. On 20 December 1911, the first supporting party of four turned back, leaving eight
men to go on. Evans’ team was reorganised with himself, Lieutenant Bowers, Lashly, and Able Seaman Thomas Crean. But on 3 January 1912, Scott decided that he would incorporate Bowers into his on-
going team and that Evans should return with a THREE-man team, ‘the Last Supporting Party’. So on
4 January 1912, Evans, Lashly and Crean turned back.

Reducing the pulling power to three slowed Evans’ party. On the glacier Evans began to suffer physical problems, initially snow-blindness (painful and limiting his vision), and later, signs of scurvy. The scurvy symptoms and signs increased rapidly causing significant physical deterioration. Soon he had to be carried on the sledge by Lashly and Crean.

By 13 February 1912 Evans had deteriorated to such a stage that he ordered his companions to leave him to his fate and return to base. They refused, ‘the first and last time my orders as a naval officer were disobeyed’. A blizzard finally halted the three men’s progress on 17 February. They were only thirty-five miles from the base camp at Hut Point, but it was clear that Lashly and Crean could not continue with the sledge pulling. Lashly remained with Evans whilst Crean headed north to seek aid. When he managed to return with help and supplies, Evans was thought to be near to death. The men carefully transported him back to the main camp, arriving a few days before the relief ship the ‘Terra Nova’. He gradually regained his physical health, though he remained bedridden until April, by which time ‘Terra Nova’ had arrived in New Zealand.

Now a recent article by Professor Chris Turney ‘Why didn’t they ask Evans?’ has been published in the
Polar Record (Vol. 53, Issue 5, Sept. 2017, pp. 498-511). The piece throws doubts on Evans’
behaviour during the expedition and suggests that Evans’ actions on the return journey played into
the deaths of Scott and his men. The work focuses on the shortage of food at key depots, the apparently
deliberate obfuscation of when Evans actually fell ill with scurvy (by suggesting that the illness developed
earlier on the return than had been understood in London) and that Evans had taken pemmican
and other food supplies from the food caches before he succumbed to scurvy, thus prejudicing Scott’s return march. Finally he failed to pass on orders given by Scott regarding the dogs.

Professor Turney concludes that Evans’actions on and off the ice can at best be described as
ineffectual, at worst deliberate sabotage. He wonders why Evans was not questioned more about these
events on his return to England.

I do not agree with these comments – more will follow later.

Further comments on Scott’s ‘suicide’

5 Nov

Some years ago, on this blog, we had an animated correspondence on the subject of Scott’s ‘suicide’ – this was mostly centered on Professor Sienicki’s assertions in his paper ‘The Weather and its Role in Captain F. Scott and his Companions’ Deaths’, that Scott, having realised that there was no hope of him returning alive, decided on ‘a slow suicide’. Having reached this decision he was fearful that critics in Britain (who had previously slandered him and Lt.Royds, over the latter’s meteorological records from the ‘Discovery’ expedition), would pounce again, so, to gain public sympathy for himself and his own and his companions’ families, he and Bowers falsified their meteorological data and recorded abnormally low temperatures.
Professor Sienicki repeated these assertions in his book on the subject and was critical of other expert conclusions, mentioning particularly, Susan Solomon, the award winning atmospheric chemist.
As would be expected there was much argument about this conclusion and on this blog Bill Alp, an I.T. and software expert, persistently asked for details that would support Professor Sienicki’s data.
Now the American Meteorological Society has published a paper, which, without mentioning Sienicki,appears to refute his thesis.(http;//journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0013.1)

The paper shows that whilst several studies have focussed on the exceptionally cold conditions that Scott and his party suffered in the end of the Antarctic summer of 1912, both Scott and Amundsen experienced exceptional meteorological conditions – there were unusually WARM conditions in the interior of the Ross Ice Shelf and Amundsen’s party also experienced unusually high temperatures on the plateau as they approached the South Pole. At the same time Scott (well behind Amundsen) experienced these warmer than average temperatures on the Barrier. Scott also had higher-than-usual temperatures as his party descended the Beardmore Glacier. This warm period was followed by a colder than average temperature on the Ross Ice Shelf in early March. It is suggested, amongst other things, that the period of warmth may have lulled Scott into a sense of security before the temperatures dropped unusually and dramatically, sharply. There was no manipulation of the data — Scott’s cold weather observations were no more extreme than the high temperature observations.

Bill Alp has written the following:

It is great to see that a new research article, An Exceptional Summer during the South Pole Race of 1911-1912, has been published by the prestigious American Meteorological Society. It may be viewed at: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0013.1
I like the article and recommend it to others because:
1. It provides an even-handed non-partisan analysis, including Amundsen’s meteorological observations, and it addresses the exceptionally warm period that Amundsen experienced in December 1911.
2. It does not propose any bizarre theories about Scott falsifying his temperature records in order to pave the way for his own suicide. Fogt et al simply show that most of the extreme temperature and pressure observations during this exceptional season are about two standard deviations above or below the mean value in the climatology model they used, called ERA-Int. Scott’s cold March temperature observations are no more extreme that Amundsen’s high December temperature observations. [Noting that observations of under-sledge temperatures were excluded because pooled cold air could cause a cold bias].
3. With a lifetime of experience in IT and software project management, I have wide personal experience in reviewing and probing the adequacy of testing that has been carried out in development of complex systems. Fogt’s article rings true for me.
4. The article has been through the peer review process of a respectable research institution.

So there we are. There will probably be more to follow

The Ben Nevis Observatory

24 Oct

I have always been interested in the history of the Ben Nevis Observatory. I have written about it before but I think this remarkable development deserves further comment.
The observatory was opened on the summit of Ben Nevis (4,406 feet), in October 1893; and enlarged in 1894, but observations (as distinct to the actual Observatory) started in 1881, when a determined meteorologist Clement Wragge climbed Ben Nevis to make recordings. He got to the summit virtually every day between early June and mid October and used pigeons to transport his readings to Fort William where his wife took the low level readings and telegraphed the results to London! Wragge hoped that after his considerable efforts, he would be the first Supervisor when the observatory was built, but he was passed over in favour of the experienced meteorologist, Robert Omond.
William Speirs Bruce applied to join the Observatory in1894, he needed experience in recording detailed meteorological data in relation to his plans to lead an expedition to Antarctica. Initially his appointment was a locum post, but he was appointed to a substantive position on the summit, under the leadership of Robert Omond, in1895. His aim to achieve meteorological experience was achieved; in his year on the summit was given the most rigorous training.
In 1896 a Low Level Observatory was built at Fort William and manned by Robert Mossman, who would become closely associated with Bruce and went on the Scotia expedition as Meteorologist. The recordings from these two levels were synchronised, this was a first in Britain and led to increased understanding of weather conditions in mountainous regions.
Bruce’s duties were onerous. Observations were made, every hour whenever possible, in rapidly changing and often challenging, conditions. In winter, when snow made the station isolated enough even for Bruce, the snowdrifts were sometimes so high that the men had to get to their instruments via snow tunnels, or exit the observatory via the tower. This experience plus the changes in wind and fog, was an excellent training for Antarctic meteorology.
It was found that fog was present on the summit for 80% of the time in November, December and January 1895/6 – it was common for the summit to be capped in fog when surrounding summits were clear (later Bruce was to tell his companions in Antarctica that they did not know what fog was unless they had experienced it on Ben Nevis). Temperature comparisons between the high and low stations showed that the average fall in temperature between Fort William and the Summit was 15.3°F, with a mean annual temperature at the summit of 31.5° F, compared with 46.8°F. at the base station. Annual rainfall at the summit was approximately double that at Fort William.
Distinguished scientists visited the summit to observe its activities. Amongst these was C.T.R.Wilson, a Scottish physicist. One morning Wilson noted that the rays of the sun cast his shadow, enormously magnified and surmounted by a coloured halo, onto the surface of a fog cloud on the opposite mountain top (this phenomenon had been described by Johann Silberschlag in 1780 and was called the Brocken Spectre).
Wilson recognised that this phenomenon was due to supersaturated water droplets, in the form of fog, which fragmented the sun’s rays into its component parts.
In subsequent laboratory experiments he used sealed glass containers of supersaturated water droplets, (which he called the Cloud Chamber), to demonstrate images of the tracks of charged particles released by X-rays and radioactive materials. Different sized particles with different speeds created different trail patterns – for example an alpha particle track is thick and straight, others are wispy.
The Cloud Chamber was the first tool to be able to follow the path of otherwise invisible particles and show the variety of their size and speed. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927 for this work.
Bruce spent a year on Ben Nevis. Sadly recurring shortfalls in funds led to the observatory being closed in 1904, nine years after he had left it.

The cloud chamber is described as follows: a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of water or alcohol. An energetic charged particle (for example, an alpha or beta particle) interacts with the gaseous mixture by knocking electrons off gas molecules via electrostatic forces during collisions, resulting in a trail of ionised gas particles. The resulting ions act as condensation centres, around which a mist-like trail of small droplets form if the gas mixture is at the point of condensation. These droplets are visible as a “cloud” track that persist for several seconds while the droplets fall through the vapour. These tracks have characteristic shapes. For example, an alpha particle track is thick and straight, while an electron track is wispy and shows more evidence of deflections by collisions.
Cloud chambers played a prominent role in the experimental particle physics from the 1920s to the 1950s, until the advent of the bubble chamber. In particular, the discoveries of the positron in 1932 and the muon in 1936, both by Carl Anderson (awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936), used cloud chambers. Discovery of the kaon by George Rochester and Clifford Charles Butler in 1947, also was made using a cloud chamber as the detector. In each case, cosmic rays were the source of ionising radiation.

caption: Ben Nevis Observatory after Ice storm
(photo facing page 64 N.Rudmose Brown’s’Naturalist at the Poles’)

CAPTAIN THOMAS ROBERTSON 1855-1918

12 Oct

It is all to easy to forget the ‘other’ man who contributed to the success of the expeditions. On the ‘Scotia’ expedition Captain Robertson was pivotal to its success.

He was one man with whom Bruce never fell out; Bruce admired the Captain’s superb ice navigation skills and his ‘miraculous’ ability to anticipate and avoid the numerous potential emergencies that ‘Scotia’ encountered on her exploration to the South in 1903.
Thomas Robertson was born in Peterhead in 1855. His father and both his grandfathers were whaling captains, and from childhood he had a close association with the sea. His apprenticeship was served on a Peterhead merchant vessel trading with Australia and China but, on his return to England he decided to join the whaling and sealing industry. In this work he went to the Arctic, first as Mate on the ‘Jan Mayen’ of Dundee and then, at the age of twenty-four, as Master of the ‘Polar Star’, in which role he made voyages to the seal and fishery grounds off East Greenland and the Davis Straits. These voyages gave valuable experience; the ships were sail driven – this was before steam was in general use on whaling ships- and the knowledge he gained in handling these sailing vessels through the iceberg- laden north, was an invaluable asset when later he commanded ships with steam auxiliary power.

Bruce first encountered Robertson on the Dundee Whaling Expedition to the Antarctic of 1892-1893 when he (Bruce), sailed as Surgeon/Naturalist on ‘Balaena’, one of the five whalers going South in search of Right Whales. Robertson was Captain of one of the smaller ships, the ‘Active’. Bruce was accompanied on the expedition by his friend and fellow student Burn Murdoch. When Burn Murdoch wrote a book, ‘From Edinburgh to the Antarctic’, criticising the captain for the few opportunities allowed for scientific work on the expedition, Robertson wrote a defence. He said that it was difficult for the ‘passengers’ to be aware of the petty tyrannies imposed on a whaling captain.

The two men met again in the summer of 1897. Bruce was a scientist on the Franz Josef expedition when Captain Robertson, now Captain of ‘Balaena’ and on a whaling sortie, visited the archipelago. The meeting led to Robertson being later appointed as Captain of the ‘Scotia’ in 1902 when his skill in avoiding getting trapped in the Polar ice was pivotal. His plan to avoid the ice that swept up from the southeast of the Weddell Sea by sailing above it, became a benchmark for later expeditions. His contribution to the success of the ‘Scotia’ expedition was readily acknowledged by Bruce.

Robertson was naturally ambitious to further his career. At this time Shackleton was Secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Robertson wrote to him in October 1904:
Lieutenant Shackleton RNR
Edinburgh
Dear Sir
As I was in command of the ship of the Scottish Antarctic expedition I would esteem it as a great honour if your society would make one a fellow. I did some work in the Antarctic some years ago and I think that an FRGS would help one in getting charge of some expedition where I would have a chance of doing some geographical work in the future.
Trusting you will lay my request before your council I am yours faithfully Thomas Robertson.

The council approved Robertson’s Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and at their meeting on Thursday 20th October 1904, the council awarded the society’s silver medal to Captain Robertson. Bruce was awarded the Gold Medal.

Following the Antarctic expedition it was planned that ‘Scotia’ would see further use by the Universities of Scotland as a research vessel: however it became necessary to sell her, to recoup some of the expedition costs and she and Robertson were reunited as Robertson sailed her as a sealer and whaler off the Greenland coast. On the 15th February 1913 she was requisitioned, (still under Robertson’s command,) by the Board of Trade for use as a weathership on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in order to give iceberg warnings to shipping; for this a Marconi wireless was fitted so allowing communications with stations on the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland.

When members of Shackleton’s ‘Nimrod’ expedition were awarded the Polar Medal, Bruce submitted a request for the crew of ‘Scotia’ to be awarded the award. This was refused by Edward VII. Bruce reapplied in 1913 but the request was refused again by George V. Bruce wrote to Charles Price, Edinburgh MP and Bruce supporter, in August 1917, that ‘Robertson was dying without his well won white ribbon! The Mate is dead! The Second Mate is dead!! the Chief Engineer is dead!!! everyone as good men as have ever served on any Polar Expedition yet they did not receive the white ribbon. Surely it can merely be treated as an omission by the King, the public need never know that King Edward ever considered the matter’.
The medal was not awarded.

But Robertson’s reputation as an outstanding seaman is assured. He had a remarkable record; in nearly forty years of Polar work he neither lost a ship, nor a man. He was a man to ride the waters with. In numerous emergencies, when a moment’s hesitation could have resulted in disaster, his natural gifts as an ice pilot were complimented by an intuition that on occasions seemed miraculous.

Taking sightings On Scotia Captain Robertson with Mr. Fitchie