Tag Archives: Teddy Evans

Apsley Cherry Garrard (CHERRY), CONTINUED

25 Jul

I wrote about Cherry’s childhood and his appointment to the ‘Terra Nova’ on 5th July.           This is part 2


The TERRA NOVA expedition, 1910-1914.


Cherry loved the life on the ‘Terra Nova’, but the expedition, which started so well, was to leave an indelible scar. Cherry was Wilson’s assistant zoologist, he became expert at skinning birds and animals. He enjoyed the on–board camaraderie and joined enthusiastically in any work that needed to be done. He was able to laugh at himself. Wilson wrote that Cherry ‘really is splendid’.


Scott’s brief was to continue the exploratory, scientific and geographic work begun on the Discovery expedition and to get to the South Pole (Wilson wrote, we must get to the Pole). In addition, Wilson had a personal aim – to investigate a possible link between dinosaurs and birds by investigating penguin embryology. A German zoologist and naturalist Ernst Haeckel, had promoted and popularised Charles Darwin‘s work and developed the theory “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” which suggested that an individual organism’s biological development, (ontogeny), parallels its species’ evolutionary development (phylogeny) i.e. if Wilson could obtain early specimens of Emperor Penguin eggs he might find scales to back up this theory i.e. that the birds had descended from dinosaurs.


Wilson chose Emperor Penguins for his investigation because they were flightless and he thought (wrongly), that they were amongst the most primitive of birds. Apart from Wilson’s scientific enthusiasm, there was the added incentive that if the theory of development could be substantiated it was entirely possible that the connection would earn the expedition the highly influential Darwinian Prize.


Wilson picked Cherry and his friend ‘Birdie’ Bowers for the 60 mile trek to the Emperor Penguin colony; a round trip of 5 weeks. The trip was to be Cherry’s first serious trial on the ‘Terra Nova’ expedition.


Emperor Penguin chicks had been found on the Discovery expedition and Wilson, thinking that the eggs would be laid towards the end of June, set out at the end of that month. Cherry embarked on a potentially suicidal journey, enduring almost continuous darkness, freezing temperatures – at one point down to -77°F, ice surfaces like sand, progress of about a mile per day, lurking crevasses and permanent fatigue. He developed blisters on his fingers that leaked puss by night and froze by day.

On the trip meteorological information on the Antarctic Ice Barrier was recorded. Cherry gave up hope of survival. His hope was to die without much pain.

I don’t believe minus seventy temperatures would be bad in daylight, not comparatively bad, when you could see where you were going, where you were stepping, where the sledge straps were, the cooker, the primus, the food….when it would not take you five minutes to lash the door of your tent and five hours to get going in the morning.



The Winter Journey around Ross Island to obtain Emperor Penguin eggs


The three men reached the penguin colony in nineteen days. In order to investigate the eggs in situ three precious days were spent building a stone igloo on a high ridge below the top of a hill (the remains of the hut were discovered by Sir Edmund Hillary on his journey to the Antarctic in the 1950s).


Penguin Colony


Finally the men collected five eggs, but Cherry’s eyesight was so bad that he fell repeatedly on the return to the hut and smashed the two he had been given to carry. Later the three endured another ghastly complication -with the wind was blowing ‘as though the world was having a fit of hysterics’ the canvas roof of their ‘hut’ was blown away and the three lay exposed to the raging elements, mummified in snow, in darkness and with no food or drink. They sang songs and hymns. Cherry’s admiration for his two older companions was without bounds.

They had also carried a tent. This was blown away by the storm, this loss made a successful return virtually impossible. When the storm abated, the tent was found. It was weighted down by ice and had dropped out of the sky like a closed umbrella. Wilson insisted they returned to their base.


Cherry, Wilson and Birdie Bowers after the journey to the penguin colony. Cherry’s fingers are stiff and swollen with puss. The trio were voraciously hungry and, when they warmed up, smelt horribly.


Cherry had contributed to the collection of meteorological records that would not be repeated for seventy years (and then by machines which malfunctioned). Despite this heroic journey for scientific advance when the eggs were finally examined, years later, the three eggs that Cherry left in the Natural History Museum did not prove the connection between dinosaurs and birds.


Cherry, aided by his friend and Hertfordshire neighbour George Bernard Shaw, later wrote The Worst Journey in the World, about the expedition. It is a best seller.


Cherry’s next big experience was the assault on the Pole. Scott divided the advance into three distinct sections: the Ice Barrier, the Glacier and the Plateau. The expedition set out with motor sledges, pony sledges (the ponies were to be sacrificed when they had got their loads to the glacier) and dog sledges. Cherry was a pony handler. His pony ‘gallant little Michael’, black eyes dulled with fatigue, was shot in early December. The next day Michael was eaten.


Cherry was one of the twelve men who strained and struggled to haul three laden sledges up the Beardmore Glacier — 120 miles long, 25 feet wide, riddled with crevasses and rising from 300 feet to 9000 feet. Scott whittled the advancing party down to eventually, five men. Cherry was sent back on the 20th December with three others. Characteristically he asked Scott if he had disappointed him—‘No, no, no’.


The assault on the South Pole


Scott sent the last party of three back on the 3 January 1912. The returnees, the Last Supporting Party, were led by Scott’s Second in Command, Teddy Evans who was to become seriously ill on the return.


Cherry’s personal trials were to evolve.


As is well known, Scott and his four companions all died on their attempted return from the Pole, but in February 1912, anticipation of a successful return was high. Scott had instructed that a sledge should be sent with supplies to ‘One Ton Camp’, a depot one hundred and fifty miles away on the Barrier. As arrangements were being finalized for this journey, news reached base that Teddy Evans had collapsed and was thought to be dying from scurvy, thirty –five miles out on the Barrier.


Dr. Atkinson, who had been going on the supply mission, clearly had to abandon these plans to go out and rescue Teddy Evans. There were few people at the Base – a decision had to be reached as to who should accompany Dimitri, the dog handler, on the supply mission. Of the men available, Wright, an oceanographer, was needed to continue scientific work. Cherry had to go; he was not a navigator, he had never driven dogs, he had awful eyesight, but with trepidation (‘I’m right in it’), he set out with Dimitri to find a depot 150 miles distant in a featureless barrier. His goggles misted, he struggled with the navigation; Dimitri had to pick out the cairns.


Scott had initially issued instructions that the dogs were to be saved at any cost (for a further attempt), but had apparently subsequently issued further verbal instructions, via Teddy Evans when he sent Teddy back, that the dogs should come further south to meet him (Scott) on his return. These orders were not transmitted to Cherry, probably in the confusion around Teddy’s collapse. Cherry, who would of course never disobey an order from Scott, thought his priorities were to save the dogs. In any case, as he set out for ‘One Ton Camp’ he had no reason to suppose the Polar party were in need of food.


But tragically, when Cherry was waiting in ‘One Ton Camp,’ Scott’s party were in desperate trouble, hoping against hope that the supply sledge HAD gone further south with the supplies that could have saved them.


At ‘One Ton’ Cherry and Dimitri were caught in a storm that made further progress pointless. The dog food was running out. Dimitri developed a paralysis of his right arm and side. Cherry had no idea that his leader was in desperate straits. On the 10th March, with just enough food for the return journey Cherry laid a small depot of food and turned north towards his base.


Dear Sir, We leave this morning with the dogs for ‘Hut Point’ (the base). We have made no depots on the way in being off course all the way, and so I have not been able to leave you a note before. Yours sincerely, Apsley Cherry Garrard.

(quoted in Sara Wheeler’s ‘A Life of Apsley Cherry Garrard’).


Scott Wilson and Bowers were to die later that month, just twelve and a half miles to the south of “One Ton Camp”


To be continued





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.

Lieutenant Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans—Teddy Evans

21 Nov


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.

Professor Sienicki’s assertions about Scott’s ‘suicide’

1 May

I have received correspondence from Professor Sienicki’s team concerning my recent blog on the subject of The Weather and its Role in Captain F. Scott and his Companions’ Deaths. What follows is their letter, followed by my response.

I recently came across your blog post “The Weather and its Role in Captain F. Scott and his Companions’ Deaths, by Professor Krzysztof Sienicki”. I have been helping Prof. Sienicki with a book he has been writing, and thus felt the need to correct several errors in your blog post.

First, you make the mistake of stating Prof. Sienicki made a neural network across the Barrier. This is not correct: what he did was take weather data and ran it through an artificial neural network. You also failed to note the similarity of temperatures at Elaine (at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier) and Schwerdtfeger (near One Ton Depot) AWS stations he noted. These two AWS stations are on Captain Scott’s route. The conclusion is tangible: weather conditions along Captain Scott’s route would have been similar from Elaine onward.

With that in mind, you then fail to note Sienicki’s noting of the First Relief Party’s weather record in support of his thesis. The First Relief Party’s weather record can be found in Simpson’s Vol. III, Table 78, available here: http://archive.org/details/meteorology03simp Compare the Table 78 record with the Scott party’s record, while keeping in mind Sienicki’s observation that Scott’s temperatures were daily mid-day temperatures, and the conclusion is obvious.

Then you miss the point of Sienicki’s pointing out of Leonard Huxley’s falsification of the 1st edition of Scott’s Last Expedition’s temperatures and Jones’ papering over of them. His point is about their actions, not Scott’s. Sienicki pointed out more than an aggregated miscalculation by Solomon; he also pointed out her data dragging by misrepresenting the Scott party’s daily mid-day near surface temperatures after March 10 as daily minimums, and logical fallacies.

Finally, in your citing of Scott’s letter to Sir Bridgeman, you make the mistake of failing to note that the Bridgeman letter has for a long time been partially available in Scott’s Last Expedition, and you incorrectly indicate that the recently released content in the Bridgeman letter includes your quote. The actual recently released content is: “I want you to secure a competence for my widow and boy. I leave them very ill provided for, but feel that the country ought not to neglect them.”

In addition, with regard to your insinuation that the Scott party had neglected the sick, this is certainly in my view true regarding P.O. Evans, but it should be noted that Scott was not entirely consistent in regard to Oates being dead weight. See Scott’s diary entry of March 10 for these quotes: “In point of fact he [Oates] has none. Apart from him, if he went under now, I doubt whether we could get through…At the same time of course poor Titus is the greatest handicap.”

Your assertion that dying was not part of Scott’s plan betrays that you have made an all too common mistake: taking what Scott wrote at face value. Prof. Sienicki and I believe that dying was part of the Scott party’s plan. Evidence that they were stage managing their exit can be found as early as February 7, when Scott manufactured a food shortage, finding the rations short by 1 day and declaring that they hadn’t increased rations. In doing so, Scott deliberately ignored his own diary entry of January 29, where he declared that they would increase rations on “the day after tomorrow,” which would be January 31, and ignored his own diary entry of February 1, where he listed the ration increase as 1/7. 7 times 1/7 equals 1, so if they started the increased ration on January 31, this would place Scott’s party short of rations by 1 day at the beginning of lunch on February 7.

These details and much more will be detailed in Prof. Sienicki’s book, Captain Scott’s Fatal Antarctic Expedition: Slanted Truths-Centennial Account, due to be released this year.

Thanks for considering,

Kristoffer Nelson-Kilger


My concern is not on Professor Sieniki’s techniques, but on the interpretation of his findings.

He analysed weather data at various sites over The Barrier for a prolonged period. During this time the pattern of temperature change at different sites followed each other. Scott’s recordings of nearly a century earlier were at variance to Sienicki’s measurements (lower) and furthermore, did not follow the pattern of other explorers in the early 1900s. Professor Sienicki therefore thinks they were falsified.

He concludes that Birdie Bowes and Scott had decided that self destruction was the best way out of their situation and that, by altering the temperature records, they would strengthen Scott’s claims in his messages that the conditions the British team encountered were extraordinarily bad.

He then goes on to involve Huxley in a cover up, stating that where Scott had recorded positive temperatures, Huxley had changed them to negative. He states that Max Jones said the alterations could have been a mistake and that the renowned scientist, Susan Soloman is mistaken in her interpretation of the data.

You say that Sienicki proved that Scott and Bowers falsified evidence. He has done no such thing.  He has shown that the recorded temperatures were dramatically at variance from the norm. But he himself found temperatures approximating to Scott’s low readings in 1985.

The main point of my objection however is that whole tenure of the article is that there was a suicide pact. I think this most unlikely.

If Scott had lived he would not have been held responsible for the deaths of those he had lost, (Scott lost two men on the Discovery Expedition, Amundsen lost men in 1903-6 and 1918-25, Mawson lost his two companions in 1912-13. Shackleton lost men in his Ross Sea party. The last three were honoured). Scott had ‘played the game’ and this would have been respected by the British who honoured Teddy Evans who was sent home with scurvy. He would have been financially secure. He would have been promoted.

Birdie Bowers was a committed Christian and meticulous in his recordings. It would have gone against a lifetimes practice to falsify them.

Wilson, another committed Christian, who longed to return to his wife and family and, in the tent with them day and night as they weakened, does not get a mention. Did this intrigue, which would affect him so fatally, take part in the tent alongside their valued friend, somehow excluding him from their decisions?

The proposed scenario seems most unlikely and I do not think we are going to progress further on this one.

Isobel Williams

Could Captain Scott have been saved?

16 Feb

An interesting article has recently appeared in the Polar Record. Written by Karen May, it is entitled, ‘Could Captain Scott have been saved? Revisiting Scott’s last expedition’. Ref. Polar Record Cambridge University Press 2012 doi:10.1017/S003224411000751 (p1-19)

The piece suggests reasons for Teddy Evans’ scurvy which, of course indirectly led to Cherry-Garrard being sent with the dog teams to replenish the stores on the Barrier. It also questions Huntford’s assertion that Scott sent ‘last minute’ verbal orders with Teddy Evans before he returned to base, concerning the dog teams being sent onto the Barrier. She thinks this unlikely, stating rather that these orders had been given in a written memorandum to Mears on 20th October 1911. Also that Scott had discussed various eventualities with other members of the team

One of the reasons that Oates hung on for so long may have been that he was hoping for the dog teams to pick up the returnees.

The article reflects on the motives and actions of the important participants in this final part of the fateful drama.