Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 3: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen

Shackleton's Imperial Transantarctic Expedition

The greatest story of Antarctic survival

image from Voyage of the Scotia

Shackleton was a great polar hero in the eyes of the British public. He had had a great desire to return to the Antarctic ever since the Nimrod expedition in 1909 and in 1914 his plans came to fruition. Shackleton was to be the leader of the first expedition to cross the Antarctic continent - the Imperial Transantarctic Expedition.

Shackleton's charm and enthusiasm helped to raise the necessary funds. His main benefactors were Sir James Key Caird, a Dundee jute manufacturer (who provided 24,000), Dudley Docker (of BSA in Birmingham) and Miss Stancombe Wills (a tobacco millionaire).

The Scottish polar explorer William Speirs Bruce had plans for a similar expedition to cross from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. He was a friend of Shackleton and shared his plans but Bruce could not raise the necessary funds. Bruce's charts of the Weddell Sea, along with his plans, were handed to Shackleton.

The expedition was to use two ships - Endurance and Aurora. Endurance was to go to the Weddell Sea (to land Shackleton and his men for the Antarctic crossing) and Aurora to the Ross Sea (to lay depots as far as the Beardmore Glacier for the last part of the crossing).

The enthusiasm for Antarctic travel was not shared by everyone:

'The Pole has already been discovered. What is the use of another expedition?'
Winston Churchill...
'These polar expeditions are becoming an industry.'
Winston Churchill

On 1 August 1914 Endurance sailed with the shadow of war hanging over Western Europe. Shackleton offered his ship to the Admiralty but was instructed to 'carry on'.

image from Voyage of the Scotia

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX