“She’s going, boys.”

Break-up of the Endurance: Frank Hurley’s 1915 footage, plus new animation. Directed by Sarah Galloway for @AMNH

“Hurley meanwhile had rigged his kinematograph-camera and was getting pictures of the Endurance in her death-throes. While he was engaged thus, the ice, driving against the standing rigging and the fore-, main- and mizzen-masts, snapped the shrouds. The foretop and topgallant-mast came down with a run and hung in wreckage on the fore-mast, with the fore-yard vertical. The main-mast followed immediately, snapping off about 10 ft. above the main deck. The crow’s-nest fell within 10 ft. of where Hurley stood turning the handle of his camera, but he did not stop the machine, and so secured a unique, though sad, picture.

“At 5pm she went down by the head: the stern the cause of all the trouble was the last to go under water. I cannot write about it.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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I shot the Albatross

The albatross is shot by the Mariner by Gustave Dore, 1876 (wood engraving)

“The albatross is shot by the Mariner” by Gustave Dore, 1876 (wood engraving)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1834


And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.’

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.


Full text.

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The Encyclopedia Britannica

Eleventh Edition, 1911

Eleventh Edition, 1911

“For descriptions of every American town that ever has been, is, or ever will be, and for full and complete biographies of every statesman since the time of George Washington and long before, the Encyclopedia would be hard to beat. Owing to our shortage of matches we have been driven to use it for purposes other than the purely literary ones though; and one genius having discovered that the paper, used for its pages had been impregnated with saltpetre, we can now thoroughly recommend it as a very efficient pipe-lighter.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

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A bloody business

“Killing the seal was usually a bloody business. Wild had brought from the ship a revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun, and .33-caliber rifle, but ammunition was limited. As a result, the men killed the seals by hand whenever possible. This involved approaching the animal cautiously, then stunning it across the nose with a ski or a broken oar and cutting its jugular vein so that it bled to death. Sometimes the blood was collected in a vessel to be fed to the dogs, but most often it was allowed to run out into the snow. Another technique was to brain the seal with a pickaxe. But the two surgeons discouraged this practice, for it often left the brains inedible and they were prized as food because they were believed to be high in vitamin content.”

— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

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It’s a Long Way to Tipperary

[It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, sung by Tom Yorke, 1914; as played on a 78]

“The ship is now a deplorable wreck, hard down by the bows, almost waterlogged, and the ice has absolutely over-ridden her forward. The funnel leans to starboard and will soon fall. It is an unpleasant sight, depressing in the extreme. Now we face a problematical escape over the ice and through leads in open boats to land nearly 300 miles away, trusting to find seals and penguins sufficient to meet our needs, and then with an even more remote chance of ultimate rescue. It is not a pleasant thought and so we bear a cheerful mien and devise distractions for fear we might give way to forebodings.

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, said the song of the day when we were last in civilisation, but it is an awful long way to land just now for us.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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The surface is awful!


“The temperature still continued to rise, reaching 33° Fahr. on November 14. The thaw consequent upon these high temperatures was having a disastrous effect upon the surface of our camp. ‘The surface is awful!—not slushy, but elusive. You step out gingerly. All is well for a few paces, then your foot suddenly sinks a couple of feet until it comes to a hard layer. You wade along in this way step by step, like a mudlark at Portsmouth Hard, hoping gradually to regain the surface. Soon you do, only to repeat the exasperating performance ad lib., to the accompaniment of all the expletives that you can bring to bear on the subject. What actually happens is that the warm air melts the surface sufficiently to cause drops of water to trickle down slightly, where, on meeting colder layers of snow, they freeze again, forming a honeycomb of icy nodules instead of the soft, powdery, granular snow that we are accustomed to.'”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

“Yesterday we noticed that the yardarm on the only remaining mast had slewed round and partly set the sail (roller topsail). Later in the day we heard a distant crash—the mast had gone. Nothing but the funnel is now visible from our camp. The hull has sunk several feet. Her end is near: soon she will be gone.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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The usefulness of skis


“I had been back and forth four times, when Shackleton said to me… ‘Do you know, I had no idea how quickly it was possible for a man on ski to get about. In that respect you’d have been quite useful on the trans-continental march; but that’s a thing of the past.’

“That set me wondering why he had not come to this conclusion long before and had not insisted on every man in the expedition being able at least to move on ski at a modest five miles an hour. Amundsen’s rapid journey to the pole was enough to convince one of the value of skis.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

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