Robert Clark, biologist


Robert Clark, biologist

“Both [Clark and Wordie] were ‘dour Aberdonians.’”
— Roland Huntford, Shackleton

“He was never quite so excited as when he had found a new or novel specimen for his biological collections. [...] Clark was known for his willingness to turn out for any work that needed to be done and to always pull at least his own weight.”

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Sir James Wordie, geologist


Sir James Wordie, known as “Jock,” geologist and head of the expedition’s scientific staff.

“Wordie was recommended to Shackleton for the expedition by Raymond Priestley (later knighted) who had been the geologist on the Nimrod expedition. He was expedition geologist and head of the scientific staff, and such was his commitment to the expedition that he gave Shackleton some of his own money to help buy fuel for the Endurance. He was known by the crew for a dry sense of humour and much loved as he was willing to trade his tobacco ration for rock specimens. … He had also become a proficient rock climber in Germany and Switzerland, a skill all the better for a geologist to pursue his interest.”
— from

Biography: Polar Crusader: Exploring the Arctic and Antarctic

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Not adverse to voicing his opinion


“Mrs. Chippy” perched on Perce Blackborow

“Henry McNish was one of the oldest members of the expedition, a Scot of whom Shackleton wrote was “the only man I’m not dead certain of”. This somewhat curmudgeonly figure was the ship’s carpenter so earning the name “Chippy” (sometimes “Chips”) as so many other carpenters have been. He was actually more than a carpenter, being a shipwright and so able to build boats and ships from raw materials; this placed him in the relative position of woodworking royalty compared to other carpenters. He was one of the real characters of the expedition, much respected as a sailor of long standing and experience: in addition to his exceptional skills in his chosen profession, he also had a good knowledge of metal work.

He was the owner of the only pet on the voyage, the ship’s cat called “Mrs. Chippy” (in fact a tom-cat).

McNish was not adverse to voicing his opinion; he was prone to questioning authority and speaking his mind, an attitude that clashed directly with one of Shackleton’s main principles, that of loyalty.

He held strong socialist views all his life.”

— from

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Harry “Chippy” McNeish


“[McNeish was] neither sweet-tempered nor tolerant and his Scots voice could rasp like frayed wire cable. He had no use whatever for a gangling first-tripper who spoke, as he expressed it, “like a pimp at a whore’s tea-party”… I loved him not… Yet in the course of [a] few weeks I discovered [McNeish] to be one of the most courageous and skilfil men I have ever met. My enthusiastic loathing of him gave way to respect. Finally… I found in place of a tormentor a good shipmate with a shrewd wit and a power of describing men and high adventure that was admirable.”

— Gerald Bowman, Men of Antarctica, quoted in Roland Huntford, Shackleton

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The generation of 1914


“Like men longing for a thunderstorm to relieve them of the summer’s sultriness, so the generation of 1914 believed in the relief that war might bring.”
— a Hapsburg official, quoted in Thunder at Twilight, by Frederic Morton

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A royal visit


Ernest Shackleton (second from left), Queen Alexandra (third from left), Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, Emily Shackleton (in white), Edward Shackleton (child).

“Shackleton received Queen Alexandra when, at her own desire, she inspected Endurance at the London docks, and showered him with gifts and good wishes. Vividly she remembered him from the Nimrod expedition, and the last days of her much missed husband, Edward VII. The atmosphere was very different now. With her was her sister, another melancholy royal widow, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, oppressed by the thunderclouds gathering over Europe. Both were clearly fascinated by Shackleton. Also on board, in one of her rare public appearances, was Emily Shackleton; unhappy now, and somehow apart from her husband.”
— Roland Huntford, Shackleton

“One of the ladies in her entourage…laying a small delicate finger on Crean’s massive chest opposite [a] white ribbon asked, “And what might that be for?” Tom replied, “That is the Polar Medal.” “O” said the lady, “I thought it was for innocence.” One had to be familiar with Tom’s hard bitten dial to really appreciate this piece of irony.”
— Alexander Macklin, quoted in Roland Huntford, Shackleton

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Alfred Cheetham, Third Officer


“Cheetham the veteran of the Antarctic had been more often south than any other man.”
— Ernest Shackleton, on Alfred Cheetham, third officer aboard the Endurance

“Alfred Cheetham was born in 1867 in Liverpool. He was a small, lean man and was well known for his cheerfulness. He married a woman named Eliza Sawyer from Hull in Yorkshire. They moved to Hull in Yorkshire and had 13 children.
Alfred ran away to sea as a teenager working on the fishing fleets of the North Sea and further afield.
Alf made his first visit to the Antarctic on the relief ship Morning during the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904. He returned with the Terra Nova Expedition, he served as a boatswain, and volunteered for the search party that was to look for Scott’s party, but he was turned down as he was a family man.
Then he travelled again to the Antarctic under the command of Ernest Shackleton on the Nimrod Expedition. He was third officer and boatswain.
By the time of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914, when he was 47, Cheetham was the crew member with the most experience of the Antarctic, having spent almost 6 years in the seas around the continent.”

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