The expedition would go ahead


Sir James Key Caird, largest donor to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition

“Sir James Key Caird (1837-1916) was a wealthy Dundee jute manufacturer and philanthropist, to whom Sir Ernest Shackleton wrote in 1914 asking for a donation of £50. Caird promised £10,000 and in the event gave £24,000—a huge amount of money in 1913/4, amounting to many millions of pounds in today’s terms—to Shackleton’s 1914-16 Imperial Transantarctic Expedition, thus making the privately-financed Endurance trip possible.”

Read a short biography of Caird, and see additional images (including scenes inside his factories) at

Posted in Images, Other Voices


Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, — so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense,
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me —
Me, sure that, despite of time future, time past,
This tick of life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet,
The moment eternal — just that and no more —
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core,
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet!

by Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Posted in Other Voices



8 August 1914

“The Endurance sailed from Plymouth, obeying the direct orders of the Admiralty.

“I make particular reference to this phase of the Expedition as I am aware that there was a certain amount of criticism of the Expedition having left the country, and regarding this I wish further to add that the preparation of the Expedition had been proceeding for over a year, and large sums of money had been spent. We offered to give the Expedition up without even consulting the donors of this money, and but a few thought that the war would last through these five years and involve the whole world. The Expedition was not going on a peaceful cruise to the South Sea Islands, but to a most dangerous, difficult, and strenuous work that has nearly always involved a certain percentage of loss of life.

“And so we left, not without regret that we could not take our place there, but secure in the knowledge that we were taking part in a strenuous campaign for the credit of our country.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

Posted in Shackleton

Lionel Greenstreet, first officer


With just 48 hours notice, Lionel Greenstreet signed on with Endurance as first officer.

Greenstreet hailed from a sea-faring family; his father was a captain with the New Zealand Shipping Company. Greenstreet had gone to sea as a cadet at age 15 aboard the Worcester, a training ship, and had been sailing ever since.

“On one occasion whilst sailing home from Newcastle, Australia, Greenstreet had the misfortune to be swept overboard by an immense wave…and had the good fortune to be deposited back on board, in the rigging by the next wave.”
John Mann

— More at

Posted in Images, Other Voices

Expect Expedition will be postponed

“I mustered all hands and told them that I proposed to send a telegram to the Admiralty offering the ships, stores, and, if they agreed, our own services to the country in the event of war breaking out. All hands immediately agreed, and I sent off a telegram in which everything was placed at the disposal of the Admiralty. We only asked that, in the event of the declaration of war, the Expedition might be considered as a single unit, so as to preserve its homogeneity. There were enough trained and experienced men amongst us to man a destroyer.”

“…ship staff stores and provisions at your disposal recognising the claims of my country before all other considerations respectfully submitting that if required the expedition be used as one unit. If not required I propose continuing voyage forthwith as any delay would prevent expedition getting through the pack ice this year.” — telegram, Shackleton to Admiralty

“Proceed.” — telegram, Admiralty to Shackleton

“Within an hour I received a laconic wire from the Admiralty:


“Within two hours a longer wire came from Mr. Winston Churchill, in which we were thanked for our offer, and saying that the authorities desired that the Expedition, which had the full sanction and support of the Scientific and Geographical Societies, should go on.”

— Ernest Shackleton, South

Posted in Shackleton

The Lily of Belgium

The Lily of Belgium: The sufferings and renaissance of Belgium, a contemporary allegory, by Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1915: an animated insect short film about the invasion of Belgium by Germany and the start of WWI:

Part I:

Part II:

“A keen entomologist, [Starewicz] attempted to film two stag beetles fighting but was thwarted by their tendency, as nocturnal creatures, to fall asleep under hot lights. His response was to take the body parts of dead beetles and reassemble them with wire and wax so they could be made to move before a camera.”
The Puppet Alchemist by Graham Fuller for Museum of the Moving Image

Posted in Other Voices, Video

The Wearing o’ the Green

The Endurance sailed from London’s East India docks today.

“In delicate allusion to the fact that there are… Irishmen in the Expedition, including the leader…the pipers struck up ‘The Wearing o’ the Green’.”
— Manchester Guardian

Posted in Audio, Images, Other Voices