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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Dr. James McIlroy


James McIlroy, second surgeon aboard the Endurance

“…having been abroad in so many places, I couldn’t have settled down in England.”
— James McIlroy

“A sardonic, sarcastic blighter.”
— Lionel Greenstreet

“McIlroy heard by chance at his club that Shackleton wanted a second surgeon. He had only just returned after years practicing in Malaya, Egypt and Japan.”

‘I’m a bit nervous in front of you.’ — McIlroy

‘Shackleton could be a very frightening kind of individual.’ — McIlroy

Actually McIlroy was still suffering from malaria, which he did not disclose at that time. Shackleton told him to get a medical examination, and a physician’s pass for such a strenuous undertaking. McIlroy passed fit, and was hired on.”

— from Roland Huntford, Shackleton

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Tom Crean


“Tom Crean was an Irishman from County Kerry, and a Royal Navy petty officer. Crean was undeniably tough, determined and experienced. He had been to the Antarctic on Discovery, and again with Scott on his second expedition.


“Crean was not entirely sympathetic. Disrated once or twice for drink and unbecoming behavior, he had received form the Navy a less than satisfactory character. Nonetheless, in the debacle of Scott’s second expedition, Crean had been involved in the one truly heroic episode. On the return from supporting the polar party, Lieutenant Teddy Evans had collapsed with scurvy. Crean, with another naval rating, William Lashly, saved his life by dragging him home on a sledge for the last fifty miles. It was Crean who made the final dash for safety by walking twenty hours at a stretch — without ski — to bring help from Hut Point at McMurdo Sound. Crean therefore came to Shackleton on Evans’ warmest recommendation. Whatever his failings, Crean was manifestly a man for a right corner, and he mustered as second officer on Endurance.”

— Roland Huntford, Shackleton

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Many a wise face would look foolish without specs


“The interview was very brief —

‘Why do you want to go?’

‘I don’t know, I just want to.’

‘You look fit enough are you perfectly healthy…?’

‘Perfectly fit.’

‘What is wrong with your eyes?’


“At this I could have kicked myself for not removing my spectacles before going in to see him. I scarecely knew what to say, but replied almost without thinking, ‘Many a wise face would look foolish without specs.’ At this he laughed, then seemed to be thinking of something else for he remained silent for several mintues. ‘All right, I’ll take you,’ he said and with that pushed me out of his office.”

— Alexander Macklin

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Magnetician and Physicist


“‘Gentle Jimmy’ was the expedition’s magnetician and physicist. Macklin wrote that he had: ‘some wonderful electrical machines which none of us understood…and a joke of ours that annoyed him very much was that he did not either.'”

“Like many of the men who were to join the Endurance, James joined almost by accident after hearing about the position from someone else. In his case, he was walking down a Cambridge street while a postgraduate student at the Cavendish laboratory, when a man James had met, but didn’t know very well called him from his window and asked if he was interested in going to Antarctica. James gave no as an answer, but was eventually convinced and so his name was given to the Master Christ’s College Cambridge, Sir Arthur Shipley who had been asked by Shackleton to recommend scientific staff. Shipley interviewed James and a few weeks later James attended an interview in London with Shackleton.

“After 5 minutes, the interview was over — ‘All that I can clearly remember of it is that I was asked if I had good teeth, if I suffered from varicose veins, and if I could sing.’ James was appointed the Expedition’s Physicist.”


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Leonard Hussey


“He called for me, looked me up and down, walked up and down when he was talking to me, didn’t seem to take any notice. Finally he said, ‘Yes, I like you, I’ll take you.’ He told me afterwards he took me because he thought I looked funny!”

— Leonard Hussey

“Leonard Hussey, an irrepressible, peppery little individual, was signed on as meteorologist even though he had practically no qualifications for the position at the time. Shackleton simply thought Hussey ‘looked funny,’ and the fact that he had recently returned from an expedition (as an anthropologist) to the torrid Sudan appealed to Shackleton’s sense of whimsy. Hussey immediately took an intensive course on meteorology and later proved to be very proficient.”

Alfred Lansing, Endurance

More on Hussey at coolantarctica.com.

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