Alfred Lansing:
“Never had the going been worse, especially for the men pulling the boats. After two hours of struggling they had covered less than a thousand yards. McNeish suddenly turned on Worsley and refused to go on. Worsley gave him a direct order to resume his position guiding the rear of the sledge.

“McNeish refused.

“He argued that legally he was under no obligation to follow orders since the ship had gone down, and therefore the articles he had signed to serve on board her had been terminated, and he was free to obey or not, as he chose. For the past two days [McNeish] had been complaining openly. Now he simply refused to continue.

“It was a situation far beyond Worsley’s limited abilities as a leader. Had he been a less exciteable individual, he might have been able to cope with McNeish. … Worsley impulsively notified Shackleton. This served only to aggravate McNeish’s resentment.

“Shackleton hurried back from the head of the column and took McNeish aside and told him ‘very strongly’ what his duty was. … ”

“Even after Shackleton’s talk, [McNeish] remained obstinate. After a time, Shackleton walked away to let the carpenter come to his senses by himself. At 6am, when they set out again to find a good campsite, McNeish was in his assigned position at the stern of the boat sledge.”

— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

Roland Huntford:
“Shackleton stopped. At Buenos Aires, he announced, he had signed on as Master. Worsley became Sailing Master. That was not exactly true. It was, however, what Shackleton had hurriedly improvised with Worsley. It was what he now authoritatively explained, with every sign of conviction in his voice. He remained, therefore, not only leader of the expedition, but lawful Master too. Thus, he implied, he exercised both moral and legal authority.

“In any case, he declared Ship’s Articles had not been terminated by the loss of the Endurance. A special clause ensured that. This, too, was specious. Shackleton wound up by explaining that neither had wages ceased, as under ordinary articles. They would continue until return to port. That also was contrived on the spur of the moment, and was good enough for the crew.”

— Roland Huntford, Shackleton

About Ernest Shackleton

Polar Explorer. Leader of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917.
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