22 June 1916: Midwinter’s Feast

“The great day has at last arrived and who will blame us if we abandon ourselves to an orgy of gluttony? If we are ever to be rescued, we all heartily hope it won’t be this day, or at least not until after supper tonight.

“Breakfast consisted of a magnificent thick hoosh made from 24 8oz cakes of Bovril sledging ration. We also had a delicious beverage made from four 8oz packets of Trumilk powdered milk: truly a breakfast fit to fete an Antarctic king.

“What have we for luncheon? A biscuit-nut-food pudding. There is nothing like it, nor nothing so good. For supper we had a hoosh of selected meat chopped exceptionally fine, flavoured with four blocks of sledging ration and 1/2 lb sugar.

“After supper we had a grand concert of 24 items, including a few new topical songs, and so ended one of the happiest days of my life, and for once one retired to rest with a feeling of complete repletion.

“[The] concert was voted a great success.

“Hussey is indefatigable with his banjo and it really does, as Sir Ernest said, supply brain food; not exactly intellectual food, but music hath charms altogether unique on Elephant Island. Hussey obliged with his inimitable recitations, with a very good-humoured salle at me.

“Wild, with his fine bass voice, sang Massa’s Gone Away and two other songs; Marston, who has quite the best voice of any of us, sang Widdicome Fair, The Golden Vanity and Captain Stormalong; and How, A Sailor’s Alphabet and Every Night, a typical music hall song. Wordie croaked the one and only item of his repertoire, The Son of a Gambolier. His croaking is as funny as it is popular. James rendered a splendid topical song, Elephant Isle, and the remainder of the turns ranged from weak and indifferent, in which category were topicals by Hurley and myself, the first of which I forget and the latter I hope to as soon as possible.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

About Ernest Shackleton

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