Elephant Island Rescue – 1916

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A few days ago we covered the rescue of 22 men (of Ernest Shackletons Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition) stranded on Elephant Island in 1916 – there is much more material on this subject in our library – and we found the story so compelling we decided to publish another press clipping on the rescue.  This excerpt was published in Nature magazine taken from the Daily Chronicle 5th September 1916.

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) – Rescue

Ernest Shackleton – Ice FieldGREAT satisfaction is felt by everyone in the news published in the Daily Chronicle on September 5 that Sir Ernest Shackleton had succeeded in rescuing the twenty-two members of his Antarctic expedition marooned on Elephant Island since April 15.

Three previous attempts to reach the island were unsuccessful, but with characteristic persistence Sir Ernest continued his efforts to relieve the men, and sailed from Punta Arenas on August 26 in the Yelcho, a small Chilian steamer. On August 30, after steering in a fog through numerous stranded bergs, he reached Wild’s camp at 1 p.m., and at 2 p.m. the vessel was homeward bound.

On September 3 Punta Arenas was reached, and the message “All saved. All well,” was dispatched to the Daily Chronicle, from which the following summary of Mr. Frank Wild’s report is taken:

“On April 25, the day after the departure of the boat, the island was beset by dense pack-ice. The party was confined to a narrow spit of land, 250 yards long and 40 yards wide, surrounded by inaccessible cliffs and ice-laden seas. We were forced to abandon our ice-hole, which was made untenable by the snow.  We made a dwelling of our two boats, supported by rocks, and set up as far as practicable from the sea. The weather continued appalling.  In May a heavy blizzard swept much valuable gear into the sea.  Fortunately, owing to the low temperature, an icefoot formed on the seashore, and this protection was the means of saving us from total destruction.  From June onwards the weather was better as regards wind, but we were under a constant pall of fog and snow.  At the beginning of August we were able to collect seaweed and limpets, which formed a valuable change in our diet, but the deep water, heavy seas, and ice prevented us from fishing.  On August 28 the gale drove the ice-pack from the island, and on August 30, through the lifting fog, we caught sight of the Yelcho steering through a maze of stranded bergs.  An hour later we were homeward bound.”

Sir Ernest Shackleton has announced the safe return of the party in a telegram to the King, who has replied:

“Most heartily rejoice that you have rescued your twenty-two comrades all well. Congratulate you on the result of your determined efforts to save them, and that success crowned your third attempt. I greatly admire the conduct of their leader, Frank Wild, which was so instrumental in maintaining their courage and hope. I trust you will soon bring them all safely home. – GEORGE R.I.”

 

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Further Reading and External Links

Nimrod Expedition   The Endurance Expedition    Ernest Shackleton

Discovery Expedition   The Terra Nova Expedition   Robert Falcon Scott