The Natural History Museum presents ‘Scotts last expedition’
February the 29th. The leap day when, as folk traditions proclaim, many women across the world propose to their men. But today I have chosen as the day to propose a toast and commemoration, to a man of great courage, a legend, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, or ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ as he is known.
This year marks the 100 year anniversary of Scott and his expedition reaching the South Pole, and also his death. The Natural History Museum of London opened its doors to the many on 20th January this year, to celebrate the opening of the ‘Scotts last expedition’ exhibition. This wonderful display holds over two hundred rare specimens from the expedition itself; many original artefacts, a life-size representation of Scott’s hut, clothing, food, tools, skis and diaries, and an incredible collection of photographs as never seen before.
Scott (6th June 1868 – 29th March 1912) spent years fund-raising for his exhibition to the South Pole. Finally in June 1910, his ship the Terra Nova left the port of Cardiff, and he and his crew set sail from base in October 1911. This voyage became a test of endurance. Facing frost biting conditions, harsh antarctic weather forced Scotts expedition to have to go on without the ponies and sleds, and in mid December 1911, the terrain got so bad that the dog teams had to turn back. January 1912, Robert Falcon Scott, Edward Wilson, Lawrence Oates (“Titus”), Henry Robertson Bowers (“Birdie”) and Edgar Evans were the last 5 remaining members. Finally on 17th January 1912, Scotts expedition arrived at the South Pole. However they soon discovered that a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen, had got there first. They set off back on their 1,500km journey to home. Unfortunately tragedy struck in mid February 1912, when Edgar Evans died, and Lawrence Oates was soon to follow in March. After suffering from severe frost bite and apprehending the strain this was putting on his team, Oates walked out into the freezing wilderness, never to be seen again.
On the 29th of March 1912, Edward Wilson, Henry Robertson and Robert Falcon Scott died of starvation and exposure, a heart-rendering 20km from their arranged supply depot. The tent was found eight months later by a search party. They discovered the bodies of the three men along with Scott’s diary. The search party buried the body under the tent and a memorial of snow and ice was made on top to mark the spot. This triumphant yet tragic tale left a chapter in British history that would be read over and over again, and in 2012, one hundred years later, we open the chapter once more to celebrate the endurance, discovery and shere bravery of Scott and his team.
Go ahead and visit the Natural History Museum for more details www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/scott-last-expedition/index.html The exhibition is open 10am until 5.50pm every day until 2nd of September 2012.