An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor

An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor

Michael Smith

Language: English

Pages: 377

ISBN: 1905172869

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is the story of the remarkable Tom Crean who ran away to sea aged fifteen and played a memorable role in Antarctic exploration. He spent more time in the unexplored Antarctic than Scott or Shackleton, and was one of the few to serve and outlive both. An unforgettable story of triumph over unparalleled hardship and deprivation

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production of a family by Crean’s rabbit. She gave birth to 17, it is said, and Crean has given away 22! I don’t know what will become of the parent or family; at present they are warm and snug enough, tucked away in the fodder under the forecastle.’2 Land was finally sighted on New Year’s Eve, 1910, much to the excitement of those seeing Antarctica for the first time. Scott had wanted to build his base at Cape Crozier, the eastern extremity of Ross Island, but landing was impossible and so

the travelling conditions worsened and the language of Scott’s diary provides ample evidence of the difficult conditions. On 10 November Scott recorded a ‘horrid march’ and two days later he said the marches were ‘uniformly horrid’ with concern growing about the fitness of the ponies. On 13 November he reported ‘another horrid march’ and said the ponies were being ‘tried hard by the surface’. In contrast, the dog teams of Meares and Dimitri were covering the same distances in a third of the

Pulling the sledge and Evans for 10 miles (16 km) a day was now beyond the two exhausted men but cutting the ration might buy them a precious extra day or two travelling. However, reducing the food would make the already weakened men even weaker. It was a terrible risk, either way. Their faltering hopes were briefly raised when suddenly and unexpectedly they ran across one of the motor tractors, which had been abandoned in the snow on the outward journey months earlier. They quickly searched

ship had been a living thing, someone would have ended her misery. Few managed a good night’s sleep, partly because the ice floe beneath was constantly cracking and on three occasions they were forced to move the tents to a more secure-looking spot. Alongside the men were the three little boats which were lifted off the dying ship. They alone seemed to offer a tenuous chance of survival – if they could escape the ice and reach the open sea. There were only five tents to accommodate the 28

their isolation. Shackleton’s biographer, Huntford, concluded that, at this point, Crean and Wild were ‘the only men he could absolutely trust’.2 An inventory of stores confirmed that the men had about three months’ full rations, not counting the concentrated sledging rations which were originally earmarked for the expedition across the Continent. These were now on standby for emergencies such as a long boat journey or, at worst, another winter on the drifting ice. But with summer

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