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They've just found Shackleton's Endurance.

This has always been a fascinating story to me. 28 men lost for 2 years, Shackleton sails a rowboat to South Georgia in winter, crosses the mountains of South Georgia on foot. Everyone makes it out safely, amazingly. It's the stuff of legend.

I've always found it fascinating crews would take such risks on polar trips, which didn't always end well. Scott or Franklin's Lost Expedition, for example.

However, it recently occurred to me that, far from an actual risk, getting marooned might have been a huge stroke of good fortune for these men. After all, they left the UK on August 8th, 1914 and were rescued in August 1916, on the other side of the world. Then, presumably, they needed quite some time to recuperate.

Meanwhile, WW1's killing fields are running full tilt, with many of them presumably fit for military duty. Being away wasn't necessarily a bad thing at all.

Ernest Shackleton’s War Is Over | Lapham’s Quarterly re. arrival on Elephant Island:

“My name is Shackleton,” I said.

Immediately, he put out his hand and said, “Come in. Come in.”

“Tell me, when was the war over?” I asked.

“The war is not over.” he answered, “Millions are being killed. Europe is mad. The world is mad.”

Did any of the crew come to harm in the war later on? Or did their luck hold?

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  • 5
    It's not that difficult to find their bios
    – Steve Bird
    Mar 9, 2022 at 23:38
  • 2
    After the first few, many served. At least one died in WW2 - does that count?
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 10, 2022 at 0:29
  • 3
    Shackleton Documentary - It's two hours long, but that's good because you need at least an hour to recover from what they did to the dogs. Not everyone made it.
    – Mazura
    Mar 10, 2022 at 22:35
  • RE: "This has always been a fascinating story to me." Indeed. In fact I have come to the conclusion that it is possibly the greatest true-life adventure story ever. And the Endurance may be the most aptly (and prophetically) named ship in history. Mar 11, 2022 at 13:11
  • 2
    In the UK mountaineering community "Shacky" has long been revered because the entire team came back alive. This is generally considered a good outcome. In contrast, Scott of the Antarctic's team all died and I didn't even achieve their goal "get their first". Yet it was the noble sacrifice of the latter team "I'm going outside -I may be some time" which was glamorised at the time. Perhaps this is because it is far more consistent with the World War I experience "over the top lads!". celebrating coming back alive was only going to raise unrealistic expectations.
    – stevel
    Mar 11, 2022 at 15:34

1 Answer 1

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Following the link from Steve Bird, one finds the biographies of 28 expedition members.

In Timothy McCarthy's biography:

On returning to England after the expedition, McCarthy joined the Royal Navy Reserve as a Leading Seaman as his service in the First World War. On Friday 16th March 1917, only three weeks after returning from South Georgia, and at the age of 28, he was killed in action at his gun post on board the S.S. Narragansett, on his first day under enemy fire. The ship had been torpedoed between the South West of Ireland and the Scilly Isles. He went down with his ship along with all other 45 hands, he was the first of the Endurance expedition members to die.

In Alfred Cheetham's biography:

On return from the Antarctic he enlisted in the Mercantile Marine and while serving as second Officer on the S.S. Prunelle on Thursday 22nd August 1918, at the age of 51, his ship was torpedoed in the North Sea by a German U-Boat. Alf went down with the ship, he was the second of the men of the Endurance to be killed in the Great War.

That page currently lists biographies for 28 of the crew (including Shackleton).

Now, going to The History of Parliament one finds

Of the 53 surviving members of the expedition, three were killed in the war and another five were wounded.

An issue here is that Wikipedia and other sites from Google list 28 total crew (including Shackleton), matching the number of biographies given on the CoolAntarctica site. This brings The History of Parliament site into question.

The only two listed as killed in World War 1 are those listed above. Huberht Hudson (per the bio, Huberht is an older spelling of Hubert but is what Hudson used), the navigator, was killed in action in World War 2 which may have led to the incorrect listing of 3 killed in action. That still does not explain the 53 crew members vs 28 listed elsewhere.

Going through all the biographies on Cool Antarctica, one finds that of the 28 there is no record of World War 1 service for only 5 of them. The majority saw service in the Navy or the Merchant Marine.

Of possible interest:

  • Frank Worsley (Captain of Endurance) commanded Q ships, sinking 3 U-boats and receiving the DSO.

  • Dr. James McIlroy, surgeon, badly wounded at Ypres.

  • James Wordie, scientist, badly wounded at Armentieres.

  • Charles Green, cook, wounded on HMS Wakeful.

  • Walter How, able seaman, blinded in one eye by German mine while serving on a Merchant Navy vessel.

  • John Vincent, able seaman, survived being torpedoed.

  • William Bakewell, able seaman, an American who served in the British Merchant Navy and survived two sinkings.

So, based on my review, only two of the crew of the Endurance died in World War One, and one in World War Two.

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    The expedition was split in two parts which landed on opposite sides of the continent, each party consisting of 28 men. The SY Aurora which carried the Ross Sea party also got stuck in ice, and three of that party died there, so there were a total of 53 survivors of the entire expedition (full list at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…)
    – llama
    Mar 10, 2022 at 19:14
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    @llama - ah, interesting. Well, the answer stands for Endurance then.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 10, 2022 at 19:15
  • The figure of 53 men, three killed and five wounded matches that in Shackleton's own memoir of the expedition: chapter 18 of South gives a fairly extensive list. The missing third man from the Ross Sea party is Ernest Wild, who died in 1918. Mar 16, 2022 at 17:00

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