100 years ago - Extract from James Wordie's diary

Sunday, November 29, 2015, 11:12
The extract from Wordies diary from their recue on Elephant Island on the 30th August 2016 to them arriving and leaving Punta Arenas is below in Sept 2016 is as follows

Sunday, 27th August.
It is difficult in these days to invent a new dish, but Greenstreet, cook for the week, achieved it to-day. The place of nutfood was taken by boiled backbone and seal's head; a very savoury stew all told, especially the head parts.
There was ice this morning for about 4 miles out. A SW wind springing up after noon soon got it moving and cleared the E Bay, but apparently brought up more ice from the W: NW there was ice right up to the horizon.
I notice a very thick floe in the channel between us and Gnomon Island (as James calls it) which has its surface plentifully supplied with rounded blocks tossed up by the swell. Judging by some deep furrows in the snow covering, some blocks must have been rolled right across the floe. This floe can only have been exposed to swell for a short time as no ice ledge has formed or pronounced undermining of snow at sea level.
Tuesday, 29th August.
The ice is all gone bar streams of very small floes. It must be noted however, that only 6 penguins were killed yesterday, and none to-day. And this is causing us a little anxiety, as our meat store is now considerably reduced: we begin to regret not having killed the penguins which visited us a fortnight ago.
On Sunday last the outside galley was cleared of snow: yesterday and to-day gangs have been busy removing the deep drift on the N side of the hut, lest when the thaw comes, we should be flooded out. Some men shovel; others carry the snow away in boxes and dump it. As there are a limited number of shovels, half are on duty one day, and the other half the next, work only being done in the forenoon.
I was off duty to-day for this reason, and spent it very pleasantly along the coast to the E. It was a beautiful day, sunny and fresh, with a brisk wind blowing all the time. The colour of the sea seemed ever varying. In the morning then I collected dulse and limpets in Cheetham's company; and in the afternoon after some desultory limpeting (it being too cold on the hands) explored along the coast nearly to the head of the next bay.
Wednesday, 30th August.
On board a Chilean relief ship, and making NW to Cape Virgins at 11 knots. I have not yet learned the name of the ship, for all is confused and excited; and on all sides we hear of nothing but the terrible war news.
Here then are the day's events:-
All morning about ten of us were kept busy shovelling snow away from the deep drifts on the N side of the hut. Knocked off at midday, and all hands went limpeting, with a view to making a seal-limpet-dulse hoosh. Shortly before 1.0 p.m. was called away from shelling limpets, lunch being ready. Then just as Wild was serving it out, Marston came to the door asking if we had anything to make a smoke signal, as a ship was in sight. Lunch thrown to the winds; all tumbled out of the hut anyway: there she was, what we took to be a whaler, steaming past us eastwards. The smoke signal failed, but there was no need for it, as by now her head was towards us, and she had run up her flag at the mizzen. Then came a scurry to get things packed – what we thought worth taking, and get on board. A boat was coming in; and took us off in two journeys. The end was rather a hurry: none of our rescuers ever saw the hut: the weather seemed changing for the worse: it was best to cut and run. And so all my beach exotics are left behind: the only rocks I have are those in situ. But can one complain? – My notes are safe, and every man is safe.
The ship was sighted just on 1.0 p.m.: before two all were on board, and the course was set northwards. Then we learnt that this is the fourth effort to relieve us; that the "Caird" reached South Georgia in sixteen days, and that the Boss, the Skipper and Tom Crean made a wonderful traverse of the island to Stromness.
It being now cloudy little that was fresh of the island topography was to be seen. Apparently a young submerged coast, plentifully glaciated, will sufficiently describe it. <p. 119 sketch> The other side of Gnomon Island seems as steep almost as the south side: that I think is the only thing fresh topographically. Numerous icebergs have been passed this afternoon; and one small patch of pack about 2–300 yds. across, rounded in area and consisting of small tightly-packed floes. The afternoon proved not so bad: there is a medium swell; and a sickle moon and stars are shining to-night.
Soup, biscuits and cheese were ready in the wardroom by the time we came on board; but nearly everybody was too excited to touch them. Then about 5.0 p.m. an excellent dinner was provided, the standard being Irish Stew which we all fought shy of, except the potatoes. Tinned peaches and white wine deserve mention. The wardroom, which I suppose normally holds four, is quite crowded out; but dinner was successfully managed in three servings. Then Hussey brought in his banjo. Tobacco and cigarettes circulate like water, especially the former. My own tobacco was just about petered out; but the men had finished their stock two months ago, and were revelling now in something different from the acrid fumes of senna grass.
I doubt very much if the Chileans could appreciate our concert – their acquaintance with English is very limited. An exceedingly merry evening was spent aft at which apparently the rescued were sole performers. Here were heard all the 'old' favourites and the 'new' topicals of the hut. And so, till drowsiness and sheer weariness won the day.
Saturday, 2nd Sept.
In the Magellan Straits after a quick and uneventful passage. Thursday was fresh and sunny; yesterday, however, pretty rough; the uneasy motion caught us unprepared and there were few who did not succumb to some form of sea sickness, curiously enough those among us who were seamen by profession being the first to go. Just after dark last night we were passing through Lemaire Straits. To-day we have crossed shallow waters, in sight of land most of the time, towards Cape Virgins. Originally the intention was to land the Boss at Dungeness to serd off cablegrams, but it was too rough to land to-night, and telegraphing is delayed till we reach a small bay just this side of Punta Arenas.
After all, our talked of food has not had the attraction for us which we imagined it would.
The Tierra del Fuego coast, as we saw it, was low and brown: sandy beds worn into steepish cliffs, I should guess. A long horizontal line along this face at one place suggested a raised beach.
Wednesday, 6th Sept.
Punta Arenas is likely to be our stopping place for nearly ten days, till a ship takes us up to Buenos Aires. A ship left on Sunday homeward bound, but too soon after our arrival for us to go as passengers.
Sunday's doings seem to have excited Chileans as well as English. The "Yelcho" came through the Straits of Magellan during the night, and by daylight we were within a few miles of Punta Arenas. Put in at a cannery at Rio Secco for some hours till warning should reach the town by telephone. Reached our destination about midday, being met by Governor, etc. Then through great crowds to hotel, where clothes and a wash were provided. Smoking concert at the English Club at 9.0 p.m.
Monday saw the beginning of a feverish round of festivities which may prove tiresome. Shopping in the forenoon: in the afternoon a reception at the Governor's. Became Dr. France's guest during the time I am to be at Punta Arenas.
Backwards and forwards all day yesterday. After tea a party of us motored out some 4 miles to the wireless station near Rio Secco. Performance at the theatre in the evening.
This morning I managed to slip away by myself and went on foot along a light railway running inland to a coal mine. Got a general knowledge of the country during an eight mile walk. The first 2–3 miles were over open country with sandy beds: numerous erratics lie about: it looks as if glaciers had been over here. Further up, the line winds through a valley obviously never glaciated. Had not time to reach the coal mine having to hurry back for reception at the English Club: short of it is an interesting oyster bed, thick with fossils.
Saturday, 9th Sept.
At Pecket Estancia belonging to 'Sara Braun', and managed by Mr. Macleay. Clark and I have at last managed to escape from festivities at Sandy Point, and are now having a first rate time in the "camp". On Thursday I paid a second visit to the museum at the Salesian monastery: otherwise the day was quiet, but the evening quite the reverse – a regular debauch at the Magellanes Club.
Yesterday morning then Meyer Braun put a couple of two-seaters at our disposal, and we were driven north along the coast to Est. San Francisco (about 16 miles). There we had lunch, and got on to horseback to come on here, while the rest of our gear, guns, etc., was brought on in a buggy. We were accompanied by Mr. Gibbon, inspector to Mr. Braun's estancias. We now struck inland over very muddy streets, visiting a well (20 metres) where much gas is coming up and finally getting a warm Scotch welcome from Mrs. Macleay (about 12 miles).
Points to notice in the topography are Sandy Point itself, raised beaches, lagoons, glacial drift and lakes, and the upland, boggy and covered with whins, buffalo grass, barberry and ? sage brush. It was a beautiful day, the rich brown of the great rolling country contrasting with the deep blue of the sea.
To-day we were up betimes; the ponies were driven in to the corral about 8.0 a.m. and the ones needed caught and saddled. We were now a party of five bound for the west coast (3 miles), Gibbon, Macleay, Clark, myself and a gaucho – the latter a picturesque figure with poncho, malletas and boleadores at his saddle bow. Dismounting when we reached Otway Water, we wandered about for some time on an old Indian camp site, locally known as 'the battlefield'. Here I found two old Indian boleadores and some worked flints, one a fairly perfect arrow-head. Gibbon tells me this site must have been deserted by the Indians about 25 years ago. Then along the coast to a deserted coal mine, where I got some poor specimens from the small dump heap: it being high tide the section on the foreshore was not visible. Meanwhile Clark and Gibbon did some duck shooting up a stream. Game very plentiful: Kelp Goose, Brent Goose (Red breast), Duck, Swans, Hawks, Oyster Catchers, Ostrich. A glorious day in the saddle: what a pity that we have to go back into Punta Arenas to-morrow! This is a proper Highland household; Mrs. Macleay waits on the men in the dining room, while the children feed in the kitchen; everything clean and fresh: lucky the people who can live in a climate such as this.
Tuesday, 12th Sept.
The end of the festivities here seems now in sight: I believe we are to sail for Valparaiso on Friday in the "Yelcho". Clark and I got back from the "camp" late on Sunday afternoon. Before breakfast we had a couple of hours duck shooting among what are locally known as lagoons; it was bright and sunny but with a bitter wind blowing – fairly typical weather. We were timed to leave on horseback at 11.0 a.m., but were much later starting, as we stopped to watch the gaucho Martin putting the boleadores on a young colt. We were over two hours getting to San Francisco; then a further delay with a puncture. So that by the time we got in we were too late for a thanksgiving service held in the English Church. Wild lectured in the theatre in the evening; short and not very good.
Yesterday a party of us visited the coal mine behind, going up in the traim under Captain Milward's charge, returning after about half an hour's stay. Collected specimens very similar to those got on Otway water on Saturday. At night to a very pleasant dinner at Meyer Braun's.
Friday, 15th Sept.
The "Yelcho" sailed at 5.0 p.m. to-day bound for Valparaiso through the canals. So ends nearly a fortnight of feverish festivities, in which several of the inhabitants have succumbed, whilst all of our side are still pretty fit. We have been rushing about all day saying good-bye; finally about 4.0 we all congregated at the Club, said good-bye, rushed in for ten minutes at the Admiral's: then to the pier head where the English colony were assembled; amid much pushing and handshaking we managed to get on board, and the "Yelcho" put off, all the steamers and vessels in the harbour whistling their hardest.
Among the events this week were a private dinner at Mr. Burbury's on Tuesday, and an evening at Mr. Paton's last night. On Wednesday Gibbon took Clark, Macklin and myself on another visit to the camp. We motored out SW to Est. Pampa Guayrabio along a 6 ft. raised beach. There we got on horseback and rode some miles inland through somewhat undulating country; returning after about an hour we made an ineffective attempt at duck shooting by a lagoon, as all lakes no matter their origin are called out here.

No comments yet.
(*) Required fields

On Friday January 22, 2016 as many of you know Henry Worsley, a distant descendant of Frank Worsley the Captain of the Endurance sent a message via satellite from his tent having walked 913 miles over 70 days on his own and unaided in his quest to cross the Antarctic on the route Shackleton intended. Worsley was 30 miles away from his finish line, but he was snowbound by a blizzard's whiteout and by exhaustion.

"When my hero Ernest Shackleton was 97 miles from the South Pole on the morning of January 9 1909, he said he had shot his bolt," Worsley said in his final dispatch before he called for an airlift. "Well today, I have to inform you with some sadness that I too have shot my bolt."

The airlift was successful. Three days later however Worsley died at a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile from peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal wall. His expedition, shackletonsolo.org, has raised over £100,000 for British war veterans..

Many of the Endurance South Pole 100 expedition knew Henry and one member had served in the Army with him. He had been a real font of knowledge in planning the expedition and making siure we did something worthwhile and create legacy. He was giving us valuable advice at the end of October from his "Patience Camp " in Punta Arenas and allway s made time to help. An extract from one email was

"Be prepared for the cold and effects of altitude when you get out of the plane at your start point.
And expect a slow accumulation of miles covered each day until you have all acclimatised a bit.
Some will be affected much more than others and you will have to go at the speed of the slowest ship in your convoy"
His compassionate advice proved very valuable as we struggled with the cold and wind in our attempt to walk just a short part of the route to the South Pole that Shackleton would have travelled 100 years earlier.
We spoke to Henry on a satellite phone from Union Glacier in early December and wished him well.. he was cheery and optimistic despite finding it very hard and unbearably slow as he skied up to the Polar Plateau in some very unseasonal snowy conditions
Many of us followed his blog with interest and admiration. We realised from the efforts we were making in a much smaller endeavour that what Henry was doing was a massive feat, and to get so far is to be commended

It was fitting that on Day 61, Henry invoked Tennyson's line in that old motto of British exploration and heroic endeavours.
"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield," he said in an increasingly raspy, thin voice.
That line of poetry captures the will and courage to endure the unendurable. Shackleton was a man who sought glory and legacy but discovered true heroism by saving all the lives of the "Endurance" crew. That has always been the lesson and the poetry of Shackleton's "Endurance" for many.

Frank Worsley had some poet in him, too. His wonderful book, "Shackleton's Boat Journey," ended by saying of Shackleton, "It seemed to me that among all his achievements, great as they were, his one failure was the most glorious."

"My summit is just out of reach," Henry said in his final dispatch.

Perhaps not: We can wish that a bit of Shackleton's true glory can be part of the legacy of Henry Worsley, 1960-2016

We will remember him for his help in planning our expedition, his advice to create a worthwhile legacy and his optimism that we would get likeminded people together to make it all happen. It was really appreciated.

One hundred years on , you would think that there is little more left to say about the Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition. Over the years, volumes have been written about what is now one of the most famous events in polar exploration. as well as films, television dramas and even an opera.
Then, a new voice is heard . James Wordie was the quiet man of Shackleton's crew.  A thoughtful, studious scientist, with  a dry Scottish wit, he doesn't feature much in the literature . Yet he was  there through it all in the background, just diligently getting on with his work.
Now though his voice can be heard. For the first time, his complete personal diaries of those dramatic times will be made available.  
It was customary for all senior members of an expedition to keep a jounal of their adventures and  work. This would be handed in at the end, so the expedition leader could write up the official account. In this case, Shackleton, and the publication of 'South'.
When 'Endurance' was abandoned, the diaries went with the crew on their dramatic journey. Researchers from all disciplines can thus read the journals of Shackleton, James, Hurley, Orde-Lees and the others. Each gives a different, personal insight into the expedition and its fate. But one of the main scientific voices is silent. That of James Wordie, the ship's geologist. 
Wordie was a conscientious writer and recorder of data. His diary includes unique information about experiments and samples taken during the voyage.  His illustrations and  navigation records could be used alongside other sources, to verify and shed new light on their jouney.
Making available his complete diaries for the first time is thus an historic and exciting step for all those interested in the Endurance and its crew.
Working with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) , the descendents of James Wordie are now exploring the best ways of digitising the diaries.  
The 2015 expedition , and related events, such as the commemorative dinner at St.Johns College in May 2015, are raising funds to enable this to happen.
The quiet man might soon break his silence.


David Crichton Henry , April 2015.

Part of the team have been training in Eastern Greenland during the Easter Holidays.
See the photos on the Galllery pages. Other Photos are on the Team Dropbox files.

Website Built with MacMate
← Get yours Free
This website may use Cookies
This website may use Cookies in order to work better. At anytime you can disable or manage it in your browser's settings. Using our website, means you agree with Cookies usage.

OK, I understand or More Info
Find us on Facebook
Powered by MacMate
Cookies Information
This website may use Cookies in order to work better. At anytime you can disable or manage it in your browser's settings. Using our website, means you agree with Cookies usage.
OK, I understand
Powered by MacMate