Published on January 5th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
Remembering Ernest Shackleton
Today we remember explorer Ernest Shackleton on the 95th anniversary of his death.
Born on 15th February 1874 in County Kildare, Ireland, Ernest Shackleton is known as one of the key figures in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
Shackleton’s Early Polar Expeditions
His first journey to the polar regions was in 1901-14. Sadly, this first voyage as third officer of Robert Falcon Scott’s Discover Expedition was cut short as Shackleton was sent home on medical grounds.
During his second expedition in 1907-09, Shackleton and three companions set a new record for Farthest South Latitude at 88°C. This was just 97 geographical miles from the South Pole. It was the biggest advance to the South Pole in history. Members of his team also climbed the most active Antarctic volcano, Mount Erebus.
To mark this magnificent achievement, Shackleton was knighted by King Edward VII.
The Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16
Shackleton’s third expedition is the most well-known and revered. It is now just over 100 years since Shackleton and his 28-man crew of the ship Endurance embarked on the infamous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16.
Early in 1915 the Endurance became trapped on ice. Shackleton and his men abandoned ship to set up camp on the floating ice. The Endurance eventually sank ten months later.
Meanwhile, in April 1916, Shackleton and his men set sail in three small ships and reached Elephant Island. Once there, Shackleton took five of his crew to seek help.
Over 16 days they crossed 1,300km of ocean, eventually reaching South Georgia. They then trekked across the small South Atlantic island to the whaling station. In August 1916 the rest of the men were rescued. Despite everything Shackleton and his men had faced, not one member of the expedition died.
The Death of Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton’s obsession with the Antarctic continued, and on 24th September 1921 he left England for his fourth and final expedition.
Despite not receiving all their pay from the Endurance expedition, some of Shackleton’s crew members returned for the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition. On arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Shackleton suffered a suspected heart attack but refused a medical examination.
They continued south to South Georgia and at 2.50am on 5th January 1922, Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack. He is buried in the Grytviken cemetery on South Georgia according to the wishes of his wife Emily.
Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition Remembered
Ernest Shackleton’s story, particularly the fate of the Endurance remains as popular today and has been the subject of films, TV series and modern day expeditions.
Most notably, his granddaughter Alexandra Shackleton assembled a team to mark the 100th anniversary of the trip across the Southern Ocean in 2016. Led by explorer and environmental scientist Tim Jarvis the British/Australian team followed in her grandfather’s footsteps.
The incredible feat of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition is remembered in a Shackleton 100th anniversary range of Special Stamps, Stamp Covers and Stamp Cards.
Within this selection is the stunning Shackleton Presentation Pack. The eight special stamps featured in this pack contain images created from the glass photographic plates made by the expedition’s photographer, Frank Hurley.
Did You Know?
In 2015, Ernest Shackleton’s decorations and medals were sold at auction for £585,000.