Yorkshireman John Robert Francis Wild CBE, RNVR, FRGS was one of only two men to earn the Polar Medal with 4 bars. He was a member of five Antarctic expeditions, including, the Endurance expedition under Sir Ernest Shackleton. Wild was left in command on Elephant Island while Shackleton effected their rescue. Wild served under Robert Falcon Scott and Douglas Mawson during their expeditions to the southern continent.
After his rescue, Wild volunteered to serve in the First World War. He was given a polar assignment – Royal Navy transport officer at Archangel, Russia. He learned Russian prior to the assignment.
Wild was with Shackleton when he died at South Georgia. To honour the boss’ obligations, he assumed command and continued the expedition to Antarctica. Wild eventually settled in South Africa, falling on hard times due to a struggle with alcohol. He died there in 1939.
Wild was cremated, but his ashes went astray. His last wish was to be buried on South Georgia near Shackleton’s final resting place. That is about to happen at last. What I wouldn’t give to be part of that historic return.
Why should you care? Neither Shackleton, nor Scott nor Mawson were polar medal with 4 bar recipients. All of them relied on Wild’s skill and commitment. He was a true Antarctic hero.
I haven’t been to either the Galapagos Islands or South Georgia. Of the two, South Georgia has had the greatest appeal. Now more than ever, after reading an article about the biodiversity of the Antarctic island.
You don’t go to Antarctica to see an endless array of species. Rather you go to encounter a few species in extraordinary concentrations. Then there is South Georgia. I’ve seen some footage taken by a talented documentarian I’ve come to know. My word…breathtaking. South Georgia has just gone to the top of my bucket list.
As a viewer, the thing about America’s PBS is that programming is not consistent across the network. Each station acts independently, choosing the programs that best suit their audience. If all the stations purchase a program, there is no guarantee it will air on the same day at the same time. I mention this because I watched Nature’s Penguins of the Antarctic last night on the Buffalo PBS station. That episode of Nature could be playing on your PBS station later this week, so there may still be a chance to watch it!
I concentrated on the credits at the end, because the underwater footage was excellent. Did Doug Allan contribute to the program, I wondered? Sure enough, he did! I envy everyone sailing on Quark’s semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica this year – Epic Antarctica. Doug is the special guest. He’ll tell you about shooting those sequences for Nature.
Rockhopper Penguin, Falkland Islands
Penguins of Antarctica are the subject of an August 1, 2010, Nature broadcast on WNED Buffalo. I’ll be watching, because I’m curious to learn which species they classify as Antarctic. There are 17 – some say 18 – but most scientists say 17 species. I’ve been told only 5 can actually be considered Antarctic – Emperors, Adelies, Chinstraps, Gentoos and Kings.
Alot depends on your definition of Antarctica. South Georgia is considered Antarctic, yet it has tussock grass and even a song bird – the only song bird native to Antarctica! [South Georgia pipit, if you have an enquiring mind.]
I took the photo of the Rockhopper on the Falkland Islands, which are not considered Antarctic islands. Although people like Sir Ernest Shackleton and thousands of whalers and sealers used the Falklands as a safe harbour en route to the southern continent.
Quark Expeditions’ Weddell Sea and South Georgia Antarctic cruise on the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov will take you to the habitat of all 5 Antarctic penguin species.
- John Murray filming at the North Pole
Have you dreamed of traveling with a documentary film crew to get a real behind-the-scenes look at the process? Quark Expeditions has just announced that Ireland’s Crossing the Line Films will be shooting aboard the polar expedition firm’s Weddell Sea and South Georgia voyage.
A reliable source has told me that the subject of the documentary is Tom Crean. That Irishmen was involved in two of the most extraordinary Antarctic expeditions of the historic age. He was a member of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, sailing with the Boss in a tiny boat 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia by dead-reckoning! He was with Scott as he and his companions trudged across the Antarctic plateau toward the South Pole. Scott sent him back to base camp only 100 miles from the Pole. Scott died. Crean lived.
Crossing the Line has produced more than 70 films, many of them award-winning. Their specialty is filming in remote places among wildlife and indigenous peoples. John Murray is managing director of Crossing the Line. He will be the cameraman-director-producer – read Boss – of the film crew. I’m not allowed to tell you who the film’s host will be. You’ll enjoy his company – that I can say!