Captain Lawrence Oates, known as Titus, will always be known for his final words, spoken as he left the tent in which his South Pole companions hunkered, “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He stepped out into a -40 blizzard, bootless, without hope of survival.
He chose certain death, it is believed, because he had become a burden through ill-health to his three companions. The trio would have a greater chance of survival without him, so he thought. Unfortunately, his sacrifice was for naught. The entire party died, never reaching safety.
Exploration was the family business. His uncle, Frank Oates, was an African explorer. Captain Oates, an experienced soldier, bought his membership in Scott’s expedition, donating £1,000, which, at that time, was a small fortune. His skill with horses clinched the deal.
Captain Lawrence Oates was last seen March 16, 1912. Scott wrote in his journal: “We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman”
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Captain James Cook became the first man to cross the Antarctic Circle 238 years ago today. The fact he did with a ship’s crew and a slew of officers…well that counts for naught.
Twenty-two years ago today, Victoria E Murden and Shirley Metz, became the first women to reach the South Pole by land. I wonder if they timed it to arrive on the 17th of January?
Why, you ask? 99 years ago today, Robert Falcon Scott became the SECOND man to reach the South Pole. He too was accompanied – Wilson, Bowers, Evans and Oates to name his companions. Roald Amundsen was the first, and he didn’t do it alone, but his companions didn’t earn the honor of second, third and fourth. Polar Exploration has always been about social order. There was nothing egalatarian about it.
Quark Expeditions is changing that. They are having a draw for autographed, first editions. There are 9 to be given away. To win you just enter the contest. The winners will chosen by random draw – so it doesn’t matter who you know, or what social class you come from – you have a chance to win.