‘They Died Like Men’: Haunting poem by one of Captain Scott’s Antarctic crew and trove of photos from his doomed race to the South Pole could fetch £60,000 at auction
A haunting poem by one of Captain Robert ‘Falcon’ Scott’s Antarctic crew, along with a trove of photos from his doomed race to the South Pole, has been found in an old travel trunk in a garage 109 years later.
The archive that contains photos of the Terra Nova expedition, along with previously unseen charts and the poignant ‘They Died Like Men’ tribute to Scott and his men is valued at £60,000.
It belongs to the family of Francis ‘Chippy’ Davies, who served as the Terra Nova’s carpenter and oversaw the preparation and building of the expedition huts on Antarctica.
Davies, who did not join Scott and his men on their final trip to the South Pole, also constructed the wooden memorial cross after the deaths of his fellow explorers. It still stands on Observation Hill in Antarctica.
The annotated charts found inside the case are titled ‘Antarctic Ocean Sheet VIII and IV’ and plotted their progress in the Antarctic Ocean.
They would have been studied by Scott as they navigated a route through the pack ice.
They detail voyages off South Victoria, McMurdo Sound and the Bay of Whales, including their difficulties landing off Cape Crozier.
Scott famously made it to the South Pole in 1912 only to discover Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten him to it by 34 days.
The five-man party, which also included Lawrence Oates, Edgar Evans, Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers, all died on the return leg.
The archive is being sold by auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, in Exeter.
A remarkable polar archive collated by a crew member on Captain Robert ‘Falcon’ Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole has been found in an old travel trunk in a garage 109 years later. The archive that contains photos of the Terra Nova expedition, along with previously unseen charts and a poignant poem (above) in tribute to Scott and his men is valued at £60,000
It belongs to the family of Francis ‘Chippy’ Davies (pictured in the archive) who served as the Terra Nova’s carpenter and oversaw the preparation and building of the expedition huts on Antarctica
Davies sailed with the men to the Antarctic but did not join the men on their final doomed trip. Above: The Terra Nova ship is seen in pack ice in a photo from the archive
Scott famously made it to the South Pole in 1912 only to discover Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten him to it by 34 days. His five-man party, which also included Lawrence Oates, Edgar Evans, Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers, all died on the return leg
The poem penned by another crew member, is titled ‘They Died Like Men’.
It reads: ‘Far, far from help of kindred, hid dreary tastes of blinding snow and ice.
ILL-FATED TERRA NOVA EXPEDITION
Captain Robert Falcon Scott led the Terra Nova expedition, officially called the British Antarctic Expedition 1910, with the aim to be the first to reach the geographical South Pole.
But when his team of four companions arrived on 17 January 17, 1912, they discovered a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had already arrived 33 days earlier.
Captain Scott’s entire team died in March during their return on the Ross Ice Shelf from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.
Captain Scott was a Royal Navy officer and explorer from Devon, who had previously led the Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic from 1901 and 1904.
Scott’s Hut was built in 1911 on Cape Evans, Ross Island in Antarctica.
There is a second hut, built during the Discovery Expedition of 1901 to 1904, south of Cape Evans, which is also referred to as Scott’s Hut, as well as Discovery Hut.
‘Nought but the howling gale to soothe their miseries, they went, they saw, they conquered and at last.
‘Their work was done, their sufferings were past…
‘Their memory lives, we shall forget it never, let Englishman the wide world over be proud to say.
‘They died like men.’
The photos show the Terra Nova trapped in pack ice, crew members on board and smoke billowing from the vessel.
There is an expedition schedule chart for crew members and a receipt addressed to Scott from the manufacturer of the huts’ materials.
Davies’ name is commemorated by Davies Bay, situated between Drake Head and Cape Kinsey, which was discovered in February 1911.
The archive has remained in the Davies family for over a century and is now going under the hammer with auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, of Exeter, Devon.
The ‘historically important’ collection had been tucked away in a trunk in a garage of a home in the south west.
Davies was born in 1885 in Plymouth and did a shipwright’s apprenticeship at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Devonport.
He was shipwright on HMS Vanguard before applying to join the British Antarctic Expedition in 1910.
On the expedition, he earned praise for keeping the unreliable Terra Nova sailing despite a raft of problems.
During the voyage to the Pole he cut through a bulkhead to clear a hand pump which got blocked in a severe storm.
He was so valued on board that Scott sided with him in an argument with factory representatives over which timber to use for the expedition huts.
Following the Terra Nova expedition, Davies served on board the HMS Blanche and HMS Exmouth, and in 1919 went to Archangel in Russia where he was in charge of ship repairs.
A photograph of the crew of Terra Nova, British Antarctic Expedition 1910 inscribed ‘Officers and Crew, Capt Scott’s Antarctic Exped 1910’
The archive contains various images of the Terra Nova, long with photos of ice bergs seen on the trip. Tow men are also seen standing next to a horse
Expedition dog handler Demetri Geroff is seen standing with one of his animals. The image is signed by Geroff and dated June 25, 1916
Davies also constructed the wooden memorial cross after the death of Captain Scott and his team. It still stands on Observation Hill
Between 1927 and 1934, he was on board the Royal Research Ships ‘Discovery II’ and the ‘William Scoresby’, doing scientific work in the southern oceans.
Davies volunteered with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in World War Two and saw action on board the HMS Victory III in Norway, before being transferred to the Boom Defence Department.
Brian Goodison-Blanks, maritime specialist at Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, said: ‘This historically important archive has come from the descendants of Davies and had been tucked away in a trunk in a garage.
‘Davies was a carpenter and shipwright who kept the Terra Nova sailing and had the crucial job of building the huts.
‘The expedition charts are incredibly significant and it is remarkable to think of Capt Scott studying and referring to them as they made their way through pack ice.
‘The Terra Nova expedition is part of the Golden Age of exploration and has a very poignant legacy with the fate which befell Scott’s five-man party.
‘When my colleague and I first went through the archive we said to each other ‘this is amazing’.’
Scott’s Terra Nova expedition arrived at Cape Evans on Ross Island in January 1911.
The Terra Nova under tow during the expedition. The archive has remained in the Davies family for over a century and is now going under the hammer with auctioneers Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood, of Exeter, Devon
Following the Terra Nova expedition, Davies served on board the HMS Blanche and HMS Exmouth, and in 1919 went to Archangel in Russia where he was in charge of ship repairs. Above: Davies is seen in photos which are part of the archive
After seeing out the austral winter Scott’s polar party of 16 men set off in the November to be the first people to reach the South Pole.
The supporting party of 11 men returned as planned at various stages during the 800-mile trek, leaving Scott, Wilson, Oates, Evans and Bowers to reach the pole.
On their return journey, they endured dreadful conditions and suffered from a lack of food and frostbite.
Evans died on February 17, 1912 and Scott, Wilson and Bowers died in the tent around March 29.
Eight months later, a search party found the tent, the bodies and Scott’s diary.
The sale takes place on October 19.