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Shackleton–Rowett Expedition

 A ship with a black hull and white upper parts, three sails raised, in dock alongside a high multi-windowed warehouse building
Expedition ship Quest, moored in St Katherine's Dock, London.

The Shackleton–Rowett Expedition (1921–22) was South Georgia.

The major part of the subsequent attenuated expedition was a three-month cruise to the eastern Antarctic, under the leadership of second-in-command Elephant Island, where he and 21 others had been stranded after the sinking of the ship Endurance, during Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition six years earlier.

Wild had thoughts of a second, more productive season in the ice, and took the ship to Cape Town for a refit. Here he received a message from Rowett ordering the ship home to England, so the expedition ended quietly. Although not greatly regarded in the histories of polar exploration, the Quest voyage's significance is its standing at the very end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the "Mechanical Age" that followed. Ultimately, however, the event that defined it in public memory, and overshadowed all its activities, was Shackleton's untimely death.


  • Background 1
    • After the Endurance 1.1
    • Canadian proposal 1.2
  • Antarctic preparation 2
    • Objectives 2.1
    • Quest 2.2
    • Personnel 2.3
  • Expedition 3
    • Voyage south 3.1
    • Death of Shackleton 3.2
    • Voyage to the ice 3.3
    • Return 3.4
  • Aftermath 4
    • Assessment 4.1
    • End of the Heroic Age 4.2
  • Notes and references 5
  • Sources 6


After the Endurance

After helping to rescue the various stranded groups of men from his Endurance expedition, Shackleton came home to Britain in late May 1917, while World War I was raging. Too old to enlist, he nevertheless sought an active role in the war effort,[1] and eventually departed for Murmansk with the temporary army rank of major, as part of a military mission to North Russia. This role was not satisfying to Shackleton, and he expressed his dissatisfaction in letters home: "I feel I am no use to anyone unless I am outfacing the storm in wild lands."[2] He returned to England in February 1919 and began plans to set up a company that would, with the cooperation of the North Russian Government, develop the natural resources of the region.[3] This scheme came to nothing, as the Red Army took control of that part of Russia during the Russian Civil War, and Shackleton was forced to rely on the lecture circuit to provide him with an income. At the Philharmonic Hall in Great Portland Street, London, during the winter of 1919–20, he lectured twice a day, six days a week, for five months.[4] At the same time, despite the large debts still outstanding from the Endurance expedition, he began planning a new exploration venture.[4]

Canadian proposal

 Panoramic view of a field of ridged ice stretching towards the horizon.
Dense pack ice in the Beaufort Sea.

Shackleton had decided to turn away from the Antarctic, go northwards, and "fill in this great blank now called the Beaufort Sea".[5] This area of the Arctic ocean, to the north of Alaska and west of the Canadian Arctic archipelago, was largely unexplored; Shackleton believed, on the basis of tidal records, that the sea held large undiscovered land masses that "would be of the greatest scientific interest to the world, apart from the possible economic value".[5] He also hoped to reach the northern "pole of inaccessibility", the most remote point in the Arctic regions.[6] In March 1920, his plans received the general approval of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and were supported by the Canadian government. On this basis Shackleton set about acquiring the necessary funding, which he estimated at £50,000 (about £1.6 million, 2008 value).[5][7] Later that year, Shackleton met by chance an old school-friend, John Quiller Rowett, who agreed to put up a nucleus of cash to enable Shackleton to get started. With this money Shackleton was able, in January 1921, to acquire the wooden Norwegian whaler Foca I, and to proceed with the purchase of other equipment and the hiring of a crew.[5]

In May 1921 the Canadian plans were abandoned. The policy of the government of Canada on the funding of expeditions changed with the advent of a new Prime Minister, Arthur Meighen, who withdrew support from Shackleton's proposal .[8] Shackleton's response was not to cancel the expedition but to reorient it. In the middle of May his associate Alexander Macklin, who was in Canada negotiating the purchase of dogs, received a telegram notifying him that the destination was now to be the Antarctic; a varied programme of exploration, coastal mapping, mineral prospecting and oceanographic research in southern waters had been substituted for the Beaufort Sea venture.[5]

Antarctic preparation


 Head and shoulders of a dark-haired man looking directly to camers. The straps of a harness over his shoulders are visible.
Sir Ernest Shackleton, the expedition's leader.

Even before his impasse with the Canadian government, Shackleton had been considering a southern expedition as a possible alternative to the Beaufort Sea. According to RGS librarian Hugh Robert Mill, as early as March 1920 Shackleton had talked about two possible schemes—the Beaufort Sea exploration and "an oceanographical expedition with the object of visiting all the little-known islands of the South Atlantic and South Pacific".[9] By June 1921, it had expanded to include a circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent and the mapping of around 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of uncharted coastline. It would also encompass a search for "lost" or wrongly charted sub-Antarctic islands (including Dougherty Island, Tuanaki, and the Nimrod Islands),[10][11] investigations of possible mineral resources to be exploited in these rediscovered lands, and an ambitious scientific research program.[12] This was to include soundings around Gough Island to investigate an alleged "underwater continental connection between Africa and America."[13] Shackleton biographer Margery Fisher calls the plan "diffuse", and "far too comprehensive for one small body of men to tackle within two years".[12] According to biographer Roland Huntford the expedition had no obvious goal and was "only too clearly a piece of improvisation, a pretext [for Shackleton] to get away".[14]

 Head and shoulders of a man with receding hair, rimless glasses and a heavy moustache. Formally dressed with collar and tie, he is facing right but his eyes are turned to the camera.
John Quiller Rowett, who financed the expedition.

Fisher describes the expedition as representing "the dividing line between what has become known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration and the Mechanical Age".[12] Shackleton called the voyage "pioneering", referring specifically to the aeroplane that was taken (but ultimately not used) on the expedition.[12] In fact this was only one of the technological "firsts" that marked the venture; there were gadgets in profusion. The ship's crow's nest was electrically heated; there were heated overalls for the lookouts, a wireless set, and a device called an odograph which could trace and chart the ship's route automatically.[12] Photography was to figure prominently, and "a large and expensive outfit of cameras, cinematographical machines and general photographic appliances [was] acquired".[15] Among the oceanographical research equipment was a Lucas deep-sea sounding machine.[16]

This ample provision arose from the sponsorship of Rowett, who had extended his original gift of seed money to an undertaking to cover the costs of the entire expedition.[17] The extent of Rowett's contribution is not recorded; in an (undated) prospectus for the southern expedition Shackleton had estimated the total cost as "about £100,000".[12] Whatever the total, Rowett appears to have funded the lion's share, enabling Frank Wild to record later that, unique among Antarctic expeditions of the era, this one returned home without any outstanding debt.[18][19] According to Wild, without Rowett's actions the expedition would have been impossible: "His generous attitude is the more remarkable in that he knew there was no prospect of financial return, and what he did was in the interest of scientific research and from friendship with Shackleton."[20] His only recognition was the attachment of his name to the title of the expedition.[17] Rowett was, according to Huntford, "a stodgy, prosaic looking" businessman,[21] who was, in 1920, a co-founder and principal contributor to an animal nutrition research institute in Aberdeen known as the Rowett Research Institute (now part of the University of Aberdeen). He had also endowed dental research work at the Middlesex Hospital.[21] Rowett did not live long after the return of the expedition; in 1924, aged 50, he took his own life following an apparent downturn in his business fortunes.[22]


 A ship with two tall masts is passing beneath the raised carriageways of a road bridge. The bridge has twin ornamental stone towers which are connected by a walkway high above the river.
Quest passing through Tower Bridge, London

In March 1921, Shackleton renamed his expedition vessel Quest.[14] She was a small ship, 125 tons according to Huntford, with sail and auxiliary engine power purportedly capable of making eight knots, but in fact rarely making more than five-and-a-half.[23][24] Huntford describes her as "straight-stemmed", with an awkward square rig, and a tendency to wallow in heavy seas.[14] Fisher reports that she was built in 1917, weighed 204 tons, and had a large and spacious deck.[23][25] Although she had some modern facilities, such as electric lights in the cabins,[26] she was unsuited to long oceanic voyages; Shackleton, on the first day out, observed that "in no way are we shipshape or fitted to ignore even the mildest storm".[27] Leif Mills, in his biography of Frank Wild, says that had the ship been taken to the Beaufort Sea in accordance with Shackleton's original plans, she would probably have been crushed in the Arctic pack ice.[27] On her voyage south she suffered frequent damage and breakdowns, requiring repairs at every port of call.[14]


The Times newspaper had reported that Shackleton planned to take a dozen men to the Arctic, "chiefly those who had accompanied him on earlier expeditions".[5] In actuality, Quest left London for the south with 20 men, of whom eight were old Endurance comrades; another, James Dell, was a veteran from the Discovery, 20 years previously.[28] Some of the Endurance hands had not been fully paid from the earlier expedition, but were prepared to join Shackleton again out of personal loyalty.[14][29]

 Head and upper body of a seated man, balding, smoking a pipe. He is wearing a heavy jersey.
Frank Wild, second-in-command of the expedition.

Frank Wild, on his fourth trip with Shackleton, filled the second-in-command post as he had on the Endurance expedition. Frank Worsley, Endurance's former captain, became captain of Quest. Other old comrades included the two surgeons, Alexander Macklin and James McIlroy, the meteorologist Leonard Hussey, the engineer Alexander Kerr, seaman Tom McLeod and cook Charles Green.[14] Shackleton had assumed that Tom Crean would sign up, and had assigned him duties "in charge of boats",[30] but Crean had retired from the navy to start a family back home in County Kerry, and declined Shackleton's invitation.[30]

Of the newcomers, Daily Mail newspaper, these two had been selected to join the expedition out of around 1,700 Scouts who had applied to go.[35] Mooney, who was from the Orkney Islands, soon dropped out, leaving the ship at Madeira after suffering chronic seasickness.[36] Marr, an 18-year-old from Aberdeen, remained with the expedition throughout, winning plaudits from Shackleton and Wild for his application to the tasks at hand. After being put to work in the ship's coal bunkers, according to Wild, Marr "came out of the trial very well, showing an amount of hardihood and endurance that was remarkable".[36]


Voyage south

Grytviken Harbour is indicated on the northern shore.

Quest sailed from

  • Fisher, Margery and James (1957). Shackleton. London: James Barrie Books. 
  • Harrington, John Walker (July 3, 1921). "Shackleton's Search for Antarctic Islands of Doubt". New York Times. p. 68. 
  • Huntford, Roland (intro.) (2002). The Shackleton Voyages. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  
  • Mills, Leif (1999). Frank Wild. Whitby: Caedmon of Whitby.  
  • Shackleton, Ernest. Expedition 1921–22"Quest"Diary of the . Cambridge:  
  • Smith, Michael (2000). An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor. London: Headline Book Publishing.  
  • Verdon-Roe, Alliott (1938). The World of Wings and Things. London: Hurst & Blackett. 
  • Wild, Frank. "Quest"Shackleton's last voyage: The Story of the . Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  • "The Voyage of the "Quest"". The Geographical Journal 61: 74. February 1923.  
  • "About the Institute". University of Aberdeen. Retrieved 5 November 2008. 
  • The Agricultural Association, the Development Fund, and the Origins of the Rowett Research Institute PDF. British Agricultural and Horticultural Society
  • "An Antarctic Time Line 1519–1959". Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  • "Measuring Worth". Institute for the Measurement of Worth. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  • "Shackleton-Rowett Expedition 50th anniversary, Tristan da Cunha". Scouts on Stamps Society International. Retrieved 28 November 2008. 


  1. ^ Huntford, p. 649
  2. ^ Fisher, p. 435
  3. ^ Fisher, p. 437
  4. ^ a b Fisher, p. 441
  5. ^ a b c d e f Fisher, pp. 442–45
  6. ^ Wild, p. 2
  7. ^ "Measuring Worth". Institute for the Measurement of Worth. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  8. ^ Huntford, pp. 680–82
  9. ^ Mills, p. 287
  10. ^ Harrington, p. 1
  11. ^ "Shackleton, Antarctic Explorer, is Dead".  
  12. ^ a b c d e f Fisher, pp. 446–49
  13. ^ "Shackleton to Sail to Antarctic Again". New York Times. June 29, 1921. p. 13. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Huntford, pp. 684–85
  15. ^ Frank Wild, quoted in Leif Mills, p. 289
  16. ^ Wild, p. 13
  17. ^ a b Mills, pp. 287–88
  18. ^ Wild (Preface)
  19. ^ Huntford (p. 693) records that Rowett estimated that the expedition had cost him £70,000
  20. ^ a b "The Voyage of the "Quest"". The Geographical Journal 61: 74. February 1923.  
  21. ^ a b Huntford, p. 682
  22. ^ "The Agricultural Association, the Development Fund, and the Origins of the Rowett Research Institute" (PDF). British Agricultural History Society. Retrieved 5 November 2008.  Footnote, p. 60
  23. ^ a b c d Fisher, pp. 459–61
  24. ^ Eight knots = 9.2 miles per hour, 14.8 km/h. 5½ knots = 6.3 mph, 10.2 mph
  25. ^ The difference in the figures provided by Huntford and Fisher may represent the distinction between tonnage, a measure of volume, and displacement, a measure of weight.
  26. ^ Huntford (The Shackleton Voyages), p. 259
  27. ^ a b Mills, pp. 287–90
  28. ^ Fisher, p. 464
  29. ^ Another Shackleton loyalist, Ernest Joyce, had fallen out with Shackleton over the money he claimed was owed to him, and was not invited to join the expedition. Tyler-Lewis, pp. 256–57
  30. ^ a b Smith, p. 308
  31. ^ Riffenburgh, p. 892
  32. ^ Verdon-Roe, p. 258
  33. ^ Carr subsequently had a distinguished Royal Air Force career, rising to the rank of Air Marshal and becoming Deputy Chief of Staff (Air) to SHAEF in 1945. Fisher, p. 489
  34. ^ a b Fisher, pp. 451–53
  35. ^ Fisher, p. 454
  36. ^ a b Wild, p. 32
  37. ^ Huntford, p. 683
  38. ^ a b Mills, pp. 292–93
  39. ^ Wild, p. 44
  40. ^ a b Fisher, pp. 466–67
  41. ^ a b c Fisher, pp. 471–73
  42. ^ Huntford, p. 688
  43. ^ Huntford, p. 687
  44. ^ a b Mills, p. 294
  45. ^ Fisher, pp. 473–76
  46. ^ a b Shackleton, Ernest. Expedition 1921–22"Quest"Diary of the . Cambridge:  
  47. ^ a b Fisher, pp. 476–77
  48. ^ Macklin diary, quoted by Fisher, p. 477
  49. ^ Huntford, p. 690
  50. ^ a b c Fisher, pp. 478–81
  51. ^ Wild, p. 66
  52. ^ Wild, p. 69
  53. ^ See Fisher, illustrations pp. 480–81
  54. ^ Wild, pp. 73–75 and 78–79
  55. ^ Based on Wild, pp. 98–137
  56. ^ Wild, pp. 82–87
  57. ^ Wild, pp. 88–91 and p. 98
  58. ^ a b Wild, pp. 98–99
  59. ^ Davy Jones's Locker is the traditional seaman's euphemism for the bottom of the sea.
  60. ^ Wild, pp. 115–21
  61. ^ Wild, p. 132
  62. ^ Wild, p. 136
  63. ^ Mills, p. 303
  64. ^ Wild, pp. 137–39
  65. ^ Wild, p. 144
  66. ^ Mills, p. 304
  67. ^ a b Mills, p. 305
  68. ^ Fisher, pp. 482–83
  69. ^ "Shackleton-Rowett Expedition 50th anniversary, Tristan da Cunha". Scouts on Stamps Society International. Retrieved 28 November 2008. 
  70. ^ a b Wild, p. 232
  71. ^ a b c Mills, pp. 306–08
  72. ^ Wild, pp. 206–14
  73. ^ Wild, p. 207
  74. ^ Fisher, p. 483
  75. ^ Wild, p. 287
  76. ^ a b Wild, p. 313
  77. ^ a b Wild, pp. 312–13
  78. ^ Mills, p. 308
  79. ^ Wild, pp. 321–49
  80. ^ a b Mills, p. 307
  81. ^ Wild, p. 80
  82. ^ Fisher, pp. 516–17
  83. ^ Huntford, p. 464
  84. ^ a b Mills, p. 330
  85. ^ Wild, pp. 74–75
  86. ^ Huntford, p. 693
  87. ^ Mills, p. 297
  88. ^ Huntford, pp. 687–88
  89. ^ Fisher, pp. 447–48
  90. ^ Fisher, p. 452
  91. ^ Wild, p. 214
  92. ^ "An Antarctic Time Line 1519–1959". Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  93. ^ Fisher, p. 449
  94. ^ Wild was a member of the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04; the Nimrod Expedition, 1907–09; the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911–13; the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–17, and the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition.
  95. ^ a b Fisher, p. 494
  96. ^ Fisher, p. 492
  97. ^ Fisher, p. 489

Notes and references

At the end of his narrative of the Quest expedition, Wild wrote of the Antarctic: "I think that my work there is done"; he never returned, closing a career which, like Shackleton's, had bracketed the Heroic Age.[76][94] None of the expedition members who were veterans from the Endurance returned to the Antarctic, although Worsley made one voyage to the Arctic in 1925.[95] Of the other crew and staff of Quest, the Australian naturalist Hubert Wilkins became a pioneer aviator in both the Arctic and Antarctic, in 1928 flying from Point Barrow, Alaska to Spitsbergen. He also made several unsuccessful attempts during the 1930s, in collaboration with the American adventurer Lincoln Ellsworth, to fly to the South Pole.[95] James Marr, the Boy Scout, also became an Antarctic regular after qualifying as a marine biologist, joining several Australian expeditions in the late 1920s and 1930s.[96] Roderick Carr, the frustrated pilot, became an Air Marshal in the Royal Air Force.[97]

An Antarctic hiatus followed the return of Quest, there being no significant expeditions to the region for seven years.[92] The expeditions that then followed were of a different character from their predecessors, belonging to the "mechanical age" that succeeded the Heroic Age.[93]

End of the Heroic Age

As for technical innovation, the failure of the aeroplane to fly was another disappointment. Shackleton's hopes had been high that he could pioneer the use of this form of transport in Antarctic waters, and he had discussed this issue with the British Air Ministry.[89] According to Fisher's account, essential aeroplane parts had been sent on to Cape Town, but remained uncollected.[90] The long-range, 220-volt wireless equipment did not work properly and was abandoned early on. The smaller, 110-volt equipment worked only within a range of 250 miles (400 km).[20] During the Tristan visit, Wild attempted to install a new wireless apparatus with the help of a local missionary, but this was also unsuccessful.[91]

The lack of a clear, defined expedition objective[83][84] was aggravated by the failure to call at Cape Town on the way south, with the result that important equipment was not picked up. On South Georgia, Wild found little that could make up for this loss—there were no dogs on the island, so no sledging work could be carried out, which eliminated Wild's preferred choice of a revised expedition goal, an exploration of Graham Land on the Antarctic peninsula.[85] The death of Shackleton before the beginning of serious work was a heavy blow, and questions were raised about the adequacy of Wild as his replacement. Some reports have Wild drinking heavily—"practically an alcoholic", according to Shackleton's biographer, Roland Huntford.[86][87] Mills suggests, however, that even if Shackleton had lived to complete the expedition, it is arguable whether, under the circumstances, it could have achieved more than it did under Wild's command.[84] On the voyage south, colleagues had been struck by the changes in Shackleton—his listlessness, docility and vacillation.[88]

According to Wild, the expedition ended "quietly", although his biographer Leif Mills writes of enthusiastic crowds in Plymouth Sound.[77][78] At the end of his account, Wild expressed the hope that the information they had brought back might "prove of value in helping to solve the great natural problems that still beset us".[77] These results were summarised in five brief appendices to Wild's book.[79] The summaries reflected the efforts of the scientific staff to collect data and specimens at each port of call,[80] and the geological and survey work carried out by Carr and Douglas on South Georgia, before the southern voyage.[81] Eventually a few scientific papers and articles were developed from this material,[82] but it was, in Leif Mills's words, "little enough to show for a year's work".[80]

Cutaway diagram of "Quest" from Popular Science magazine December 1921

Drawing of Quest with side removed to show interior organisations of the ship'd cabins and compartments.



They were also met by Rowett's agent, with the message that they should return to England.[74] Wild wrote: "I should have liked one more season in the Enderby Quadrant...much might be accomplished by making Cape Town our starting point and setting out early in the season."[75] However, on 19 July they left Cape Town and sailed northwards. Their final visits were to St Helena, Ascension Island and St Vincent. On 16 September, one year after departure, they arrived at Plymouth Harbour.[76]

[71] During the five-day stay, with the help of some of the islanders, the expedition made brief landings on the small

Quest remained in South Georgia for a month, during which time Shackleton's old comrades erected a memorial cairn to their former leader, on a headland overlooking the entrance to Grytviken harbor.[68] Quest finally sailed for South Africa on 8 May. The first port of call, however, was to be Tristan da Cunha, a remote inhabited island to the west and south of Cape Town. Here, on the orders of the Chief Scout, Marr was to present a flag to the local Scout Troop.[69][70] After a rough crossing of the "Roaring Forties", Quest arrived at Tristan da Cunha on 20 May.[71]


[67] On 12 March they reached 64°11'S, 46°4'W, which was the area where Ross had recorded an "Appearance of Land" in 1842, but there was no sign of it, and a depth sounding of over 2,300 [64] and there was other discontent among the crew which Wild, in his own account, dealt with by the threat of "the most drastic treatment".[63] For the most part, the long passage across the Weddell Sea proceeded uneventfully. Wild and Worsley were not hitting it off, according to Macklin,

 On-board view towards the bow of a small boat with a mast. Beyond the bow is a shoreline of snowy mountains.
Approaching Elephant Island (1962 photograph)

[62] On 24 February, after a series of further efforts had failed, Wild set a course westward across the mouth of the Weddell Sea. The ship would try to visit [61] Wild still hoped to tackle the heavy ice, and if possible to break through to the hidden land beyond. On 18 February he turned the ship south again for another try, but was no more successful than before.[60] During the days that followed, as they moved southward in falling temperatures, the ice thickened. On 12 February they reached the most southerly latitude they would attain, 69°17'S, and their most easterly longitude, 17°9'E, well short of Enderby Land. Noting the state of the sea ice and fearing being frozen in, Wild "beat a hasty and energetic retreat" to the north and west.[59][58] join the ships in Davy Jones's Locker?"Quest was the smallest ship ever to attempt to penetrate the heavy Antarctic ice, and pondered on the fate of others. "Shall we escape, or will the Quest He noted that [58] can really try her mettle", wrote Wild, as the ship entered the loose pack.Quest "Now the little

Quest left South Georgia on 18 January, heading south-east towards the South Sandwich Islands. There was a heavy swell, such that the overladen ship frequently dipped its gunwales below the waves, filling the waist with water.[56] As they proceeded, Wild wrote that Quest rolled like a log, was leaking and required regular pumping, was heavy on coal consumption, and was slow. All these factors led him, at the end of January, to change his plan. Bouvet Island was abandoned in favour of a more southerly course that brought them to the edge of the pack ice on 4 February.[57]

 Chart of an area of sea in which an irregular line shows the passage of Quest
Track of Quest between 3–24 February 1922, showing attempts to penetrate the pack ice towards the Antarctic coast[55]

Chart of an area of sea in which an irregular line shows the passage of Quest

As leader, Wild had first to decide where the expedition should now go. Kerr reported that the furnace problem was manageable, and after supplementing stores and equipment with what was available in South Georgia, Wild decided to proceed in general accordance with Shackleton's original plans. He would take the ship eastward towards Bouvet Island and then beyond, before turning south to enter the ice as close as possible to Enderby Land, and begin coastal survey work there. The expedition would also investigate an "Appearance of Land" in the mouth of the Weddell Sea, reported by Sir James Clark Ross in 1842, but not seen since. Ultimately, however, progress would depend on weather, ice conditions, and the capabilities of the ship.[54]

Voyage to the ice

[53] A rough cross marked the grave, until it was replaced by a tall granite column six years later.[52] had meantime sailed, so only Hussey of Shackleton's former comrades was present.Quest Here, on 5 March, Shackleton was buried in the Norwegian cemetery; [50] Hussey accompanied the body aboard a British steamer, and returned to Grytviken.[50] The death certificate, signed by Macklin, gave the cause as "Atheroma of the Coronary arteries and Heart failure"—in modern terms,

After visiting the whaling establishment ashore, Shackleton returned to the ship apparently refreshed. He told Frank Wild that they would celebrate their deferred Christmas the next day, and retired to his cabin to write his diary.[44][47] "The old smell of dead whale permeates everything", he wrote. "It is a strange and curious place....A wonderful evening. In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover, gem like above the bay."[46] Later he slept, and was heard snoring by the surgeon McIlroy, who had just finished his watch-keeping duty.[47] Shortly after 2 a.m. on the morning of 5 January, Macklin, who had taken over the watch, was summoned to Shackleton's cabin. According to Macklin's diary, he found Shackleton complaining of back pains and severe facial neuralgia, and asking for a painkilling drug. In a brief discussion, Macklin told his leader that he had been overdoing things, and needed to lead a more regular life. Macklin records Shackleton as saying: "You're always wanting me to give up things, what is it I ought to give up?" Macklin replied "Chiefly alcohol, Boss, I don't think it agrees with you." Immediately afterwards Shackleton "had a very severe paroxysm, during which he died".[48][49]

 A tall stone column stands over a grave on which rest various memorabilia including a bunch of flowers. The stone is inscribed:
The grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton

On 17 December, the day before Quest was due to leave Rio, Shackleton fell ill. He may have suffered a heart attack;[43] Macklin was called, but Shackleton refused to be examined and declared himself "better" the next morning.[41][44] On the ensuing voyage to South Georgia he was, from the accounts of his shipmates, unusually subdued and listless. He also began drinking champagne each morning, "to deaden the pain", contrary to his normal rule of not allowing liquor at sea.[41] A severe storm ruined the expedition's proposed Christmas celebrations, and a new problem with the engine's steam furnace slowed progress and caused Shackleton further stress.[45] By 1 January 1922, the weather had abated: "Rest and calm after the storm – the year has begun kindly for us", wrote Shackleton in his diary.[46] On 4 January 1922, South Georgia was sighted, and late that morning Quest anchored at Grytviken.

Death of Shackleton

The engine overhaul, and the replacement of the damaged topmast,[39] delayed the party in Rio for four weeks. This meant that it was no longer practical to proceed to Cape Town and then on to the ice. Instead, Shackleton decided that the ship would sail directly to [41][42]

[38] reached Rio on 22 November 1921.Quest, where the engine could receive a thorough overhaul. Rio de Janeiro These delays and the slow speed of the ship led Shackleton to decide that it would be necessary to sacrifice entirely the visits to the South Atlantic islands, and instead he turned the ship towards [38].Cape Verde Islands, and further stops in Madeira and the Lisbon However, the ship's performance in the early stages of the voyage disrupted this schedule. Serious problems with the engine necessitated a week's stay in [23] Shackleton's original intention was to sail down to

[23] Large crowds gathered on the banks of the river and on the bridges, to witness the event. Marr wrote in his diary that it was as though "all London had conspired together to bid us a heartening farewell".[37]

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