According to Discovery News, “Antarctic Explorer’s Letters Revealed”, the last letters from Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the second explorer in the race to be “first to the South Pole”, have been revealed and donated to the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.
The letters tell of his determination to get there, and of his faith that he would make it, then finding he’d lost the race and then facing the reality of his impending death as he and the remainder of his crew struggled to get back.
Knowing he was days from death on a tragic trek back from the South Pole in 1912, Capt. Robert Falcon Scott wrote to his wife that “we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through.”
However, he assured Kathleen Scott, he faced his end without regret. “How much better it has been than lounging in comfort at home,” Scott wrote in the letter, recovered the year after he and his companions died of cold and starvation.
Scott’s courage in facing his doom â€” following the bitter disappointment of losing the race to the South Pole â€” burnished his stature as a national hero, and was an inspiration to generations of British youth.
…Scott’s private correspondence was recently donated to the institute by Philippa Scott, widow of the explorer’s only child, Sir Peter Scott, who died in 1989….
The letter was found along with the explorer’s body and his effects several months after his death, 11 miles from his supply camp. Kathleen Scott was on her way to New Zealand to await his return when she received confirmation of his death.
Captain Scott was a hero during the end of the 1800s and start of the next century as the last bits of the planet were being explored. Not just explored but those findings being written about in the news and budding media, not just letters home.
His first book, “The Voyage of Discovery”, was about his first journey into the great unknown ice world of Antarctica from 1902-04. The best selling novel, combined with the news reports, inspired imaginations and generations of explorer-wannabes, mountain climbers, and travelers.
I remember some older family members recalling how exciting it was to hear their parent’s debate about the race between Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Captain Scott to be first to the South Pole, and arguing over who would win. Amundsen arrived nearly a month before Scott, both both had a rough trip getting there. Only Amundsen returned alive. Still, the challenge and adventure was so exciting, even for the bystander.
Scott’s journal published in 1913, “Scott’s Last Expedition” doesn’t share these whole letters, but does describe the Antarctic as “This is an awful place, and terrible enough for us to have labored to it without the reward of priority.”
Having lost his team, his last letter shares his final moments:
“Dearest … cherish no sentimental rubbish about remarriage â€” when the right man comes to help you in life you ought to be your happy self again. I hope I shall be a good memory; certainly the end is nothing for you to be ashamed of and I like to think that the boy will have a good start in parentage of which he may be proud.
“Dear it is not easy to write because of the cold â€” 70 degrees below zero and nothing but the shelter of our tent â€” you know I have loved you, you know my thoughts must have constantly dwelt on you and oh dear me you must know that quite the worst aspect of this situation is the thought that I shall not see you again.”
“The inevitable must be faced.”
You can read more and see the images of Scott’s team and the letters from Yahoo News about Scott’s final letters.
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