"We were at the pole and die like gentlemen"

To Mrs. E. Wilson

Dear Mrs Wilson!

When this letter reaches you, Bill and I both will have long since ended our existence. We are now very close to this, and I would like you to know how he was a wonderful person to the end - always cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. Not once has he escaped a single word of reproach to me for drawing him into this bad story. He does not suffer, fortunately, and suffers only minor inconveniences.

In his eyes, the blue of consoling hope shines, and his spirit is pacified by the satisfaction that gives him the belief that he himself is part of the great plans of the Almighty. I can add nothing to your consolation, except that he died as he lived - the brave, true man and the most steadfast of friends.

My whole heart is filled with pity for you.

Your R. Scott

To Mrs Bowers

Dear Mrs Bowers!

I am afraid that you will receive this letter after one of the hardest blows in your life has fallen upon you.

I write at that moment when we are very close to the end of our journey, and I graduate from it in the company of two valiant and noble gentlemen. One of them is your son. He has become one of my closest and loyal friends, and I appreciate his surprisingly direct nature, his dexterity and energy. As difficulties grew, his fearless spirit gleamed ever brighter, and he remained vigorous, hopeful and unshakable to the end.

The paths of providence are mysterious, but there must nevertheless be some reason for such a young, strong and promising life to be taken away.

My whole heart is filled with pity for you.

Until the end, he talked about you and his sisters. You understand what his family must have been happy with, and it may be good when you see only one happy time behind you.

He remains unselfish, selfless, and amazingly hopeful to the end and believes in God's mercy to you.

Your R. Scott

Sir J.M. Barry

My dear Barry!

We are dying in a very dismal place. I am writing you a farewell letter in the hope that it may be found and sent to you ...

In fact, I want you to help my widow and son - your godson. We show that the British still know how to die bravely, fighting to the end. It will become known that we have completed our task, having reached the pole, and have done everything possible, even self-sacrifice, in order to save our fellow patients. I think this will serve as an example for the English generation of the future generation and that the homeland should help those whom we leave to mourn. I leave my poor girl and your godchild, Wilson leaves a widow, and Edgar Evans is also a very poor widow. Do your best to recognize their rights. Farewell. I am absolutely not afraid of the end, but it is sad to lose many of the modest joys that I had planned for the future during long transitions. I did not turn out to be a great explorer, but we made the greatest march ever made, and came very close to a major success.

Goodbye my dear friend.

Your forever R. Scott

We are in a desperate state, frostbitten legs, etc. There is no fuel, and far to go to food, but you would be pleased with us in our tent to listen to our songs and cheerful conversation about what we will do when we get to the house on Cape Huts.

Later. We are very close to the end, but we do not lose and do not want to lose our cheerful mood. We experienced a four-day storm in the tent, and nowhere is there any food or fuel. We intended to commit suicide when the state of things turned out to be the same as now, but decided to die a natural death at the post.

Dying, I ask you, my dear friend, to be kind to my wife and child. Help the boy in life if the state does not want to do this. It should be a good start. I have never met a person in my whole life whom I would admire and love more than you, but I could never show you how much your friendship meant to me, because you had to give a lot, but nothing to me.

The Honorable Sir Edgar Speyer

March 16, 1912, 79.5 ° latitude

My dear Sir Edgar!

I hope this letter reaches you. I'm afraid we have to die, and this will put the expedition in a bad position. But we were at the pole and die like gentlemen. I regret only the women we leave.

Thank you a thousand times for your help and support and your generous kindness. If this diary is found, it will show how we helped the dying comrades and fought to the very end. I think it will show that the spirit of courage and the ability to endure suffering did not leave our race ...

Wilson, the best of people who ever existed, repeatedly sacrificed himself for the sake of his expedition comrades.

I am writing to many friends in the hope that letters will reach them sometime after they find us in the coming year.

We almost coped with adversity, and it’s a pity that nothing came of it, but then I felt that we overestimated our strength. No one has to blame, and I hope that no attempt will be made in the sense of indicating that we are not supported.

I say goodbye to you and your lovely wife.

Your forever R. Scott

Vice Admiral Sir Francis Charles Bridgeman

My dear Sir Francis!

I'm afraid that we build on the calculation: do not jump out. I am writing several letters in the hope that they will someday be delivered. I want to thank you for the friendship you have bestowed on me in recent years, and to tell you how much it was a pleasure to serve under your leadership. I want to tell you that I was not too old for this job. The first people surrendered to the younger ones ... In the end, we set a good example to our compatriots, if not to the fact that we were in a bad position, so that we met him as a man, being in it. We could handle it if we left the sick.


Your forever R. Scott

Sorry for the handwriting, now -40 °, and so it was almost a whole month.

Vice Admiral Sir George Le Clerk Edgerton

Dear my sir George!

I'm afraid it's over with us - but we were at the pole and made the longest journey ever known.

I hope that the letters will reach someday as intended.

The collateral reasons for our failure to return are due to the illness of the various participants in the hike, but the real reason for delaying us is terrible weather and an unexpected cold by the end of the trip.

This passage through the Barrier was three times worse than all we experienced on the plateau.

No one is to blame, but the result has overturned all my calculations, and we are here a little more than 100 miles from the base and live out the last minutes.

Farewell. Please make sure that my widow is provided as this will depend on the maritime authority.

R. Scott

Mr J.J. Kinsey - Christchurch

March 24, 1912

My dear Kinsey!

I'm afraid that we are done with - a four-day blizzard, just as we were about to go to the last warehouse. My thoughts often turned to you. You were a true friend. You will bring the expedition to the end, I'm sure.

My thoughts are about my wife and son. Will you do for them what you can if the country does not?

I want the boy to have good luck in life, but you know my circumstances well enough.

If I knew that the wife and the boy were provided, I would not regret it very much, leaving this world, because I feel that the country does not have to be ashamed of us — our journey was the greatest of all known, and nothing would make us fail when returning. We were at the South Pole, as intended. Farewell. Nice to remember you and your kindness.

Your R. Scott

Were also found letters addressed to Scott's mother, his wife, brother-in-law and several other friends. Of these letters are the following excerpts:

“... It is a pity that happiness did not smile at us, because our equipment was correct to the smallest detail.

I will not suffer physically and leave this world free from the straps and full of excellent health and strength.

From the time I wrote the above lines, we were 11 miles from our warehouse, with one hot meal and a two-day supply of cold. We would cope with adversity, do not hold us for four days the worst storm. I believe that there is no chance of salvation. We decided not to kill ourselves, but to fight to the end, making our way to this warehouse, but in this struggle came a painless end.

Interest the boy with a natural story if you can; it's better than games. In some schools this is encouraged. I know you will keep it in clear air.

Most of all he must beware of laziness, and you must guard him from her. Make a person of him active. I, as you know, had to force myself to be active - I always had a tendency to be lazy.

How much I could tell you about this journey! How much better it was for quiet sitting at home in conditions of every kind of comfort! How many stories would you have for a boy! But what you have to pay for this price!

Tell Sir Markham that I often remembered him and never once regretted that he appointed me to command Discovery.


The causes of the disaster are not caused by the shortcomings of the organization, but bad luck in those risky enterprises that had to be undertaken.

1. The loss of equestrian transport in March 1911 made me go on a journey later than I had anticipated, and forced us to reduce the amount of cargo transported.

2. Bad weather during a trip to the pole and especially a long storm at 83 ° S. sh. delayed us.

3. Soft snow on the lower approaches to the glacier again lowered our speed.

We persistently struggled with these annoying circumstances and defeated them, but this affected the reduction of our food reserve.

Every detail of our food allowance, clothing and warehouses, arranged on the inner ice sheet and throughout all these long 700 miles to the pole and back, were thought out perfectly. The advance detachment would have returned to the glacier in excellent condition and with excess food, if it had not failed, to our amazement, the man whose death we least could have expected. Edgar Evans was considered the strongest man of the entire squad.

Glutcher Birdmore is not difficult in fine weather, but on the way back we didn’t have a single really good day. This circumstance in connection with the illness of the comrade incredibly complicated our already difficult situation.

As I said elsewhere, we hit a region of terribly uneven ice, and Edgar Evans had a concussion. He died a natural death, but left our detachment in frustration, and autumn unexpectedly quickly approached.

But all the above facts were nothing compared to the surprise that awaited us at the Barrier. I insist that the measures we took to return were quite sufficient and that no one in the world could have expected the temperature and condition of the way we met at this time of year. On the plateau at a latitude of 85–86 °, we had -20 °, -30 °. At the Barrier at a latitude of 82 °, 10,000 feet lower, we had a fairly regular daytime of -30 °, at night -47 °, with constant wind otherwise during our daytime crossings. It is clear that these circumstances occurred completely suddenly, and our catastrophe, of course, is explained by this sudden onset of severe weather, which seems to have no satisfactory explanation. I don’t think anyone has ever had to go through the month we’ve gone through! And we would still manage, despite the weather, if it were not for the illness of our second companion, Captain Ots, and not for the lack of fuel in our warehouses, the reason for which I cannot understand, and, finally, if it were not for the storm that flew on us 11 miles from the warehouse where we hoped to pick up our last stocks. Right, you can hardly expect more bad luck - it was the last blow. We arrived at the 11th mile from our old camp. One ton with fuel for one last meal and two days' supply of food. For four days we were unable to leave the tent - the storm howls around us. We are weak, it is difficult to write, but I personally do not regret this journey. It showed that the British can endure hardships, help each other and meet death with the same stately courage as in the past. We took risks, we knew we were taking risks. Circumstances turned against us, and therefore we have no reason to complain. We must bow down before the will of providence with the determination to do to the end what we can. But if we wanted to give our lives for this cause, for the honor of our homeland, then I appeal to my compatriots to take care of our loved ones.

If we were still alive, then what story would I tell about the strength, endurance and courage of my comrades!

My jagged lines and our dead bodies should tell this story, but, of course, of course, our great and rich country will take care that our loved ones are properly provided.

R. Scott

Source: Scott R. Expedition to the South Pole. 1910-1912 Farewell letters / Trans. from English V. A. Ostrovsky, Ed. M. G. Deeva. - Moscow: Drofa, 2007. - 559 p. - (Travel Library)

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Image lead: telegraph. co. uk

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