Robert Falcon Scott

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Robert Falcon Scott
Man with receding hairline, looking left, wearing naval uniform with medals, polished buttons and heavy shoulder decorations
Born 6 June 1868(1868-06-06)
Plymouth, Devon, England
Died 29 March 1912(1912-03-29) (aged 43)
Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica
Education Naval cadet programme, HMS Britannia
Occupation Royal Navy officer and Antarctic explorer
Spouse Kathleen Bruce
Children Peter Markham Scott, later Sir Peter Scott
Parents John Edward and Hannah Scott
 Map of a segment of Antarctica, identifying the polar marches of Scott and Amundsen. The track of Scott's journey shows the approximate locations of the deaths of the members of his polar party.
The routes to the South Pole taken by Scott (green) and Amundsen (red), 1911–1912.
Scott, writing his journal in the Cape Evans hut, winter 1911
Five men(three standing, two sitting on the icy ground) in heavy polar clothing. All look exhausted and unhappy. The standing men are carrying flagstaffs and a Union flag flies from a mast in the background. Scott's party at the South Pole. Left to right: Wilson; Bowers; Evans; Scott; Oates
Scott's group took this photograph of themselves using a string to operate the shutter on 17 January 1912, the day after they discovered Amundsen had reached the pole first.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott CVO, RN (6 June 1868 – 29 March 1912) was an English Royal Navy officer and explorer who died on an expedition to the South Pole. He is widely known as Scott of the Antarctic, the title of a 1948 movie.

Scott led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13.[1] Before his appointment to lead the Discovery Expedition, Scott had followed the conventional career of a naval officer in peacetime Victorian Britain, where opportunities for career advancement were keenly sought after by ambitious officers.

It was the chance for personal distinction that led Scott to apply for command of the Discovery.[2] His name became associated with the Antarctic, his field of work for the final twelve years of his life.

Terra Nova Expedition 1910–1913[change | change source]

During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition had got there first. On the return journey, Scott and his four comrades died from exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold. The tragic fate of his expedition is still remembered throughout the world.

Scott's leadership[change | change source]

After his death, Scott became a British hero. Almost all modern commentators say Scott was a great leader and person and ascribed his fate to misfortune.[3]

Scott took ponies, motorised sleds and ordinary sleds, which he pulled together with his man. He thought that the number of animals overworked and killed should be held as low as possible and considered his rival Roald Amundsen's approach as cruel.[4] Amundsen, on the other hand, just killed dog after dog and feed him, the men and the rest of the dogs with it and did not feel bad about it. The ponies helped travelling a great amount of distance to the pole, but some of them were so stubborn that the expedition members, especially Lawrence Oates, lost very much energy that was needed to get back from the pole. The sleds (which worked well at the start) eventually froze up. The dogs, of which there 36, were left behind on the final attempt on the Pole. One author thinks it was only Scott's reluctance to kill and rely on dogs, despite the advice of 2 other ice travellers, who also thought killing many animals was not wrong, and that only this lost him the race to the pole,[5] but keeps secret that Amundsen did not tell Scott of his plans, as everyone else says he should have and that the most important factors were the unnaturally cold temperatures and blizzards,[6] of which one even stopped their progress for 11 days (a much longer time compared with any other antarctic expedition) that cost the lives of him and his party.

References[change | change source]

  1. Cacho Gómez, Javier 2011. Amundsen-Scott: duel in the Antarctic Forcola, Madrid. ISBN 978-8-41-517431-8
  2. Crane, David 2005. Scott of the Antarctic: a life of courage, and tragedy in the extreme south. HarperCollins, London. ISBN 978-0-00-715068-7
  3. Ranulph Fiennes, Susan Solomon, David Crane, Stephanie Barczewski etc.
  4. Cherry-Garrard, Apsley 1970. The worst journey in the world: Antarctic 1910–13. 1965 ed, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, p343. ISBN 978-0-14-009501-2
  5. Huntford, Roland 1979 (1985). Scott and Amundsen. [later titled The last place on Earth] Modern Library Exploration, ISBN 978-0375754746 ISBN 0375754741
  6. Solomon - The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition