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Shackleton’s Influence

When you spend a large amount of time in extreme conditions, doing extreme things, it is not long before you start to hear about other people who have done similar things well before your time.

It was one such person, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton that Baz Gray came across whilst serving on the Royal Navy’s Antarctic patrol vessel HMS Endurance in 2005. Of course, Baz had heard of him before, but it was not until 2005 that he really started to understand him and research him further.

Standing in Antarctica on an extremely severe weather day really puts things into perspective. To do this and be lucky enough to be standing where Shackleton was 95 years earlier was truly inspiring. It is tough enough with full modern clothing and a full support team let alone to be alone with absolutely no hope of rescue and very minimal and inadequate equipment.

In 2013 Baz was to become part of a six-man team that would successfully re-enact the very journey Shackleton and five other men would embark on to rescue the remaining 22 men left on the very small and extremely inhospitable Elephant Island. It would be a journey of 800 miles across the roughest ocean on the planet to South Georgia. They would then have to cross the intrepid internal mountains of South Georgia to Stromness harbour.

The original journey was famously described by Sir Edmond Hillary as “One of the most remarkable stories of survival ever told”

The Discovery Documentary, “Shackleton Death or Glory” was made in order to tell the story of this successful modern-day adventure.

Since then Baz has remained a huge fan, not only Shackleton but the entire Heroic Age of Exploration and is a regular speaker in schools and many other venues on the subject. He is very close to the Shackleton family and the Hon Alexandra Shackleton is delighted to be Baz’s Patron for a second time.

Below you can read about one of Baz’s true inspirations.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Born in Kilkea, Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, Shackleton and his Anglo-Irish family moved to Sydenham in suburban south London when he was ten. His...
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Away from his expeditions

Away from his expeditions, Shackleton's life was generally restless and unfulfilled. In his search for rapid pathways to wealth and security, he launched business ventures which failed to prosper, and he died heavily in debt. Upon his death, he was lauded in the press but was thereafter largely forgotten, while the heroic reputation of his rival Scott was sustained for...
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From early childhood

From early childhood, Shackleton was a voracious reader, a pursuit which sparked a passion for adventure. He was schooled by a governess until the age of eleven, when he began at Fir Lodge Preparatory School in West Hill, Dulwich, in south-east London. At the age of thirteen, he entered Dulwich College. The young Shackleton did not particularly distinguish himself as...
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Early sailing career

In 1898 Shackleton joined Union-Castle Line, the regular mail and passenger carrier between Southampton and Cape Town. He was, as a shipmate recorded, "a departure from our usual type of young officer", content with his own company though not aloof, "spouting lines from Keats [and] Browning", a mixture of sensitivity and aggression but, withal, sympathetic. Following the outbreak of the...
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The farthest South

Stewart Clarence Hare was "the most popular of the officers among the crew, being a good mixer", though claims that this represented an unofficial rival leadership to Scott's are unsupported. Scott chose Shackleton to accompany Wilson and himself on the expedition's southern journey, a march southwards to achieve the highest possible latitude in the direction of the South Pole. This...
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Sent home by Scott

On 4th February 1903, the party finally reached the ship. After a medical examination (which proved inconclusive), Scott decided to send Shackleton home on the relief ship Morning, which had arrived in McMurdo Sound in January 1903. Scott wrote: "He ought not to risk further hardship in his present state of health." There is conjecture that Scott's motives for removing...
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Beginnings of Nimrod

In 1905 Shackleton became a shareholder in a speculative company that aimed to make a fortune transporting Russian troops home from the Far East. Despite his assurances to Emily that "we are practically sure of the contract", nothing came of this scheme. He also ventured into politics, unsuccessfully standing in the 1906 General Election as the Liberal Unionist Party's candidate...
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Nimrod arrived at McMurdo Sound

Nimrod arrived at McMurdo Sound on 29 January but was stopped by ice 16 miles (26 km) north of Discovery's old base at Hut Point. After considerable weather delays, Shackleton's base was eventually established at Cape Royds, about 24 miles (39 km) north of Hut Point. The party was in high spirits, despite the difficult conditions; Shackleton's ability to communicate with each...
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Shackleton’s return home

On Shackleton's return home public honours were quickly forthcoming. King Edward VII received him on 10 July and raised him to a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO); in the King's Birthday Honours list in November, he was made a knight, becoming Sir Ernest Shackleton. He was honoured by the Royal Geographical Society, who awarded him a Gold Medal;...
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Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition

Shackleton published details of his new expedition grandly titled the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition", early in 1914. Two ships would be employed; Endurance would carry the main party into the Weddell Sea, aiming for Vahsel Bay from where a team of six, led by Shackleton, would begin the crossing of the continent. Meanwhile, a second ship, the Aurora, would take a supporting...
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Leaving South Georgia

The known dogs names were Rugby, Upton Bristol, Millhill, Songster, Sandy, Mack, Mercury, Wolf, Amundsen, Hercules, Hackenschmidt, Samson, Sammy, Skipper, Caruso, Sub, Ulysses, Spotty, Bosun, Slobbers, Sadie, Sue, Sally, Jasper, Tim, Sweep, Martin, Splitlip, Luke, Saint, Satan, Chips, Stumps, Snapper, Painful, Bob, Snowball, Jerry, Judge, Sooty, Rufus, Sidelights, Simeon, Swanker, Chirgwin, Steamer, Peter, Fluffy, Steward, Slippery, Elliott, Roy, Noel, Shakespeare,...
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An epic survival story

Elephant Island was an inhospitable place, far from any shipping routes; rescue upon chance discovery was very unlikely. Consequently, Shackleton decided to risk an open-boat journey to the 720-nautical-mile-distant South Georgia whaling stations, where he knew help was available. The strongest of the tiny 20-foot (6.1 m) lifeboats, christened James Caird after the expedition's chief sponsor, was chosen for the trip....
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The Rescue

Shackleton immediately sent a boat to pick up the three men from the other side of South Georgia while he set to work to organise the rescue of the Elephant Island men. His first three attempts were foiled by sea ice, which blocked the approaches to the island. He appealed to the Chilean government, which offered the use of Yelcho,...
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The final years

Four months after the 11 November 1918 Armistice was signed, Shackleton was back in England, full of plans for the economic development of Northern Russia. Specially appointed a temporary honorary major on 25 April 1919, Shackleton served with the Northern Russia Expeditionary Force in the Russian Civil War under the command of Major-General (later Field Marshal Lord) Edmund Ironside. For his...
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Loss of a legend

In the early hours of the next morning, Shackleton summoned the expedition's physician, Alexander Macklin, to his cabin, complaining of back pains and other discomfort. According to Macklin's own account, Macklin told him he had been overdoing things and should try to "lead a more regular life", to which Shackleton answered: "You are always wanting me to give up things,...
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Life after the man

During the ensuing decades, Shackleton's status as a polar hero was generally outshone by that of Captain Scott, whose polar party had by 1925 been commemorated on more than 30 monuments in Britain alone, including stained glass windows, statues, busts and memorial tablets. A statue of Shackleton designed by Charles Sargeant Jagger was unveiled at the Royal Geographical Society's Kensington...
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End of the Heroic Age

Shackleton's death marked the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, a period of discovery characterised by journeys of geographical and scientific exploration in a largely unknown continent without any of the benefits of modern travel methods or radio communication. In the preface to his 1922 book The Worst Journey in the World, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of Scott's team...
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