Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Steps of a Great British Hero; Recreating a Legend: Boatbuilder Adrian Donovan Lines Up a Plank

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Steps of a Great British Hero; Recreating a Legend: Boatbuilder Adrian Donovan Lines Up a Plank

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Selby

For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organisation, give me Scott...; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen; and if Im in a devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time. So said British explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard.

To the men on the 1914 Endurance expedition to Antarctica Sir Ernest Shackleton was hailed simply as the greatest leader that ever came on Gods earth, bar none. At the dawn of the World War I Shackleton set off aboard The Endurance with a crew of 25 to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. What followed is probably the worlds very greatest survival story.

When the ship became trapped in ice and eventually crushed, the men took to the ice floes, subsisting on a diet of mostly penguin, seal and sometimes dog, as the ice slowly broke up beneath them. In three small lifeboats they made it to the remote Elephant Island, a stinking storm-ravaged guano-covered spit of land. Theyd already survived for more than a year since The Endurance had first became trapped, and a world engulfed in war knew nothing of their plight. No one was looking for them.

What happened next has been heralded as one of the greatest small-boat-voyages ever undertaken. Shackleton, with a crew of five, set off in one of the lifeboats, the 22-foot James Caird, on an 800-mile voyage to find help in South Georgia. The success of the voyage relied heavily on Frank Worsleys brilliant navigation, with just a compass and sextant. If he got his calculations wrong they would miss the island and surely perish in the south Atlantic.

After 17 days and 800 miles the James Caird landed on South Georgia and the men were then faced with crossing an ice-covered mountain range to reach the whaling station from which they could mount a rescue bid for the crew left on Elephant Island. On August 30, 1916 the two-year ordeal ended without the loss of a single life.

Sixty years on, when Endurance survivor Lionel Greenstreet was asked how they all survived, the 82-year-old simply said: Shackleton.

These days the James Caird is on display at Shackletons old school, Dulwich College, but this is not the end of this incredible story. …

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