The Ernest Shackleton Story
The Ernest Shackleton story is one of the most amazing survival stories of all time. Not only was Ernest Shackleton a brave explorer with the mindset of a true survivor, he also managed to save himself and his crew from an unimaginable survival situation.
Ernest Shackleton – Early Life
Ernest Shackleton was born on 15th February 1874. He was born in Ireland but was raised for the majority of his childhood in London. Shackleton was destined from an early age to be different from the rest. He broke away from following in his fathers footsteps and chose not to go to medical school. Instead Ernest Shackleton joined the Merchant Navy at 16 years old. By the time he was 18, he had already earned the rank of First Mate. Six years later, Earnest Shackleton had become a Certified Master Mariner.
Shackleton’s time in the Merchant Navy saw him travel a great deal. This experience finally led him to joining the well known British Naval Officer and Explorer, Robert Falcon Scott on what would be a very difficult trek to the South Pole. This expedition would aim to lead Shackleton, Falcon Scott and one other, closer to the South Pole than anyone had previously achieved. Unfortunately for Ernest Shackleton, he became seriously ill on the expedition and had to return home before reaching the destination.
From the 3 man expedition to the South Pole that he had to leave, there was now a fire and passion for exploration lit in Ernest Shackleton. He was now highly motivated and driven to become the first man to set foot on the South Pole. In 1907, Shackleton made a second attempt to reach the pole. He managed to get within 97 miles of it before he was forced to turn back due to extreme weather conditions.
Ultimately, Ernest Shackleton was never able to reach his dream of being the first person to reach the South Pole. Norwegian Explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911. This achievement meant Ernest Shackleton needed a new goal. He decided to dedicate himself to crossing Antarctica via the South Pole.
August 1st 1914 is a date set in History as the day Germany declared war on Russia. This was also the day Ernest Shackleton departed London on his ship ‘The Endurance’ for his third expedition to the South Pole. By the time the end of Autumn arrived, Shackleton and his crew had reached South Georgia. South Georgia was an island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Shackleton and his Crew eventually departed from South Georgia for the next leg of their journey on December 5th 1914. Unbeknown to the men, amazingly, this would be their last time on dry land for 497 days!
Ernest Shackleton’s bad luck on expeditions continued in January 1915 when The Endurance became trapped in the Arctic ice. This led Ernest Shackleton and his Crew to set up camp on a section of floating ice. Later on in 1915, The Endurance would sink underneath the icy waters. Shackleton eventually tried to lead his crew to rescue in April 1916. All crew members crowded into 3 small life boats and set sail for Elephant Island.
After 7 gruelling days at sea, The Endurance Crew reached Elephant Island. It soon became apparent that there was very little chance of rescue from this island as it was located so far outside of normal shipping lanes.
Ernest Shackleton realised that staying put on the island would ultimately lead to the death of the entire crew. He took decisive action and selected 5 of his men to accompany him on a self rescue mission. His plan was to head back to South Georgia and find help. The 6 men boarded a 22 foot lifeboat and headed for their destination. After 16 days at the mercy of the ocean, the men reached South Georgia once more. Shackleton then trekked to a whaling station where a rescue mission was organised.
Shackleton returned to Elephant Island on August 25th 1916 to rescue the rest of his crew who had remained on Elephant Island.
Shackleton and all 28 Crew Members survived for close to 2 years stranded in the Arctic.
Ernest Shackleton – a true survivor!