Ernest Shackleton Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Death, Cause of Death | Who was Ernest Shackleton? Bio, Wiki

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Who was Ernest Shackleton?

Sir Ernest Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS FRSGS (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance found off coast of Antarctica

Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance found off coast of Antarctica
Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance found off coast of Antarctica

The “world’s most challenging shipwreck search” for one of the greatest legends of exploration history, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, lost more than a century ago in the icy waters of Antarctica, has succeeded.

The wreck has been found, 3,008 metres below the surface of what Shackleton described as “the worst portion of the worst sea in the world”. It was discovered on Saturday, the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s funeral, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust said.

The Endurance22 expedition, which set off from Cape Town a month ago, had “reached its goal”, said Dr John Shears, the veteran geographer who led the expedition. “We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search.”

He hoped people would be inspired by “what human beings can achieve and the obstacles they can overcome when they work together”.

Arcing across the submerged ship’s wooden stern is its famous name, preserved by the freezing waters and the absence of wood-eating organisms.

The Endurance was found off the coast of Antarctica, approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by its captain, Frank Worsley. It has not been seen since it was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in November 1915.

Ernest Shackleton Biography, Wiki

Ernest Henry Shackleton was born on February 15th 1874 in County Kildare Ireland, to where the family who were originally from Yorkshire, had moved. His father hoped for Ernest to enter the field of medicine, though Ernest had other ideas, at the age of 16 he joined his first ship sailing out of Liverpool in the merchant service.

He took naturally to a life at sea and progressed through the ranks, by the time he was 24 he was qualified to command a British ship anywhere she may be.

In 1901 he joined the British National Antarctic Expedition on board the Discovery under Captain Scott, he was invalided back to New Zealand a year before the end of the expedition. He busied himself however in fitting out the Discovery relief expeditions under the Admiralty Committee, and also helped in fitting out the Argentine expedition on the ARA Uruguay that went to the relief of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition.

He married Emily Mary Dorman in 1904 on his return from the Antarctic and the Discovery  Expedition and so followed a time pursuing a career back home as befitted a gentleman. He became secretary and treasurer of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, a post he resigned to contest the Dundee seat at the 1906 election as a Unionist candidate.

In this he was unsuccessful and found a position as personal assistant to William Beardmore head of a Glasgow firm of battleship builders and armour plate manufacturers.

Such normality did not suit Shackleton and he  took an expedition to Antarctica in 1907 on the Nimrod. On this expedition, Shackleton established a “furthest south” record for the time just 97 miles from the South Pole while another party form the expedition were the first to reach the magnetic South Pole – they also took the very first motor car to Antarctica.

After Amundsen and Scott had reached the South Pole in 1912, Shackleton thought that the next great conquest was to traverse the Antarctic continent from coast to coast via the pole and with this end, so set forth the Endurance expedition of 1914-17. Although this expedition was possibly the least successful Antarctic Expedition at the time in terms of achieving the goal – through no fault of planning or foresight – it became one of the greatest adventure stories of all time and enshrined Shackleton’s reputation in legend.

Return to England was once again an anti-climax and Shackleton spent a long time on a lecture tour circuit. He put together another expedition to Antarctica aboard the Quest in 1921 in an attempt to map 2000 miles (3200 km) of coastline and conduct meteorological and geological research.. By this time he was in poor health though was disguising it well from those around him, blaming muscular pains or the like.

He died of a suspected heart attack on board the Quest as she was at anchor in King Edward Cove, South Georgia at the age of 47 in 1922. Shackleton was buried on South Georgia and his death brought to a close the  “Heroic Age” of Antarctic exploration. The grave was marked by a headstone of Scottish granite in 1928.

Ernest Shackleton Biography Wikipedia
Ernest Shackleton
BornErnest Henry Shackleton
15 February 1874
Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland
Died5 January 1922 (aged 47)
Grytviken, South Georgia
Spouse(s)Emily Dorman ​(m. 1904)​
ChildrenRaymond Shackleton
Cecily Shackleton
Edward Shackleton
RelativesKathleen Shackleton (sister)
EducationDulwich College
AwardsCommander of the Royal Victorian Order (1909)
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1918)
Polar Medal with three clasps

What happened to Ernest Shackleton?

Ernest Shackleton is one of the giants of Antarctic exploration, many consider him to be the pre-eminent Antarctic explorer. It may come as some surprise therefore to learn that he was not actually part of any major successful discovery or exploration in Antarctica.

On the Discovery  expedition, he was invalided home early. On the Nimrod expedition, he was one of a party that failed by just 97 miles to be the first men to reach the South Pole and on the most famous expedition on the Endurance, the original goal was never even remotely achieved.

However the whole is certainly greater than the sum of the parts and despite a lack of obvious and glorious “firsts” what Shackleton achieved in his trips to Antarctica has never been equaled and stands in the annals of exploration as some of the most incredible and courageous adventures ever recorded. 

His legacy is of bravery in the face of adversity, of never letting down those who you have personally promised they can depend on you for a mutual goal even when the goal is lost, of personal responsibility, sacrifice and example that continues long after many would have forgiven him for giving up.

Yet Shackleton was forgotten for much of the 20th century until around the mid-1980’s when once again his achievements were recognized, currently (2015) he is perhaps lionized to a degree beyond what is fair in relation to other explorers of the Heroic Age, especially as there are other Antarctic “heroes” whose actual material achievements were much greater and have been forgotten.

Part of the reason is perhaps that he is seen as a guiding light for management consultants and trainers who think that by studying and following his example, they can sell more blue widgets in the suburbs – personally, I feel this perspective is demeaning to Shackleton and to all explorers and adventurers and smacks of a desperate attempt by those involved to imbue their chosen, ultimately trivial, pursuit with a nobility it does not deserve.

Shackleton is certainly a giant in the Antarctic roll call of heroes, like all real heroes he was flawed in parts of his life, but like all heroes, in that part of his life that called for heroism, he was not wanting.

Ernest Shackleton Career

Restless and bored of studies, he decided to go to sea. His father was able to secure him a berth with the North Western Shipping Company, aboard the square-rigged sailing ship, Hoghton Tower. In 1898, he was certified Master Mariner, qualifying him to command a British ship anywhere in the world, and joined the Union-Castle Line and transferred to the Tintagel Castle because of the Boer War.

In 1900, he was introduced to Llewellyn W. Longstaff the main financial backer of the National Antarctic Expedition then being organized in London. Longstaff recommended him to Sir Clements Markham, the expedition’s overlord.

He was appointed third officer to the expedition’s ship Discovery in 1901 and commissioned into the Royal Navy, with the rank of sub-lieutenant in the Reserves and thus his merchant navy services ended.

The Discovery Expedition, the brainchild of Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographical Society, was led by Robert Falcon Scott. Discovery departed London on 31st July 1901 and arrived at the Antarctic coast on 8th January 1902.

He accompanied Scott and Wilson on the expedition’s journey to achieve the highest possible latitude in the direction of the South Pole and they set a record of Farthest South latitude of 82° 17′.The march back to the ship was very difficult and he could not carry out his responsibilities. The party reached the ship in February 1903 and Scott sent him home on the relief ship.

On his return to England, his attempt to secure regular commission in the Royal Navy failed and he became a journalist, working for the Royal Magazine, but he did not find it interesting.Between 1904 and 1907, he accepted the secretaryship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, became a shareholder in a company and stood as liberal candidate in the General Election.

In February 1907, he presented to the Royal Geographic Society his plans for a British Antarctic expedition. The aim was the conquest of both the geographical South Pole and the South Magnetic Pole.

He worked hard and persuaded some wealth friends to contribute towards the expedition named Nimrod expedition. Nimrod sailed for the Antarctic from Lyttelton Harbor, New Zealand on January 01, 1908. Nimrod arrived at McMurdo Sound on 29 January 1908. After considerable delays due to bad weather, his base was eventually established at Cape Royds.

In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to set foot on the South Pole. Shackleton now set his sights on a new mark: crossing Antarctica via the South Pole.In 1914, he departed on the ship Endurance to the South Pole. Endurance got trapped in ice, forcing Shackleton to abandon the ship (that eventually sank), and set up camp on the floating ice.

They hoped that the ice would drift towards Paulet Island where they could access cached provisions. But it did not happen and they decided to head for the Elephant Island on their lifeboats. After five harrowing days at sea, the men landed their three lifeboats at Elephant Island, 346 miles from where the Endurance sank, the first time they had stood on solid ground in 497 days.

On August 25, 1916, he returned to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining members of his crew. Amazingly, none of his 28-men team died during the nearly two years they were stranded.

Ernest Shackleton FAQ’s

Who is Ernest Shackleton?

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS FRSGS (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

How did Ernest Shackleton die?

He died of a suspected heart attack on board the Quest as she was at anchor in King Edward Cove, South Georgia.

When did Ernest Shackleton die?

Ernest Shackleton died at the age of 47 in 1922.

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