20/5/1916 “The world is mad”: Shackleton emerges from Antarctica

In the summer of 1914, Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton was preparing for an ambitious attempt to traverse the frozen wastes of Antarctica. The war’s outbreak did not delay his mission; Shackleton was ordered to proceed by Winston Churchill himself, the then First Lord of the Admiralty.

Things went awry for the Shackleton expedition. Their ship was caught in ice for months and then sunk. The men found refuge on the remote Elephant Island, but knew they were unlikely to be rescued from here. So Shackleton and five others set off on a 720 nautical mile journey for help to South Georgia and its whaling station. After two weeks at sea in an open boat, they landed on the island’s south coast. Shackleton and two of his men then hike across the inhospitable interior, never previously traversed, to reach the whaling station.

When he meets the manager of the whaling station, Shackleton asks when the war ended. “The war is not over,” the manager replies. “Millions are being killed. Europe is mad. The world is mad.”

Shackleton’s account of his arrival at the whaling station in South Georgia

image source:

Ernest Shackleton after his ship’s loss (Wikipedia)

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