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Cope, John Lachlan

Cope, John Lachlan

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Dates: 1893-1947

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver)

John Lachlan Cope was born on 31 March 1893. He was educated at Tonbridge public school and studied medicine at Jesus College, Cambridge. Giving up his studies, he joined the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17 (Aurora), as biologist and surgeon. This expedition was organised by Ernest Henry Shackleton to meet the Endurance Party intending to sledge across Antarctica from the Weddell Sea. However, fast ice prevented Aurora from reaching Cape Royds, so the expedition landed at Cape Evans where in May 1915 Aurora was driven from her moorings by a blizzard, making return impossible. With minimal supplies, Cope and nine companions wintered at Cape Evans and laid depots southwards across the Ross Ice Shelf as far as Mount Hope. The seven survivors of the shore party were eventually rescued on 10 January 1917.

Returning to Britain, Cope served in the Royal Navy for the remainder of the First World War. Cope then organised and planned to lead the British Expedition to Graham Land 1920-22 (Svend Foyn), which originally promised opportunities for flight in Antarctic Peninsula. Cope and his second-in-command, George Hubert Wilkins, joined Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe and Maxime Charles Lester who had travelled south to Deception Island ahead of them. The party transferred to Andvord Bay, on the Danco Coast of Graham Land where they intended to set up a base. However, insufficient financial support curtailed the expedition, and Cope and Wilkins withdrew, leaving with the whalers.

Cope returned to Britain, resumed his medical studies and qualified as a doctor in 1933. He became a General Practitioner in London and in Birmingham. He died in November 1947.

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