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Hudson, Huberht Taylor

Hudson, Huberht Taylor

Alias: Buddha

Title: Mr

Rank: Commodore (Royal Naval Reserve)

Dates: 1886-1942

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver)

Huberht Hudson was born and raised in London. The son of a school principal who later became a vicar, he was given the Anglo-Saxon spelling of his first name. Hudson served with the British India Steam Navigation Company and the Royal Naval Reserve, and his extensive experience as a navigator saw him chosen by Shackleton over some 300 other candidates for that position on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Hudson received his nickname Buddha while at South Georgia. Hurley and other members of the expedition convinced him that a whaling station manager had invited him to a costume party, and they talked him into attending dressed as Buddha, with a bed sheet replacing most of his clothes and a tea-pot lid tied onto his head with ribbons. After struggling ashore through heavily blowing snow, he found that although the Norwegians were drinking, there was no costume party going on.

While living on the ice after Endurance was crushed, Hudson came to be considered the expedition's best penguin-catcher, which was not insignificant, as the birds were so important to the men's survival. When the three boats left for Elephant Island, Hudson was in command of the Stancomb Wills. However, during the journey he suffered what appears to have been a nervous breakdown. He nearly collapsed after the arrival at Elephant Island, and thereafter spent most of the time inside the hut struggling with his mental stability. Thomas Orde-Lees wrote that his breakdown was "remarkable for a man of such a fine physique; but it is often the case that powerfully built men do not endure hardship and exposure very well."

With Hudson not needing it, Frank Worsley took the navigator's sextant – which had been given to Hudson by friends a month before the start of the expedition – for the remarkable voyage to South Georgia. Meanwhile, Hudson also had to endure a badly infected abscess on his buttock. When Macklin operated on it without anaesthetic, he removed more than two pints of nasty-smelling liquid. After being rescued and returned safely to Punta Arenas, Hudson's mental and physical condition immediately improved. Within seemingly no time, he hurried home to participate in the war. Despite his problems, Hudson was later awarded the Polar Medal in silver.

During the First World War, Hudson served as a lieutenant on Q-ships (also called mystery ships), which were heavily armed merchant vessels that were designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks, so they could be sunk. He served again in the Second World War, when he was a commodore in the Royal Naval Reserve. He died in June 1942 when his ship, HMS Eaglet, was torpedoed and sank on its way home from Gibraltar.


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