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Rickinson, Lewis Raphael

Rickinson, Lewis Raphael

Alias: None

Title: Mr

Dates: 1883-1945

Nationality: British

Awards: Polar Medal (silver)

Lewis Raphael Rickinson was born in Lewisham, London. He obtained his Board of Trade Certificate of Competency as a First Class Engineer in May 1910, and had a special expertise in internal combustion engines.

Rickinson joined the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition as first engineer and shared a cubicle with second engineer Alexander Kerr; the two got along excellently. It was a strange selection of work for a man who was known to dislike cold weather. Nevertheless, he adapted very quickly and was described as popular, rather quiet, dark-haired, good-looking, and dependable.
Rickinson suffered badly during the boat voyage to Elephant Island, and he apparently had a mild heart attack at the landing. According to Shackleton: 'The blubber-stove was quickly alight and the cook began to prepare a hot drink. We were labouring at the boats when I noticed Rickenson turn white and stagger in the surf. I pulled him out of reach of the water and sent him up to the stove, which had been placed in the shelter of some rocks. McIlroy went to him and found that his heart had been temporarily unequal to the strain placed upon it. He was in a bad way and needed prompt medical attention. There are some men who will do more than their share of work and who will attempt more than they are physically able to accomplish. Rickinson was one of these eager souls. He was suffering, like many other members of the Expedition, from bad salt-water boils. Our wrists, arms, and legs were attacked. Apparently this infliction was due to constant soaking with sea-water, the chafing of wet clothes, and exposure' (Shackleton, 'South', 1919: 152).

Rickinson's heart problems resulted in him staying in the hut much of the time during the four and a half months on Elephant Island. But his attitude and efforts later resulted in him being awarded the Polar Medal in silver.

After Rickinson's return to England he married Marjorie Snell in 1918, and their marriage produced a son and a daughter. During the First World War, he served in the Royal Navy, afterwards becoming a naval architect and consulting engineer. Rickinson died at the age of 61 during the Second World War after being taken ill whilst serving as engineer commander at the shore-based HMS Pembroke.


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