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Date: 1914-1916

After Roald Amundsen successfully reached the South Pole in December 1911 Sir Ernest Shackleton looked for a new challenge. In 1913 he announced that he would lead an expedition which would be the first to cross the Antarctic continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. Expedition ship Endurance would land Shackleton and a crossing party on the Weddell Sea side where they would pioneer a rout to the South Pole before journeying across the polar plateau and descending the Beardmore Glacier to the Ross Ice Shelf. A second ship – the Aurora – would take a party to the Ross Sea to lay depots out along the ice shelf for the crossing party to pick up. While the crossing was being undertaken Endurance scientific staff would also carry out work in the Weddell Sea region. Leaving England on the outbreak of the First World War, Endurance sailed to South Georgia where final preparations were made. Sailing into the Weddell Sea the ship became beset and drifted for ten months before being crushed in the pack ice sinking in November 1915. With the goal of crossing the continent abandoned and the expedition became one of survival. The entire company (28 men) spent five months camped on the ice before escaping in the three lifeboats to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands. Two of the lifeboats were made into a shelter for the company while Shackleton, Thomas Crean, Frank Worsley, Timothy McCarthy, Harold McNish and John Vincent sailed 1450Km to South Georgia in the James Caird. Arriving at South Georgia Shackleton, Crean and Worsley made the first major trek across the unmapped island to the whaling station at Stromness. The steam tug Yelcho rescued the men on Elephant island in August 1916.

Endurance Expedition chronometer - film