On this day 100 years ago, Ernest Shackleton and his team reached 88° 23' S 162° E and planted the Union flag marking the point as the "Furthest South" yet achieved by man.
Having reached a point just 97 nautical miles from the South Pole, and realising that dwindling rations meant they had to turn back or die from starvation, Shackleton made his momentous decision to head north again. He was later to write to his wife, Emily, that "it was better to be a living donkey than a dead lion".
His diary entry for the day can be seen below courtesy of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
9 January 1909
The last day out we have shot our bolt and the tale is 88.23 S 162 E. The wind eased down at 1 am. At 2 am we were up and had breakfast and shortly after 4 am started south with the Union Jacks and the brass Cylinder of Stamps. At 9 am hard quick marching we were in 88.23 and there hoisted H.M.'s flag took possession of the plateau in the name of H.M. and called it King Edward Plateau. Homeward Bound. Whatever regrets may be we have done our best.
The flag which Shackleton planted at the "Furthest South" had been presented to him by the King and Queen. He recorded in his diary "On the Sunday (4th August) we were anchored at Cowes, and their Majesties the King and Queen, their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, the Princess Victoria, Prince Edward and the Duke of Connaught came on board. The King graciously conferred upon me the Victorian Order, and the Queen entrusted me with a Union Jack, to carry on the southern sledge journey." The flag now hangs in the Scott Polar Research Institute (see below).
Posted by SCE on January 9, 2009 5:00 PM