17 Jan 2012

Captain Scott – 100 years on

The granddaughter of one of Britain’s greatest tragic heroes, Captain Scott, makes an impassioned plea for people to remember his famous expedition as “more than a race to the South Pole”.

Speaking at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the first British team reaching the pole, Dafila Scott said she hoped the Terra Nova expedition would be remembered for its scientific legacy and testament to human strength as well as its crushing end.

Captain Robert Scott and his team were famously beaten to the pole by Norwegian Roald Amundsen, arriving 33 days after him on January 17, 1912. But facing extreme cold and fatigue, the team died on their return journey in the knowledge that they had completed their mission, but failed to come first.

Dr Scott, who lives near Cambridge, said: “Today is very much a day of mixed emotions. We are enormously proud of the wonderful achievements of my grandfather and the rest of the expedition. Both in scientific terms and as a feat of human endeavour, the expedition was much more than a simple race to the pole.

“Of course it came to a tragic end and that is something of personal sadness to the families. But enough time has gone by for us to be able to reflect on their legacy and we can share in the national pride in the expedition.”

Extreme cricket

The 100th anniversary of the ill-fated mission is being marked through a series of events – both in the UK and in the South Pole.

These have included an “extreme” cricket match on the banks of the Pole, played by a team of British adventurers led by former SAS officer Neil Laughton.

Both in scientific terms and as a feat of human endeavour, the expedition was much more than a simple race to the pole. Dafila Scott

Britain beat the rest of the world by two wickets in a match which saw players using a high visibility orange ball, swathed in bulky clothing, sliding on ice and braving temperatures plunging as low as minus 35C (minus 31F).

Descendants, politicians, historians and scientists also gathered at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge this morning for a symposium to consider Scott’s legacy.

Scott’s achievements

The institute has put a special ehibition on display, These Rough Notes: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition, which includes manuscript material, including the planning of the trip and diaries of the men on the search party who discovered the fate of Scott and his men.

The institute was founded as a memorial to Scott and his four companions. Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, said: “The centenary gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on Scott’s achievements and his legacy and to celebrate a century of Antarctic science.

“The institute’s education and outreach activities are designed to encourage the next generation of young people to take up careers in polar science and to be inspired by Scott’s example.”

In December 2011, a group of serving British soldiers trekked across the Antarctic ice to follow in the explorers’ footsteps. It was the first time anyone had attempted to re-enact the race since the original expedition.