Thomas Orde-Lees

In touch with the Shackleton expedition – literally.

Thomas Orde-Lees
photo by Frank Hurley – Public Domain

Although I am woefully far behind in processing and sharing images from our trip to the Falklands and South Georgia – over two months ago! – I still dream of those landscapes and the intense history behind them. Today (May 20) is celebrated in South Georgia as Shackleton Day, recognizing this day 107 years ago when Ernest Shackleton and two of his crew (Frank Worsely and Thomas Crean) stumbled into the tiny whaling station of Stromness, on the east side of South Georgia. That was their first contact with civilization since they had left South Georgia 18 months earlier, having failed in their expedition but accomplished one of the most incredible feats of survival and navigation ever recorded. (I’ve written about that story before.) I had the good fortune to walk in Shackleton’s steps during our visit in March, descending into Stromness just as he and Worsely and Crean had done a century earlier. (More on that hike to come later!) But since returning home I’ve had another amazing opportunity to connect with that incredible expedition: to read and to hold the diary of Thomas Orde-Lees, the expedition’s ski expert and storemaster. Read on!

Diary of Thomas Orde-Lees, written during the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica in 1914-16. (Collection of Rauner Library, Dartmouth College)
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