A series of pictures of Captain Scott’s ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic – many of them previously unseen – are to be auctioned by the family of a young member of the group. Darren Devine took an advance look at a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of one of history’s most epic adventures
Darren Devine, Western Mail
It records the long-forgotten thoughts of a young ship’s stoker on an expedition of discovery to the earth’s last unexplored continent. Edward Archibald McKenzie was no older than 17 when he took his place on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated journey to the South Pole aboard the Terra Nova from Cardiff a century ago.
And while charting their course through the Antarctic’s frozen wilderness McKenzie recorded their progress in a diary.Within its pages is a poignant account of the moment the Terra Nova’s crew realised they were in a race with the Norwegian group of explorers led by Roald Amundsen who would eventually beat them to the pole.
His entry for February 4, 1911 reads: “Soon after 4am we rounded the Bay of Whales and to our surprise we found the Norwegian expedition ship ‘Fram’ and we made fast to the ice just ahead of her being then three yards further south than the ‘Fram’.”
Alongside the diary McKenzie also painted pictures of the ice and retained mementoes like the cruet set and jug from Scott’s table, cutlery and hat bands.
The items are among a collection of over 30 lots – many unseen – being sold by McKenzie’s granddaughter and expected to make up to £30,000 at Derby auction house Bamfords.
Alan Judd, of Bamfords, said the collection was a massively exciting find for the auction house.
“Very occasionally in my job you see something like this and you go, ‘Oh my God,’ because when I was a child one of the first things you were taught at school was about Scott of the Antarctic.
“And to see items that had actually travelled with Scott, watercolours that McKenzie had painted, and other items like the autographs of all the Antarctic explorers – I felt like I was transported back there.”
After returning safely, McKenzie constructed a huge 10ft working model of the vessel that was used in shots for a John Mills film about the expedition.
Images by Herbert Ponting, the mission’s photographer, including one featuring the expedition’s members, signed by him and given to McKenzie, were also found among the mementoes.
The expedition included seven officers, along with the captain of the Terra Nova, Edward Evans, twelve scientists and 14 other men.
Alongside these an additional ship’s complement of 32, including McKenzie, made 65 in total.
Scott would be among a final party of five that reached the pole.
In January 1911 the Terra Nova anchored at McMurdo Sound, in the Antarctic, and began unloading before later Scott would be among a final party of five that reached the pole.
Scott’s heroic failure has passed into legend as he reached the pole only to discover that the Norwegian team had preceded him by 33 days.
And, of course, tragedy was to follow disappointment with the death of all five men on the journey back.
A later entry in January 1913 by McKenzie relates how he received the news of the death of the final five that included Welsh petty officer Edgar Evans, of Gower.
McKenzie wrote: “Jan 18th. Ship enters McMurdo Sound arriving off Cape Evans at 2pm. Cheese was exchanged between ships and shore parties.
“Commander Evans hailed Lieut Campbell and asked if all was well, we were completely horrified to hear in answer that the southern Party consisting of Capt Scott, Capt Oates, Dr Wilson, and Lieut Bowers also Petty Officer Evans had been lost on their return from the pole.”
The frozen bodies of three of the five were not discovered until nearly eight months after Scott’s final diary entry on March 29, 1912.
McKenzie’s granddaughter Jackie Church, from Derbyshire, said she was the last in the family line to inherit the collection relating to the momentous journey.
Her grandfather lied about his age and joined the Navy at 15, making him just 16 or 17 when he journeyed on the Terra Nova.
When the Terra Nova returned Mckenzie, who died in 1972, was involved in the First World War before joining the police and working on the Thames River Force.
Ms Church, from Derbyshire, said: “He met my gran before he went (on the Terra Nova) and wrote her love letters from the ship.
“He was a very forward-thinking character.
“He had his own ideas about things and would not be told what to do – I’m not sure how he survived in the Navy.”
The sale is held on May 26.
Original article with pictures of all the ites on sale here