From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s ‘Antarctics’ in the First World War: Strathie, Anne
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From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s ‘Antarctics’ in the First World War

Author(s): Strathie, Anne

Copyright: 2015, UK
Specifications: 1st, 8vo, pp.224, 13 color & 37 bw photos, 14 maps, appendices, white cloth
Condition: dj & cloth new

February 1912: Harry Pennell and his Terra Nova shipmates brave storms and ice to bring supplies to Antarctica. They hope to celebrate Captain Scott’s conquest of the South Pole, but are forced by ice to return north before Scott’s party returns. In New Zealand a reporter tells them that Roald Amundsen reached the Pole first. Returning to Antarctica in early 1913, they learn that Scott’s party reached the Pole but died on the ice shelf.

Back in Britain memorial services, medal ceremonies, weddings and resumed careers are abruptly interrupted by the First World War. Fit and able men, Scott’s ‘Antarctics’ trade one adventure for another. Strathie concentrates on the less-well-known expedition members, including Victor Campbell (Siege of Antwerp and North Russia campaign), Cecil Meares (Ypres), Tryggve Gran (Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps) and Edward Nelson (Gallipoli and Somme), interspersed with chapters covering groups of men (scientists, naval officers, Herbert Ponting, etc.). Four died in the war (Harry Pennell, Henry Rennick, Alfred Cheetham and New Zealander Jim Dennistoun), but a lot of others were injured or lost brothers. They serve on horseback, in trenches, on battleships and hospital ships, in armoured cars and flimsy aircraft; their brothers-in-arms include a prime minister’s son and poet Rupert Brooke. As in Antarctica, life is challenging and dangerous. As on the ice, not all survive.

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