Date: 14 January 2012.
One hundred years ago, Captain Scott led the British
expedition to reach the South Pole. Amongst his team was a soldier, Captain
Lawrence Oates. Oates was selected by Scott to be amongst the five-man team to
march 1000 miles south to the Pole and then man haul their sledges the 1000
miles back to their base camp.
The conditions were horrendous. Constantly held up by
100-mile an hour storms they were running seriously short of food; they were
suffering from scurvy and, in the -40 C temperatures, they were suffering badly
from frostbite. Oates, in particular, had such badly frostbitten feet that he
was unable to walk as fast and as far as his comrades.
In the middle of a storm, he left the tent in which they
lay with the words “I’m just going outside, and may be some time”. He knew he
was crawling to his certain death. He sacrificed his own life to give his
comrades the chance of survival. Thus died “a very gallant
At home in the UK, Oates was an adventurous cruising
yachtsman and had been elected a member of the Royal Cruising Club. The club
thrives to this day, and Richard, Venetia and I are members.
Today we were honoured to present a tribute to Lawrence
Oates on behalf of the RCC to the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust who run the museum
at the one time British scientific research station here at Port Lockroy. It has
been placed on public display. It is a frame in which there is the RCC burgee
and a brass plaque inscribed:
In tribute to
Captain Lawrence Oates RCC
on the centenary of his death
The Royal Cruising Club
to the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust
at Port Lockroy, Antarctica