Presentation of a Tribute to Lawrence Oates on Behalf of the RCC
Position: 64:49.43S 063:29.285W
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 gentleman”.
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