Friday, 16 March 2012

"I am just going out and may be some time" Capt Oates 100 years ago today

"I am just going out and may be some time"

As a young boy growing up in rural England I had my parents old books to read.
Boy's own tales of heroes of the British Empire... Cecil Rhodes, Dr Livingstone, the heroics of Robert Baden-Powell filled the pages and fueled a young mind... When I grew up I wanted to be an explorer.

One story of adventure and heroism stood out... the heroes of this tale didn't survive... they froze to death in the harshest of environments Antarctica... trying to be the first to reach the South Pole.


Captain Robert Falcon Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on the 17th of Jan 1912 only to find they had been preceded by Roald Admundsen's Norwegian expedition.
They all perished on the return journey and it's gone down in history as a heroic effort.
One man in the party's story really captured my imagination..

Captain Lawrence Oates
"I am just going out and may be some time"

These were the last recorded words of Captain Lawrence (Titus) Oates.
Lawrence Oates suffered from a gunshot wound to his thigh during the Boar War which left it shattered and his left leg an inch shorter than his right leg.

It was this old injury that caught up with him in the freezing conditions of the Antarctic.

On the 15th of March Oates told his companions that he could not go on and proposed that they left him in his sleeping bag... which they refused to do.
He managed a few more miles that day but his conditioned worsened during the night.

Waking on the morning of the 16th of March he recognized the need to sacrifice himself in order to give the others a chance of survival.
He walked out of the tent forgoing the pain and effort of putting his boots on... into a blizzard and -40c temperatures to his death... his body has never been recovered.

Lawrence Oates was just 31 years of age... when he gave up his life.
This event happened one hundred years ago today.

15 comments:

cieldequimper said...

I used to be captivated by all polar expeditions and loved visiting the Fram in Oslo.

Did you take your header photo in Versailles? :-)

Carole M. said...

such heroes; tragic ending. When I see shows of people getting frostbite on the mountains and almost losing their lives, but losing toes or fingers instead you have to wonder really what drives them to endure such arduous conditions. Great post, in recognition of a courageous party of men.

The Herald said...

A fitting tribute to one of the many brave men from our recent history Andrew. Heroes all of them!...[;o)

Bob Bushell said...

Lawrence Oates R.I.P

TexWisGirl said...

interesting tidbits of history.

holdingmoments said...

A sad story indeed Andrew.
That has to be one of the most famous quotes of all time.

barbara l. hale said...

What a story! Amazing sacrifice.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Even the explorers/adventurers of today who take on the harsh conditions of the poles have a tough go of it. What the fascination of that cold bleak wilderness is, I don't see it. Then I snivel anytime the temperature dips below 50F anyway.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

These are the very types of stories in books that fascinate me as well. Thanks for sharing!

Sallie (FullTime-Life.com said...

Oh a sad story, but how heroic this young man was.

TexWisGirl said...

definitely not famous to me, but can't say i'm that well-read...

Lap Dog Knits said...

Very interesting...thanks for blogging this - a special man

Gillian Olson said...

Very interesting story, thank you for sharing. In those days without modern methods of communication, and without the specialized clothing and shelter that we have now they were very brave indeed.

Magia da Inês said...

º°❤ Bom fim de semana!
°º✿ Beijinhos.
º° ✿ ✿⊱╮ Brasil

Shaun_ShutterBug said...

There is a really good exhibition of the life and work of Captain Scott in Cardiff museum. I went there on a recent trip as was really good and informative.