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Shackleton in Punta Arenas (1916)
Weekly reports from "The Magellan Times" — the news as it happened

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Shackleton in Punta Arenas
from "The Magellan Times", 7 September 1916


Yelcho's Successful Expedition
Arrival at Punta Arenas
Indescribable Enthusiasm

On Friday evening [1st] and Saturday morning [2nd] rumours were rife in the town that the Yelcho's expedition to Elephant Island had been successful and that all the marooned men had been rescued. Where the rumours came from, no one knows.

On Sunday [3rd] at about eight o'clock in the morning news came through from Rio Seco that the Yelcho was on her way to Punta Arenas with Sir Ernest Shackleton and his rescued comrades on board.

The news spread like wild-fire; the firebells rang out to advise the populace; flags were hoisted, and the townspeople of all nationalities, hurried to the mole to give a Punta Arenas welcome to the intrepid men who have suffered so much in the cause of science and knowledge.

Never before, in the history of Magallanes, has a crowd been seen such as that which gathered to witness the entrance of the Yelcho. The Fire Brigades, the Batallon Magallanes, the Police Force, the Cruz Roja, the Boy Scouts and the Municipal Band were all present.

Several of the Municipal Authorities, representatives of the Navy and Army, and others went on board to congratulate Sir Ernest Shackleton and Comandante Pardo on the success of the expedition, and were introduced to the rescued men. These were:
Mr. Frank Wild, Second in Command of the Expedition.
Mr. J. Wordie, Geologist.
Mr. L. D. Hussey, Meteorologist.
Mr. R. S. Clark, Biologist.
Mr. J. T. James, Physicist.
Mr. G. E. Marston, Artist.
Dr. J. McIlroy, Doctor.
Dr. A. H. Macklin, Doctor.
Major Orde Lees, In charge of Motors.
Mr. F. Hurley, Cinematographer.
Mr. L. Greenstreet, First Officer.
Mr. H. Hudson, Second Officer.
Mr. A. Cheetham, Third Officer.
Mr. Rickensen, Chief Engineer.
Mr. A. J. Kerr, Second Engineer.
Messrs. How, Stevenson, Bakewell, McLeod and Holness, Able Seamen.
Mr. Green, Cook.
Mr. Blackborrow, Steward.

The last-named, unfortunately, was suffering from frostbite and was taken by the Cruz Roja to the hospital, where everything had been prepared to receive him. We are pleased to hear that he has since been successfully operated on and that he is well on the road to recovery.

At the end of the mole were His Excellency the Governor of the Territory, Don Fernando Edwards, the Commandante of the Batallon Magallanes, Mayor Espíndola, and other local authorities, Members of the Consular Corps together with a number of members of the British Colony and others.

As the two launches came alongside the mole, a royal cheer of welcome was raised and the Band struck up the Chilean Anthem.

Sir Ernest, on stepping ashore, was warmly welcomed by the Governor and others, and presented his comrades as they stepped onto the mole. A procession was formed, and headed by the Band, playing the British National Anthem, they marched down the mole with cheers for Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Chilean Navy and Comandante Pardo.

The procession headed for the Hotel Royal, amidst a huge and enthusiastic crowd of people shouting their welcome to the intrepid explorers.

On their arrival, Sir Ernest, from one of the upper windows of the hotel, presented his comrades, one by one, to the populace who greeted them with hurras and vivas.

Immediately on their arrival, arrangements were made to procure clothes, arrange for accommodation, fix up a hair-cutting establishment, and generally speaking, to give our friends a civilised appearance. Many of them were taken away to private houses to partake of the hospitality that Punta Arenas likes to show.

In the evening, a reception was held in the rooms of the British Association of Magallanes. Amongst those present were Sir Ernest Shackleton, Mr. Frank Wild, and the other members of the expedition, The Governor of the Territory, Admiral Lopez, Captain Vallejos, Messrs. Fco. Campos, Cervero, M. Iglesias, Mayer Braun, Lieut. Aguirre, Messrs. Burbury, Peet, McDonald, Dickson, Foulon, Jackson, Cook, Riesco, Myer, Richards, Clarkson, A. Cameron, Petersen, B. Townsend, Ross, L. Arentsen, Somerville, Bishop, F. H. Townsend, Hayes, C. A. Milward, L. Jacobs, A. Milward, Williams, Gilmour, Matheson, Jones, Cooper, Paton, Urra, A. Jacobs, W. Dickson, Pollock, Aiken, Nixon, G. Cameron and Rev. J. C. Cater. [Breen?]

Shortly after the arrival of the guests, the Vice-President of the Club, Mr. A. M. McDonald, in the name of the members, congratulated Sir Ernest on the success of the expedition and welcomed the party to Punta Arenas. He warmly thanked Admiral Lopez and Comandante Pardo for the gallant way in which they had organised and carried out the rescue of our fellow-countrymen, and asked all those present to drink the toast of the Chilean Navy, coupled with the names of Admiral Lopez and Comandante Pardo.

Mr. Hussy then obliged with a solo on the banjo which he has kept with him from the start of the expedition.

When the applause died down, Admiral Lopez, in an eloquent speech in English, said how pleased he was that the expedition had been successful and proposed the toast of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the members of the expedition. This was drunk with great enthusiasm.

Other songs, chiefly topical ones on the life in Elephant Island composed by the singers, were sung by Messrs. G. E. Marston, F. Wild, J. T. James, L. D. Hussey, and A. Cheetham.

Sir Ernest then got up and in a most brilliant speech (which we are sorry we cannot give verbatim) thanked the Chilean Navy, Admiral Lopez, Commandante Pardo, and the members of the British Association of Magallanes for the way in which they had worked for the rescue of his marooned men. This speech was received with immense applause.

Other songs were rendered, and other speeches made, amongst which was a notable one from Mr. Frank Wild, and a historic evening in the annals of the British Association eventually came to an end.

Immediately on his return, Sir Ernest despatched the following telegram to His Majesty, King George V.

Private Secretary,
Buckingham Palace,

Request you convey to the King with my humble respects following:-- Acceding my request, Chilean Government placed at my disposal steamer officered, manned, equipped. In this, under providence, we rescued all well our 22 comrades. I conveyed them His Majesty's gracious message of June 1st. They respectfully thank the King for his kindly interest. I desire, if in order, to add the safety and wellbeing of party was primarily due to qualities of leadership, tact, and force of character of Frank Wild, commander of party.

(Sgd) Shackleton.

and received the following message in reply:

(Windsor Castle)

Sir. E. Shackleton,
Punta Arenas

Most heartily rejoice that you have rescued your twenty two comrades all well. Congratulate you on the result of your determined efforts to save them and that success crowned your fourth attempt. I greatly admire the conduct of their leader Frank Wild which was so instrumental in maintaining their courage and hope. I trust you will soon bring them all safely home.

(Sgd) George R. I.


The following telegram of congratulation was received from the Director General of the Chilean Navy, Admiral Muñoz Hurtado:


Sir E. Shackleton,
Punta Arenas.

Please receive my warmest congratulations for successful result of enterprise due entirely to your decision and endeavour. The Chilean Navy, officers and men, have received the news of the rescue of the British sailors as if it were a rescue of wrecked men of our own.

(Sgd) Admiral
Muñoz Hurtado

Sir Ernest's Report
Yelcho's Success

Our fourth attempt to rescue our comrades has succeeded, and they are now all safe and well. The Chilean Government generously placed at my disposal the steamer Yelcho, under the command of Commandante Pardo, which was manned and equipped at the Government's expense. We left Punta Arenas on August 25th. I set a course this time to approach Elephant Island from the north-west, hoping that the ice had worked north-east. My hope was realised on August 30th. After steering in a fog through stranded bergs, I reached Wild's camp all well at one p.m. At 2 p.m. we were homeward bound. To the Chilean Government, to Admiral Muñoz Hurtado and to Admiral Lopez, I owe the deepest thanks for providing the means of rescue. In Commandante Pardo, who was in command of the Yelcho, and Lieutenant Aguirre we had skilled and enthusiastic sailors which largely contributed to the success of the expedition. The untiring energy of Señor José Beltrán, the Chief Engineer, also assisted to the same end. With Wild lies the credit of keeping together in strength and safety the party, under the most trying and difficult conditions. Also, I cannot speak too highly of Crean and Worsley, who have seen this through with me.

The Report of Mr. Wild
The Marooned Men's Story

The following is Mr. Frank Wild's report:

On the 25th of April, the day after the departure of your boat, the island was beset by dense pack. The party was confined to a narrow spit two hundred and fifty yards long by forty yards wide, surrounded by inaccessible cliffs and ice-laden seas. We abandoned the icehole, which was made untenable by the snow conditions, and made a dwelling with the two boats supported by rocks, as far as practicable from the sea. The weather continued to be appalling, and with the difficult work, the whole party's vitality was low, due to exposure. Several were frost-bitten. A heavy blizzard swept valuable gear into the sea. In May there was grave anxiety through the danger of being swept away by the heavy seas due to the blizzard's force of seventy miles per hour, but an ice-foot formed on the seashore as the temperature fell. This protection was the means of saving us from total destruction. On several occasions the adjacent glacier calved, throwing up heavy waves. On one occasion blocks of ice were hurled within fifteen feet of our dwelling.

Existence on the Island

Observing that we were beset, I realised the probable difficulty that our leader would have in effecting an early relief, and I drastically economised with the food, allowing one hot meal daily until our blubber reserve strengthened. Our valuable stock of bovril rations were used for two meals weekly, supplying a vital change of diet. Life was well maintained. Having arrived late in the season, nature's providence kept us in anxiety and our meat supply was constantly depleted, but was periodically replenished by small batches of penguins. Seals were unable to land owing to the icefoot. From June onwards the weather was better as regards the wind but there was a constant pall of fog and snowfalls. In midwinter we amputated Blackborrow's toes. Whenever the sea opened I had renewed hopes of relief. The three previous attempts synchronized with the times that the island was beset. In August we were able to collect seaweed and limpets, a valuable change of diet. The deep water, heavy sea, and ice prevented us from fishing.

The Rescue

On August 28th a gale expelled the pack from the island. On the 30th, through the lifting fog, we suddenly saw the Yelcho steering through the maze of stranded icebergs. An hour later we were homeward bound.

I wish to record the good morale of the party.

Reception in the British Association

On Wednesday afternoon [6th] a reception in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his comrades was held in the rooms of the British Association of Magallanes. About half-past three a large number of guests began to arrive and the scene became very animated. The decorations left nothing to be desired. The library was set apart for refreshments, the tables literally groaning under the weight of the good things provided. In another room a champagne buffet was arranged for the non tea-drinkers. After a short interval the refreshment room was thronged with a number of ladies, charmingly dressed and gallantly attended to by various gentlemen. Conversation and repartee helped to pass the tea time very pleasantly and soon it was announced that there would be dancing. Needless to say, after the band struck up, numerous couples proceeded to the billiard room to participate in this delightful form of recreation. We noticed that a number of our friends from Elephant Island have not forgotten how to dance in spite of their long absence from civilisation.

Dancing continued until about seven o'clock and most of the people regretted that they could not spend a few more hours in this form of amusement. Sir Ernest Shackleton passed most of the afternoon in conversation with distinguished officers of the Navy and Army and other members of the community, probably giving them information relative to his experience in Polar regions. During the whole afternoon his face was wreathed in smiles and he evidently impressed his hearers very much.

Practically all the town members of the British Association were present and materially assisted in making things pleasant for the visitors.

Amongst those present we noticed the following:-- Sir Ernest Shackleton, Messrs. F. Wild, Tom Crean, J. T. James, J. Wordie, L. D. Hussey, G. E. Marston, R. S. Clark, Doctors J. McIlroy and A. H. Macklin, Major Orde Lees, Capt. F. A. Worsley, Messrs. L. Greenstreet, H. Hudson, Rickensen, A. J. Kerr, H. E. Don Fernando Edwards, Señora Edwards, Señorita Edwards, Admiral Lopez, Capt. and Mrs. Vallejos, Comandante Espindola, Capt. Opazo, several naval, and army officers, Dr., Mrs. and Miss Lopez, Dr. and Ms. France, Dr. Munizaga, Mr. and Ms. Burbury, Mr. and Miss Perkins, Mr. and Ms. McDonald, Mr. and Mrs. Gallie, Mr. and Mrs. Riesco, Mr. and Mrs. Ewing, Mr. and Mrs. Walker, Mr. and Mrs. Nixon, Mr. and Mrs. Braun, Mr. and Mrs. Campos, Mr. and Mrs. Paton, Mr. and Miss Beaulier, Mr. and Mrs. Myer, Mr. and Miss Dickson, Mr. and Mrs. Somerville, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd, Miss McQuade, Miss Bridges, Miss Whittaker, Miss Goudie, Rev. and Mrs. Cater, Mr. and Mrs. T. Arentsen, Mrs. and the Misses Hamann, Miss Scott, Mr. and Mrs. Beynon, Mr. and Mrs. Goeminne, Mrs. Urzua, Mr. and Mrs. Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Aiken, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Miss Bell, Messrs. R. Stubenrauch, C. Cerveró, R. Suarez, Capt. Milward, Cap. Oakley, Messrs. Breen, Iglesias, Gomez, Peet, Townsend, Jacobs, Gilmour, Lethaby, Dixon, Bishop, Foulon, Cook, Cameron, Wood, Ward, Matheson, Jones, Cooper, Pollock, Baird, Burton and many others whose names we cannot remember.

A Tribute from the Chilean Army

The following address was delivered by Lieut Colonel Espindola:--

Sir Ernest Shackleton and members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, here amongst so many Englishmen I will endeavour to say a few words to you in English not as an honorary member of this Club, but to wish you, Sir Ernest and your companions, a hearty welcome to our country of Chile on behalf of the Chilean army whose hearts you have all stirred by your gallant enterprises and by the courageous manner in which you have braved and finally overcome all difficulties.

Your exploits add but another laurel to those of your great countryman Lord Cochrane, who has handed down so precious an inheritance to the Chilean Navy.

Our soldiers too are ever cognizant of the debt they owe to the glorious names of O'Higgins, Mackenna, Miller and O'Brien to whom our Independence is so largely due.

Sir Ernest, it affords me great pleasure to congratulate you upon the happy termination of your great Expedition.

Although Sir Ernest Shackleton did not succeed in crossing the Polar Continent,
he made one important discovery - Punta Arenas.

Other News Reports

A public Service of Thanksgiving for the rescue of Sir Ernest Shackleton's comrades in Elephant Island, will be held in St. James's Church on Sunday next [10th] at the hour of 5 p. m.

The entertainment in the Municipal Theatre on Tuesday evening [5th] in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions was a great success, every seat in the house being occupied.

The celebrated illusionist, Richiardi, was at his best and his conjuring was most clever and pleasing.

The charming señorita María Blasco sang several songs in her illimitable [sic] manner, and was encored again and again by her delighted audience. One of the surprises of the evening was her song of congratulation to Sir Ernest Shackleton on the rescue of his comrades through the gallantry of the Chilean Navy.

Sir Ernest Shackleton and the other members of the expedition were entertained at a tea-party on Monday afternoon [4th] by H. E. Don Fernando and Señora Edwards.

A banquet is being offered by the Club Magallanes to Sir Ernest Shackleton and the members of the expedition tonight.

On Saturday evening [9th] a Smoking Concert is being organised by the members of the First Company of Bomberos in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions.

We understand that the members of the Yugoslav colony in Punta Arenas have invited Sir Ernest Shackleton and the other members of his expedition to a tea party to be held in the Croatian Club on Saturday afternoon [9th].

[7 September 1916]

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