© 2004-2017

Patagonia Bookshelf

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

 <=     ǁ    July :  6   13   20   27     ǁ    August :  3   10   17   24   31     ǁ    September :  7   14   21   28     ǁ     => 

"The Magellan Times", 14 September 1916

Banquet in the Club Magallanes

On Thursday evening [7th] a magnificent banquet was arranged in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton and other Members of the South Polar Expedition, and Commandante Pardo of the Yelcho.

The room in which dinner was served was decorated with flags and evergreens, and two penguins on pillars mounted guard on each side of a large and speaking likeness of the intrepid explorer.

Over one hundred persons sat down to dinner, including, besides the guests, H. E. the Governor, Don Fernando Edwards, the Judge, Don Carlos Cerveró, the Commander-in-chief of the Naval Station, Admiral Lopez, the Commandante of the Batallon, Don Hijinio Espindola, the Captain of the Port, Captain Vallejos, the First Alcalde, Don Rodolfo Stubenrauch, and many others.

When the dinner was drawing to a close the President of the Club, Don Carlos Cerveró delivered a very telling speech of welcome to Sir Ernest Shackleton which was received with great applause. He subsequently handed him a certificate of membership of the Club Magallanes.

Shortly afterwards, Admiral Lopez in a few eloquent words reiterated the sentiments of the President, and announced the promotion of Commandante Pardo from Second to First Pilot, which news was greeted with deafening cheers.

Sir Ernest in a short speech of great feeling responded for himself and his comrades. He expressed the honour he felt in being present that evening and the deep debt of gratitude he owed to Chile and the Chilean Navy.

Other speeches were made by prominent members of the Club.

Reception in the Croatian Club

On Saturday afternoon [9th] the Yugoslav Colony in Punta Arenas gave an afternoon tea at the Croatian Club in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions, and of Commandante Pardo.

At the hour indicated a number of prominent citizens were present to receive Sir Ernest, and shortly after his arrival the company sat down to tea.

During tea, the president, Dr. Bencur, delivered a congratulatory speech of welcome, and expressed the warm feeling which the Yugoslavs have for England and their gratitude for the sympathy and aid of the British Nation.

Sir Ernest, on rising to respond, surprised everyone by speaking in Croatian:-- « Clanovi Jugosloveni, fala liepa na ljubavi. (Members of the Yugoslav Colony, I thank you heartily for your kind welcome.) That is all the Croatian I know, and I only learned it five minutes ago. I wish I could speak fluently in your language and in Spanish to express the sentiments in my heart. At the present moment I understand Spanish sufficiently well to follow the words of your President and others. I feel very deeply the honour conferred on myself and my companions and I thank you for it. » He went on to say how pleased he was to see such a considerable gathering of Yugoslavs and trusted that through the storms now sweeping across their country, they would soon see the blue skies of peace. « You have called England the Mother of Liberty. That is so. She has always felt it her duty to protect the smaller nations and so long as she remains a nation she will always stand for liberty ... Through this world war, we were fighting the elements in the far south and thinking it was all over; it came as a shock to us to realise the concentrated trouble of these years, but we all hope to take our share in it ... I wish to thank the President and you all and hope that you will safely come through all your difficulties ... I should like to thank you on behalf of Frank Wild, who was unable to be present. I cannot say too much for him: he is a man in a world of men. I again thank you for the honour in having us here today and I wish success and good fortune to Serbia and the Yugoslav League. »

After speeches by Mr. Bonacich, Captain Vallejos and others, Mr. Trutenich delivered the following speech in English:

« Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Members of the Expedition, Gentlemen:

I thank Sir Ernest for the gracious words he has spoken and we thank you all for your presence here, where you have been asked to come, that we may give you a small testimony of our joy because of the happy result of the «Yelcho's» mission in rescuing the gallant companions of Sir Ernest.

The joy of the Chilean Navy and of the British Nation is our joy too.

Chile is our home, and our mother country of adoption, so generous in allowing us to enjoy the freedom that has been denied to us in our old country.

Then, Britain's joy could not be but our joy. Fate brought together our people and the great British Nation, which has been so magnificently generous and sympathetic with our free brothers from Serbia and Montenegro in their sorrows. Then our representatives of the captive southern slav population, the Jugoslav Committee has been first acknowledged by the British Government and by it introduced to her allies, and it is in London that our Committee resides, while our brothers are fighting shoulder to shoulder with the gallant British soldiers against the common foe.

Britons are gallant always and everywhere. While you were fighting the elements for the benefit of science, your brothers were fighting for the liberty and rights of small nations. We are a small nation too and have found a powerful protector and friend in your great nation, and in every Britisher in this country, we have found an obliging friend and we thank them.

Our friendship, started in time of trouble, will flourish better in the after bliss of victory, when the young Yugoslav nation will be the most devoted ally of your great country, -- and meanwhile we wish you, when you have the chance, to be the interpreters to your countrymen of our eternal gratitude, and our wishes for the ever growing glory of the Queen of the Waves. »

During the afternoon the Croatian String Band played the Chilean, British and Serbian National Anthems and a selection of Croatian airs.

Reception in the First Company of Bomberos

On Saturday evening [9th] Sir Ernest Shackleton and his comrades were entertained by the First Company of Bomberos to a Smoking Concert held in their Club in the Calle Roca.

Shortly after the arrival of the guests, Don Francisco Campos made the following speech:--

« Sir Ernest Shackleton, Gentlemen,

I have had the privilege of being chosen to offer this reception, -- organized by a large representation of this town, under the auspices of the Fire Brigade, -- to honour Sir Ernest Shackleton and his comrades, and I only wish I could do it in a fitting manner in order to properly commemorate this memorable occasion.

We have followed with great interest Sir Ernest's plucky attempts to rescue his friends marooned in Elephant Island; we have shared his deep concern when the barrier of ice prevented him from reaching his goal, and we likewise share with him now his joy on the splendid success of his fourth and last attempt.

We are proud that Punta Arenas should have contributed in some form to attain this great achievement, and that a ship flying the Chilean flag, and manned by Chilean officers and men should have played such an important in the work of rescue.

This deed will add another glorious page to the traditions of the Chilean Navy.

Sir Ernest, the people of Punta Arenas have already shown you in a most eloquent manner their feelings on the occasion. As soon as the news of your approach became known, everybody rushed to welcome you and your party, with the same enthusiasm they would have shown to receive their warriors on the return of a hard earned victory.

They realized that you and your men had fought big battles against a formidable foe, against nature, all in the cause of science and knowledge.

The British Empire may be proud of having sons of the energy, determination and self-sacrifice of Sir Ernest and his companions. They all are fine specimens of the British race.

Sir Ernest Shackleton, please accept this reception as a further proof of the admiration of the people of Punta Arenas for your daring achievements, and as an expression of our joy at seeing you and yours in the midst of us, safe and sound.

Gentlemen, let us drink to the health of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his comrades. »

This was received with great applause.

A few minutes later Sir Ernest responded as follows:

« Mr. Campos and Gentlemen, I thank you for your hospitality. I have spoken on various occasions and my throat is a bit weak; I am suffering from what is known as the Yelcho throat. (laughter). I must express my deep sense of gratitude to the Chilean Nation, to the Chilean Navy and to Commandante Pardo, a debt of thanks I can never repay; also to Lieut. Aguirre who not only came on the Yelcho but came with me on the previous occasion in the Emma. He is also a fine example of the Chilean sailor. As British sailors we are in sympathy with Chile, what we did one hundred and four years ago you would do for us today. The prompt help given to us shows the feeling between Chile and Britain. Mr. Campos made a very eloquent speech. He was one of the chief men to moot the question of the other expedition and backed it up with a substantial donation. On behalf of myself and companions I want to express my thanks. Although 9,000 miles are between us and the homeland we have a second home here. But we shall go as missionaries from Punta Arenas and tell them what Punta Arenas is and what hospitality we have received here. »

This speech was received with great acclamation.

During the evening Sir Ernest entered into conversation with a number of those present. Shortly before his departure a speech was delivered by Don Juan Contardi. During Sir Ernest's eloquent response he said that for the last time he thanked them for all their kindness, and that of all the people he had met, Mr. Contardi was the one man who was familiar with the history of Polar exploration, so he knew he was on safe ground. He proposed, if acceptable, to look for a suitable article among the gear to be inscribed as a memento of their stay, not that any recuerdo was necessary but that in years to come their children might see it and know the kindness he had received there.

Throughout the evening the Municipal Band played an excellent selection which was evidently much appreciated.

Supper in the Second Company of Bomberos

Last night [13th] Comandante Pardo and the engineers of the Yelcho, and Sir Ernest Shackleton and the other members of the expedition were invited to a supper at the Club of the Second Company of Bomberos. About one hundred and fifty persons were present. Don Nibaldo Sanhueza, Director of the Second Company, presided, and had on his right and left hands respectively, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Comandante Pardo.

During supper, Señor Sanhueza delivered a speech, congratulating Comandante Pardo and the officers and crew of the Yelcho for the success of his mission to Elephant Island, and welcoming Sir Ernest and his companions. This was responded to by Comandante Pardo in his usually modest manner.

Sir Ernest, in a short speech, stated how pleased he was to again be shipmates with Comandante Pardo and that he was very anxious to see Valparaiso and Santiago but could not possibly receive a greater welcome than he had received in Punta Arenas. He also mentioned the great services rendered by Captain Vallejos. The speech was received with great applause.

During the evening the band played the Chilean National Anthem, Tipperary and other pieces, and several of these present contributed songs which helped to pass a very pleasant evening.

Picnic on the Racecourse

The goodwill of the community towards the voyagers reached its height on Sunday afternoon [10th] in the demonstration which took place on the racecourse. Except on that memorable day of the Yelcho's return, we have never witnessed anything in Punta Arenas to match the immense crowd which gathered to do the honours of high festival to our notable guests. The « Welcome » met the eye in huge placards, and its sincerity was manifested by more than the printed word. Sheep to the number of 200 were roasted in famous South American fashion, and the alfresco banquet of asado was enjoyed to the full. Particularly pleasant was the spectacle of those ladies who with unwilling gusto proved that knives and forks were in the last resort mere encumbrances, and serviettes a superfluity. Beer and wine were liberally provided and, the day being hot -- were as liberally consumed, so that a more than usual interest was shown in the sports that were carried on throughout the afternoon.

They included a hundred meters sprint, a cycle race, a gymnastic display by the Sokol Club, and a football match by teams representing Chile and Mundo. The game occupied in all 2½ hours and in the end remained drawn with three goals a side. It was keenly and stubbornly contested and all of the twenty-two left the field in the last stages of exhaustion. The notable players were:-- for Chile, Alvarado and McKaskill, for Mundo, Nicol, Pollock and Nervi.

The interesting feature of the fiesta was the presentation, by the Governor, of silver Polar Badges to the members of the Expedition. Sir Ernest Shackleton was the recipient of a special gold one in commemoration of his visit to Chile. A gold watch was presented to Comandante Pardo on behalf of the Overseas Club. Badges were also received by the winners of the several sports.

Mr. Frank Wild's Lecture

On Sunday evening [10th] a large number of people were present in the Municipal Theatre to hear Mr. Wild's lecture on the experiences of the marooned party on Elephant Island, the text of which we publish on another page. Some very fine lantern slides were shown, including Sir Ernest Shackleton's departure in the «Caird» for South Georgia, the hut at Elephant Island, the Endurance being crushed in the ice, and the Yelcho coming in to rescue the party.

Frank Wild's Narrative
Life on Elephant Island

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me very great pleasure to give this lecture here tonight as it affords me an opportunity to express my gratitude to the people of Punta Arenas for their kindness to us, since our arrival here on Sunday last.

As Sir Ernest Shackleton has already given an account of the expedition up to the time when we landed on Elephant Island, I shall confine myself to the story of our life from that time onwards. Unfortunately there have been no facilities for preparing the lantern slides here, but Mr. Hurley has been enabled to prepare some which may give you an idea of our home and manner of living. We made out first landing on the east side of Elephant Island, at Cape Valentine, where we found a narrow strip of beach.

At the back of the beach, which was only about fifteen yards wide, were almost perpendicular cliffs, which were much weathered. Several large lumps of rock, which had apparently recently fallen, gave us the impression that our position was not a safe one, and there were indications that at times, heavy seas swept right up to the cliff foot. As a result Sir Ernest decided to look for a better place, and the next day I took one of the boats towards the west, along the coast, and seven miles farther on found a narrow spit, which is now called Cape Wild, where the landing was good, and where we saw a number of penguins and sea elephants. On Sunday, the next day, we stored all our belongings in the boats, except some cases of bovril sledging rations, which we left, intending to call for them later. As we pushed off from Cape Valentine, a strong south-west breeze sprang up which quickly freshened into a heavy gale. The deeply laden boats were very heavy to pull, and it took five hours of very hard work to do the seven miles. All hands were very wet, cold, and exhausted. The storm was now a blizzard and we had very great difficulty in getting up the tents. During the night three out of the four tents were blown down. For three days we were not able to do anything towards preparing the James Caird for the long voyage to South Georgia, or do any other outside work, and most of us remained in our wet sleeping bags under the torn and flattened tents.

On the 24th of April the boat was ready for sea and at 11 a.m. we launched her. The launching was almost a disaster: the boat, being empty, was caught broadside on by heavy breakers, and had it not been for Tom Crean and Captain Worsley, would have been wrecked. Two men were thrown overboard into the ice-cold water, but were easily rescued.

The wonderful voyage Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions made to South Georgia is already known. Had the boat not left on that day, we should not have been able to launch her until May 2nd as the island was beset by heavy pack ice. This caused some anxiety concerning the boat. The spit on which our tent was pitched showed signs of occasionally being swept by the waves, so we decided to dig a cave in an ice-slope on the mainland, some sixty feet above sea level. After a few days we had to abandon this cave as the constant blizzards filled up the entrance faster than we could clear it.

Marston and Greenstreet suggested making a hut with the boats. This site was selected as far as possible from the sea and two walls built of rocks, eighteen feet apart. The two boats were upturned upon these walls side by side. The wind and snow were kept out by side walls and a roof made from the torn tents. This gave us a building with a floor space of eighteen feet by twelve feet. The party had their sleeping berths, some on the thwarts, and the others on the floor strewn with clean pebbles from the beach. As the boats were less than four feet from the ground, we all suffered at first from stiff backs. For some time after landing the party was suffering from cold and exposure experienced in the boats and no one was able to do hard work for any length of time. Several of the party were suffering from frostbite, Blackborrow, Hudson, Greenstreet, McLeod, Bakewell, Reckinsen, Clark and Stevenson, were under treatment for this condition; but with the exception of Blackborrow and Hudson, none were seriously affected. As soon as the hut was built we commenced to lay in a stock of penguin and seal meat as our stores would be sufficient for only one month, and owing to the island being surrounded by ice, we realized that it would probably be a long time before the relief could reach us.

Our only fuel was seal's blubber and penguins, and as an ice foot was rapidly forming, the seals were very seldom able to land, and penguins only came ashore when the sea in the vicinity was free from ice. For these reasons it was necessary to exercise strict economy, both of food and fuel. For some time only one hot meal a day was allowed.

After about three weeks in the hut the bedding and clothes were becoming fairly dry, and the general comfort improved.

Hudson and Blackborrow had a very uncomfortable time, as they were unable to get out into the fresh air at all, and the smoke from the blubber stove and lamps was very thick, having for some time no outlet. Later a funnel was arranged which greatly improved matters. Blackborrow's feet were so badly frostbitten that the surgeons found it necessary to amputate all the toes of his left foot and one can imagine that the operation was performed under great difficulties as regards cleanliness. At present he is having a good time in the hospital here, and he has received many kindnesses from the people of Punta Arenas.

The glacier close to our hut caused us some apprehension, as it frequently calved, and the waves formed by the fall of huge masses of ice frequently washed over the spit, and several times, threw large blocks of ice within a few feet of our house.

«It is an ill wind that blows no one good» for the ice which prevented the relief ship from reaching us, undoubtedly saved our lives by killing the sea.

Towards the end of the winter the weather improved, and the sea being now often open, penguins and seals were enabled to land in large numbers, and we could afford to use more meat and blubber. Our food consisted almost entirely of flesh, but we found it very good eating.

When the relief ship was expected, the optimists of the party lashed up their sleeping bags ready for embarking. It was a long and weary wait, and the track to the «Look-out Hill» was very much worn. On the last month, the rocks being free from ice, we were enabled to obtain limpets and dulse seaweed in small quantities, and these were a very welcome change.

All the party remained cheerful and hopeful.

On the day of the «Yelcho's» arrival all the party except Marston and Hurley were in the hut at lunch. I was serving out the stew made from seal's backbones when the yell «Sail Ho» brought us all tumbling pell mell from the hut; that stew is still there. For a few minutes all the people were too excited to do anything but yell, and we have all got «Yelcho» throats.

Sir Ernest was in the first boat at 1.20 p.m. and at 5 minutes to 2, we were steaming «homeward bound».

Other News Reports

Sir Ernest Shackleton has received the following telegram from Her Majesty Queen Alexandra at Sandringham.

« It gives me the greatest possible pleasure to hear of your success in rescuing all your party and I trust that my Standard, Union Jack, and Mascot brought you luck and that we may soon welcome you home. »

The following telegram was received by Sir Ernest from the Liga Patriótica Militar de Chile:

« The Military Patriotic League of Chile welcomes the illustrious Sailor and Explorer and congratulate themselves that his heroic comrades have been rescued under the Flag Cochrane glorified. »

to which he replied:

Almirante Vicente Zeggers,
Liga Patriótica Militar Chile,

« I beg you receive my heartfelt appreciation of your generous message. Apart from the brotherhood of the sea, it will ever be a glowing memory to my comrades and myself that they were saved under the Flag and by the Nation that for more than a hundred years has been linked with England, by bonds of sentiment, mutual kindness, and ungrudging help in any crisis. »

(sgd) Shackleton.

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions are leaving by the Yelcho for Valparaiso tomorrow afternoon [15th] at four o'clock. The Yelcho leaves under the command of Commandante Pardo and [h]as the same officer[s] and crew on board that went on the expedition to Elephant Island. Sir Ernest will make short stays in Valparaiso, Santiago and Buenos Aires, and leave for England during the first few days of October.

[14 September 1916]

 <=     ǁ    July :  6   13   20   27     ǁ    August :  3   10   17   24   31     ǁ    September :  7   14   21   28     ǁ     =>