"It was the chance of a lifetime!"

Shackleton biographer, James Fisher, met with sailmaker Walter How on Sept. 1, 1955 to discuss How's memories of the Endurance expedition...

How Family Home in London

Letter to Walter How from Sir Ernest Shackleton:


Sir Ernest Shackleton thanks Mr. Walter How for his letter of application and appreciates his desire to take part in the expedition but as the personnel of the expedition will not be chosen before June, this letter will not receive more attention until a later date. It is, however, noted among the lively applications, which are not many.


Addressed to Walter How, 31 Birkbeck Road, Tottenham. (The Hows were still living at this address at the time of the interview, much to James Fisher's surprise.)


How was interviewed in Shackleton's cabin, standing up. [Shackleton] asked was I enthusiastic over the job, and I said I was and that I'd had some experience of the ice, which I'd had along Labrador, and of different types of machines used for soundings and survey work, and I was signed on as a member of the expedition.


JF - Did he tell you what your duties were?


WH - But it didn't matter what came along, everybody more or less mucked in; it didn't matter who they were or what they were, their qualifications didn't count for anything. The doctors used to take their turn at the wheel, they'd give a hand in the galley, they'd go aloft and take in sail and they'd set sail from the deck... Everybody was a utility firm, as it were.


JF - And that was made clear by Shackleton when he interviewed you?


WH - Quite. Yes.


JF - (When you had your cards and a wife and a six week old baby) why did you want to go.


WH - Why it was the chance of a lifetime!

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