Keeping Up Morale in Tough Times

During an interview today, we talked about the contrast of the atmosphere on Endurance to another ship that was also trapped by ice off Antarctica. Aboard Belgica gloom reigns while on Endurance, it's party time! The difference is due to Shackleton's leadership strategies.


From Shackleton's Way...

Read what a crewmember aboard Belgica, an 1897 Belgian expedition to Antarctica, wrote in his diary on June 19, 1898, three months after his ship had become stuck in the ice: “Our gait is uncertain. The hair grows quickly, like plants in a hot-house, but there is a great change in the color. Most of us in the cabin have grown decidedly gray within two months, though few are over thirty. Our faces are drawn, and there is an absence of jest and cheer and hope in our makeup, which, in itself, is one of the saddest incidents in our existence… the novelty of life has been worn out.”


Compare that passage to what an Endurance crew-

member wrote on June 21, 1915, five months after his ship had become frozen in the pack ice: “The Billabong [cabin] has an atmosphere poetic. Macklin in his bunk is writing poetical verses, and I am doing the same. McIlroy is arranging a décolleté dancing rig, whilst Uncle Hussey is being beset by applicants to rehearse accompaniments on his banjo.”

© 2019 Margot Morrell

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