I sailed back to Europe and rejoined the navy to fight in the war. Luckily I survived.
I retired from the navy in 1920. During the time I moved from the lowest rank of Boy Second Class to Warrant officer.
I left the navy and went back to my home in Ireland. I got married to a lovely local lady called Nell and we had three daughters. We also opened a pub. I called it “The South Pole Inn”. Local people called me Tom the Pole and they called my wife Nell the Pole. I never forgot my trips to Antarctica.
After a few years Shackleton wanted to go on another expedition and asked me to come along. I loved the ice but I was now 43 and had a family to look after so I had to say no. I lived a normal life after that, looked after my family, walked my dog and puffed my pipe.
It is now 1938 and it was my birthday a few days ago. I have a bad stomach pain and I’m in hospital. I think my life is ove…
Skipper, Shackleton and I were treated like kings. The whalers finally found space for us in their own homes. We had their first bath since eighteen months. A clean set of clothes was found for each of us, a huge meal and a warm comfortable bed. We were delighted.
The next day a ship went around the island to recover the three men left behind on the James Caird. Skipper, Shackleton and I spent months trying to reach their stranded comrades that were camped under the boats on Elephant Island. It was a heartbreasing time for the three men.
They battled to survive killing animals to eat but the though men kept on going. One of the men suffered badly from frostbite in the freezing weather. One day, two of the castaways were sitting by the seas edge searching for shellfish to make their evening meal. One of them looked up and suddenly yelled out, ‘Ship O!’
It was time to go home. The men from Endurance who had been cut off from civilisation for almost two years, were surley the only people on earth who knew nothing about the war.
We climed for two hours. The trek was terrifying. Finally, we arrived and we had a warm welcoming.
Skipper, Shackleton, and myself were treated like kings. The Whalers had made space in their houses for us, and we had our first bath in eighteen months. Next day there was a boat sailing around the island looking for the remaining men and the James Caird.
Skipper, Shackleton, and myself spent a very long time trying to reach our stranded comrades camped under the boats on Elephant Island. Many had sank and had thought that Skipper, Shackleton and myself had drowned.
I searched the island for water. Suddenly I saw water running down the rocks. All the men ran over to drink the water.
The boat was stuck to the rocks and we didn’t know how to get it out. The men and I looked for somewhere to stay. Luckily, I spotted a small cave. It was damp and cold but for the men it was like a five star hotel.
I was on the lookout for help when suddenly a wave came in and pulled the boat away. I jumped into the water and grabbed onto the boat. I roared for help and soon the rest of the men jumped in. But they did not notice the rudder was gone.
The boat got through the breakers and ice-bergs around Elephant Island. The only thing we saw in the dark was my pipe. We were soaked to the skin from the sea spray and often some of us were frostbitten.
I drank a hot drink before i set off to Elephant Island. It was very windy. We decided that six men would sail on the largest of our three boats, The James Caird. The other two boats were Dudley Docker and Standcomb Wills.
Our food supplies were running very low and all the my shipmates are starting to lose hope we were starting to drift towards Drake Passage and that led to either Clarence Island
or Elephant Islands which are both very remote places.
We worked very hard. I took lots of food on sledges. We built more “dogloos”. We only had some food, tents, 60 dog, a small cat and three lifeboats.
The Endurance was stuck in the cold Antartic ice. Time was moving slowly we even stated playing football on the ice. At one point we all came to a conclusion that we would all shave our heads to pass time.
It was 18 months since Captain Scott was buired. I was heading back to the Antarctic. Sir Earnest Shacklenton asked me to go South again. Shacklenton was with me on the Discovery.