Our Conquering the Antarctic tour celebrates the achievements of Captain Scott, the most well-known of the five-man party that reached the South Pole a hundred years ago in 1912. But what of the other four men Scott selected to accompany him to the Pole? They were Wilson, Bowers, Evans and Oates. Over the next four days, we profile the other members of Scott’s team, focusing today on Edgar Evans.
Edgar Evans was born in 1876 in the Gower, South Wales, and joined the Navy at the age of fifteen. He served with Captain Scott, who was then torpedo lieutentant, on the HMS Majestic in 1899. He went on to join Scott on the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-1904), before moving to Portsmouth to work as a torpedo instructor with his wife and three children.
Having been impressed during the first expedition with his capacity for hard work, Scott invited Evans to join the Terra Nova expedition. In his journals, Scott paid tribute to his physically imposing colleague, calling Evans “a giant worker—he is responsible for every sledge, every sledge-fitting, tents, sleeping-bags, harness, and when one cannot recall a single expression of dissatisfaction with any one of these items, it shows what an invaluable assistant he has been.”
On the return journey from the Pole, Evans quickly deteriorated both physically and mentally. He was six feet tall and well-built, which contributed to his suffering the most from the inadequate food supplies and frostbite. He had also sustained an injury to his hand which refused to heal. On 4 February 1912 he and Scott fell down crevasses and Evans suffered a head wound. The group’s progress slowed, and on February 17, Evans fell behind. According to Scott’s journal, the others found him “on his knees with clothing disarranged, hands uncovered and frostbitten, and a wild look in his eyes. “ That night, he became comatose and never regained consciousness. His body still lies in the ice, near the base of the Beardmore Glacier.
A celebration in music, words and images
Stephen Layton, conductor
Robert Murray, tenor
Hugh Bonneville, narrator
3-8 February and 3 March 2012