Ellon Probus Club meeting hears of explorer’s exploits

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Ellon Probus Club president Norman Davidson welcomed Ken Mills as the guest speaker at their recent meeting.

Ken, a retired consultant/surgeon with two spells as doctor to the British Antarctic Survey, gave an account of the experiences of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Shackleton, to the surprise of many, was of Irish origin and took part in four polar expeditions. He was knighted by King Edward VII in 1907 for his endeavours.

During his fourth polar expedition Shackleton died of a heart attack when in South Georgia. His body is buried at the former whaling station at Grytviken.

To commemorate Shackleton, a “Centennial Cruise” comprising relatives of Shackleton and a selection of polar enthusiasts set sail from Ushuaia in southern Argentina to follow the route of his famous 1914-17 expedition when, in early 1915, his ship Endurance became trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea.

The crew was forced to abandon ship and set up camp on the ice but due to melt and deteriorating conditions the men had then to abandon the ice.

They set sail in three open lifeboats to Elephant Island more than 300 miles away.

Shackleton and five men then sailed a further 720 miles in an open boat to South Georgia, which they had to cross on foot, to eventually arrive at the Stromness whaling station.

From there, transport was organised to rescue the remaining crew at the far side of South Georgia and at Elephant Island. No men were lost.

Ken illustrated his talk with a series of photos of former whaling stations, the abundant wild life and magnificent scenery. A vote of thanks was proposed by Charles Robertson.

The next meeting is on April 23 and will take the form of the club’s Spring lunch which will be held at Ellon Golf Club.