It was on this day – 29th March 1912 – that Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his men died.
Work had been going on for most of 1911 setting up a base, laying provision depots, doing geological surveys, collecting various specimens and experimenting with their equipment and rations. It was in September when the group of 16 – mainly support – men set out towards the Pole. Bit by bit the support headed back to base and, on 3rd January 1912, Captain Scott decided who would be with him on the final trek to the Pole. It was himself, of course plus Edward Wilson, Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers and Edgar Evans. 14 days later, on 17th January 1912, the team reached the Pole.
There they saw Amundsen’s flag that had been planted there a month earlier.
It’s hard to imagine the overwhelming disappointment the five must have felt.
Captain Scott wrote in there book: “Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority.”
The return journey started out well, but rations were low and the men lost condition. Evans’ frostbite worsened and he died on 17th February. Oates also suffered frostbite. This delayed the rest of the party and, on 16th March, he put on his boots for the last time and stepped out into a blizzard saying, “I am just going outside and may be some time.”
Scott acknowledged his sacrifice recording that: “We knew that Oates was walking to his death… it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman.”
Scott, Wilson and Bowers continued towards the ‘One Ton’ depot which they knew could save them. However, an unseasonal blizzard halted them just 11 miles short of their target and, malnourished, frostbitten, weak and trapped inside the tent by the weather, they knew what was coming.
“I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.”
Scott was probably the last of the three to die on 29th March 1912.
Eight months later a search party found the tent and its content of rolls of photographs, meteorological observations, diaries and fossils that had been gathered on the way back from the Pole.
They left the bodies in the tent and buried them under a mound of snow.