(August 8, 1914 - August 30, 1916)
In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 set sail for the last unclaimed prize in the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent.
Within eighty-five miles of the continent their ship Endurance was trapped and slowly crushed by pack ice. With no communication to the outside world their ordeal would last twenty months.
With Shackleton's inspiring leadership the crew struggled to stay alive in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Miraculously, not one man was lost, surviving extreme cold, breaking ice floes, leopard seal attacks and an open boat journey that would be called one of the greatest navigational feats in nautical history.
The Endurance - a 300 ton wooden barquentine. She was 144 feet long, built of planks of oak and Norwegian fir up to two and one half feet thick, sheathed in greenheart, a wood so tough it cannot be worked by conventional means. Every detail of her construction had been scrupulously, even lovingly, planned by a master shipwright in Norway to ensure her maximum strength. Equipped with both sail and coal-fired steam engine she was, it seemed, ideally equipped to withstand the ice. Her original name was Polaris which Shackleton renamed Endurance after his family motto: Fortitudine Vincimus - "by endurance we conquer."
Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) is Australia's most renowned Antarctic scientist and explorer.
In 1911 Mawson organized and commanded the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE 1911-14) and was the sole survivor of a three-man sledging journey that ended tragically. Mawson was knighted in recognition of his leadership of this expedition.
"It is now January, 1916, and still the pack showed no sign of breaking up."