British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904
Thomas WHITFIELD (1868-1942). An important Polar Exploration grouping of six medals, [1904-1919].
1. Royal Geographical Society, Silver medal for Scott's Antarctic Expedition 1902-04 (engraved 'Thomas Whitfield, R.N.'), extremely fine, in fitted Wyon, London case of issue.
2. 1914-15 Star, (149832. T. Whitfield. Ch. Sto., R.N.), with riband.
3. British War Medal, (149832 T. Whitfield Ch. Sto. R.N.), with riband.
4. British Victory Medal, (149832 T. Whitfield Ch. Sto. R.N.), with riband.
5. Polar Medal, Edward VII, with clasp 'Antarctic 1902-04' (Lg. Stoker T. Whitfield "Discovery"), with riband.
6. Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Edward VII (Thomas Whitfield, Ch. Sto., H.M.S. Victory), with riband, very fine and better.
Thomas Whitfield, born in Newport, Salop in 1868, joined the Navy in July 1889 and served on various ships before being transferred from the Resolution to serve as one of four Stokers aboard the Discovery. According to Lieutenant Armitage he was the bulkiest man aboard, and this may have been instrumental in him being picked as a member of the shore party. He went on to take part in a number of sledging journeys, most notably as part of Wilson's 1903 expedition to the Cape Crozier emperor penguin colony. Royds, Wilson, Cross, Whitfield, Williamson and Blissett left on the 7 September 1903 and encountered severe conditions with temperatures dropping as low as -62°. Blissett suffered severely from frost-bite, but Scott noted that 'the rest seem to have stood it well, and Whitfield is described as standing outside the tent with his pipe in his mouth, his hands in his pockets, and the air of cheerful satisfaction of one who contemplates his garden on a warm summer day at home'.
On his return from the Antarctic he was promoted to Chief Stoker. He left the Navy in 1911 and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. He was recalled to active service in 1914 and served on MFA Hirondelle, HMS Victory and HMS Renown until 1919. On his retirement he took up gardening, growing vegetables and fruit in Hampshire and died in 1942. (6)