CHARLES ROYDS (1876-1931)
Autograph letter signed 'To Commanding Officer Relief Ship, Camp above C. Crozier, 11 October 1902, saying that his sledge party left the Discovery on 4 October with orders from Captain Scott 'which you will find in this tin'.; describing the ice in McMurdo Strait, 'compact up to within about 7 miles of the ship, nearest point of open water & curved round to about 12 miles on the Erebus coast, up to some islands which I presume Capt. Scott has shewn on the chart enclosed'; mentioning his intention of tracing a line of ridges, and recording the severe weather, '58°.5 on the night of the 9th ... in fact the temperature has not been above -30° since the 5th', and anticipating seeing the relief ship in January, 2½ pages, 8vo, written in pencil on lined paper, on recto only, the leaves torn from a notebook; and a black and white snapshot [taken by Gerald Doorly] depicting a post with a tin box on the top, propped up by rocks, in a barren tract of land with penguins, and ice in the distance, 105 x 80 mm, inscribed on the verso 'An Antarctic Pillar Box'.
Royds, 'the unsung hero of Discovery' (Roland Huntford, Scott and Amundsen), was Scott's First Lieutenant and Senior naval officer on the Discovery with responsibility for all meteorological work on the expedition. Discovery landed at McMurdo Sound on 8 February 1902 and Royds first led a party to Cape Crozier, to leave a message at a pre-arranged spot giving Discovery's exact position, so that the relief ship could locate them. Travelling on skis, he was obliged to turn back when in sight of the beach at Cape Crozier because of the uneven surface of the ice. His second expedition, on which the present letter was safely deposited in the improvised 'Antarctic Pillar Box', arrived on 10 October at the Knoll, 1,000 feet above sea level and 4½ miles from the Cape. Because, as he writes in the letter, Royds strained his ankle, Skelton was charged with taking the information to the post box. Skelton made the important discovery of an Emperor Penguin rookery at Cape Crozier on the same expedition. The relief ship Morning commanded by Lieut. William Colbeck, reached the Discovery in January 1903. Dorley was a member of its crew.