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SHACKLETON'S IMPERIAL TRANS-ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1914-1917
Shackleton sailed from South Georgia on his trans-Antarctic expedition in December 1914, planning to make the first crossing of the Antarctic, a journey of approximately 1800 miles from Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole: 'After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen, who, by a narrow margin of days, was in advance of the British expedition under Scott, only one main object of Antarctic journeyings remained - the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea. After hearing of Amundsen's success, I began the preparations to start a last journey, so that the first crossing of the last continent should be achieved by a British Expedition.' (E.H. Shackleton, South, London, 1919, p.7).
The Endurance sailed into the Weddell Sea but was beset by ice on 20 January, and after drifting in the pack through the winter months, was crushed on 27 October 1915 and would sink a month later, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-eight men abandoning ship with their sledges, forty-nine dogs, a cat and three small boats. They were stranded on the ice-floe of the Weddell Sea, three hundred and forty miles from the nearest land. With provisions for three months, they spend the first two months at "Ocean Camp", a 'floating lump of ice', drifting in the ice pack. They marched when the ice began to break up, making just seven and a half miles to the north over a week and established a new base, "Patience Camp" while they waited for conditions to improve. The boats were finally launched two and a half months later in April 1916 and they broke out of the ice and headed for Elephant Island just one hundred miles away after their drift at "Patience Camp".
Reaching Elephant Island on 15 April, the crew made a hut from two of their overturned boats, the Dudley Docker and Stancomb Wills, and Shackleton picked five men to accompany him in the James Caird for the 800 mile voyage to South Georgia to seek help. They sailed from Elephant Island on 24 April and sighted South Georgia fourteen days later, landing in King Haakon Bay and then setting out on a treacherous thirty-six hour march across the mountains and glaciers of the island to the whaling station at Stromness Bay.
Shackleton was eventually loaned a schooner by the Chilean government and reached Elephant Island to rescue his crew, marooned for four and a half months, on 30 August 1916.