Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Ross Sea Party, 1914-1917
A.P. SPENCER-SMITH. Typescript diary, titled 'Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Diary of Arnold P. Spencer Smith 1914-5-6. "It's all in the game. Plug on!', 25 January 1914 - 11 March 1914, 1 October 1915 - 7 March 1916. 126 leaves, 4to. with a roneo'd copy 126 leaves, 4to.
Shackleton family, and thence by decent.
A poignant document with the final entry only two days before Spencer-Smith died. The diary gives a first-hand account of the Ross Sea Party and their ultimately successful efforts to lay a string of depôts along the second leg of Shackleton's proposed trans-Antarctic route. Spencer-Smith gives a vivid and detailed account of life at Hut Point and of the various journeys: he lived to see Shackleton's orders carried out but died two days before the exhausted and scurvy-ridden party returned to their base at Hut Point. Margery and James Fisher wrote that 'It had been one of the most remarkable, and apparently impossible, feats of endurance in the history of polar travel. From the start of the depôt work they had done 1,561 miles, out of reach of fresh food, with poor equipment, tattered clothing and starvation rations. But they had carried out their leader's orders.' (M. and J. Fisher, Shackleton, London, 1957, p.409).
Spencer-Smith, padre and photographer with the Ross Sea Party 'was the first ordained clergyman to set foot on the Antarctic continent... He had begun by studying law, then turned to theology... Tall, well built, with clean looks and an earnest but unintellectual expression on his face. Spencer-Smith was a characteristic product of Queen's College, Cambridge, the image of what was called a "muscular" Christian... [He] was on Aurora by default. When war broke out, he wanted to enlist but, being a clergyman, was debarred from doing so as a combatant. He did the next best thing - or so the story goes - which was to volunteer as a substitute for one of Shackleton's men who had left on active service.' (R. Huntford, Shackleton, London, 1996, pp.412-413)