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Scott, Sir Robert Falcon

Scott, Sir Robert Falcon (1868–1912). Scott had entered the navy as a boy in 1880 and by 1897 was a lieutenant and torpedo officer. He was noticed by Sir Clements Markham whose influence led to his appointment as leader of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society Antarctic Expedition of 1901–4. He proved a capable captain of the Discovery and leader of the personnel who carried out much scientific and exploratory work in the Ross Sea and Victoria Land region. Scott himself, with Shackleton, made a sledge journey to beyond 82 degrees south in 1902. Now famous, Scott was chosen to lead an official expedition in 1910 in the Terra Nova, designed to get a party to the South Pole. Scott led four others who reached the Pole on 18 January 1912 only to find that Amundsen had preceded them there by just over a month. All five eventually perished on the horrendous walk back to their base. Scott's journal read, ‘We shall stick it out to the end. … It seems a pity but I do not think I can write any more.’ News of this epic tragedy led to national mourning, a posthumous knighthood for Scott, and the founding of the Scott Polar Research Institute. However, it is now widely believed that Scott's nobility and bravery could not compensate for the wrong decision (probably encouraged by Markham) to use man-hauled sledges for polar travel.

Roy C. Bridges

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