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The History Group

Leader is Jane Harris. Phone 01530 838025 or email history@ashbyu3a.co.uk

Any U3A member is welcome at our meetings.

See below for the 2017 Programme

History Group 24th August

Subject: 'Shackleton'
Presenter: John Whitehead
John gave an enthralling presentation of the explorer and in particular his 'Endurance' expedition to the South Pole between 1914 and 1917. Possibly the most remarkable story of leadership and survival in the history of polar exploration.
Shackleton recruited 27 men during 1912 and 1913 for a Transpolar expedition, supported from the other side by a second team, of whose trials we learned little but who fared considerably less well, in less stressful conditions.
The Expedition was mounted from South Georgia and became ice fast before even making 'land'. Over a long period in a most unusually cold Antarctic summer, they eventually lost their ship, 'Endurance' and had to camp out on the ice. They decided to set out over the ice for the long peninsula sticking out towards South America. Unfortunately, the ice conditions forced them ever northwards until they had to sail on to the uninhabited Elephant Island. The last landfall for 800 miles.
There, Shackleton left 22 men and two boats, and set off to sail the 800 miles (1280 kilometres) to South Georgia over some of the wildest seas in the world, in an open 22 foot boat. They arrived after 15 days by a feat of navigation probably unequalled before or since. Imagine sleeping, cooking and sailing in such a small vessel, in mountainous seas and howling winds, frozen and soaked most of the time? If they had missed the island by even 10 miles in those conditions, they were faced with a journey of 2,800 miles to South Africa on that heading, or 1000 miles to the Falkland Isles on the other. In other words, sure death. On arrival on the uninhabited side of South Georgia, three of them then had to trek for 36 hours over the island to get help from the whaling station at Stromness. They then had to go back to pick up the other three, then to Elephant Island to recover the other men. Even then the ice conditions forced them to go via the Falkland Isles!
John told the story with such vividness we almost felt the cold and discomfort, but he emphasised the extreme and (for his time) unusual qualities of leadership Shackleton displayed which undoubtedly ensured the survival of all his crew.Not one man died, and only a few got frostbite.
A most inspiring account. If you want the full story you should read 'South: The Endurance Expedition' by Sir Ernest Shackleton. It is a first class example of storytelling at the very least, and of an heroic struggle of epic proportions it would be hard to beat even in fiction.

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Future programme

NB: All meetings with speakers will be held at Packington Memorial Hall. Doors open for Packington meetings at 2pm, with a start as soon as possible after that, hopefully by 2.10pm..
Details of visits will be advised closer to the time.The following dates have been arranged, but may be subject to changes which will be announced on a rolling monthly basis.
September 28thSelf drive visit to Kedleston Hall. Please sign up, or request details via history@ashbyu3a.co.uk
October 26th Industrial Heritage Group - members' interests
November 23rd The Grey Family, a talk by Peter Liddle
December No Meeting

Any U3A member is welcome at our meetings.

Earlier history meeting