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Reaching Elephant Island

On 17th April 1916, the three lifeboats that proved vital to the survival of the crew of Shackleton’s failed expedition to traverse Antarctica, reached the relative safety of Elephant Island. It would become home for 22 of the 28 men crew for the next four and a half months.

Two days earlier, on 15th April, the Stancombe Wills, the Dudley Docker and the largest of the three, the James Caird, had made the first ever landing on Elephant Island yet the small stone beach they had landed upon was too exposed to the elements. Shackleton later described the elated experience of reaching solid land after eighteen months on the ice, telling how the men, after landing on the beach, “gloated over pebbles like misers over gold.”

Reaching Elephant Island Tom Crean BookTom Crean’s role to this point had been pivotal and he’d skilfully navigated the smallest of the boats, The Stancombe Wills, (right), in what had been a terrifying experience that had left a number of the crew needing urgent medical attention.

His part in this historic drama, was not over and he was to play a primary role in the miraculous rescue that would later shock and amaze the world.

Reaching Elephant Island Tom Crean BookLeft, a photograph taken of two upturned boats on a beach christened Point Wild after the stranded party’s leader Frank Wild.

This cramped, makeshift home would provide the only shelter for twenty-two of the men until they were rescued. Tom Crean was to play a primary role in the miraculous story that would later shock and amaze the world.

Harry McNish, the carpenter, was charged with adapting the largest of the three lifeboats, the James Caird, in preparation for a mission that would enter the annals of history.

When the greatest tale of survival and rescue in maritime history eventually got underway, right there in the thick of it and there to see out its triumphant conclusion, was Tom Crean, lifesaver extraordinaire

To read Tom Crean’s full story, the book can be purchased at the following link.

Biography of Tom Crean – Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero