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South Georgia – Crean, Shackleton and Worsley reach Stromness

After a gruelling, energy-sapping, thirty-six hour trek over the perilous mountains of South Georgia, the heavily-bearded, raggedy, weather-beaten trio staggered into Stromness, where they encountered two young children, later revealed to be the daughters of the whaling station manager. The children immediately turned and fled as if they’d just happened upon three zombies.

South Georgia - Crean, Shackleton and Worsley reach Stromness Tom Crean Book
The Manager’s Villa at Stromness Image credit to Alan Levy https://members.pcug.org.au/~alanlevy

Shortly after, they had a similar effect on a man to whom they tried beckoning. Finally, they encountered a Norwegian whaler who led them to the house of the whaling station manager. The man in charge, Thoralf Sorlle, who knew Shackleton having been acquainted with him before Endurance set sail from South Georgia back in December 1914, did not, at this moment, recognise the ragtag threesome stood at his door. One of the whalers, recounting the time he was present at this momentous scene, described the initial exchange of words:

Sorlle asked: ‘Who the hell are you?’ and terrible bearded man in the centre of the three say very quietly: ‘My name is Shackleton.’ Me – I turn away and weep. I think manager weep too.”

The Norwegian whale station manager showered the three men with boundless hospitality and was no stranger to tales of epic rescue.

In 1906 Thoralf saved a number of crewmen of a floating factory, the Fridtjof Nansen, from certain death and over the years he had played a part in saving many more lives (37 in total). For his bravery he was awarded the Norwegian lifesaving medal

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