Tom Crean Book – 'Crean – The Extraordinary Life Of An Irish Hero'

Rediscover an Irish Hero

Tom Crean Book – 'Crean – The Extraordinary Life Of An Irish Hero'

Rediscover an Irish Hero

Shackleton – The First Rescue Attempt

Crean, Shackleton and Worsley return to civilization to arrange rescue

It’s clear that the two images here were taken on the same day yet one of the images includes the Master of the ship to make the first rescue attempt, the Norwegian, Captain Ingvar Thom. The attempt would be made aboard the whaler the ‘Southern Sky’

Tom Crean, Ernest Shackleton and Frank Worsley 1916
Tom Crean, Ernest Shackleton and Frank Worsley in an image taken after after the first failed attempt at rescue.

To provide further insight and to convey the atmosphere shortly before the time this image was taken in 1916, here’s a passage from ‘South’, Shackleton’s account of the Endurance Expedition describing the first night after himself, Crean and Worsley had miraculously reached Stromness after their remarkable journey to bring about safe rescue of their stranded colleagues on Elephant Island.

“Our first night at the whaling-station was blissful. Crean and I shared a beautiful room in Mr. Sorlle’s house, with electric light and two beds, warm and soft. We were so comfortable that we were unable to sleep. Late at night, a steward brought us tea, bread and butter and cakes, and we lay in bed, reveling in the luxury of it all. Outside a dense snow-storm, which started two hours after our arrival and lasted until the following day, was swirling and driving about the mountain slopes. We were thankful indeed that we had made a place of safety, for it would have gone hard with us if we had been out on the mountains that night. Deep snow lay everywhere when we got up the following morning.”

After breakfast, Mr. Sorlle took us round to Husvik in a motor-launch. We were listening avidly to his account of the war and of all that had happened while we were out of the world of men. We were like men arisen from the dead to a world gone mad. Our minds accustomed themselves gradually to the tales of nations in arms, of deathless courage and unimagined slaughter, of a world-conflict that had grown beyond all conceptions, of vast red battlefields in grimmest contrast with the frigid whiteness we had left behind us.”

It was at Husvig that Shackleton and Crean boarded the Southern Sky, a steel-built steamer that wasn’t built for breaking the pack ice they would have to navigate through in order to rescue the 22 men on Elephant Island.

It would take another three attempts until, aboard the Chilean ship, Yelcho, they made the breakthrough and upon sighting the men, Crean and Shackleton quickly boarded the rowing boats to hurry their stranded crew-mates aboard in the culmination of the greatest survival and rescue tale in maritime history.

This epic story and others feature in the book.

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