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Tom Crean Explorer – Your Questions Answered

Why did Tom Crean go to Antarctica?

Tom Crean was recruited to the expedition ship RRS Discovery, by Commander Robert Falcon Scott, (before his promotion to Captain), when the ship Tom was serving on, HMS Ringarooma,(a vessel that was part of the Australian Squadron), was moored in Lyttelton, New Zealand. It could be that he was recommended to Scott by crew members of Discovery who had served with Crean previously on the Pacific Station in America. For Crean it is likely that he wanted change after spending an unhappy time in the Navy before heading to Antarctica. His Naval record up to this point provides some evidence of this with the only demotions on his record.

Did he ever go to the Arctic?

In his career he was assigned to two ships that spent part of their missions in the Arctic Circle. Between 1895-1898 he served on HMS Wild Swan, a ship that was assigned to the Pacific Station which covered the whole West coast of the Americas including regions within the Arctic Circle. The second occasion was in 1919 just a year before his retirement. On this occasion he was serving aboard HMS Fox as part of an intervention mission to Russia known as the North Russian Expeditionary Force. 

Why is Tom Crean famous ?

He is famous for his bravery and acts of heroism that were undertaken on the coldest and most inhospitable place on the planet – Antarctica. In 1913 he became one of the rare recipients of the Albert Medal for bravery. He was awarded the medal for undertaking a 35-mile solo march through snow, ice and blizzards to save the life of Lieutenant Edward Evans. Along with Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Worsley, he also played a primary role in the historic rescue of his colleagues while serving on the Endurance expedition between 1914-1916. 

How many lives did Tom Crean save?

It is documented that Crean was solely or jointly responsible for saving 29 lives over four separate occasions. He may have saved more lives but there are no traceable records to confirm this.

How did Tom Crean die?

His death certificate records that he died from Acute Suppurative Appendicitis and Toxaemia.

How tall was Tom Crean?

The last entry in his Naval record shows that in 1907, after completing his 12-year tenure in the Navy, Crean was 5ft 10ins tall, yet analysing group photographs taken on his last two expeditions to Antarctica between 1910-1916, it appears that he was more likely to have been between 5ft 11ins – 6ft tall.

Who did Tom marry?

He married a girl from his home village of Annascaul. Her name was Ellen Herlihy and she had grown up in her father’s licensed premises in the same village.

Did he have any children?

Yes, he had three daughters, Mary, Catherine and Eileen. 

Where did Tom Crean come from?

He was born at Gortacurraun, a townland just a mile or so outside the village of Annascaul

Where did Tom Crean die?

He passed away at Bons Secour Hospital in County Cork.

Where is Tom Crean buried?

His body was laid to rest in a tomb he built at a place called Ballynacourty, close to where he was born.

Was Crean on the Endurance?

Yes. He was chosen as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Second officer and he played a primary role in what is still considered to be the greatest rescue tale in maritime history.

What was his first expedition?

Aboard RRS Discovery which he joined on 10th December, 1901.

What did Tom Crean discover?

Crean was a member of pioneering expeditions whose members explored regions of Antarctica that no-one had ever set foot on. On the Discovery expedition 1901-1904, he was, for a short period, part of a sledging team that set a world record for reaching the furthest south any human had reached.

How old was Crean when he died?

He was 61 years-old.

When did Tom Crean reach the South Pole?

He was never given the opportunity to reach the South Pole. On 4th January 1912, Crean was among a party of 7 men who accompanied Captain Scott on the last leg of his attempt to become the first person to reach the South Pole. Sadly, Captain Scott chose not to take Tom and made the decision to return Tom and two other men when they were 168 miles from the South Pole. 

When did he get married?

He was married in September 1917 at the Sacred Heart Church in Annascaul.

When did Tom Crean go to Antarctica?

He went on three expeditions to Antarctica. His first expedition was on RRS Discovery with Captain Robert Falcon Scott from 1901-1904. His second expedition was again with Captain Scott on the ship Terra Nova in the years 1910-1913. His third and final expedition was with Sir Ernest Shackleton on Endurance between 1914-1916.

When was Tom Crean born?

Tom was baptised on 16th February 1877 and although babies were often baptised on the day of their birth, he could have been born a day or two earlier. Because this date is the earliest documented date we have, 16th February is the day chosen to celebrate his birthday.

When did Crean die?

Tom died on 27th July, 1938.

How old was Crean when he joined the Navy?

He joined the Navy on 10th July 1893 so was almost 16½ years old when he signed up.

Did he have any brothers or sisters ?

Tom Crean had 7 brothers and 3 sisters. His older brothers, in age order, were Hugh, John, Cornelius, Daniel and Patrick. His two younger brothers, were Michael and Martin. His elder sister was called Mary and his two younger sisters were called Johanna and Catherine.

What did Crean look like?

Tom Crean Explorer - Your Questions Answered Tom Crean Book


Where can I learn more about Tom Crean ?

The biographies below, one written for adults and one for children aged 6-10 years old, cover the life and career of Tom Crean and include a host of new information that has given rise to official revisions of his story. Inaccuracies that have populated Crean’s story for over 20 years, have, in this account, been replaced by the facts. There’s so much more to discover about Crean and a host of new information can be found inside these definitive biographies of his life.

Clicking on the images will take you to pages where you can read reviews and purchase the books.


Tom Crean Explorer - Your Questions Answered Tom Crean BookTom Crean Explorer - Your Questions Answered Tom Crean Book

Because of my research Tom Crean's story has changed so do please share the posts.
    Tom Crean Explorer - Your Questions Answered Tom Crean Book    

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