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Tom Crean’s Lifesaving Solo March

Over a period of 18 hours on the 18th and 19th February 1912, an act of individual heroism, that remains unparalleled in the history of Antarctic exploration, was playing out its final act during Captain Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the most inhospitable place on earth. A lifesaving solo march of 35 miles over the harshest environment on the Earth, was nearing an end as the sound of barking dogs recognised the man trudging his way toward them.

Tom Crean's Lifesaving Solo March Tom Crean BookIn the small hours of the morning, a lone figure staggered through the door of Captain Scott’s hut in Cape Evans. Exhausted after negotiating his way through fierce Antarctic winds, he hurriedly explained the urgency of a dire situation to Dr. Edward Atkinson, who’d been left in command in the absence of Captain Scott who, along with the polar party, was making his fateful return from the South Pole.

35-miles away in Corner Camp from where Tom Crean had begun his journey, lay two of his colleagues, one of them, his commanding officer, Captain Scott’s deputy, Lieutenant Edward Evans, was close to death having earlier contracted scurvy, a deadly disease caused by lack of Vitamin C.

Left extremely debilitated after his arduous trek, Tom Crean’s thoughts were for his two stranded colleagues, they were never for his own well being, that was his nature. For 18 hours and without skis, he had trudged his way through deep snow and struggled to manoeuvre his way over ice flats. The danger of falling into a hidden crevasse was an ever-present danger yet his selfless act of bravery wasn’t the first time he’d taken it upon himself to perform such rescue neither would it be his last.

Tom Crean's Lifesaving Solo March Tom Crean Book

Amazingly, despite his weakened condition, he requested to further partake in the rescue, volunteering to join Atkinson and the dog driver Dimitri Gerov on their sledge journey to reach Evans.
William Lashly, Crean’s colleague who remained behind to nurse Evans, had put in a Herculean effort with the Irishman to drag the sledge bearing their dying colleague in the days before reaching Corner Camp. Along with Crean, he would later be among the rare recipients of the Albert Medal for bravery.

The immensity of the solo march Tom Crean undertook on a meagre ration of two biscuits and a stick of chocolate, cannot be understated. With no qualms or hesitation, he was willing to put his own life at great risk to save another – it’s what makes for a true hero.

On St Patrick’s Day, 1914, an eternally grateful Edward Evans, delivering a lecture to a packed audience at New York’s Carnegie Hall, told his eager listeners: “When I begged them to leave me, it was Crean who, speaking for both, turned and said to me, ‘If you are to go out sir, then we’ll all go out together.”

Crean’s words that day sum up why he is a hero to so many and why the drive to honour him has generated growing support.

To learn more about Tom Crean’s remarkable life and his incredible acts of bravery, the third edition of the biography, Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero, the most comprehensive account chronicling Crean’s incredible story, reveals this great Irish hero’s life as never before.

Also available now, in a 138-page book that contains 27 full colour illustrations and 4 maps, young children, aged 6-10 years-old, can discover Tom’s amazing adventures in the book Tom The Mighty Explorer.

Both the adult and children’s books are also available in audiobooks via Amazon, Audible and Apple iTunes. To discover more about all book versions click here

If you had never heard of Tom Crean before, you will never forget his name after reading his story.

©Tim Foley 2020

Because of my research Tom Crean's story has changed so do please share the posts.
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