Capt Lawrence Oates

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Capt Lawrence Oates

Post by Admin on Tue 18 Mar 2008, 5:41 pm




Lawrence Edward Grace Oates was born in Putney, London, on 17 March 1880. He was educated at Eton College and privately until 1898, when he was gazetted to a militia regiment. Two years later, he joined the Iniskilling Dragoons, a cavalry regiment, and served with distinction in the Boer War in South Africa. Severely wounded in March 1901, he was invalided home for a short time, before returning to the front by the end of the year. Promoted lieutenant in 1902, Oates served with his regiment in Ireland, then in Egypt, where he became captain, and later in India.

Oates volunteered to join the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), and was placed in charge of the nineteen ponies, which he cared for throughout the expedition, assisted by the Russian, Anton Omelchenko. During January and February of 1911, Oates took a prominent part in depot laying in preparation for the following summer's polar journey. Setting out from Hut Point in November 1911, the Polar and support parties reached the foot of the Beardmore Glacier in December 1911, here the remaining ponies were shot and the dog teams sent back. Somewhat to his surprise, Oates was included in the five-man Polar Party, with Scott, Edward Adrian Wilson, Henry Robinson Bowers and Edgar Evans. Continuing south, they reached the Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that Roald Amundsen had forestalled them by almost five weeks. On the return journey, the weakened party faced exceptionally unfavourable weather and sledging conditions, and Oates suffered gravely from frostbite. On 16 or 17 March 1912, laid up in a blizzard and concerned that he was reducing his companions' chances of survival, he ended his life by leaving the tent, his famous last words being "I am just going outside. I may be some time."

A very brave man indeed, Capt Oates walked off into an antarctic blizzard at minus forty degs, on his thirty second birthday. He left his boots in the tent, probably because his frostbitten feet felt better without them.

Any M & A W trained RM has great admiration for him and we remember his bravery every time we leave any form of shelter in the arctic to take a dump. Shovel in one hand, paper in the other.

Oates knew he would eventually die, he also realised that Scot, Wilson, Evans and Bowers` efforts to keep him alive would ultimately reduce their chances in the utmost survival situation. But cruel fate prevented their salvation some time later when the weather worsened and they were stuck in the tent. Eleven miles from a large food cache, they died one by one after nine days.

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Re: Capt Lawrence Oates

Post by vff on Mon 31 Mar 2008, 3:30 pm

Here's Here's a picture of Hut Point and Scott's Hut at McMurdo Station (Mac Town) in Antarctica that I took in 2004. All of the Hut's contents are still in place just as they were when it was last used.
For a virtual tour ... http://astro.uchicago.edu/cara/vtour/mcmurdo/
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