frank wild


      In the history of Antarctic expeditions of the early 1900s, the name of Frank Wild ranks high and yet it seems strange to think that today he is half-forgetten. For with the recent revival of Shackleton one must not forget that without his faithful second-in-command the survival of the Endurance crew (1914-16) would, arguably, not have happened. I'm thinking primarily of the 4 months Wild was in charge of the 21 men at miserable Elephant Island whilst Shackleton and 5 others rowed to South Georgia for rescue. And it is but one of countless examples of Wild 's unquestioning and unswerving loyalty to the man he called "Boss".

      Th plain facts about Wild is this: between 1901-1922, Wild accompanied not just Ernest Shackleton, but Captain Scott and Douglas Mawson on five major Antarctic journeys. Few men from that now long lost era can claim to have spent longer on the ice in that region.

      The son of a schoolmaster, Wild entered the merchant Navy in his teens and by 1900 he had extensive experience of overseas voyages. In 1899 he joined the Navy. He was quiet, modest, wiry, and intermittently pugnacious. Wild belonged to a new breed of naval rating. Higher pay and long service engagements had started to bring into the Navy at the turn of the century a better class of man, more educated and ambitious than before. Many, like Wild, were merchant seamen, tired of looking for a new ship after every voyage, and attracted by the security of naval service. However, he soon became discontented with naval routine and he volunteered for Scott's Discovery expedition (1901-04) to the Antarctic within 2 years of joining the Navy.

      It was on this expedition that he first met Ernest Shackleton, a man Wild would literally follow to the ends of the earth. Under him he took part in his Furthest South expedition (1907-09) as well as Endurance. Wild again volunteered to join Shackleton in his final voyage to the Antarctic between 1921-23 aboard the Quest. Shackleton died during the expedition though the Quest carried on, under Wild's command. Without Shackleton, however, Wild was lost. He was soon drinking heavily, something he had never done before at sea. He seemed practically an alcoholic. It was his last Antarcic expedition as well.

      Eventually, 16 years later, he died in miserable circumstances in South Africa. he was 65.

      Further Reading

    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Legendary Journey to Antarctica
    • Shackleton



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