Frank Worsley



        Navigation is an art, of which Worsley had shown himself a master on the voyage from Patience Camp to Elephant Island

        - Roland Huntford, Shackleton

      You could argue that all the men on the famous escape from Antarctic Endurance expedition (1914-16) were heroes. Few would disagree but a hero towering about other heroes (with the exception of the leader Shackleton) was the Captain, Frank Worsley. For without his extraordinary navigational skills with the most rudimentary on instruments in the epic open-boat voyage of the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia then the members of the expedition would surely have perished. Such a feat of navigation has long since passed into the seaman's folklore.

      Worsley was from New Zealand and became an apprentice in the merchant navy at the age of 15 serving on both sailing and steam ships. In 1914 he joined the above mentioned epic Endurance expedition (more details). His captaincy of men could be all over the place but as, basically, a second-in-command to Shackleton he more than held his own.

      After the expedition, he commanded Q boats in the First World War - anti-submarine boats disguised as merchant shipping. He was twice decorated for anti-submarine action, once with the D.S.O.

      In late October 1918, Worsley became part of the North Russia Expeditionary Force at the request of Shackleton. He again won the D.S.O. for leading a daring land raid against the Bolsheviks.

      After the war, he was involved in Shackleton's last expedition to the Antarctic on the Quest, cut short by Shackleton's death on South Georgia. The voyage continued without their leader, with Frank Wild in charge, and they returned to Elephant Island, the home of 22 of the men for four months during Endurance.

      Worsley then spent several years earning money by giving lectures about the Endurance expedition. He commentated on Shackleton's film South released in 1919.

      He was joint leader of an Arctic expedition to Franz Josef Land in 1925; in 1935 he was part of a treasure hunting expedition in the Cocos Islands.

      Despite retiring from the sea in 1939, he remained a Royal naval reserve officer and continued to instruct at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich until his death in February 1943. He died of lung cancer.

      Frank Worsley rarities @ (direct link to his rarities)

      Further Reading

    • Shackleton's Boat Journey: The Narrative from the Captain of the Endurance
    • Shackleton's Captain: A biography of Frank Worsley
    • South with "Endurance" - The Photogaphs of Frank Hurley
    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
    • "Endurance": Shackleton's Legendary Journey to Antarctica
    • Shackleton



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