As I am sure anyone with a passing interest in Antarctica knows, Sir Ernest Shackleton died while aboard the Quest in Grytviken Harbour, South Georgia. He was buried there and his grave has become a place of pilgrimage to many passengers on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula voyages.
Frank Wild was Shackleton’s trusted second-in-command during the ill-fated Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the Endurance (1914-1916). He and 21 crewmates remained on desolate Elephant Island for over four months after the Endurance was lost while Shackleton and five others sailed a seven metre lifeboat to South Georgia to organise a rescue.
Frank Wild CBE is one of the great Antarctic explorers. In 1901 both he and Ernest Shackleton were members of Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition on the Discovery. In 1908-09 he was with Shackleton on the Nimrod expedition and in 1911 he joined Douglas Mawson’s Aurora expedition before being reunited with Shackleton aboard The Endurance from 1914-1916.
At the end of this week, renowned Antarctic explorer, Frank Wild CBE will have his last wish granted 72 years after his death, when his ashes are laid to rest alongside Sir Ernest Shackleton in a tiny graveyard in one of the remotest places on earth. Wild died and was cremated in 1939 in South Africa but his ashes, which were lost to the world for many years, were found only this year by British historian and author Angie Butler. His last wish that he be buried on South Georgia Island, next to Shackleton, was never granted due to the outbreak of WW11 two weeks later.
Belatedly Wild will be buried on November 27 2011 on South Georgia Island in the whalers’ graveyard by the ruins of Grytviken whaling station.
One Ocean Expeditions historian, David McGonigal said, “It’s likely to be the closing event of Antarctica’s Heroic Age. The Heroic Age was marked by the truly remarkable feats of the great explorers like Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott, Douglas Mawson and Roald Amundsen and this event is even more significant as it takes place just two weeks before the centenary of Amundsen and his Norwegian compatriots achieving the South Pole for the first time.”
Angie Butler, and several relatives of Frank Wild as well as the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, the grand- daughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton, will accompany Wild’s ashes to South Georgia onboard the Akademik Ioffe.
“The significance of the event will be recognized by the South Georgia Government at an official reception at Government House, Stanley, as well as the issuing of a set of commemorative stamps. A minister will sail from the Falkland Islands to conduct the service and the funeral proceedings at Grytviken that will be overseen by South Georgia’s Government Officer, Mr Pat Lurcock. “With favourable sailing conditions, the burial ceremony is expected to be conducted on Sunday 27 November 2011. “
TV presenter Paul Rose and a crew from BBC2 are onboard filming the expedition. The program is scheduled to be shown on BBC2 next April 2012.
So anyone looking for a great book for Christmas then Angie Butler, a British journalist and polar historian, found Wild’s ashes in Johannesburg. Her search is recounted in her book “The Quest for Frank Wild”.
If you are looking to visit South Georgia then contact our voyages team who will be happy to discuss the options.