Shackleton, Endurance and the Remarkable Voyage of The James Caird
Angela Shackleton Bebb's great uncle, Sir Ernest Shackleton, left England on the eve of war in 1914 having received the famous telegram ‘Proceed’ from the Prime Minister. He had offered his ship and his men to his country for war service, but the feeling was that the morale boost which would result from a successful expedition was more important. He would be making the first crossing of the Antarctic continent from coast to coast via the South Pole - the last great feat of polar exploration.
His failure to achieve this became a national celebration two years after Endurance set sail when, following the loss of the ship, the survival of the men became known.
Shackleton was a man of his time, a Victorian in upbringing and emotionally heir to the great age of explorers. His years in the Merchant Navy gave him a pragmatic outlook and a resilience which quite possibly kept him and his men alive. His leadership skills were outstanding and the respect with which the men viewed him was based on his loyalty to them. He was determined to save them and, memorably, he did so following an incredible voyage of hundreds of miles in the ship's boat, the James Caird.
There are many aspects to the voyage of Endurance - and the astonishing story of survival after the ship's loss to the crushing ice - which are now regarded as part of our nation's history. One hundred years ago, on the 20th of May, Shackleton walked into the whaling station in Stromness after one of the greatest episodes of navigation and determination ever recorded.
About the Speaker
Mrs Bebb describes her own history as considerably more prosaic. She was born and grew up in Leicestershire, went to school in Suffolk and to university in Bristol. She now owns and runs a company called Universal Aunts which was founded in 1921 and has a history that is both fascinating and unique. It was the first organisation of its type and the range of activities undertaken by Aunts over the years is astonishing. It began by transporting children all over the world and continued with other, odder requests: a pair of Purdeys to Verona, an ambassador’s trousers and a pack of foxhounds to France.
The company expanded with the motto ‘Anything for Anyone at Any Time’. It found a suitcase lost "...somewhere between Victoria station and Switzerland." and a passport mislaid "....somewhere in Italy.". The company started the first meals on wheels, supplied staff to a remarkable variety of houses for an astonishing range of duties, and had its own Lancaster bomber in the second world war. The archives are a social history of Britain from the nineteen twenties to the present day.
Mrs Bebb says it will be a delight to return, as she often does, to Manchester and an honour to address the Society. Her husband has worked in this city for many years and enjoys it so much that, although recently retired, he still keeps a flat in the city centre and spends much of the week here.
Menu for Supper
Chicken with Diane sauce with new potatoes and vegetables or goats cheese and red onion quiche (v)
Lemon tart or fresh fruit salad.
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