Cold-hearted be­trayal: Was Cap­tain Scott killed by his deputy’s raid on the ra­tions?

Daily Mail - - News - By Colin Fer­nan­dez Science Cor­re­spon­dent

THE death of Scott of the Antarc­tic in 1912 af­ter fail­ing to be first to the South Pole plunged Bri­tain into mourn­ing.

Over the years, the loss of Cap­tain Scott and his four com­pan­ions was blamed on terrible weather, bad luck or – more re­cently – in­com­pe­tence.

How­ever, it may have been de­lib­er­ate sab­o­tage by his sec­ond-in-com­mand, an ex­pert now claims af­ter un­cov­er­ing un­pub­lished di­aries and doc­u­ments.

Robert Fal­con Scott and his team died in -40C, two months af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that he had been beaten to the Pole by Roald Amund­sen in Jan­uary 1912.

Pro­fes­sor Chris Tur­ney says the deaths may have been caused by Ed­ward ‘Teddy’ Evans, fu­ri­ous at not be­ing in­cluded in the team rac­ing to the Pole.

Scott had a low opin­ion of his deputy – call­ing him a ‘duf­fer’ and say­ing he was ‘not to be trusted’ in his di­aries.

Pro­fes­sor Tur­ney, from the Univer­sity of New South Wales in Aus­tralia, ac­cuses Evans of de­lib­er­ately ran­sack­ing food sup­ply de­pots lin­ing Scott’s route back, and con­tra­ven­ing an or­der to send a re­lief team to meet Scott on his re­turn.

He also claims Lord Curzon, pres­i­dent of the Royal Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety, did not in­ves­ti­gate foul play while de­cid­ing whether to hold an in­quiry. Writ­ing in the aca­demic jour­nal the Po­lar Record, Pro­fes­sor Tur­ney said: ‘The new doc­u­ments sug­gest at the very least ap­palling lead­er­ship on the part of Evans or, at worst, de­lib­er­ate sab­o­tage.

‘For too long Scott has been held re­spon­si­ble for the death of him­self and the men of his party who made the fate­ful ex­pe­di­tion to the South Pole.’

Evans was part of a three-man sup­port group sledg­ing be­hind Scott and the main party. He was en­raged to be told he would not be con­tin­u­ing to the Pole, but would be lead­ing the last sup­port­ing party back while Scott and four oth­ers went for the Pole.

Evans is ac­cused of be­tray­ing his com­rades by eat­ing con­sid­er­ably more than his fair share of ra­tions – oat­meal, bis­cuits and dried beef – meant for Scott’s party on their re­turn. When Scott and his re­main­ing col­leagues reached the de­pots on their way back, there was not enough to keep them alive. Evans had scurvy – which might ex­cuse eat­ing more than his share. But it was self-in­flicted, caused be­cause he hated eat­ing seal liver – de­spite med­i­cal ad­vice that it pre­vented the dis­ease. He also didn’t have scurvy for as long as he claimed, Pro­fes­sor Tur­ney has found.

Cap­tain Scott, Lawrence ‘ Ti­tus’ Oates, Ed­ward Wil­son, Henry ‘Birdie’ Bow­ers and Edgar ‘Taff’ Evans con­tin­ued to the Pole – only to dis­cover that Amund­sen had got there first. They then turned back – only to find de­pleted food and fuel in de­pots. He wrote in his diary that the men in Teddy Evans’s group ‘must on re­turn jour­ney have con­sumed more than their share’.

On around March 29, Scott died, short of food and caught in a nine-day bliz­zard.

The fi­nal sab­o­tage, Pro­fes­sor Tur­ney says, was Evans’s re­fusal to send a res­cue mis­sion for Scott. In­stead, he con­vinced oth­ers at base camp to take him to New Zealand. He was later en­no­bled as Baron Moun­te­vans.

Tryg­gve Gran, a Nor­we­gian ski ex­pert on the ex­pe­di­tion, said Scott and his team ‘would have got through in a rel­a­tively fine con­di­tion’ if they’d been met by a dog party.

‘Eat­ing more than his fair share’

Ex­pe­di­tion: Scott, left, and Teddy Evans

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