An intrepid soldier has embarked on a trek to Antarctica to recreate the final journey of one of the country’s most well-known explorers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Worsely will take a polar medal, awarded posthumously to Captain Lawrence Oates, to Antarctica to mark the 100th anniversary of his fatal journey with Captain Scott to the South Pole.
Lt-Col Worsley, who lives in Putney just streets away from the home of Capt Oates, left with his team for Chile last week. They will begin their odyssey on the ice on November 11, competing against a team led by Warrant Officer Mark Langridge.
Both teams will leave at the same time from different parts of the Union Glacier and are expected to reach the South Pole in 60 days.
In 1911 Captain Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen led teams of British and Norwegian explorers in their historic 920-mile race, which culminated in the latter’s victory.
But it also claimed the lives of Capt Scott’s men, including Capt Oates, whose famous last words have become entrenched in British history.
He walked from the team’s tent into a blizzard and said “I am just going outside and may be some time”, in the vain hope of giving his comrades a better chance of survival.
Lt-Col Worsley, who aims to raise £500,000 for the Royal British Legion, said: “Capt Oates’s actions are seared in the nation’s memory as an enduring narrative of duty and self-sacrifice.”
The team led by Lt-Col Worsely will follow Admusen’s route by crossing the Ross Ice Shelf but WO Langridge’s men will mirror Capt Scott’s route via the Beardmore Glacier.
In 2008 Lt-Col Worsley battled to the South Pole in temperatures of -52C but if he completes this year’s epic task will become the first person to complete both routes, a feat he described as the “holy grail”.