New Light on the British National Antarctic Expedition (Scott’s Discovery Expedition) 1901-1904 (2008)
This work analyses some elements of Scott’s Discovery expedition and is specifically informed by materials available in the Canterbury district of New Zealand. It draws on fresh resources now accessible in the public domain in the antipodes, and from a private collection held by the family of physicist, Louis Bernacchi. A central source for this work is the original journal of Louis Bernacchi, (for most of 1902) that resides in the manuscripts collection of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. (Bernacchi 1902) Letters and documents in the possession of Bernacchi’s granddaughter, a resident of Lincoln, also in the Canterbury district, further inform this research. This collection has only recently been acquired and my preliminary analysis (over two days in early 2008) is the first made by a polar historian. The collection may have gone unread for almost a century. It is extensive and has yet to be fully catalogued and annotated. Section 1 of this paper provides a brief history of Bernacchi in order to set the context and to rectify some oftenrepeated biographical errors. There are some letters written from the ice by Louis to his close brother Roderick that support my reasoning. Bernacchi’s correspondence with messmates upon the return of the Discovery inform my opinions about the measure of success of the expedition and provide clues regarding expedition management. There is also a significant body of (mostly brief) correspondence with central figures in British polar circles of the early twentieth century. These sources expand our knowledge of character and personality of expedition members of the Discovery. Baden Norris (Emeritus Curator of Antarctic History at the Canterbury Museum) has made the diary of Petty Officer James Duncan, shipwright and Carpenter’s Mate available to me. It contains some personal comments and provides a different (lower deck) view of routine life on the ship, especially during the winter months. This is only otherwise available in Dundee Museum (to the best of my knowledge) so I have mined this source of commentary from the mess deck of the Discovery
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