Quest - Ernest Shackleton 1921 - 1922
The Endurance Expedition
Green was the expedition cook, with the assistance
of Perce Blackborow, he worked in the galley, first aboard ship and
on the ice, working the longest days of any on the expedition on
a regular basis, from early morning till evening, preparing meals
for 28 hungry men.
When on the ice, they cooked on a stove that was
heated by burning seal or penguin blubber, a very smoky fuel which
gave them permanently blackened faces and earned them the nicknames
of "Potash and Perlmutter".
Green was regarded as disorganized and
scatterbrained by the rest of the men, though his conscientiousness
in his job more than made up for these. He was sometimes called "Doughballs"
due to his high squeaky voice and had earlier lost a testicle in an
(I am unable to find out why these names were
given. "Potash and Perlmutter" were a series of stories written by
Montague Glass, a glove salesman in the early 1900's about a pair of
Jewish tailors, they became a series of comedies, initially stage
plays and then from the mid 1920's films by MGM - any insights
appreciated. My guess is that the names for given for their
characteristics, rather than appearance)
"Potash and Perlmutter"
Clark, Robert S.
Green, Charles J.
Hudson, Hubert T.
Hurley, James F. (Frank)
Hussey, Leonard D. A.
James, Reginald W.
Kerr, A. J.
Macklin, Dr. Alexander H.
Marston, George E.
McIlroy, Dr. James A.
Motor Expert and Storekeeper
Shackleton, Ernest H.
Second in Command
Wordie, James M.
Green first went to sea at the age of 21 as a cook
in the Merchant Navy, he was the son of a master baker.
His return from the expedition in November 1916
provided something of a shock, his parents had presumed him dead,
not having heard anything in two years and had cashed in his life
insurances. Maybe less surprising, the young lady he had been
courting had now married someone else.
He enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Cook early in
1917, serving on the Destroyer H.M.S. Wakeful. In November 1918, he
was married to Ethel May Johnson of Hull, in the same month he was
given the Bronze Polar Medal for his services on the Endurance
In 1919 he resumed his job as a merchant navy cook
on various ships around the world.
Shackleton requested in early 1921 that Green join him on what would
become the Quest expedition to Antarctica, though this was cut short
by the unexpected death of Shackleton from a heart attack in a South
Back in England it was back to being a cook in the
merchant navy. Green now had a set of glass lantern-slides from the
Endurance expedition given to him by Shackleton on board the Quest",
which gave him the opportunity to give lectures in his numerous
ports of call including the U.S.A., Canada, South Africa, Australia
and New Zealand.
He left the merchant navy in 1931 due to the ill
health of his wife who had cancer. He worked the night shift in a
bakery in Hull, looking after his wife by day until she died in
1936, there were no children.
Green became a "Fire Watcher" in the Second
World War from 1939 on the roof of a large garage in Hull city
centre. Hull, had a docks and naval presence making it an obvious
enemy target. Green was bombed out of home nine times, losing
everything, at one point living in an Air Raid Shelter for over a
fortnight. He found lodgings with a previous neighbour and
eventually stayed with them for over thirty years.
Green gave over a thousand Shackleton
lantern-slide lectures to various societies, schools, clubs,
organisations, even prisons, across the whole country. He kept in
touch with other Endurance and Quest expedition members, and
attended the Endurance 50th Anniversary reunion in London in June
1964 and the commissioning of the Royal Navy's new Antarctic Survey
ship "HMS Endurance" at Portsmouth Dockyard in 1968. He returned to
Portsmouth in 1970 to revisit "HMS Endurance", accompanied by the
then remaining survivors, Lionel Greenstreet and Ernie How.
By 1972, Green had given up lecturing career and
suddenly sold his extensive collection of material, memorabilia,
lantern-slides and projector, these were bought by a dealer who
mainly wanted the Bronze Polar Medal, an item that he had worn with
pride at every lecture or official occasion.
He died in Beverley Hospital, near Hull of Peritonitis on the 26th
of September 1974 at the age of 85 years.
Some of the crew of the Endurance
photographed in Buenos Aries 1917
Robin Mackenzie -
Stornoway Historical Society
- As a pupil at Beverley Grammar School
at the end of the 1960s I attended an after-school
lantern slide show given by Green in the Physics
Laboratory. As I recall he was given minimal
introduction. He conjured up the difficulties of their
journey and tailored the talk well to his adolescent
male audience. For example, he detailed the problems of
urinating at such low temperatures. All was delivered
with the understatement typical of that generation and
those times. Despite his age and the outdated equipment
he won the respect of his audience.
Michael Smith - by email
- I met Mr Green around
1969. He came to give a talk at Hymers College Junior
School. It was very inspiring and the detail
has stuck with me vividly for all these years. I recall
him telling me things that I have been unable to find in
any books. Specifically I recall him telling me how they
talked about the possibility of cannibalism if they ran
out of food and how the young stowaway volunteered if it
ever came to this. I doubt this could ever be verified
because it would have been socially unacceptable even as
a thought in those times. I also recall him describing
how Orcas came up through the ice and took dogs away but
they never seemed to go anywhere near a man.
He was an
amazing man and was a true inspiration to me.
MVO - by email
in Shackleton's book "South!"
he was usually referred to as "cook" rather than
deserves much praise for the way he has stuck to his job
through all this severe blizzard. His galley consists of
nothing but a few boxes arranged as a table, with a
canvas screen erected around them on four oars and the
two blubber-stoves within. The protection afforded by
the screen is only partial, and the eddies drive the
pungent blubber-smoke in all directions.
At 9.30 p.m. that night we were off
again. I was, as usual, pioneering in front, followed by
the cook and his mate pulling a small sledge with the
stove and all the cooking gear on. These two, black as
two Mohawk Minstrels with the blubber-soot, were dubbed
"Potash and Perlmutter."
Next come the dog teams, who soon overtake the cook, and
the two boats bring up the rear. Were it not for these
cumbrous boats we should get along at a great rate, but
we dare not abandon them on any account. As it is we
left one boat, the Stancomb Wills, behind at Ocean Camp,
and the remaining two will barely accommodate the whole
party when we leave the floe.
There was no rest for the
cook. The blubber-stove
flared and spluttered fiercely as he cooked, not one
meal, but many meals, which merged into a day-long bout
of eating. We drank water and ate seal meat until every
man had reached the limit of his capacity.
The galley was set up by the rocks
close to my tent, in a hole we had dug through the
debris of the penguin rookery. Cases of stores gave some
shelter from the wind and a spread sail kept some of the
snow off the cook when he
was at work. He had not much idle time. The amount of
seal and sea-elephant steak and blubber consumed by our
hungry party was almost incredible. He did not lack
assistance—the neighbourhood of the blubber-stove had
attractions for every member of the party; but he earned
everybody's gratitude by his unflagging energy in
preparing meals that to us at least were savoury and
satisfying. Frankly, we needed all the comfort that the
hot food could give us.
At first the meals, consisting mostly
of seal meat with one hot drink per day, were cooked on
a stove in the open. The snow and wind, besides making
it very unpleasant for the cook,
filled all the cooking-pots with sand and grit, so
during the winter the cooking was done inside the hut.
who had carried on so well and for so long, was given a
rest on August 9, and each man took it in turns to be
cook for one week. As the cook and his "mate" had the
privilege of scraping out the saucepans, there was some
anxiety to secure the job, especially amongst those with
the larger appetites. "The last of the methylated spirit
was drunk on August 12, and from then onwards the King's
health, ‘sweethearts and wives,' and ‘the Boss and crew
of the Caird,' were drunk in hot water and ginger every