Huberht Taylor Hudson
(the spelling used of the first name
is the old Anglo-Saxon way, rather than the
more common Hubert)
The Endurance Expedition
never quite knows whether he is on the brink
of a mental breakdown or bubbling over with
- Thomas Orde-Lees - expedition member.
A son of a London minister and second eldest of
seven children, born in Holloway. Joined the merchant
service in1901 and commissioned to the Royal Naval
Reserve in 1913, a mate in the Royal Navy when he
signed on with Shackleton's expedition.
Hudson was regarded as something of a dull character,
he earned himself the nickname "Buddha"
following an event when moored at South Georgia.
The crew had convinced him that he had been invited
to a "costume party" (a rather grand fancy-dress
event) on shore given by the whaling station manager.
They encouraged him to dress as Buddha, removing
most his clothing and replacing it with a bedsheet
and tea-pot lid tied onto the top of his head with
ribbons. He was rowed ashore through blowing snow
and sleet to find that while there was a party underway
(of a very un-grand nature), that he was the only
one wearing any kind of fancy dress costume.
The expedition's best penguin-catcher a skill of
great value during the time that the crew drifted
on the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea and while awaiting
rescue on Elephant Island. Hudson took charge of
the lifeboat Stancomb Wills on the journey to Elephant
Island though had an uncomfortable journey. While
on Elephant Island, he spent most of his time in
the hut with Blackborow suffering from a nervous
breakdown and a badly infected abscess on the buttock.
An attempt to drain this by McIlroy and Macklin
yielded more than two pints of foul smelling fluid.
After the expedition, Hudson
served on "mystery ships" (also known as
Q boats) during the First World War. Afterwards
he joined the British India Navigation Society.
Despite health problems, he served as a Commodore
in the Royal Naval Reserve working mainly on convoy
duty. He was
killed in action on the 15th of June 1942 at age
55 on HMS Eaglet when the ship was torpedoed and
References to Hubert Hudson in Shackleton's
At midnight, as I
was sitting in the ‘tub' I heard a clamorous
noise down on the deck, with ringing of bells, and
realized that it was the New Year." Worsley came
down from his lofty seat and met Wild,
Hudson, and myself
on the bridge, where we shook hands and wished one
another a happy and successful New Year. Since entering
the pack on December 11 we had come 480 miles, through
loose and close pack-ice. We had pushed and fought
the little ship through, and she had stood the test
well, though the propeller had received some shrewd
blows against hard ice and the vessel had been driven
against the floe until she had fairly mounted up
on it and slid back rolling heavily from side to
side. The rolling had been more frequently caused
by the operation of cracking through thickish young
ice, where the crack had taken a sinuous course.
We found several
good leads to the south in the evening, and continued
to work southward throughout the night and the following
day. The pack extended in all directions as far
as the eye could reach. The noon observation showed
the run for the twenty-four hours to be 54 miles,
a satisfactory result under the conditions. Wild
shot a young Ross seal on the floe, and we manoeuvred
the ship alongside. Hudson
jumped down, bent a line on to the seal, and the
pair of them were hauled up. The seal was 4 ft.
9 in. long and weighed about ninety pounds. He was
a young male and proved very good eating, but when
dressed and minus the blubber made little more than
a square meal for our twenty-eight men, with a few
scraps for our breakfast and tea. The stomach contained
only amphipods about an inch long, allied to those
found in the whales at Grytviken.
Hudson rigged the
wireless in the hope of hearing the monthly message
from the Falkland Islands. This message would be
due about 3.20 a.m. on the following morning, but
James was doubtful about hearing anything with our
small apparatus at a distance of 1630 miles from
the dispatching station. We heard nothing, as a
matter of fact, and later efforts were similarly
unsuccessful. The conditions would have been difficult
even for a station of high power.
The wireless apparatus
was still rigged, but we listened in vain for the
Saturday-night time signals from New Year Island,
ordered for our benefit by the Argentine Government.
On Sunday the 28th, Hudson
waited at 2 a.m. for the Port Stanley monthly signals,
but could hear nothing. Evidently the distances
were too great for our small plant.
A strong south-westerly
wind was blowing on October 20 and the pack was
working. The Endurance was imprisoned securely in
the pool, but our chance might come at any time.
Watches were set so as to be ready for working ship.
Wild and Hudson,
Greenstreet and Cheetham, Worsley and Crean, took
the deck watches, and the Chief Engineer and Second
Engineer kept watch and watch with three of the
A.B.'s for stokers. The staff and the forward
hands, with the exception of the cook, the carpenter
and his mate, were on "watch and watch"—that is,
four hours on deck and four hours below, or off
The pioneer sledge
party, consisting of Wordie, Hussey,
Hudson, and myself,
carrying picks and shovels, started to break a road
through the pressure-ridges for the sledges carrying
the boats. The boats, with their gear and the sledges
beneath them, weighed each more than a ton. The
cutter was smaller than the whaler, but weighed
more and was a much more strongly built boat.
I had decided to
take the James Caird myself, with Wild and eleven
men. This was the largest of our boats, and in addition
to her human complement she carried the major portion
of the stores. Worsley had charge of the Dudley
Docker with nine men, and
Hudson and Crean
were the senior men on the Stancomb Wills.
The first consideration,
which was even more important than that of food,
was to provide shelter. The semi-starvation during
the drift on the ice-floe, added to the exposure
in the boats, and the inclemencies of the weather
encountered after our landing on Elephant Island,
had left its mark on a good many of them. Rickenson,
who bore up gamely to the last, collapsed from heart-failure.
Blackborow and Hudson
could not move. All were frost-bitten in varying
degrees and their clothes, which had been worn continuously
for six months, were much the worse for wear. The
blizzard which sprang up the day that we landed
at Cape Wild lasted for a fortnight, often blowing
at the rate of seventy to ninety miles an hour,
and occasionally reaching even higher figures. The
tents which had lasted so well and endured so much
were torn to ribbons, with the exception of the
square tent occupied by Hurley, James, and
and clothes were wringing wet, and the physical
discomforts were tending to produce acute mental
depression. The two remaining boats had been turned
upside down with one gunwale resting on the snow,
and the other raised about two feet on rocks and
cases, and under these the sailors and some of the
scientists, with the two invalids, Rickenson and
Blackborow, found head-cover at least. Shelter from
the weather and warmth to dry their clothes was
imperative, so Wild hastened the excavation of the
ice-cave in the slope which had been started before
Again, later on,
one writes: "Now that Wild's window allows a
shaft of light to enter our hut, one can begin to
‘see' things inside. Previously one relied upon
one's sense of touch, assisted by the remarks
from those whose faces were inadvertently trodden
on, to guide one to the door. Looking down in the
semi-darkness to the far end, one observes two very
small smoky flares that dimly illuminate a row of
five, endeavouring to make time pass by reading
or argument. These are Macklin, Kerr, Wordie,
Hudson, and Blackborow—the
last two being invalids.
The main or hand
pump was frozen up and could not be used at once.
After it had been knocked out Worsley, Greenstreet,
and Hudson went
down in the bunkers and cleared the ice from the
bilges. "This is not a pleasant job," wrote Worsley.
"We have to dig a hole down through the coal while
the beams and timbers groan and crack all around
us like pistol-shots. The darkness is almost complete,
and we mess about in the wet with half-frozen hands
and try to keep the coal from slipping back into
the bilges. The men on deck pour buckets of boiling
water from the galley down the pipe as we prod and
hammer from below, and at last we get the pump clear,
cover up the bilges to keep the coal out, and rush
on deck, very thankful to find ourselves safe again
in the open air."
Once they were settled
in their hut, the health of the party was quite
good. Of course, they were all a bit weak, some
were light-headed, all were frost-bitten, and others,
later, had attacks of heart failure. Blackborow,
whose toes were so badly frost-bitten in the boats,
had to have all five amputated while on the island.
With insufficient instruments and no proper means
of sterilizing them, the operation, carried out
as it was in a dark, grimy hut, with only a blubber-stove
to keep up the temperature and with an outside temperature
well below freezing, speaks volumes for the skill
and initiative of the surgeons. I am glad to be
able to say that the operation was very successful,
and after a little treatment ashore, very kindly
given by the Chilian doctors at Punta Arenas, he
has now completely recovered and walks with only
a slight limp. Hudson,
who developed bronchitis and hip disease, was practically
well again when the party was rescued. All trace
of the severe frost-bites suffered in the boat journey
had disappeared, though traces of recent superficial
ones remained on some. All were naturally weak when
rescued, owing to having been on such scanty rations
for so long, but all were alive and very cheerful,
thanks to Frank Wild.
We had two pole-tents
and three hoop-tents. I took charge of the small
pole-tent, No. 1, with
Hudson, Hurley, and James as companions;
Wild had the small hoop-tent, No. 2, with Wordie,
McNeish, and McIlroy. These hoop-tents are very
easily shifted and set up. The eight forward hands
had the large hoop-tent, No. 3; Crean had charge
of No. 4 hoop-tent with Hussey, Marston, and Cheetham;
and Worsley had the other pole-tent, No. 5, with
Greenstreet, Lees, Clark, Kerr, Rickenson, Macklin,
and Blackborow, the last named being the youngest
of the forward hands.
Rickenson and Worsley
started back for Dump Camp at 7 a.m. to get some
wood and blubber for the fire, and an hour later
we had hoosh, with one biscuit each. At 10 a.m.
Hurley and Hudson
left for the old camp in order to bring some additional
dog-pemmican, since there were no seals to be found
near us. Then, as the weather cleared, Worsley and
I made a prospect to the west and tried to find
a practicable road. A large floe offered a fairly
good road for at least another mile to the north-west,
and we went back prepared for another move. The
weather cleared a little, and after lunch we struck
camp. I took Rickenson, Kerr, Wordie, and
Hudson as a breakdown
gang to pioneer a path among the pressure-ridges.
Five dog teams followed. Wild's and Hurley's
teams were hitched on to the cutter and they started
off in splendid style. They needed to be helped
only once; indeed fourteen dogs did as well or even
better than eighteen men. The ice was moving beneath
and around us as we worked towards the big floe,
and where this floe met the smaller ones there was
a mass of pressed-up ice, still in motion, with
water between the ridges. But it is wonderful what
a dozen men can do with picks and shovels. We could
cut a road through a pressure-ridge about 14 ft.
high in ten minutes and leave a smooth, or comparatively
smooth, path for the sledges and teams.
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What are the chances that my ancestor
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Leonard D. A.
Dr. Alexander H.
Dr. James A.
Motor Expert and Storekeeper
Second in Command