Huberht Taylor Hudson
spelling used of the first name is the old Anglo-Saxon
The Endurance Expedition
never quite knows whether he is on the brink of a mental
breakdown or bubbling over with suppressed intellectuality,"
- 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 sank.
to Hubert Hudson in Shackleton's book "South!"
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 duty.
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
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 Hudson.
Sleeping-bags 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 I left.
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.
- This is a difficult area to research, I am concentrating on the Polar
experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures
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- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the
Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?
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.