with Endurance: Frank Hurley - official
Frank Hurley: A
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Antarctic Eyewitness: South With Mawson
and Shackleton's Argonauts
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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.
Australasian Antarctic Expedition - 1911-13
The Endurance Expedition
Single, was of
Sydney, New South Wales. He had been the recipient of
many amateur and professional awards for photographic
work before joining the Expedition. At the Main Base
he obtained excellent photographic and cinematographic
records and was one of the three members of the Southern
Sledging Party. He was also present on the final cruise
of the `Aurora'.
From Appendix 1, Mawson -
Heart of the Antarctic
The only member
of Shackleton's expedition that Shackleton didn't
meet or interview before the expedition set off, Hurley
was accepted on the the strength of his work with Mawson
on the 1911-13
Shackleton's Endurance expedition at six weeks notice
meeting the ship in Buenos Aires after travelling from
Australia. He had been warned by Mawson to make an arrangement
with Shackleton whereby he was paid a percentage of
the "profits" of the expedition. It was also
in Shackleton's financial interests to make sure
that a full pictorial record of the expedition made
it back home.
Hurley was tall
and tough, his first impressions of the crew of the
Endurance were not favourable thinking that their physiques
were small and not up to standard of the men on Mawson's
Australian Antarctic Expedition.
was as Greenstreet put it "a
warrior with his camera & would go anywhere or do
anything to get a picture". At that time
a camera was a large wooden boxed structure weighing
many pounds and requiring more wooden boxes of glass
plates that were used to take the negatives. Even taking
the simplest photograph was a significant undertaking
and Hurley regularly hauled his equipment, 40 lbs of
it and more to difficult places, to the top of the Endurance's
masts or up peaks in South Georgia for instance.
He was also a
skilled tinsmith and made a water pump for the lifeboats
and also a portable stove taken around from camp to
camp from materials salvaged from the Endurance, both
difficult jobs due to the lack of correct and sharp
tools for the jobs.
Even though many photographic plates
taken on the Endurance expedition were destroyed before
taking to the lifeboats, many survived along with a
good deal of cine film which provide the pictorial record
of the story. Hurley rescued many of the plates after
the Endurance had been lost, but still not fully submerged
by returning to the wreck and bare-chested to the waist
dived into 3 feet of mushy ice and sea-water to retrieve
cases of glass negative plates that were protected by
being zinc lined and soldered shut.
Hurley sat with
Shackleton on the ice at Shackleton's insistence
and they decided between them which plates to keep and
which to leave to conserve weight. Those to be left
were broken so second thoughts were not an option. 150
of the best plates were saved and the remainder, about
400 were destroyed.
Hurley was nicknamed "the
Prince" on the expedition for his susceptibility
to flattery, a trait which Shackleton had reason to
use as a means to keeping Hurley onside during the most
difficult times and to temper Hurley's sometimes
overly forthright and uninhibited manner.
He continued to
be critical about his fellow crew members on arrival
at Elephant Island, recording in his diary that
"... many conducted themselves
in a manner unworthy of Gentleman and British sailors.
Some of whom it was anticipated would be the bulwarks
of the party "stove in". In the majority
of cases those suffering from severe frostbites
could be traced to negligence..."
that stand meritorious, Sir E. has mentioned: Wild
- a tower of strength who appeared as well as ever
after 32 hours at the tiller in frozen clothes,
Crean who ... piloted the Wills, McNiesh (Carpenter)
Vincent (AB) McCarthy (AB) Marston (Dudley Docker) &
Note that he included
himself without comment. He went on to say that:
"A fair proportion
of the remainder. I am convinced would starve or
freeze if left to their own resources on this island"
Hurley had total admiration
for Shackleton's leadership under these circumstances
with what he saw was less than ideal material.
After the rescue
and return home of the expedition members, Hurley returned
to South Georgia, to shoot more footage for his film
of the expedition. He attempted to follow in the footsteps
of Shackleton, Crean and Worsley across the island,
but despite it being summer and having proper equipment,
he found it impossible to do so.
It is largely
due to Hurley's pictures that we are able to get
such a good impression of the events and that the Endurance
story is still very alive and capturing people's
imaginations even today.
Hurley left school and home at the age of 13, without
any qualifications and worked in a steel mill and the
Sydney dockyards. Eventually he studied at the University
of Sydney and taught himself photography.
After the Endurance expedition, Hurley
served as an army photographer in the First World War.
Later he became
the official photographer to a number of expeditions
to tropical regions, returning to the Antarctic again
in 1929-31 on the BANZARE voyage (British, Australian
and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition).
He was a war photographer
again in World War Two.
Frank Hurley died
aged 76 on the 17th of January 1962 in Sydney.
Frank Hurley photograph collection
National Library of Australia
Frank Hurley papers collection at the
National Library of Australia
References to Frank
Hurley in Shackleton's book "South!"
were plentiful. We saw large numbers on the
pack and several on low parts of the barrier,
where the slope was easy. The ship passed through
large schools of seals swimming from the barrier
to the pack off shore. The animals were splashing
and blowing around the Endurance, and
a record of this unusual sight with the kinematograph-camera.
- On the
following day Wild,
and McIlroy took their teams to the Stained
Berg, about seven miles west of the ship, and
on their way back got a female crab-eater, which
they killed, skinned, and left to be picked
up later. They ascended to the top of the berg,
which lay in about lat. 69° 30´ S., long.
51° W., and from an elevation of 110 ft.
could see no land. Samples of the discoloured
ice from the berg proved to contain dust with
black gritty particles or sand-grains.
- If the
ship had heeled any farther it would have been
necessary to release the lee boats and pull
them clear, and Worsley was watching to give
the alarm. Hurley
meanwhile descended to the floe and took some
photographs of the ship in her unusual position.
came in chill and cheerless. All hands were
stiff and weary after their first disturbed
night on the floe. Just at daybreak I went over
to the Endurance with Wild and
order to retrieve some tins of petrol that could
be used to boil up milk for the rest of the
- On December
20, after discussing the question with Wild,
I informed all hands that I intended to try
and make a march to the west to reduce the distance
between us and Paulet Island. A buzz of pleasurable
anticipation went round the camp, and every
one was anxious to get on the move. So the next
day I set off with Wild, Crean, and
dog teams, to the westward to survey the route.
meanwhile had rigged his kinematograph-camera
and was getting pictures of the Endurance in
her death-throes. While he was engaged thus,
the ice, driving against the standing rigging
and the fore-, main- and mizzen-masts, snapped
the shrouds. The foretop and topgallant-mast
came down with a run and hung in wreckage on
the fore-mast, with the fore-yard vertical.
The main-mast followed immediately, snapping
off about 10 ft. above the main deck. The crow's-nest
fell within 10 ft. of where
Hurley stood turning
the handle of his camera, but he did not stop
the machine, and so secured a unique, though
- A path
over the shattered floes would be hard to find,
and to get the boats into a position of peril
might be disastrous. 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.
Hudson left for the old camp in order to bring
some additional dog-pemmican, since there were
no seals to be found near us.
named after James Hurley
Feature Type: cape
Description: An ice-covered coastal point
marking on the east the mouth of the
depression occupied by the Mertz Glacier. Discovered
by the AAE (1911-14) under Douglas Mawson.
Feature Type: summit
Description: Snow-covered massif with
steep bare slopes on the W side, standing 7
mi S of Cape Ann
and 3 mi S of Mount Biscoe. Discovered in January
1930 by the BANZARE, 1929-31, under Mawson.
Aurora Personnel Summary
- 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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