Dr. Alexander Hepburne Macklin
Surgeon, stores and equipment
Shackleton 1921 - 1922
The Endurance Expedition
One of two surgeons on the expedition, Macklin
also had the job of driving a team of sled dogs and caring for the
Most surgeons and doctors on Antarctic expeditions
had little of a medical nature to deal with most of the time, but
once on Elephant Island, Macklin and McIlroy, the other surgeon had
much to attend to. Rickinson had a heart condition, Blackborow had
gangrene in his toes several of which were amputated, Hudson was
having a nervous breakdown and suffered an infected boil.
There were many other cases of frostbite, dysentery, boils, sores
etc. that meant that both surgeons were best left on Elephant Island
rather than accompanying Shackleton to South Georgia.
Macklin was the son of a doctor, he was born in
India, when the family returned to England, they settled in the
Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall where his father set up
practise. After a short spell working as a deckhand, Macklin read
medicine at Manchester
University, it was very shortly after qualifying that he applied for the Endurance expedition.
On return to England, Macklin Joined the army as
an officer in the Medical Corps serving in France and Russia during
the First World War. He served first with the Yorks later
transferring as medical officer to the Tanks. Going to the Italian
front with his battalion, he won the Military Cross (M.C.) for
bravery in tending the wounded under fire.
Shackleton invited Macklin to join him again for
the Quest expedition in 1922, which like many of the old Endurance
crew, he was happy to do so. As the ship's surgeon, on Shackleton's
death at South Georgia, it fell to Macklin to prepare the body
initially for transport to South America and then for burial on
Back home, he moved to Scotland and set up a
practise in Dundee where he remained from 1926 to 1947. In the
Second World War, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Medical Corps,
serving in East Africa.
In addition to the M.C. (Military Cross) awarded
in WW1, he also received the T.D. (Territorial Decoration) and later
the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire ).
At the age of 58, he married and moved further
north to Aberdeen working in various positions in Aberdeen hospitals
before retirement in 1960. He died aged 77 in 1967.
References to Robert
Clark in Shackleton's book "South!"
The quarters in the 'tween decks were
completed by the 10th, and the men took possession of
the cubicles that had been built. The largest cubicle
contained Macklin, McIlroy,
Hurley, and Hussey and it was named "The Billabong."
The dogs had been divided into six
teams of nine dogs each. Wild, Crean,
Macklin, McIlroy, Marston,
and Hurley each had charge of a team, and were fully
responsible for the exercising, training, and feeding of
their own dogs. They called in one of the surgeons when
an animal was sick. We were still losing some dogs
through worms, and it was unfortunate that the doctors
had not the proper remedies. Worm-powders were to have
been provided by the expert Canadian dog-driver I had
engaged before sailing for the south, and when this man
did not join the Expedition the matter was overlooked.
"This afternoon Sallie's three
youngest pups, Sue's Sirius, and Mrs. Chippy, the
carpenter's cat, have to be shot. We could not undertake
the maintenance of weaklings under the new conditions.
Macklin, Crean, and the
carpenter seemed to feel the loss of their friends
Rivalries arose, as might have been
expected, and on the 15th of the month a great race, the
"Antarctic Derby," took place. It was a notable event.
The betting had been heavy, and every man aboard the
ship stood to win or lose on the result of the contest.
Some money had been staked, but the wagers that thrilled
were those involving stores of chocolate and cigarettes.
The course had been laid off from Khyber Pass, at the
eastern end of the old lead ahead of the ship, to a
point clear of the jib-boom, a distance of about 700 yds.
Five teams went out in the dim noon twilight, with a
zero temperature and an aurora flickering faintly to the
southward. The starting signal was to be given by the
flashing of a light on the meteorological station. I was
appointed starter, Worsley was judge, and James was
timekeeper. The bos'n, with a straw hat added to his
usual Antarctic attire, stood on a box near the
winning-post, and was assisted by a couple of shady
characters to shout the odds, which were displayed on a
board hung around his neck—6 to 4 on Wild, "evens" on
Crean, 2 to 1 against Hurley, 6 to 1 against
Macklin, and 8 to 1 against
McIlroy. Canvas handkerchiefs fluttered from an
improvised grand stand, and the pups, which had never
seen such strange happenings before, sat round and
howled with excitement. The spectators could not see far
in the dim light, but they heard the shouts of the
drivers as the teams approached and greeted the victory
of the favourite with a roar of cheering that must have
sounded strange indeed to any seals or penguins that
happened to be in our neighbourhood. Wild's time was 2
min. 16 sec., or at the rate of 10˝ miles per hour for
On the following day Wild, Hurley,
Macklin, 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.
Nine p.m. that night, the 27th, saw
us on the march again. The first 200 yds. took us about
five hours to cross, owing to the amount of breaking
down of pressure-ridges and filling in of leads that was
required. The surface, too, was now very soft, so our
progress was slow and tiring. We managed to get another
three-quarters of a mile before lunch, and a further
mile due west over a very hummocky floe before we camped
at 5.30 a.m. Greenstreet and Macklin killed and brought in a huge Weddell seal
weighing about 800 lbs., and two emperor penguins made a
welcome addition to our larder.
The apathy which seemed to take
possession of some of the men at the frustration of
their hopes was soon dispelled. Parties were sent out
daily in different directions to look for seals and
penguins. We had left, other than reserve sledging
rations, about 110 lbs. of pemmican, including the
dog-pemmican, and 300 lbs. of flour. In addition there
was a little tea, sugar, dried vegetables, and suet. I
sent Hurley and Macklin to
Ocean Camp to bring back the food that we had had to
leave there. They returned with quite a good load,
including 130 lbs. of dry milk, about 50 lbs. each of
dog-pemmican and jam, and a few tins of potted meats.
When they were about a mile and a half away their voices
were quite audible to us at Ocean Camp, so still was the
- The ice between us and Ocean Camp,
now only about five miles away and actually to the
south-west of us, was very broken, but I decided to send
Macklin and Hurley back
with their dogs to see if there was any more food that
could be added to our scanty stock. I gave them written
instructions to take no undue risk or cross any
wide-open leads, and said that they were to return by
midday the next day.
- The next day I sent
Macklin and Crean back to
make a further selection of the gear, but they found
that several leads had opened up during the night, and
they had to return when within a mile and a half of
their destination. We were never able to reach Ocean
Camp again. Still, there was very little left there that
would have been of use to us.
I called the men together, explained
my plan, and asked for volunteers. Many came forward at
once. Some were not fit enough for the work that would
have to be done, and others would not have been much use
in the boat since they were not seasoned sailors, though
the experiences of recent months entitled them to some
consideration as seafaring men. McIlroy and
Macklin were both anxious
to go but realized that their duty lay on the island
with the sick men.
Another fierce gale was blowing on
April 22, interfering with our preparations for the
voyage. The cooker from No. 5 tent came adrift in a
gust, and, although it was chased to the water's edge,
it disappeared for good. Blackborow's feet were giving
him much pain, and McIlroy and Macklin thought it would be necessary for them to
operate soon. They were under the impression then that
they had no chloroform, but they found some subsequently
in the medicine-chest after we had left.
- A census was taken, each man being
asked to state just what he would like to eat at that
moment if he were allowed to have anything that he
wanted. All, with but one exception, desired a suet
pudding of some sort—the "duff" beloved of sailors.
Macklin asked for many
returns of scrambled eggs on hot buttered toast.
- There, just rounding the island which
had previously hidden her from our sight, we saw a
little ship flying the Chilian flag.
"We tried to cheer, but excitement had gripped our vocal
chords. Macklin had made a
rush for the flagstaff, previously placed in the most
conspicuous position on the ice-slope. The running-gear
would not work, and the flag was frozen into a solid,
compact mass so he tied his jersey to the top of the
pole for a signal.
Landmarks named after Alexander Macklin
Feature Type: summit
Description: Mountain having 2 peaks, the higher 1,900 m,
between Mount Carse and Douglas Crag in the S part of the Salvesen
Range of South Georgia. Surveyed by the SGS in the period 1951-57,
and named by the UK-APC.
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.