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Lewis Raphael Rickinson (1883-1945) - Biographical notes

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Lewis Raphael Rickinson

Chief engineer Endurance
Endurance 1914-17

The Endurance Expedition

Lewis Rickinson had a particular aversion to the cold, so it seems rather odd that he should volunteer for a trip to Antarctica, however, he was a good engineer with a good understanding of the still relatively new and little used internal combustion engines.

He is known also for a good sense of humour, during a head shaving event on the Endurance, he agreed to have his own head shaved on the condition that he could shave Shackleton's head first.

He suffered particularly on the voyage to Elephant Island with salt-water boils and it is thought to have had a mild heart attack on  landing on Elephant Island. In Shackleton's words:

"The blubber-stove was quickly alight and the cook began to prepare a hot drink. We were labouring at the boats when I noticed Rickenson turn white and stagger in the surf. I pulled him out of reach of the water and sent him up to the stove, which had been placed in the shelter of some rocks. McIlroy went to him and found that his heart had been tsemporarily unequal to the strain placed upon it. He was in a bad way and needed prompt medical attention. There are some men who will do more than their share of work and who will attempt more than they are physically able to accomplish. Rickenson was one of these eager souls. He was suffering, like many other members of the Expedition, from bad salt-water boils. Our wrists, arms, and legs were attacked. Apparently this infliction was due to constant soaking with sea-water, the chafing of wet clothes, and exposure."

Much of Rickinson's time on Elephant Island was spent in the makeshift hut, (the snuggery) with Blackborow and Hudson, the other two injured men in the party.

 

Biography

On return from Antarctica, in the First World War he served in the Royal Navy. Afterwards becoming a Naval Architect and Consulting Engineer.

He died during the Second World War at the age of 62 as Engineer Commander on H.M.S. Pembroke.

 

References to Lewis Rickinson in Shackleton's book "South!" - buy USA   buy UK
(Shackleton misspells the surname as Rickenson)

  • 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. 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.

  • 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.

  • Rickenson, who was still very weak and ill, but very cheery, obtained a place in the boat directly above the stove, and the sailors having lived under the Stancomb Wills for a few days while she was upside down on the beach, tacitly claimed it as their own, and flocked up on to its thwarts as one man.

 

Endurance
Personnel

Summary

Bakewell, William
Able Seaman

Blackborow, Percy
Steward (stowaway)

Cheetham, Alfred
Third Officer

Clark, Robert S.
Biologist

Crean, Thomas
Second Officer

Green, Charles J.
Cook

Greenstreet, Lionel
First Officer

Holness, Ernest
Fireman

How, Walter E.
Able Seaman

Hudson, Hubert T.
Navigator

Hurley, James F. (Frank)
Official Photographer

Hussey, Leonard D. A.
Meteorologist

James, Reginald W.
Physicist

Kerr, A. J.
Second Engineer

Macklin, Dr. Alexander H.
Surgeon

Marston, George E.
Official Artist

McCarthy, Timothy
Able Seaman

McIlroy, Dr. James A.
Surgeon

McLeod, Thomas
Able Seaman

McNish, Henry
Carpenter

Orde-Lees, Thomas
Motor Expert and Storekeeper

Rickinson, Lewis
First Engineer

Shackleton, Ernest H.
Expedition Leader

Stephenson, William
Fireman

Vincent, John
Able Seaman

Wild, Frank
Second in Command

Wordie, James M.
Geologist

Worsley, Frank
Captain

 
Biographical information - This is a difficult area to research, I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures visitors may have is gratefully received. Please email  - Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?
 
Recommended Books DVD's and VHS

Endurance, The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, book
Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing (Preface)
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Free world delivery


South with Endurance:
Frank Hurley - official photographer
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South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-17
South! Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton's own words
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Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
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Shackleton's Boat Journey: The narrative of Frank Worsley
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Shackleton
biography by Roland
Huntford
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The Quest for Frank Wild
biography by Angie Butler
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The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
by Caroline Alexander
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Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition:
The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat
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Shackleton's Forgotten Men
Lennard Bickel
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Tom Crean an Illustrated Life: Unsung Hero of the Scott & Shackleton Expeditions
Tom Crean: Unsung Hero
biography by Michael Smith

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, The True Story of the Endurance Expedition
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World -
Jennifer Armstrong
for ages 12 and up
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Movies / Documentaries
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
original footage
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
Shackleton
dramatization
Kenneth Branagh (2002)
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (Large Format)
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
IMAX dramatization
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  Buy from Amazon UK DVD
 


Cool Antarctica Store - Pictures, Shirts, Calendars, Cards etc.



Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


Lonely Planet travel guide Antarctica
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Free world delivery


Frozen Planet
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


Shackleton
Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition
Dramatization with original footage

Buy from Amazon USA DVD  |  Buy from Amazon UK DVD


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