Walter Spice (1864 - 1948) - Biographical Notes

Able Seaman - Shackleton Nimrod 1907-1909


Walter Spice on the Nimrod

After being pointed to your website recently by a relation in Australia I found that our shared great grand uncle, Walter Spice, had been a crew member of the Nimrod.

He was born in St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex, UK, in 1864. I had found earlier records of him and then nothing - until now. How exciting to have a picture and news of him.  In 1879 it appears that 15 year old Walter and his older brother Alfred were caught committing larceny and shop breaking and sentenced to a month in prison followed by 2 years on a reformatory ship - possibly 'TS Cornwall' (the handwritten sentence is not easy to read). Perhaps it's not surprising that he went to sea. The next record we have is the 1891 census where he is listed as a boarder at 308 Derby Road, Bootle, Lancs., a common lodging house above a pawnshop. His occupation is recorded as Seaman.

Wendy Fraser


I am the Australian connection that Wendy Fraser mentioned with regard to Walter Spice AB.

After Nimrod disembarked Shackleton's shore party and returned to NZ on Feb. 22 1908, Walter signed off as I have record of him coming to Australia on the ‘Pelotas’ as an AB sailed Greymouth on 26 th June 1908.

Walter then worked on various ships, many of which were on the Australian coast, gave away the Merchant Marine deep sea voyages and purchased a fishing boat in Tasmania around 1913 which he ultimately sold.

In 1915,age 53 he enlisted at Adelaide South Australia in the AIF,fought in the WW1 battle of Fromelles at Fleurbaix,was a casualty and repatriated back to Adelaide where he married and lived until 1948 when he passed away age 85 in the Springbank Repatriation Hospital, and is buried in the AIF Military section of Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery.

My father had told me about Walter being an ‘adventurer’ and we have an old wooden chest at our home that Walter allegedly had on the Nimrod. He often stayed with my great grandmother, Mary Ann Eastman/Spice in Brisbane between sea voyages. There were also a few surviving postcards that said he was going on the Nimrod, but as I had found that he had continued to slightly overstep the mark a few times with the law I was wondering whether he might have been the ‘family prankster’ with regard to going to the South Pole until the proof popped up on your site.

John Eastman


Biographical information - 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?