William H. Stephenson
The Endurance Expedition
Stephenson was the senior stoker on board the Endurance (fireman in
the days of steam engines meant someone who kept fires going rather
than someone who put them out), his task was to to tend the engine boiler
and ensure there was enough steam to power the engines. When the Endurance
was crushed therefore, his job as well as that of his mate Holness,
came to an end.
It is somewhat unclear why Stephenson and Holness
were not recommended for Polar Medals by Shackleton on return to England.
Only four of the crew were not given Polar Medals, the other two being
McNish and Vincent for whom there were reasons of a lack of loyalty
and breaches of discipline that are understandable. It is generally
thought that for whatever reason, Shackleton decided that Stephenson
and Holness did not come up to the standards that he expected. It
does seem intriguing though that they happened to be the two men
whose direct jobs quite clearly ended with the Endurance, perhaps it
unclear as to what their roles were following that event?
William Stephenson was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England,
he had been a trawlerman on the fishing boats sailing out of Hull, Grimsby
There is little known about him, either prior to,
or after the Endurance expedition. He had been a Royal marine in the
Chatham division, and had been an officers servant.
After the expedition, he is assumed to have returned to Hull and carried
on his previous job working on trawlers. The next record of him is that
he died of cancer, in a Hull hospital aged 64 in 1953.
Some of the crew of
the Endurance photographed in Buenos Aries 1917
Robin Mackenzie -
Stornoway Historical Society
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.