Once wedded to Nature there is no divorce - separate her you may and
hide yourself amongst the flesh-pots of London, but the wild will
keep calling and calling forever in your ears. You cannot escape the
- Frank Wild
Frank Wild with the wreck of the Endurance
Watson, Wild & Dovers in "The Grottoes"
Western Base - Australasian Antarctic Expedition
Wild & Watson in sleeping bag tent on sledge journey
Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14
Wild and Moyes slay a Weddell seal
Frank Wild on the S.S. Aurora
during Mawson's expedition
after Frank Wild
Feature Type: summit
Description: A point 6 mi W of Cape
Valentine on the N coast of Elephant Island, South Shetland
Islands. Named Cape Wild by the Shackleton Endurance
expedition 1914-16, but Point Wild is recommended for
this feature because of its small size and to avoid
confusion with Cape Wild on George V Coast.
Name(s) - Cape Wild
Feature Type: summit
Description: A peak 2.5 mi W of Mount
Augusta at the SW extremity of the Queen Alexandra Range.
Discovered by the BrAE (1907-09).
- Wild Mountains
Feature Type: glacier
The extensive icefalls at
the head of Beardmore Glacier, between Mount Wild and
Mount Buckley. Named by the NZGSAE (1961-62) in association
with nearby Mount Wild.
Feature Type: summit
Sharply defined rock ridge with several summits,
the highest 945 m, standing at the N side of the mouth
of Sjżgren Glacier on the E coast of Trinity Peninsula.
First charted by the FIDS in 1945.
Feature Type: cape
Description: A prominent rock cape on the
eastern end of the Organ Pipe Cliffs. This may be the
cape viewed from the ship superior mirage, by the USEE
under Lt. Charles Wilkes, Jan. 19, 1840. Wilkes applied
the name "Point Emmons" for Lt. George F.
Emmons of the Vincennes. The cape was accurately
positioned by the AAE (1911-14) under Douglas Mawson.
John Robert Francis Wild
In charge of provisions
Australasian Antarctic Expedition
Second in command
Second in command
Quest- Ernest Shackleton 1921-22,
led the expedition following
the death of Shackleton
Frank Wild is the unknown giant of
the "Heroic Age" of Antarctic Exploration.
He played a significant role in several of the most
important expeditions, being on board when the Discovery
sailed for McMurdo Sound in 1901 so heralding the start
of 20 years of epic exploration and adventure. No one
else was so involved and no other explorer spent so
long in Antarctica.
He is frequently referred to as Shackleton's "right
hand man" or the "loyal lieutenant" though
he was much more than this.
In 1901, he volunteered to join Scott's "British
national Antarctic Expedition" 1901-04 on board
the Discovery, being involved in the sledging programme.
By Mawson's description, the first
time he met Wild in New Zealand on the Nimrod expedition
was when Wild was being carried out of a hotel while
It was on this Nimrod expedition 1907-09
led by Shackleton, that he was chosen as one of the
men who would manhaul up the Beardmore glacier to the
South Pole, coming within 97 miles of the goal. Discretion
became the better part of valour on this occasion and
the party returned while they thought they could return
alive, rather than pressing on to the pole, when they
were unlikely to make it back safely to McMurdo Sound
and their base.
He joined Douglas Mawson's 1911-13 "Australian
Antarctic Expedition" as a sledging expert and
was in command of the Western Base experiencing very
difficult snow and sledging conditions. Nonetheless,
he succeeded in opening up a new tract of country in
Antarctica - Queen Mary Land.
Shackleton selected him again for
the 1914-17 "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition"
when he was second in command to Shackleton himself.
His sure handling and steady support proved invaluable
when the expedition ship, the Endurance sank in mid-ocean
and the party had to make it across initially solid,
but increasingly broken-up sea-ice to Elephant Island.
Wild remained on Elephant Island for nearly 4 months
with the majority of the crew while Shackleton set off
with a small party to fetch help.
Frank Wild was born in Skelton, Yorkshire.
At the age of 16 in 1889, he joined the merchant navy,
transferring to the Royal Navy in 1900.
He saw service in Russia in the First
World War with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on
return to England.
After the war, he went
to South Africa where he farmed with
Bickerton (ex. Mawson expedition) and
Dr. James McIlroy.
They farmed in British Nyasaland in the
neighbourhood of Lake Nyasa (South Africa)
between the end of the First World War and
Wild and McIlroy leaving to join the "Quest"
expedition in 1921. They cleared the then
virgin forest and planted cotton. They loved
the life though suffering intermittently
from bouts of malaria. According to Frank
Wild, in a letter written in 1920 to his
cousin Margaret #,
they "would have been there still if
Shackleton had not called for us to come
on this expedition". They had the full
intention to return to their farm in Africa
after the expedition; whether they did or
not, I do not know.
Rhona Schmitz great niece of Dr. James McIlroy.
Letter sent by Frank Wild from South Africa
to his Cousin Margaret, 4th August 1920
Shackleton once again requested him
to take part in the 1921-1922 Shackleton-Rowett expedition
on the Quest which was cut short due to Shackleton's
death from a heart attack on South Georgia before the
expedition had reached Antarctica proper. Wild took
over as leader and brought the adventure to a conclusion.
On his return from the Quest expedition,
he returned to South Africa to
continue to farm though was unsuccessful due to a
prolonged drought. His savings gone, he took work in
a bar and in a mine to support himself and his wife.
Frank Wild died on the 19th of August
1939 in Klerksdorp, where he was employed as a storeman
at the Bobrasco Mine. He was cremated on the 23rd of
August 1939 in the Braamfontein Cemetry in Johannesburg.#
Wild's ashes were found recently still in the
church in Braamfontein Cemetry. His widow had
intended them to be taken to South Georgia where
Shackleton's grave is, though war broke out a week
later and then with her passing and no there being
children, the ashes were forgotten. His ashes were
taken in 2011 to South Georgia and laid alongside
"The Boss", Ernest Shackleton.
He was the recipient of a number of
awards for his contributions to exploration and advancing
geography, in 1923, he was made a Freeman of the City
Frank Wild is widely reported as dying in Johannesburg,
SA. I am
indebted to Luigi Casaleggio from Bloemfontein, South
Africa for correcting this error after much personal
Frank Wild's Estate Papers &
death certificate. (pdf file 1Mb)
References to Frank
Wild in Shackleton's book "South!"
- 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.
- This penguin's stomach proved to be
filled with freshly caught fish up to 10 in. long. Some
of the fish were of a coastal or littoral variety. Two
more emperors were captured on the following day, and,
while Wordie was leading one of them towards the ship,
Wild came along
with his team. The dogs, uncontrollable in a moment,
made a frantic rush for the bird, and were almost upon
him when their harness caught upon an ice-pylon, which
they had tried to pass on both sides at once. The result
was a seething tangle of dogs, traces, and men, and
an overturned sled, while the penguin, three yards away,
nonchalantly and indifferently surveyed the disturbance.
He had never seen anything of the kind before and had
no idea at all that the strange disorder might concern
him. Several cracks had opened in the neighbourhood
of the ship, and the emperor penguins, fat and glossy
of plumage, were appearing in considerable numbers.
We secured nine of them on May 6, an important addition
to our supply of fresh food.
- 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 Hurley, with dog teams, to the westward to survey
the route. After travelling about seven miles we mounted
a small berg, and there as far as we could see stretched
a series of immense flat floes from half a mile to a
mile across, separated from each other by pressure-ridges
which seemed easily negotiable with pick and shovel.
The only place that appeared likely to be formidable
was a very much cracked-up area between the old floe
that we were on and the first of the series of young
flat floes about half a mile away.
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
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.
was 2 min. 16 sec., or at the rate of 10� miles
per hour for the course.
race took place a few days after the "Derby."
The two crack teams, driven by Hurley and
Wild, met in a race
from Khyber Pass. Wild's
team, pulling 910 lbs., or 130 lbs. per dog, covered
the 700 yds. in 2 min. 9 sec., or at the rate of 11.1
miles per hour. Hurley's team, with the same load,
did the run in 2 min. 16 sec. The race was awarded by
the judge to Hurley owing to
Wild failing to "weigh in" correctly.
I happened to be a part of the load on his sledge, and
a skid over some new drift within fifty yards of the
winning post resulted in my being left on the snow.
It should be said in justice to the dogs that this accident,
while justifying the disqualification, could not have
made any material difference in the time.
- An attempt
was next made to erect some sort of a galley to protect
the cook against the inclemencies of the weather. The
party which I had sent back under
Wild to the ship
returned with, amongst other things, the wheel-house
practically complete. This, with the addition of some
sails and tarpaulins stretched on spars, made a very
comfortable storehouse and galley.
The dog teams went off to the wreck early each morning
under Wild, and
the men made every effort to rescue as much as possible
from the ship. This was an extremely difficult task
as the whole of the deck forward was under a foot of
water on the port side, and nearly three feet on the
Wild went out with
a dog team to shoot and bring in the game. To feed ourselves
and the dogs, at least one seal a day was required.
The seals were mostly crab-eaters, and emperor penguins
were the general rule. On November 5, however, an adelie
was caught, and this was the cause of much discussion,
as the following extract shows: "The man on watch
from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. caught an adelie penguin. This
is the first of its kind that we have seen since January
last, and it may mean a lot. It may signify that there
is land somewhere near us, or else that great leads
are opening up, but it is impossible to form more than
a mere conjecture at present."
So that afternoon Wild
and I ski-ed out to the crack and found that it had
closed up again. We marked out the track with small
flags as we returned. Each day, after all hands had
turned in, Wild
and I would go ahead for two miles or so to reconnoitre
the next day's route, marking it with pieces of
wood, tins, and small flags. We had to pick the road
which though it might be somewhat devious, was flattest
and had least hummocks.
- Two seals
were killed to-day. Wild
and McIlroy, who went out to secure them, had rather
an exciting time on some very loose, rotten ice, three
killer-whales in a lead a few yards away poking up their
ugly heads as if in anticipation of a feast.
The increasing sea made it necessary for us to drag
the boats farther up the beach. This was a task for
all hands, and after much labour we got the boats into
safe positions among the rocks and made fast the painters
to big boulders. Then I discussed with
Wild and Worsley
the chances of reaching South Georgia before the winter
locked the seas against us. Some effort had to be made
to secure relief.
Worsley and Wild
realized that the attempt must be made, and they both
asked to be allowed to accompany me on the voyage. I
told Wild at once
that he would have to stay behind. I relied upon him
to hold the party together while I was away and to make
the best of his way to Deception Island with the men
in the spring in the event of our failure to bring help.
Worsley I would take with me, for I had a very high
opinion of his accuracy and quickness as a navigator,
and especially in the snapping and working out of positions
in difficult circumstances�an opinion that was
only enhanced during the actual journey. Four other
men would be required, and I decided to call for volunteers,
although, as a matter of fact, I pretty well knew which
of the people I would select. Crean I proposed to leave
on the island as a right-hand man for
Wild, but he begged
so hard to be allowed to come in the boat that, after
consultation with Wild,
I promised to take him.That whistle told us that men
were living near, that ships were ready, and that within
a few hours we should be on our way back to Elephant
Island to the rescue of the men waiting there under
the watch and ward of Wild.
It was a moment hard to describe. Pain and ache, boat
journeys, marches, hunger and fatigue seemed to belong
to the limbo of forgotten things, and there remained
only the perfect contentment that comes of work accomplished.
took our places under Wild's
direction. There was no squabbling for best places,
but it was noticeable that there was something in the
nature of a rush for the billets up on the thwarts of
I saw a little figure on a surf-beaten rock and recognized
Wild. As I came
nearer I called out, "Are you all well?" and
he answered, "We are all well, boss," and
then I heard three cheers. As I drew close to the rock
I flung packets of cigarettes ashore; they fell on them
like hungry tigers, for well I knew that for months
tobacco was dreamed of and talked of. Some of the hands
were in a rather bad way, but
Wild had held the party together and kept
hope alive in their hearts. There was no time then to
exchange news or congratulations. I did not even go
up the beach to see the camp, which
Wild assured me
had been much improved.
The Yelcho had arrived at the right moment. Two
days earlier she could not have reached the island,
and a few hours later the pack may have been impenetrable
again. Wild had
reckoned that help would come in August, and every morning
he had packed his kit, in cheerful anticipation that
proved infectious, as I have no doubt it was meant to
be. One of the party to whom I had said "Well,
you all were packed up ready," replied, "You
see, boss, Wild never gave up hope, and whenever the
sea was at all clear of ice he rolled up his sleeping-bag
and said to all hands, "Roll up your sleeping-bags,
boys; the boss may come to-day.' "
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.
Quest for Frank Wild
biography by Angie Butler
Wild biography by Leif Mills