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FIDS / OAE's
Chapter 15 -
LAYING THE DEPOTS
LAYING THE DEPOTS
The position on October 9 was that the nine men at Hut Point had with them the stores required for the depots and for their own maintenance throughout the summer. The remaining dogs were at Cape Evans with Gaze, who had a sore heel and had been replaced temporarily by Stevens in the sledging party. A small quantity of stores had been conveyed already to Safety Camp on the edge of the Barrier beyond Hut Point. Mackintosh intended to form a large depot off Minna Bluff, seventy miles out from Hut Point. This would necessitate several trips with heavy loads. Then he would use the Bluff depot as a base for the journey to Mount Hope, at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, where the final depot was to be laid.
The party left Hut Point on the morning of October 9, the nine men hauling on one rope and trailing three loaded sledges. They reached Safety Camp in the early afternoon, and, after repacking the sledges with a load of about 2000 lbs., they began the journey over the Barrier. The pulling proved exceedingly heavy, and they camped at the end of half a mile. It was decided next day to separate the sledges, three men to haul each sledge. Mackintosh hoped that better progress could be made in this way. The distance for the day was only four miles, and the next day's journey was no better. Joyce mentions that he had never done harder pulling, the surface being soft, and the load amounting to 220 lbs. per man. The new arrangement was not a success, owing to differences in hauling capacity and inequalities in the loading of the sledges; and on the morning of the 12th, Mackintosh, after consultation, decided to push forward with Wild and Spencer-Smith, hauling one sledge and a relatively light load, and leave Joyce and the remaining five men to bring two sledges and the rest of the stores at their best pace. This arrangement was maintained on the later journeys. The temperatures were falling below —30° Fahr. at some hours, and, as the men perspired freely while hauling their heavy loads in the sun, they suffered a great deal of discomfort in the damp and freezing clothes at night. Joyce cut down his load on the 13th by depot-ing some rations and spare clothing, and made better progress. He was building snow-cairns as guide-posts for use on the return journey. He mentions passing some large crevasses during succeeding days. Persistent head winds with occasional drift made the conditions unpleasant and caused many frost-bites. When the surface was hard, and the pulling comparatively easy, the men slipped and fell continually, "looking much like classical dancers."
On the 20th a northerly wind made possible the use of a sail, and Joyce's party made rapid progress. Jack sighted a bamboo pole during the afternoon; and Joyce found that marked a depot he had laid for my own "Farthest South" party in 1908. He dug down in the hope of finding some stores, but the depot had been cleared. The party reached the Bluff depot on the evening of the 21st and found that Mackintosh had been there on the 19th. Mackintosh had left 178 lbs. of provisions, and Joyce left one sledge and 273 lbs. of stores. The most interesting incident of the return journey was the discovery of a note left by Mr. Cherry Garrard for Captain Scott on March 19, 1912, only a few days before the latter perished at his camp farther south. An upturned sledge at this point was found to mark a depot of dog-biscuit and motor-oil, laid by one of Captain Scott's parties. Joyce reached Safety Camp on the afternoon of the 27th, and, after dumping all spare gear, pushed on to Hut Point in a blizzard. The sledges nearly went over a big drop at the edge of the Barrier, and a few moments later Stevens dropped down a crevasse to the length of his harness.
"Had a tough job getting him up, as we had no alpine rope and had to use harness," wrote Joyce. "Got over all right and had a very hard pull against wind and snow, my face getting frost-bitten as I had to keep looking up to steer. We arrived at the hut about 7.30 p.m. after a very hard struggle. We found the Captain and his party there. They had been in for three days. Gaze was also there with the dogs. We soon had a good feed and forgot our hard day's work."
Mackintosh decided to make use of the dogs on the second journey to the Bluff depot. He thought that with the aid of the dogs heavier loads might be hauled. This plan involved the dispatch of a party to Cape Evans to get dog-pemmican. Mackintosh himself, with Wild and Spencer-Smith, started south again on October 29. Their sledge overturned on the slope down to the sea-ice, and the rim of their tent-spread was broken. The damage did not appear serious, and the party soon disappeared round Cape Armitage. Joyce remained in charge at Hut Point, with instructions to get dog food from Cape Evans and make a start south as soon as possible. He sent Stevens, Hayward, and Cope to Cape Evans the next day, and busied himself with the repair of sledging-gear. Cope, Hayward, and Gaze arrived back from Cape Evans on November 1, Stevens having stayed at the base. A blizzard delayed the start southward, and the party did not get away until November 5. The men pulled in harness with the four dogs, and, as the surface was soft and the loads on the two sledges were heavy, the advance was slow. The party covered 5 miles 700 yards on the 6th, 4 miles 300 yards on the 7th, and 8 miles 1800 yards on the 9th, with the aid of a light northerly wind. They passed on the 9th a huge bergstrom, with a drop of about 70 feet from the flat surface of the Barrier. Joyce thought that a big crevasse had caved in. "We took some photographs," wrote Joyce. "It is a really extraordinary fill-in of ice, with cliffs of blue ice about 70 feet high, and heavily crevassed, with overhanging snow-curtains. One could easily walk over the edge coming from the north in thick weather." Another bergstrom, with crevassed ice around it, was encountered on the 11th. Joyce reached the Bluff depot on the evening of the 14th and found that he could leave 624 lbs. of provisions. Mackintosh had been there several days earlier and had left 188 lbs. of stores.
Joyce made Hut Point again on November 20 after an adventurous day. The surface was good in the morning and he pushed forward rapidly. About 10.30 a.m. the party encountered heavy pressure-ice with crevasses, and had many narrow escapes. "After lunch we came on four crevasses quite suddenly. Jack fell through. We could not alter course, or else we should have been steering among them, so galloped right across. We were going so fast that the dogs that went through were jerked out. It came on very thick at 2 p.m. Every bit of land was obscured, and it was hard to steer. Decided to make for Hut Point, and arrived at 6.30 p.m., after doing twenty-two miles, a very good performance. I had a bad attack of snow-blindness and had to use cocaine. Hayward also had a bad time. I was laid up and had to keep my eyes bandaged for three days. Hayward, too." The two men were about again on November 24, and the party started south on its third journey to the Bluff on the 25th. Mackintosh was some distance ahead, but the two parties met on the 28th and had some discussion as to plans. Mackintosh was proceeding to the Bluff depot with the intention of taking a load of stores to the depot placed on lat. 80° S. in the first season's sledging. Joyce, after depositing his third load at the Bluff, would return to Hut Point for a fourth and last load, and the parties would then join forces for the journey southward to Mount Hope.
Joyce left 729 lbs. at the Bluff depot on December 2, reached Hut Point on December 7, and, after allowing dogs and men a good rest, he moved southward again on December 13. This proved to be the worst journey the party had made. The men had much trouble with crevasses, and they were held up by blizzards on December 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 26, and 27. They spent Christmas Day struggling through soft snow against an icy wind and drift. The party reached the Bluff depot on December 28, and found that Mackintosh, who had been much delayed by the bad weather, had gone south two days earlier on his way to the 80° S. depot. He had not made much progress and his camp was in sight. He had left instructions for Joyce to follow him. The Bluff depot was now well stocked. Between 2800 and 2900 lbs. of provisions had been dragged to the depot for the use of parties working to the south of this point. This quantity was in addition to stores placed there earlier in the year.
Joyce left the Bluff depot on December 29, and the parties were together two days later. Mackintosh handed Joyce instructions to proceed with his party to lat. 81° S and place a depot there. He was then to send three men back to Hut Point and proceed to lat. 82° S., where he would lay another depot. Then if provisions permitted he would push south as far as lat. 83°. Mackintosh himself was reinforcing the depot at lat. 80° S. and would then carry on southward. Apparently his instructions to Joyce were intended to guard against the contingency of the parties failing to meet. The dogs were hauling well, and though their number was small they were of very great assistance. The parties were now ninety days out from Cape Evans, and "all hands were feeling fit."
The next incident of importance was the appearance of a defect in one of the two Primus lamps used by Joyce's party. The lamps had all seen service with one or other of Captain Scott's parties, and they had not been in first-class condition when the sledging commenced. The threatened failure of a lamp was a matter of grave moment, since a party could not travel without the means of melting snow and preparing hot food. If Joyce took a faulty lamp past the 80° S. depot, his whole party might have to turn back at lat. 81° S., and this would imperil the success of the season's sledging. He decided, therefore, to send three men back from the 80° S. depot, which he reached on January 6, 1916. Cope, Gaze, and Jack were the men to return. They took the defective Primus and a light load, and by dint of hard travelling, without the aid of dogs, they reached Cape Evans on January 16.
Joyce, Richards, and Hayward went forward with a load of 1280 lbs., comprising twelve weeks' sledging rations, dog food and depot supplies, in addition to the sledging-gear. They built cairns at short intervals as guides to the depots. Joyce was feeding the dogs well and giving them a hot hoosh every third night. "It is worth it for the wonderful amount of work they are doing. If we can keep them to 82° S. I can honestly say it is through their work we have got through." On January 8 Mackintosh joined Joyce, and from that point the parties, six men strong, went forward together. They marched in thick weather during January 10, 11, and 12, keeping the course by means of cairns, with a scrap of black cloth on top of each one. It was possible, by keeping the cairns in line behind the sledges and building new ones as old ones disappeared, to march on an approximately straight line. On the evening of the 12th they reached lat. 81° S., and built a large cairn for the depot. The stores left here were three weeks' rations for the ordinary sledging unit of three men. This quantity would provide five days' rations for twelve men, half for the use of the overland party, and half for the depot party on its return journey.
The party moved southwards again on January 13 in bad weather.
"After a little consultation we decided to get under way," wrote Joyce. "Although the weather is thick, and snow is falling, it is worth while to make the effort. A little patience with the direction and the cairns, even if one has to put them up 200 yds. apart, enables us to advance, and it seems that this weather will never break. We have cut up an old pair of trousers belonging to Richards to place on the sides of the cairns, so as to make them more prominent. It was really surprising to find how we got on in spite of the snow and the pie-crust surface. We did 5 miles 75 yds. before lunch. The dogs are doing splendidly. I really don't know how we should manage if it were not for them. . . . The distance for the day was 10 miles 720 yds., a splendid performance considering surface and weather."
The weather cleared on the 14th; and the men were able to get bearings from the mountains to the westward. They advanced fairly rapidly during succeeding days, the daily distances being from ten to twelve miles, and reached lat. 82° S. on the morning of January 18. The depot here, like the depot at 81° S., contained five days' provisions for twelve men. Mackintosh was having trouble with the Primus lamp in his tent, and this made it inadvisable to divide the party again. It was decided, therefore, that all should proceed, and that the next and last depot should be placed on the base of Mount Hope, at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, in lat. 83° 30´ S. The party proceeded at once and advanced five miles beyond the depot before camping on the evening of the 18th.
The sledge loads were now comparatively light, and on the 19th the party covered 13 miles 700 yds. A new trouble was developing, for Spencer-Smith was suffering from swollen and painful legs, and was unable to do much pulling. Joyce wrote on the 21st that Smith was worse, and that Mackintosh was showing signs of exhaustion. A mountain that he believed to be Mount Hope could be seen right ahead, over thirty miles away. Spencer-Smith, who had struggled forward gamely and made no unnecessary complaints, started with the party the next morning and kept going until shortly before noon. Then he reported his inability to proceed, and Mackintosh called a halt. Spencer-Smith suggested that he should be left with provisions and a tent while the other members of the party pushed on to Mount Hope, and pluckily assured Mackintosh that the rest would put him right and that he would be ready to march when they returned. The party agreed, after a brief consultation, to adopt this plan. Mackintosh felt that the depot must be laid, and that delay would be dangerous. Spencer-Smith was left with a tent, one sledge, and provisions, and told to expect the returning party in about a week. The tent was made as comfortable as possible inside, and food was placed within the sick man's reach. Spencer-Smith bade his companions a cheery good-bye after lunch, and the party was six or seven miles away before evening. Five men had to squeeze into one tent that night, but with a minus temperature they did not object to being crowded.
On January 23 a thick fog obscured all landmarks, and as bearings of the mountains were now necessary the party had to camp at 11 a.m., after travelling only four miles. The thick weather continued over the 24th, and the men did not move again until the morning of the 25th. They did 17¾ miles that day, and camped at 6 p.m. on the edge of "the biggest ice-pressure" Joyce had ever seen. They were steering in towards the mountains and were encountering the tremendous congestion created by the flow of the Beardmore Glacier into the barrier ice.
"We decided to keep the camp up," ran Joyce's account of the work done on January 26. "Skipper, Richards, and myself roped ourselves together, I taking the lead, to try and find a course through this pressure. We came across very wide crevasses, went down several, came on top of a very high ridge, and such a scene! Imagine thousands of tons of ice churned up to a depth of about 300 ft. We took a couple of photographs, then carried on to the east. At last we found a passage through, and carried on through smaller crevasses to Mount Hope, or we hoped it was the mountain by that name. We can see a great glacier ahead which we take for the Beardmore, which this mountain is on, but the position on the chart seems wrong. [It was not.—E.H.S.] We nearly arrived at the ice-foot when Richards saw something to the right, which turned out to be two of Captain Scott's sledges, upright, but three-quarters buried in snow. Then we knew for certain this was the place we had struggled to get to. So we climbed the glacier on the slope and went up about one and a quarter miles, and saw the great Beardmore Glacier stretching to the south. It is about twenty-five miles wide—a most wonderful sight. Then we returned to our camp, which we found to be six miles away. We left at 8 a.m. and arrived back at 3 p.m., a good morning's work. We then had lunch. About 4 p.m. we got under way and proceeded with the two sledges and camped about 7 o'clock. Wild, Hayward and myself then took the depot up the Glacier, a fortnight's provisions. We left it lashed to a broken sledge and put up a large flag. I took two photographs of it. We did not arrive back until 10.30 p.m. It was rather a heavy pull up. I was very pleased to see our work completed at last. . . . Turned in 12 o'clock. The distance done during day 22 miles."
The party remained in camp until 3.30 p.m. on the 27th, owing to a blizzard with heavy snow. Then they made a start in clearer weather and got through the crevassed area before camping at 7 p.m. Joyce was suffering from snow-blindness. They were now homeward bound, with 365 miles to go. They covered 16½ miles on the 28th, with Joyce absolutely blind and hanging to the harness for guidance, "but still pulling his whack." They reached Spencer-Smith's camp the next afternoon and found him in his sleeping-bag, quite unable to walk. Joyce's diary of this date contains a rather gloomy reference to the outlook, since he guessed that Mackintosh also would be unable to make the homeward march. "The dogs are still keeping fit," he added. "If they will only last to 80° S. we shall then have enough food to take them in, and then if the ship is in I guarantee they will live in comfort the remainder of their lives."
No march could be made on the 30th, since a blizzard was raging. The party made 8 miles on the 31st, with Spencer-Smith on one of the sledges in his sleeping-bag. The sufferer was quite helpless, and had to be lifted and carried about, but his courage did not fail him. His words were cheerful even when his physical suffering and weakness were most pronounced. The distance for February 1 was 13 miles. The next morning the party abandoned one sledge in order to lighten the load, and proceeded with a single sledge, Spencer-Smith lying on top of the stores and gear. The distance for the day was 15½ miles. They picked up the 82° S. depot on February 3, and took one week's provisions, leaving two weeks' rations for the overland party. Joyce, Wild, Richards, and Hayward were feeling fit. Mackintosh was lame and weak; Spencer-Smith's condition was alarming. The party was being helped by strong southerly winds, and the distances covered were decidedly good. The sledge-meter recorded 15 miles 1700 yds. on February 4, 17 miles 1400 yds. on the 5th, 18 miles 1200 yds. on the 6th, and 13 miles 1000 yds. on the 7th, when the 81° S. depot was picked up at 10.30 a.m., and one week's stores taken, two weeks' rations being left.
The march to the next depot, at 80° S., was uneventful. The party made good marches in spite of bad surfaces and thick weather, and reached the depot late in the afternoon of February 12. The supply of stores at this depot was ample, and the men took a fortnight's rations (calculated on a three-man basis), leaving nearly four weeks' rations. Spencer-Smith seemed a little better, and all hands were cheered by the rapid advance. February 14, 15, and 16 were bad days, the soft surface allowing the men to sink to their knees at times. The dogs had a rough time, and the daily distances fell to about eight miles. Mackintosh's weakness was increasing. Then on the 18th, when the party was within twelve miles of the Bluff depot, a furious blizzard made travelling impossible. This blizzard raged for five days. Rations were reduced on the second day, and the party went on half-rations the third day.
"Still blizzarding," wrote Joyce on the 20th. "Things are serious, what with our patient and provisions running short. Dog provisions are nearly out, and we have to halve their rations. We are now on one cup of hoosh among the three of us, with one biscuit and six lumps of sugar. The most serious of calamities is that our oil is running out. We have plenty of tea, but no fuel to cook it with." The men in Mackintosh's tent were in no better plight. Mackintosh himself was in a bad way. He was uncertain about his ability to resume the march, but was determined to try.
"Still blizzarding," wrote Joyce again on the 21st. "We are lying in pools of water made by our bodies through staying in the same place for such a long time. I don't know what we shall do if this does not ease. It has been blowing continuously without a lull. The food for to-day was one cup of pemmican amongst three of us, one biscuit each, and two cups of tea among the three." The kerosene was exhausted, but Richards improvised a lamp by pouring some spirit (intended for priming the oil-lamp) into a mug, lighting it, and holding another mug over it. It took half an hour to heat a mug of melted snow in this way. "Same old thing, no ceasing of this blizzard," was Joyce's note twenty-four hours later. "Hardly any food left except tea and sugar. Richards, Hayward, and I, after a long talk, decided to get under way to-morrow in any case, or else we shall be sharing the fate of Captain Scott and his party. The other tent seems to be very quiet, but now and again we hear a burst of song from Wild, so they are in the land of the living. We gave the dogs the last of their food to-night, so we shall have to push, as a great deal depends on them." Further quotations from Joyce's diary tell their own story.
"February 23, Wednesday.—About 11 o'clock saw a break in the clouds and the sun showing. Decided to have the meal we kept for getting under way. Sang out to the Skipper's party that we should shift as soon as we had a meal. I asked Wild, and found they had a bag of oatmeal, some Bovril cubes, one bag of chocolate, and eighteen biscuits, so they are much better off than we are. After we had our meal we started to dig out our sledge, which we found right under. It took us two hours, and one would hardly credit how weak we were. Two digs of the shovel and we were out of breath. This was caused through our lying up on practically no food. After getting sledge out we took it around to the Skipper's tent on account of the heavy sastrugi, which was very high. Got under way about 2.20. Had to stop very often on account of sail, etc. About 3.20 the Skipper, who had tied himself to the rear of the sledge, found it impossible to proceed. So after a consultation with Wild and party, decided to pitch their tent, leaving Wild to look after the Skipper and Spencer-Smith, and make the best of our way to the depot, which is anything up to twelve miles away. So we made them comfortable and left them about 3.40. I told Wild I should leave as much as possible and get back 26th or 27th, weather permitting, but just as we left them it came on to snow pretty hard, sun going in, and we found even with the four dogs we could not make more than one-half to three-quarters of a mile an hour. The surface is so bad that sometimes you go in up to your waist; still in spite of all this we carried on until 6.35. Camped in a howling blizzard. I found my left foot badly frost-bitten. Now after this march we came into our banquet—one cup of tea and half a biscuit. Turned in at 9 o'clock. Situation does not look very cheerful. This is really the worst surface I have ever come across in all my journeys here."
Mackintosh had stayed on his feet as long as was humanly possible. The records of the outward journey show clearly that he was really unfit to continue beyond the 82° S. depot, and other members of the party would have liked him to have stayed with Spencer-Smith at lat. 83° S. But the responsibility for the work to be done was primarily his, and he would not give in. He had been suffering for several weeks from what he cheerfully called "a sprained leg," owing to scurvy. He marched for half an hour on the 23rd before breaking down, but had to be supported partly by Richards. Spencer-Smith was sinking. Wild, who stayed in charge of the two invalids, was in fairly good condition. Joyce, Richards, and Hayward, who had undertaken the relief journey, were all showing symptoms of scurvy, though in varying degrees. Their legs were weak, their gums swollen. The decision that the invalids, with Wild, should stay in camp from February 24, while Joyce's party pushed forward to Bluff depot, was justified fully by the circumstances. Joyce, Richards, and Hayward had difficulty in reaching the depot with a nearly empty sledge. An attempt to make their journey with two helpless men might have involved the loss of the whole party.
"February 24, Thursday.—Up at 4:30; had one cup of tea, half biscuit; under way after 7. Weather, snowing and blowing like yesterday. Richards, laying the cairns had great trouble in getting the compass within 10° on account of wind. During the forenoon had to stop every quarter of an hour on account of our breath. Every time the sledge struck a drift she stuck in (although only 200 lbs.), and in spite of three men and four dogs we could only shift her with the 1—2—3 haul. I wonder if this weather will ever clear up. Camped in an exhausted condition about 12.10. Lunch, half cup of weak tea and quarter biscuit, which took over half an hour to make. Richards and Hayward went out of tent to prepare for getting under way, but the force of wind and snow drove them back. The force of wind is about seventy to eighty miles per hour. We decided to get the sleeping-bags in, which took some considerable time. The worst of camping is the poor dogs and our weak condition, which means we have to get out of our wet sleeping-bags and have another half cup of tea without working for it. With scrapings from dog-tank it is a very scanty meal. This is the second day the dogs have been without food, and if we cannot soon pick up depot and save the dogs it will be almost impossible to drag our two invalids back the one hundred miles which we have to go. The wind carried on with unabating fury until 7 o'clock, and then came a lull. We at once turned out, but found it snowing so thickly that it was impossible to proceed on account of our weakness. No chance must we miss. Turned in again. Wind sprang up again with heavy drift 8.30. In spite of everything my tent-mates are very cheerful and look on the bright side of everything. After a talk we decided to wait and turned in. It is really wonderful what dreams we have, especially of food. Trusting in Providence for fine weather to-morrow.
"February 25, Friday.—Turned out 4.45. Richards prepared our usual banquet, half cup of tea, quarter biscuit, which we relished. Under way at 7, carried on, halting every ten minutes or quarter of an hour. Weather, snowing and blowing same as yesterday. We are in a very weak state, but we cannot give in. We often talk about poor Captain Scott and the blizzard that finished him and party. If we had stayed in our tent another day I don't think we should have got under way at all, and we would have shared the same fate. But if the worst comes we have made up our minds to carry on and die in harness. If any one were to see us on trek they would be surprised, three men staggering on with four dogs, very weak; practically empty sledge with fair wind and just crawling along; our clothes are all worn out, finneskoe and sleeping bags torn. Tent is our worst point, all torn in front, and we are afraid to camp on account of it, as it is too cold to mend it. We camped for our grand lunch at noon. After five hours' struggling I think we did about three miles. After lunch sat in our tent talking over the situation. Decided to get under way again as soon as there is any clearance. Snowing and blowing, force about fifty or sixty miles an hour.
"February 26, Saturday.—Richards went out 1.10 a.m. and found it clearing a bit, so we got under way as soon as possible, which was 2.10 a.m. About 2.35 Richards sighted depot, which seemed to be right on top of us. I suppose we camped no more than three-quarters of a mile from it. The dogs sighted it, which seemed to electrify them. They had new life and started to run, but we were so weak that we could not go more than 200 yds. and then spell. I think another day would have seen us off. Arrived at depot 3.25; found it in a dilapidated condition, cases all about the place. I don't suppose there has ever been a weaker party arrive at any depot, either north or south. After a hard struggle got our tent up and made camp. Then gave the dogs a good feed of pemmican. If ever dogs saved the lives of any one they have saved ours. Let us hope they will continue in good health, so that we can get out to our comrades. I started on our cooking. Not one of us had any appetite, although we were in the land of plenty, as we call this depot; plenty of biscuit, etc., but we could not eat. I think it is the reaction, not only in arriving here, but also finding no news of the ship, which was arranged before we left. We all think there has been a calamity there. Let us hope for the best. We decided to have rolled-oats and milk for a start, which went down very well, and then a cup of tea. How cheery the Primus sounds. It seems like coming out of a thick London fog into a drawing-room. After a consultation we decided to have a meal of pemmican in four hours, and so on, until our weakness was gone. Later.—Still the same weather. We shall get under way and make a forced march back as soon as possible. I think we shall get stronger travelling and feeding well. Later.—Weather will not permit us to travel yet. Mended our torn tent with food-bags. This took four hours. Feeding the dogs every four hours, and Richards and Hayward built up depot. It is really surprising to find it takes two men to lift a 50-lb. case; it only shows our weakness. Weather still the same; force of wind at times about seventy to ninety miles an hour; really surprising how this can keep on so long.
"February 27, Sunday.—Wind continued with fury the whole night. Expecting every minute to have the tent blown off us. Up 5 o'clock; found it so thick one could not get out of the tent. We are still very weak, but think we can do the twelve miles to our comrades in one long march. If only it would clear up for just one day we would not mind. This is the longest continuous blizzard I have ever been in. We have not had a travelling day for eleven days, and the amount of snow that has fallen is astonishing. Later.—Had a meal 10.30 and decided to get under way in spite of the wind and snow. Under way 12 o'clock. We have three weeks' food on sledge, about 160 lbs., and one week's dog-food, 50 lbs. The whole weight, all told, about 600 lbs., and also taking an extra sledge to bring back Captain Mackintosh. To our surprise we could not shift the sledges. After half an hour we got about ten yards. We turned the sledge up and scraped runners; it went a little better after. I am afraid our weakness is much more than we think. Hayward is in rather a bad way about his knees, which are giving him trouble and are very painful; we will give him a good massage when we camp. The dogs have lost all heart in pulling; they seem to think that going south again is no good to them; they seem to just jog along, and one cannot do more. I don't suppose our pace is more than one-half or three-quarters of a mile per hour. The surface is rotten, snow up to one's knees, and what with wind and drift a very bad outlook. Lunched about 4.30. Carried on until 11.20, when we camped. It was very dark making our dinner, but soon got through the process. Then Richards spent an hour or so in rubbing Hayward with methylated spirits, which did him a world of good. If he were to break up now I should not know what to do. Turned in about 1.30. It is now calm, but overcast with light falling snow.
"February 28, Monday.—Up at 6 o'clock; can just see a little sky-line. Under way at 9 o'clock. The reason of delay, had to mend finneskoe, which are in a very dilapidated condition. I got my feet badly frost-bitten yesterday. About 11 o'clock came on to snow, everything overcast. We ought to reach our poor boys in three or four hours, but Fate wills otherwise, as it came on again to blizzard force about 11.45. Camped at noon. I think the party must be within a very short distance, but we cannot go on as we might pass them, and as we have not got any position to go on except compass. Later.—Kept on blizzarding all afternoon and night.
"February 29, Tuesday.—Up at 5 o'clock; still very thick. It cleared up a little to the south about 8 o'clock, when Richards sighted something black to the north of us, but could not see properly what it was. After looking round sighted camp to the south, so we got under way as soon as possible. Got up to the camp about 12.45, when Wild came out to meet us. We gave him a cheer, as we fully expected to find all down. He said he had taken a little exercise every day; they had not any food left. The Skipper then came out of the tent, very weak and as much as he could do to walk. He said, ‘I want to thank you for saving our lives.' I told Wild to go and give them a feed and not to eat too much at first in case of reaction, as I am going to get under way as soon as they have had a feed. So we had lunch, and the Skipper went ahead to get some exercise, and after an hour's digging out got everything ready for leaving. When we lifted Smith we found he was in a great hole which he had melted through. This party had been in one camp for twelve days. We got under way and picked the Skipper up; he had fallen down, too weak to walk. We put him on the sledge we had brought out, and we camped about 8 o'clock. I think we did about three miles, rather good with two men on the sledges and Hayward in a very bad way. I don't think there has been a party, either north or south, in such straits, three men down and three of us very weak; but the dogs seem to have new life since we turned north. I think they realize they are homeward bound. I am glad we kept them, even when we were starving. I knew they would have to come in at the finish. We have now to look forward to southerly winds for help, which I think we shall get at this time of year. Let us hope the temperature will keep up, as our sleeping-bags are wet through and worn out, and all our clothes full of holes, and finneskoe in a dilapidated condition; in fact, one would not be out on a cold day in civilization with the rotten clothes we have on. Turned in 11 o'clock, wet through, but in a better frame of mind. Hope to try and reach the depot to-morrow, even if we have to march overtime.
"March 1, Wednesday.—Turned out usual time; a good south wind, but, worse luck, heavy drift. Set sail; put the Skipper on rear sledge. The temperature has gone down and it is very cold. Bluff in sight. We are making good progress, doing a good mileage before lunch. After lunch a little stronger wind. Hayward still hanging on to sledge; Skipper fell off twice. Reached depot 5.45. When camping found we had dropped our tent-poles, so Richards went back a little way and spotted them through the binoculars about half a mile off, and brought them back. Hayward and I were very cold by that time, the drift very bad. Moral: See everything properly secured. We soon had our tent up, cooked our dinner in the dark, and turned in about 10 o'clock.
"March 2, Thursday.—Up as usual. Strong south-west wind with heavy drift. Took two weeks' provisions from the depot. I think that will last us through, as there is another depot about fifty miles north from here; I am taking the outside course on account of the crevasses, and one cannot take too many chances with two men on sledges and one crippled. Under way about 10 o'clock; lunched noon in a heavy drift; took an hour to get the tents up, etc., the wind being so heavy. Found sledges buried under snow after lunch, took some time to get under way. Wind and drift very heavy; set half-sail on the first sledge and under way about 3.30. The going is perfect; sometimes sledges overtaking us. Carried on until 8 o'clock, doing an excellent journey for the day; distance about eleven or twelve miles. Gives one a bit of heart to carry on like this; only hope we can do this all the way. Had to cook our meals in the dark, but still we did not mind. Turned in about 11 o'clock, pleased with ourselves, although we were wet through with snow, as it got through all the holes in our clothes, and the sleeping-bags are worse than awful.
"March 3, Friday.—Up the usual time. It has been blowing a raging blizzard all night. Found to our disgust utterly impossible to carry on. Another few hours of agony in these rotten bags. Later.—Blizzard much heavier. Amused myself mending finneskoe and Burberrys, mitts and socks. Had the Primus while this operation was in force. Hoping for a fine day to-morrow.
"March 4, Saturday.—Up 5.20. Still blizzarding, but have decided to get under way as we will have to try and travel through everything, as Hayward is getting worse, and one doesn't know who is the next. No mistake it is scurvy, and the only possible cure is fresh food. I sincerely hope the ship is in; if not we shall get over the hills by Castle Rock, which is rather difficult and will delay another couple of days. Smith is still cheerful; he has hardly moved for weeks and he has to have everything done for him. Got under way 9.35. It took some two hours to dig out dogs and sledges, as they were completely buried. It is the same every morning now. Set sail, going along pretty fair. Hayward gets on sledge now and again. Lunched as usual; sledges got buried again at lunch-time. It takes some time to camp now, and in this drift it is awful. In the afternoon wind eased a bit and drift went down. Found it very hard pulling with the third man on sledge, as Hayward has been on all the afternoon. Wind veered two points to south, so we had a fair wind. An hour before we camped Erebus and Terror showing up, a welcome sight. Only hope wind will continue. Drift is worst thing to contend with as it gets into our clothes, which are wet through now. Camped 8 o'clock. Cooked in the dark, and turned in in our wet sleeping-bags about 10 o'clock. Distance about eight or nine miles.
"March 5, Sunday.—Turned out 6.15. Overslept a little; very tired after yesterday. Sun shining brightly and no wind. It seemed strange last night, no flapping of tent in one's ears. About 8.30 came on to drift again. Under way 9.20, both sails set. Sledge going hard, especially in soft places. If Hayward had not broken down we should not feel the weight so much. Lunch 12.45. Under way at 3. Wind and drift very heavy. A good job it is blowing some, or else we should have to relay. All land obscured. Distance about ten or eleven miles, a very good performance. Camped 7.10 in the dark. Patients not in the best of trim. I hope to get in, bar accidents, in four days.
"March 6, Monday.—Under way 9.20. Picked up thirty-two mile depot 11 o'clock. Going with a fair wind in the forenoon, which eased somewhat after lunch and so caused very heavy work in pulling. It seems to me we shall have to depot someone if the wind eases at all. Distance during day about eight miles.
"March 7, Tuesday.—Under way 9 o'clock. Although we turn out at 5 it seems a long time to get under way. There is double as much work to do now with our invalids. This is the calmest day we have had for weeks. The sun is shining and all land in sight. It is very hard going. Had a little breeze about 11 o'clock, set sail, but work still very, very heavy. Hayward and Skipper going on ahead with sticks, very slow pace, but it will buck them up and do them good. If one could only get some fresh food! About 11 o'clock decided to camp and overhaul sledges and depot all gear except what is actually required. Under way again at 2, but surface being so sticky did not make any difference. After a consultation the Skipper decided to stay behind in a tent with three weeks' provisions whilst we pushed on with Smith and Hayward. It seems hard, only about thirty miles away, and yet cannot get any assistance. Our gear is absolutely rotten, no sleep last night, shivering all night in wet bags. I wonder what will be the outcome of it all after our struggle. Trust in Providence. Distance about three and a half miles.
"March 8, Wednesday.—Under way 9.20. Wished the Skipper good-bye; took Smith and Hayward on. Had a fair wind, going pretty good. Hope to arrive in Hut Point in four days. Lunched at No. 2 depot. Distance about four and a half miles. Under way as usual after lunch; head wind, going very heavy. Carried on until 6.30. Distance about eight or nine miles.
"March 9, Thursday.—Had a very bad night, cold intense. Temperature down to —29° all night. At 4 a.m. Spencer-Smith called out that he was feeling queer. Wild spoke to him. Then at 5.45 Richards suddenly said, ‘I think he has gone.' Poor Smith, for forty days in pain he had been dragged on the sledge, but never grumbled or complained. He had a strenuous time in his wet bag, and the jolting of the sledge on a very weak heart was not too good for him. Sometimes when we lifted him on the sledge he would nearly faint, but during the whole time he never complained. Wild looked after him from the start. We buried him in his bag at 9 o'clock at the following position: Ereb. 184°—Obs. Hill 149°. We made a cross of bamboos, and built a mound and cairn, with particulars. After that got under way with Hayward on sledge. Found going very hard, as we had a northerly wind in our faces, with a temperature below 20°. What with frost-bites, etc., we are all suffering. Even the dogs seem like giving in; they do not seem to take any interest in their work. We have been out much too long, and nothing ahead to cheer us up but a cold, cheerless hut. We did about two and a half miles in the forenoon; Hayward toddling ahead every time we had a spell. During lunch the wind veered to the south with drift, just right to set sail. We carried on with Hayward on sledge and camped in the dark about 8 o'clock. Turned in at 10, weary, worn, and sad. Hoping to reach depot to-morrow.
"March 10, Friday.—Turned out as usual. Beam wind, going pretty fair, very cold. Came into very soft snow about 3; arrived at Safety Camp 5 o'clock. Got to edge of Ice Barrier; found passage over in a bay full of seals. Dogs got very excited; had a job to keep them away. By the glass it looked clear right to Cape Armitage, which is four and a half miles away. Arrived there 8 o'clock, very dark and bad light. Found open water. Turned to climb slopes against a strong north-easterly breeze with drift. Found a place about a mile away, but we were so done up that it took until 11.30 to get gear up. This slope was about 150 yds. up, and every three paces we had to stop and get breath. Eventually camped and turned in about 2 o'clock. I think this is the worst day I ever spent. What with the disappointment of not getting round the Point, and the long day and the thought of getting Hayward over the slopes, it is not very entertaining for sleep.
"March 11, Saturday.—Up at 7 o'clock; took binoculars and went over the slope to look around the Cape. To my surprise found the open water and pack at the Cape only extended for about a mile. Came down and gave the boys the good news. I think it would take another two hard days to get over the hills, and we are too weak to do much of that, as I am afraid of another collapsing. Richards and Wild climbed up to look at the back of the bay and found the ice secure. Got under way 10.30, went round the Cape and found ice; very slushy, but continued on. No turning now; got into hard ice shortly after, eventually arriving at Hut Point about 3 o'clock. It seems strange after our adventures to arrive back at the old hut. This place has been standing since we built it in 1901, and has been the starting-point of a few expeditions since. When we were coming down the bay I could fancy the Discovery there when Scott arrived from his Farthest South in 1902, the ship decorated rainbow fashion, and Lieutenant Armitage giving out the news that Captain Scott had got to 82° 17´ S. We went wild that day. But now our homecoming is quite different. Hut half-full of snow through a window being left open and drift getting in; but we soon got it shipshape and Hayward in. I had the fire going and plenty of vegetables on, as there was a fair supply of dried vegetables. Then after we had had a feed, Richards and Wild went down the bay and killed a couple of seals. I gave a good menu of seal meat at night, and we turned in about 11 o'clock, full—too full, in fact. As there is no news here of the ship, and we cannot see her, we surmise she has gone down with all hands. I cannot see there is any chance of her being afloat or she would be here. I don't know how the Skipper will take it.
"March 12, Sunday.—Heard groans proceeding from the sleeping-bags all night; all hands suffering from over-eating. Hayward not very well. Turned out 8 o'clock. Good breakfast—porridge, seal, vegetables, and coffee; more like a banquet to us. After breakfast Richards and Wild killed a couple of seals whilst I made the hut a bit comfy. Hayward can hardly move. All of us in a very bad state, but we must keep up exercise. My ankles and knees badly swollen, gums prominent. Wild, very black around joints, and gums very black. Richards about the best off. After digging hut out I prepared food which I think will keep the scurvy down. The dogs have lost their lassitude and are quite frisky, except Oscar, who is suffering from over-feeding. After a strenuous day's work turned in 10 o'clock.
"March 13, Monday.—Turned out 7 o'clock. Carried on much the same as yesterday, bringing in seal blubber and meat. Preparing for departure to-morrow; hope every one will be all right. Made new dog harness and prepared sledges. In afternoon cooked sufficient seal meat for our journey out and back, and same for dogs. Turned in 10 o'clock, feeling much better.
"March 14, Tuesday.—A beautiful day. Under way after lunch. One would think, looking at our party, that we were the most ragged lot one could meet in a day's march; all our clothes past mending, our faces as black as niggers'—a sort of crowd one would run away from. Going pretty good. As soon as we rounded Cape Armitage a dead head wind with a temperature of —18° Fahr., so we are not in for a pleasant time. Arrived at Safety Camp 6 o'clock, turned in 8.30, after getting everything ready.
"March 15, Wednesday.—Under way as usual. Nice calm day. Had a very cold night, temperature going down to —30° Fahr. Going along at a rattling good rate; in spite of our swollen limbs we did about fifteen miles. Very cold when we camped; temperature —20° Fahr. Turned in 9 o'clock.
"March 16, Thursday.—Up before the sun, 4.45 a.m. Had a very cold night, not much sleep. Under way early. Going good. Passed Smith's grave 10.45 a.m. and had lunch at depot. Saw Skipper's camp just after, and looking through glass found him outside tent, much to the joy of all hands, as we expected him to be down. Picked him up 4.15 p.m. Broke the news of Smith's death and no ship. I gave him the date of the 17th to look out for our returning, so he had a surprise. We struck his camp and went north for about a mile and camped. We gave the Skipper a banquet of seal, vegetables, and black currant jam, the feed of his life. He seems in a bad way. I hope to get him in in three days, and I think fresh food will improve him. We turned in 8 o'clock. Distance done during day sixteen miles.
"March 17, Friday.—Up at 5 o'clock. Under way 8 a.m. Skipper feeling much better after feeding him up. Lunched a few yards past Smith's grave. Had a good afternoon, going fair. Distance about sixteen miles. Very cold night, temperature —30° Fahr. What with wet bags and clothes, rotten.
"March 18, Saturday.—Turned out 5 o'clock. Had rather a cold night. Temperature —29° Fahr. Surface very good. The Skipper walked for a little way, which did him good. Lunched as usual. Pace good. After lunch going good. Arrived at Safety Camp 4.10 p.m. To our delight found the sea-ice in the same condition and arrived at Hut Point at 7 o'clock. Found Hayward still about same. Set to, made a good dinner, and all hands seem in the best of spirits. Now we have arrived and got the party in, it remains to themselves to get better. Plenty of exercise and fresh food ought to do miracles. We have been out 160 days, and done a distance of 1561 miles, a good record. I think the irony of fate was poor Smith going under a day before we got in. I think we shall all soon be well. Turned in 10.30 p.m. Before turning in Skipper shook us by the hand with great emotion, thanking us for saving his life."
Richards, summarizing the work of the parties, says that the journeys made between September 1 and March 18, a period of 160 days, totalled 1561 miles. The main journey, from Hut Point to Mount Hope and return, was 830 miles.
"The equipment," he adds, "was old at the commencement of the season, and this told severely at the later stages of the journey. Three Primus lamps gave out on the journeys, and the old tent brought back by one of the last parties showed rents several feet in length. This hampered the travelling in the long blizzards. Finneskoe were also in pieces at the end, and time had frequently to be lost through repairs to clothing becoming imperative. This account would not be complete without some mention of the unselfish service rendered by Wild to his two ill tent-mates. From the time he remained behind at the long blizzard till the death of Spencer-Smith he had two helpless men to attend to, and despite his own condition he was ever ready, night or day, to minister to their wants. This, in a temperature of —30° Fahr. at times, was no light task.
"Without the aid of four faithful friends, Oscar, Con, Gunner, and Towser, the party could never have arrived back. These dogs from November 5 accompanied the sledging parties, and, although the pace was often very slow, they adapted themselves well to it. Their endurance was fine. For three whole days at one time they had not a scrap of food, and this after a period on short rations. Though they were feeble towards the end of the trip, their condition usually was good, and those who returned with them will ever remember the remarkable service they rendered.
"The first indication of anything wrong with the general health of the party occurred at about lat. 82° 30´ S., when Spencer-Smith complained of stiffness in the legs and discolouration. He attributed this to holes in his windproof clothing. At lat. 83° S., when he gave way, it was thought that the rest would do him good. About the end of January Captain Mackintosh showed very serious signs of lameness. At this time his party had been absent from Hut Point, and consequently from fresh food, about three months.
"On the journey back Spencer-Smith gradually became weaker, and for some time before the end was in a very weak condition indeed. Captain Mackintosh, by great efforts, managed to keep his feet until the long blizzard was encountered. Here it was that Hayward was first found to be affected with the scurvy, his knees being stiff. In his case the disease took him off his feet very suddenly, apparently causing the muscles of his legs to contract till they could be straightened hardly more than a right angle. He had slight touches in the joints of the arms. In the cases of Joyce, Wild, and Richards, joints became stiff and black in the rear, but general weakness was the worst symptom experienced. Captain Mackintosh's legs looked the worst in the party."
The five men who were now at Hut Point found quickly that some of the winter months must be spent there. They had no news of the ship, and were justified in assuming that she had not returned to the Sound, since if she had some message would have been awaiting them at Hut Point, if not farther south. The sea-ice had broken and gone north within a mile of the point, and the party must wait until the new ice became firm as far as Cape Evans. Plenty of seal meat was available, as well as dried vegetables, and the fresh food improved the condition of the patients very rapidly. Richards massaged the swollen joints and found that this treatment helped a good deal. Before the end of March Mackintosh and Hayward, the worst sufferers, were able to take exercise. By the second week of April Mackintosh was free of pain, though the backs of his legs were still discoloured.
A tally of the stores at the hut showed that on a reasonable allowance the supply would last till the middle of June. Richards and Wild killed many seals, so that there was no scarcity of meat and blubber. A few penguins were also secured. The sole means of cooking food and heating the hut was an improvised stove of brick, covered with two sheets of iron. This had been used by the former Expedition. The stove emitted dense smoke and often made the hut very uncomfortable, while at the same time it covered the men and all their gear with clinging and penetrating soot. Cleanliness was out of the question, and this increased the desire of the men to get across to Cape Evans. During April the sea froze in calm weather, but winds took the ice out again. On April 23 Joyce walked four miles to the north, partly on young ice two inches thick, and he thought then that the party might be able to reach Cape Evans within a few days. But a prolonged blizzard took the ice out right up to the Point, so that the open water extended at the end of April right up to the foot of Vinie's Hill. Then came a spell of calm weather, and during the first week of May the sea-ice formed rapidly. The men made several short trips over it to the north. The sun had disappeared below the horizon in the middle of April, and would not appear again for over four months.
The disaster that followed is described by both Richards and Joyce. "And now a most regrettable incident occurred," wrote Richards. "On the morning of May 8, before breakfast, Captain Mackintosh asked Joyce what he thought of his going to Cape Evans with Hayward. Captain Mackintosh considered the ice quite safe, and the fine morning no doubt tempted him to exchange the quarters at the hut for the greater comfort and better food at Cape Evans." (Mackintosh naturally would be anxious to know if the men at Cape Evans were well and had any news of the ship.) "He was strongly urged at the time not to take the risk, as it was pointed out that the ice, although firm, was very young, and that a blizzard was almost sure to take part of it out to sea."
However, at about 1 p.m., with the weather apparently changing for the worse, Mackintosh and Hayward left, after promising to turn back if the weather grew worse. The last sight the watching party on the hill gained of them was when they were about a mile away, close to the shore, but apparently making straight for Cape Evans. At 3 p.m. a moderate blizzard was raging, which later increased in fury, and the party in the hut had many misgivings for the safety of the absent men.
On May 10, the first day possible, the three men left behind walked over new ice to the north to try and discover some trace as to the fate of the others. The footmarks were seen clearly enough raised up on the ice, and the track was followed for about two miles in a direction leading to Cape Evans. Here they ended abruptly, and in the dim light a wide stretch of water, very lightly covered with ice, was seen as far as the eye could reach. It was at once evident that part of the ice over which they had travelled had gone out to sea.
The whole party had intended, if the weather had held good, to have attempted the passage across with the full moon about May 16. On the date on which Mackintosh and Hayward left it was impossible that a sledge should travel the distance over the sea-ice owing to the sticky nature of the surface. Hence their decision to go alone and leave the others to follow with the sledge and equipment when the surface should improve. That they had actually been lost was learned only on July 15, on which date the party from Hut Point arrived at Cape Evans.
The entry in Joyce's diary shows that he had very strong forebodings of disaster when Mackintosh and Hayward left. He warned them not to go, as the ice was still thin and the weather was uncertain. Mackintosh seems to have believed that he and Hayward, travelling light, could get across to Cape Evans quickly before the weather broke, and if the blizzard had come two or three hours later they probably would have been safe. The two men carried no sleeping-bags and only a small meal of chocolate and seal meat.
The weather during June was persistently bad. No move had been possible on May 16, the sea-ice being out, and Joyce decided to wait until the next full moon. When this came the weather was boisterous, and so it was not until the full moon of July that the journey to Cape Evans was made. During June and July seals got very scarce, and the supply of blubber ran short.
Meals consisted of little but seal meat and porridge. The small stock of salt was exhausted, but the men procured two and a half pounds by boiling down snow taken from the bottom layer next to the sea-ice. The dogs recovered condition rapidly and did some hunting on their own account among the seals.
The party started for Cape Evans on July 15. They had expected to take advantage of the full moon, but by a strange chance they had chosen the period of an eclipse, and the moon was shadowed most of the time they were crossing the sea-ice. The ice was firm, and the three men reached Cape Evans without difficulty. They found Stevens, Cope, Gaze, and Jack at the Cape Evans Hut, and learned that nothing had been seen of Captain Mackintosh and Hayward. The conclusion that these men had perished was accepted reluctantly. The party at the base consisted now of Stevens, Cope, Joyce, Richards, Gaze, Wild, and Jack.
The men settled down now to wait for relief. When opportunity offered Joyce led search-parties to look for the bodies or any trace of the missing men, and he subsequently handed me the following report:
"There was the barest chance that after the return of the sun some trace of their bodies might be found, so during the spring—that is, August and September 1916—and in the summer—December and January 1916–17—the following searches were carried out:
"(1) Wild and I thoroughly searched Inaccessible Island at the end of August 1916.
"(2) Various parties in September searched along the shore to the vicinity of Turk's Head.
"(3) In company with Messrs. Wild and Gaze I started from Hut Point, December 31, 1916, at 8 a.m., and a course was steered inshore as close as possible to the cliffs in order to search for any possible means of ascent. At a distance of half a mile from Hut Point we passed a snow slope which I had already ascended in June 1916; three and a half miles farther on was another snow slope, which ended in Blue Ice Glacier slope, which we found impossible to climb, snow slope being formed by heavy winter snowfall. These were the only two places accessible. Distance on this day, 10 miles 1710 yds covered. On January 1 search was continued round the south side of Glacier Tongue from the base towards the seaward end. There was much heavy pressure; it was impossible to reach the summit owing to the wide crack. Distance covered 4 miles 100 yds. On January 2 thick weather caused party to lay up. On 3rd, glacier was further examined, and several slopes formed by snow led to top of glacier, but crevasses between slope and the tongue prevented crossing. The party then proceeded round the Tongue to Tent Island, which was also searched, a complete tour of the island being made. It was decided to make for Cape Evans, as thick weather was approaching. We arrived at 8 p.m. Distance 8 miles 490 yds.
"I remain, etc.,
"ERNEST E. JOYCE.
"To Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON, C.V.O.,
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