Bowers, Henry Robertson "Birdie" - Lieutenant
(1883 - 1912) - Biographical notes

Storekeeper - Terra Nova 1910-13

Henry "Birdie" BowersA Scot, born in Greenock, Bowers father died when he was three, his mother then moved the family to London. He became a sea cadet and joined the navy serving in India before being recommended to Scott by Sir Clements Markham being appointed without an interview.

His role was originally that of storekeeper on the ship, but he soon proved he was capable of far more than this, he accompanied Cherry-Garrard and Wilson in their trip to Cape Crozier to retrieve an emperor penguin egg, famously written about in the book "The Worst Journey in the World". Bowers was originally one of the men who was to aid with supporting the South Pole attempt though not a part of the final party. Scott included him however when the support team turned back making him the 5th member of what had been planned logistically as a 4 man group. He died on the way back from the South Pole with Scott and Wilson in their tent, he was 29 years of age.

Known as "Birdie" for his distinctively shaped nose, he was a powerfully built man, just 5 feet 4 inches tall (1.63m), popular with his companions as hard working, endlessly cheerful, dependable and tough. He was a figure of some fascination for the other men by his habit of stripping naked outside every morning once they had arrived in the Antarctic, and throwing buckets of icy water and slush over himself to acclimatize himself for what was to come.

"The hardest traveller that ever undertook a Polar journey as well as one of the most undaunted."

"There was nothing subtle about him. He was transparently simple, straightforward, and unselfish"

29 July 1883 - 29 March 1912.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean
The Cape Crozier party
l to r: Bowers, Henry Robertson, Wilson, Edward Adrian, Cherry-Garrard, Apsley. This journey was what Cherry-Garrard would later write about in his book "The Worst Journey in the World".
Bowers, Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard, cutting up pemmican, 23rd June 1911

Cutting up pemmican, 23rd June 1911
l to r: Bowers, Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard

Bowers with the pony Victor, October 1911
Bowers with the pony Victor, October 1911
Mealtime while manhauling, l to r Evans, Bowers Wilson, Scott

Mealtime while manhauling
l to r Evans, Bowers Wilson, Scott

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean
The South Pole party l to r: Oates, Bowers, Scott, Wilson, Evans.
18th of Jamuary 1912.

Landmarks named after Henry Bowers

Feature Name: Mount Bowers

Type: Summit
Latitude: 85°00'00S
Longitude: 164°05'00E
Description: A peak, 2,430 m, standing 2 mi SSE of Mount Buckley, at the head of the Beardmore Glacier. Named by the British Antarctic Expedition (BrAE) (1910-13).

Feature Name: Bowers Mountains
Type: Summit
Latitude: 71°10'00S
Longitude: 163°15'00E
Description: A group of north-south trending mountains, about 90 mi long and 35 mi wide, bounded by the coast on the north and by the Rennick, Canham, Black and Lillie Glaciers in other quadrants. The seaward end was first sighted in February 1911 from the Terra Nova, under Lieutenant Harry L.L. Pennell, Royal Navy (RN), and subsequently named "Bowers Hills." The feature was photographed from U.S. Navy aircraft in 1946-47 and 1960-62, and was surveyed and mapped by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1962-63. The name was amended to Bowers Mountains upon U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mapping which showed the group to be a major one with peaks rising to nearly 2,600 meters.

Feature Name: Bowers Piedmont Glacier
Type: Glacier
Latitude: 77°43'28S
Longitude: 164°13'51E
Description: Piedmont glacier on the coast of Victoria Land, covering about 40 square mi and lying just S of New Harbor. It merges at its S side with Blue Glacier. Discovered by the British National Antarctic Expedition (BrNAE) (1901-04), but not named until the British Antarctic Expedition (BrAE) (1910-13).
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?