Walter Ernest How - (1885-1972)

Able seaman Endurance 1914-17 - 29 at the start of the expedition- Known as "Ernie"

The Endurance Expedition

It is thought that Walter How was chosen for the expedition not only for his abilities as an Able Seaman, but also for his artistic talents. There was an official expedition artist in Marston, but How also had a natural artistic flair which would have been attractive to the publicity-minded Shackleton. How was no newcomer to polar conditions having worked in the sub-Arctic with the Canadian Auxiliary Survey Ship.

How was responsible along with Bakewell for smuggling aboard Perce Blackborow, and hiding him on the Endurance.


Ernie How was born in the Bermondsey district of London, England on Christmas Day 1885. He went to sea at the age of 12 serving on many sailing ships. He had married Helen Varey in 1913, his first daughter was only six weeks old when How set sail on The Endurance.

On return to England after the expedition, How joined the Merchant Navy, he was blinded in one eye when his ship hit a German mine. He was awarded two War Medals. After the war returned to London where by necessity he took on a number of varied jobs from making lampshades to painting and decorating. He had a particular skill for making models of sailing ships and ships in bottles.

Like many other of the Endurance men, he was due to take part in Shackleton's last expedition aboard the "Quest" though withdrew on the death of his father just before the Quest sailed from Plymouth.

While his pictures never featured in earlier accounts of the voyage, How did provide some illustrations for Margery and James Fishers book "Shackleton" first published in 1957.

How regularly attended the Antarctic dinners and reunions of his Endurance comrades and was particularly friendly with Bakewell and Greenstreet. On the 2nd of October 1968 along with Greenstreet and Green who formed the last 3 surviving Endurance he went to Portsmouth to celebrate the commissioning of the Royal Navy's latest Antarctic survey ship H.M.S. Endurance. He was present again in October 1970 to welcome the ship back from its long visit to Antarctica. The ship had a compliment of 12 officers, 106 men and two helicopters, rather different to the 28 men of Shackleton's Endurance.

Shackleton described How: "He was a man among men". He died of cancer on the 5th of August 1972 aged 86.

Buenos Aries 1917

Some of the crew of the Endurance photographed in Buenos Aries 1917
picture courtesy Robin Mackenzie- Stornoway Historical Society


Other Crew of the Endurance Expedition

Bakewell, William - Able Seaman
Blackborow, Percy - Stowaway (later steward)
Cheetham, Alfred - Third Officer
Clark, Robert S. - Biologist
Crean, Thomas - Second Officer
Green, Charles J. - Cook
Greenstreet, Lionel - First Officer
Holness, Ernest - Fireman/stoker
How, Walter E. - Able Seaman
Hudson, Hubert T. - Navigator
Hurley, James Francis (Frank) - Official Photographer
Hussey, Leonard D. A. - Meteorologist
James, Reginald W. - Physicist
Kerr, A. J. - Second Engineer

Macklin, Dr. Alexander H. - Surgeon
Marston, George E. - Official Artist
McCarthy, Timothy - Able Seaman
McIlroy, Dr. James A. - Surgeon
McLeod, Thomas - Able Seaman
McNish, Henry - Carpenter
Orde-Lees, Thomas  - Motor Expert and Storekeeper
Rickinson, Lewis - First Engineer
Shackleton, Ernest H. - Expedition Leader
Stephenson, William - Fireman/stoker
Vincent, John - Able Seaman
Wild, Frank - Second in Command
Wordie, James M. - Geologist
Worsley, Frank - Captain

Biographical information - I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures visitors may have will be 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?

  Ernest Shackleton Books and Video

South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
South - Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
original footage - DVD

Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
Kenneth Branagh (2002) - DVD

Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (Large Format)
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
IMAX dramatization - DVD

The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage - DVD
Endurance, The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, book
Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing (Preface) - Book

South with Endurance:
Frank Hurley - official photographer

South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-17
South! Ernest Shackleton
Shackleton's own words

 Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer

Shackleton's Boat Journey: The narrative of Frank Worsley


biography by Roland

The Quest for Frank Wild, biography by Angie Butler

The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
by Caroline Alexander

Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition:
The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat

Shackleton's Forgotten Men
Lennard Bickel

Elephant Island and Beyond: The Life and Diaries of Thomas Orde Lees Book
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, The True Story of the Endurance Expedition
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World -
Jennifer Armstrong
for ages 12 and up