Timothy McCarthy (1888-1917)
- Biographical notes
1914-17 - 26 at the start of the expedition
- Ernest Shackleton 1921 - 1922
"[He] is the most irrepressible
optimist I've ever met," "When I relieve him
at the helm, boat iced and seas down your neck, he informs
me with a happy grin, `It's a grand day, sir`"
An Irishman who had joined the expedition from the merchant service, McCarthy is one of the six men who made the journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia on board the James Caird, though he did not cross South Georgia, instead staying with Vincent and McNish who were not well enough to move.
He was one of the youngest members of the expedition.
Timothy McCarthy was born in the in Lower Cove district of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland in 1888, the son of John and Mary McCarthy. He had a brother, Mortimer (Morty) who was six years older and had also been on an Antarctic expedition, with Scott on the "Terra Nova". The district where they came from was well known for producing skilled seamen and fishermen.
On returning to England after the expedition, McCarthy joined the Royal Navy Reserve as a Leading Seaman as his service in the First World War. On Friday 16th March 1917, only three weeks after returning from South Georgia, and at the age of 28, he was killed in action at his gun post on board the S.S. Narragansett, on his first day under enemy fire. The ship had been torpedoed between the South West of Ireland and the Scilly Isles. He went down with his ship along with all other 45 hands, he was the first of the Endurance expedition members to die.
In 2000, both the McCarthy brothers, Timothy and Mortimer, were honoured with commissioned busts by their hometown of Kinsale, which stand in the town's park close to the shore.
McCarthy is a witty Irishman with a splendid gift of repartee.
- The camp I wished to find was one where the party could live for weeks or even months in safety, without danger from sea or wind in the heaviest winter gale. Wild was to proceed westwards along the coast and was to take with him four of the fittest men, Marston, Crean, Vincent, and McCarthy. If he did not return before dark we were to light a flare, which would serve him as a guide to the entrance of the channel.
- I finally selected McNeish, McCarthy,
and Vincent in addition to Worsley and Crean. The crew seemed
a strong one, and as I looked at the men I felt confidence
- McCarthy said that he could contrive
some sort of covering for the James Caird if he might use
the lids of the cases and the four sledge-runners that we
had lashed inside the boat for use in the event of a landing
on Graham Land at Wilhelmina Bay. This bay, at one time
the goal of our desire, had been left behind in the course
of our drift, but we had retained the runners. The carpenter
proposed to complete the covering with some of our canvas;
and he set about making his plans at once.
- The weather was fine on April 23, and we hurried forward
our preparations. It was on this day I decided finally that
the crew for the James Caird should consist of Worsley,
Crean, McNeish, McCarthy, Vincent, and
- These birds are as sure an indication of the proximity
of land as a lighthouse is, for they never venture far to
sea. We gazed ahead with increasing eagerness, and at 12.30
p.m., through a rift in the clouds, McCarthy
caught a glimpse of the black cliffs of South Georgia,
just fourteen days after our departure from Elephant Island.
It was a glad moment. Thirst-ridden, chilled, and weak as
we were, happiness irradiated us. The job was nearly done.
- Crean and McCarthy had brought down
six more of the young albatrosses in the afternoon, so we
were well supplied with fresh food.
- One side of the James Caird rested on stones so as to
afford a low entrance, and when we had finished she looked
as though she had grown there. McCarthy
entered into this work with great spirit. A sea-elephant
provided us with fuel and meat, and that evening found a
well-fed and fairly contented party at rest in Peggotty
- The two men were not capable of managing for themselves
and McCarthy must stay to look after them.
He might have a difficult task if we failed to reach the
whaling station. The distance to Husvik, according to the
chart, was no more than seventeen geographical miles in
a direct line, but we had very scanty knowledge of the conditions
of the interior. McCarthy, McNeish, and
Vincent had been landed on the Monday afternoon. They were
already showing some signs of increasing strength under
a regime of warm quarters and abundant food.
- McCarthy, the best and most efficient
of the sailors, always cheerful under the most trying circumstances,
and who for these very reasons I chose to accompany me on
the boat journey to South Georgia, was killed at his gun
in the Channel.
Landmarks named after Timothy McCarthy
Feature Name: McCarthy
Feature Type: island
Description: Island, 1 mi long, lying in the entrance to King Haakon Bay on the S side of South Georgia. Surveyed by the SGS in the period 1951-57, and named by the UK-APC.
Image of Timothy McCarthy used permission of Peter McCarthy, Timothy's great nephew.
Other Crew of the Endurance Expedition/strong>
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, Alexander. J. - Second Engineer
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
- I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved.
Any further information or pictures visitors may have will be gratefully received.
- 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 (1919)
original footage - DVD
Kenneth Branagh (2002) - DVD
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (2001)
IMAX dramatization - DVD
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Expedition (2000)
PBS NOVA, dramatization with original footage - DVD
Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing (Preface) - Book
South with Endurance: Frank Hurley - official photographer
South! Ernest Shackleton Shackleton's own words
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