Diary of Clarence Hare, steward on Antarctic expedition

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Pages from the diary of Clarence Howard Hare, 1901-03. Hare was a New Zealander who served as a steward on Scott's Discovery expedition. In these two pages Hare describes being separated from the rest of his sledging party in Antarctica in March 1902, and his efforts to make his way back to the expedition's ship.


I went up one of the side of this hill and got blown down for some distance on the other side. At last I saw something black which I took to be the sledge, but which turned out to be the dogs. ‘Lewis’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Kid’. ‘Dick’ had hurt his nose somehow for I noticed that it was bleeding. I thought the dogs might be able to lead me to the sledge, I tried it, but found the poor animals seemed as complicated [confused] as I was. They would go some distance one way, then back, and go another distance altogether. Two of the dogs then laid down, and I could not get them to move, but stood watching them, until the snow drift had collected all around them. They seemed quite content in this cold bed, and I wished I could follow their example. A drowsy feeling came over me and I sat down in the snow beside them, while ‘Kid’ my pet dog came and licked my face.

I then remembered that people who went to sleep in the snow never woke up again, and I jumped up and pinched myself and started walking rapidly, followed by Kid. I was then on fairly level surface and often got blown down by the wind. It was very cold, the temperature must have been many degrees below zero. Cold and calm is easily bearable, when well wrapped up, but when it is blowing it is painful, there is no resisting the […] of this blast which seems to cut into the skin, like a knife. The last thing that I can remember on that awful night, was sliding down a slippery slope – down – down – then comes a long blank. – I went off to sleep in the snow.

Next thing I remember was half waking up and thinking myself in bed at home. I seemed to be wondering if it was time to get up, and why nobody had called me. I listened but could hear no sound, the deadly silence became oppressive, and I tried to more, but could not. I had been lying on my left side, and after a big struggle, I managed to get on to my back. The snow had drifted up on each side of me, but only a little had settled on me, and the act of turning, brushed most of it off. The sun was then shining on my face, and after lying thinking for some time I remembered everything. It was a fine morning – calm and not very cold. It was alas [at last] clear and I could make out the hills surrounding the Bay, only a few miles away. I was lying half way down a steep slope and a little way below me was a precipice, into the sea.

The sea was dotted with floe ice, and it was evident that I was on the north western side of the peninsula, though how I got there I could not make out. After great difficulty I managed to get out of my ice mould, I tried to stand up, but my legs were quite numbed and would not bear my weight. I noticed there was a mould in the ice, beside mine, which had been caused by ‘Kid’ sleeping beside me. There was no sign of him about and I concluded he must have found his way back to the ship. I had to crawl for some distance, over a hill and on to the main ridge of the Peninsula. I was very cold, weak and hungry. I took my water bottle out, and found the water in it had frozen solid, although I had carried it under my jersey and wind clothes, and next to my under-singlet. After crawling for some time I found I could stand up, and walk slowly. I made for the right of Crater Hill, and after a long weary walk and many tumbles, I reached the last hill, and could see the ship below. When about half way down the last slope I was seen from the ship. A boat was launched, and a party came to meet me, and helped me down to the boat. They pulled to the ship, and I was hoisted on board by a rope. Dr Wilson at once took charge of me and took me into the Magnetic Observatory on deck. Three cheers were kindly given for my safe return.

I learned then that the day was Thursday (Mch 13) and just before noon, and I had been lost since Tuesday noon – about 48 hours, and perhaps I was asleep for 40 hours of it.

I afterwards learnt of the sad death of Poor Vince, and how the others fared, after I had got separated from them.


Image: Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: qMS-0916

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

How to cite this page: 'Diary of Clarence Hare, steward on Antarctic expedition', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/interactive/clarence-hare-letter, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-Apr-2013

Community contributions

Imelda Bargas
29 Apr 2013

Thanks for your comment Rae. It's great to know his Antarctic stories live on in the family.

The diary is held at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington within the National Library. There is information about visiting the Library here: http://natlib.govt.nz/visiting/wellington. I'm sure if you let them know you are coming they can have the diary out ready for you. They may also be interested in the audio recordings.

Canterbury Museum also has a large Antarctic collection so it would be worth contacting them as well if you are making it to Christchurch on your trip. http://www.canterburymuseum.com/

Rae Bassett
26 Apr 2013

Thank you so much for sharing this information. Clarence Hare's descendents all live in Australia now (myself included), but they cherish his NZ heritage and stories of his Antarctic adventure are regularly shared. I myself will be visiting NZ in May and I'm hoping to view the diary that I remember reading as a child. We also have audio recordings by Clarence Hare talking about his Antarctic experience if you are ever interested in them get in touch.

What do you know?