Shackleton : The James Caird Society



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Sir James Perowne KB, the Society's Chairman
Sir James Perowne KB took over the Chairmanship of the James Caird Society from Major-General Patrick Fagan MBE at the Annual General Meeting in November 2006.

He writes: 'My connection with the Society started in 1994, when I had the honour as Captain of HMS Norfolk to take Alexandra Shackleton from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia for her first visit to her grandfather's grave in Grytviken cemetery.

Zaz also unveiled a blue plaque we had placed by the Manager's Villa in Stromness, to commemorate her grandfather's arrival there prior to his remarkable rescue of all his men. I have to report that although this was the manager's house when Stromness was finally closed, there is now some doubt whether it was actually the manager's dwelling in 1916!

The 'Manager's Villa' preserved at Stromness, South Georgia.
However knowing our President, you can imagine that I was recruited to join the Society before we were even back in Port Stanley!

My relationship with the Antarctic started when as a Midshipman I went for the 1966-7 season in the then Royal Navy ice patrol ship HMS Protector, and spent eight weeks living in tents in Robert Island, in the South Shetlands, conducting a boat survey of the English Strait. I still have a copy of that original survey on my wall to this day.

A view of Robert Island, which lies opposite Nelson Island in the South Shetland group another view of the island. The South Shetlands are the nearest island group to Shackleton's outlying Elephant island
Evening sun bathes the western cliffs off Robert Island Robert Island : snow, ice, rugged rocks, and not a lot more
My specialisation while in the Royal Navy was submarines, and I had the pleasure of commanding both a diesel boat and a nuclear hunter killer, HMS Superb. Being in submarines during the Cold War tended to take one to the Arctic rather than the Antarctic, and so I have been to the North Pole, but not to the South Pole.

Sir James Perowne (right) and Jonathan Shackleton (centre) at a recent James Caird Society dinner and lecturer
This is an important time for the Society. Following the centenary of the Nimrod and the very successful Grand Nimrod Ball last autumn and the visit of the James Caird to Earls Court come two significant new expeditions.

The first has just retraced part of Shackleton's planned crossing of the Pole. The second, in the Antarctic summer of 2007-8, plans to complete Shackleton's attempt on the Pole in 1909, when he achieved his 'Furthest South'. The Shackleton Centenary Expedition, of which this Society is a sponsor, will be made up of descendants of the original team, including Shackleton's grandson, and will be led by Colonel Henry Worsley.

Henry Worsley (left) discusses plans with Alexandra Shackleton and (centre) JCS committee member David McLean
I do hope members and all Shackleton enthusiasts will do their bit in helping to promote the legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton, making use of this centenary by giving talks to other societies (such as your local Rotary) and other interested lunch/dinner clubs. We do need to keep new members coming in.'

Sir James Perowne, your Chairman, signing off



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