Our first object of the month is a plaque commemorating Captain Scott and the four members of his Polar Party after their ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. The brass plaque, mounted on a wooden background, was found in the Shipping Company Headquarters building on Hawkhurst Road when the Museum first moved in.
It reads 'IN MEMORY OF CAPTAIN ROBERT FALCON SCOTT, R.N. AND HIS BRAVE COMRADES DR. WILSON, LIEUT. BOWERS, R.N. CAPTAIN OATES, R.I. DRAGOONS AND CHIEF PETTY OFFICER EVANS, R.N. WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON THEIR RETURN JOURNEY FROM THE SOUTH POLE IN FEBRUARY-MARCH, 1912. "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS. THAT A MAN CAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS." JOHN XV.13." Ex Seamen's Institute, Lyttelton.
The Terra Nova left Lyttelton Harbour on 29 November 1910, continuing the team's quest to reach the South Pole. This the Polar Party achieved on 17 January 1912, only to find a tent left behind by Roald Amundsen. They had been beaten to their goal by a mere 34 days.
When Amundsen was celebrated by the Royal Geographical Society in London on 15 November 1912 there was no doubt that Captain Scott and his team would successfully reach the Pole and return with valuable scientific information.
In early February 1913 no news of the expedition had been heard, and Kathleen Scott travelled to Lyttelton to greet her husband on his return.
Alas, when the Terra Nova reached Oamaru on 11 February 1913 the world learned that all five members of the Polar Party had died on their return from the South Pole. Kathleen Scott was informed at sea on 19 February 1913. Captain Scott and his comrades were universally mourned and celebrated as heroes, with Scott's journal entries providing a haunting glimpse into the hardships they faced with bravery.