South Georgia – Sir Ernest Shackleton: Centenary of The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition


A Centenary Service of thanksgiving for the courage and endurance of Sir Ernest Shackleton CVO and his men is being held today in Westminster Abbey to mark the anniversary of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917). It is an occasion which the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) is pleased to support. GSGSSI today also releases a special stamp issue to mark the centenary. This date has been chosen to coincide with the arrival of Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley at Stromness whaling station on South Georgia.

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition after the expedition ship, is considered by some to be the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. By 1914 both Poles had been reached so Shackleton set his sights on being the first to traverse Antarctica.  Shackleton arrived at South Georgia on 5 November 1914. After a month-long stop at Grytviken whaling station the expedition sailed into the Weddell Sea with the aim of crossing the Antarctic continent to the Ross Sea where they would be met by the Ross Sea party aboard the Aurora. Eighteen months later Shackleton returned to South Georgia, albeit in very different circumstances. The Endurance had been lost in the ice and her 28-man complement had spent months in makeshift camps before they took to the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island. It was from here that Shackleton and five companions made their 1,300 km boat journey aboard the James Caird to King Haakon Bay, South Georgia. After a short period of recuperation Shackleton, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley crossed South Georgia on foot to Stromness whaling station where they arrived on 20th May. Shackleton then began his – ultimately successful – efforts to rescue his men on Elephant Island.

On the stamp issue, the 70 pence stamps features a photograph of Ernest Shackleton on board Endurance at Millwall Docks, London, before leaving for the Antarctic in 1914. On the 80 pence stamp Ernest Shackleton is shown with one of the expedition dogs on board Endurance.  The £1 stamp shows Ernest Shackleton during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and on the £1.25 stamp he is featured sitting at “Patience Camp”. The First Day Cover features a picture of Shackleton taken prior to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

The full press release can be viewed here [.pdf, 0.1Mb].




For further information on the stamps contact Pobjoy Mint Ltd: