Date: 6 July 2011
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -25
Last week a very fragile, well worn and sooty jacket arrived on my desk for treatment, from Cape Evans. The only indication as to who could have worn the jacket was a makers tag in the back of the neck, which reads ‘Morsheads, Gents and Ladies Tailors, Ballarat’.
Jacket once worn by Richard Walter Richards, GC © AHT/Sarah
Ballarat is a city in the centre of the State of Victoria, Australia. Knowing Ballarat, this piqued my interest, so I read through the explorers biographies and discovered that Richard Walter Richards, GC, often referred to as Dick Richards, was born in Bendigo, Victoria in 1893. Bendigo is not far from Ballarat and Dick Richards had started his science teaching career in Ballarat not long before heading South with Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in December 1914.
My interest was further sparked as I read on. Dick Richards was awarded the Albert Medal, which was later upgraded to the George Cross, for gallant conduct in saving the lives of Mackintosh and Hayward. The George Cross is the civilian equivalent to the Victoria Cross, the highest award possible.
Yet again this simple object reminds me of the suffering of the Ross Sea Party. But also to put it in Richard Walter Richards’ own words ‘it was not futile, but was a demonstration of what the human spirit could accomplish in adversity.’