The Long Happy Ending
Shackleton, Crean and Worsley would make many attempts to return for the men on Elephant Island, each time being thwarted by the ice. Firstly they were aboard the Southern Sky, which they sailed from South Georgia, then on June 16th they tried to get through the ice aboard the Instituto de Pesca No 1, a vessel borrowed from the Uruguayan authorities, but again failed, as did their bid aboard Emma.
Finally on the 30th of August 1916, the men on Elephant Island saw the mirage like approach of a ship. It was the Yelcho, a ship Shackleton had pleaded with the Chilean government for. Shackleton, Crean and Worsley watched as the men emerged like ants, from beneath the upturned Dudley Docker and Stancomb Wills, which had been fashioned into shelters on the rocky beach.
As they counted the manic dots on the beach, it became clear that all of Shackleton’s crew had survived the ordeal, and Tom Crean greeted the men, by throwing them boxes of cigarettes. Many of the party were in very bad condition, both mentally and physically. On reaching Chile they were greeted by huge crowds, who were simply amazed to be witness to the returning cast of what has to be the greatest survival story of all time.
The Voyage of the James Caird which was set in motion on April 24th 1916, when the tiny lifeboat was hard-fought dragged from the relative safety of the grim desolate beach on Elephant Island, and cast into the most tumultuous and tortuous body of water on the planet, had finally ended. Six brave souls had climbed aboard and pitched themselves against almost certain oblivion, to somehow conspire to not just survive, but to endure, overcome, return and pluck their comrades from the jaws of death, and from the final unbelievable chapter of the epic tale of The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition – The Endurance.