The Rescue of McCarthy, Vincent & McNish.
The Endurance Expedition – South Georgia.
Having only arrived in Stromness earlier that afternoon, after the perilous crossing of South Georgia’s jagged, ice covered interior, Frank Worsley agreed to accompany the relief mission to pick up the three men stranded on the other side of the island. The whaling vessel pulled out of Stromness at 10 pm, and Worsley promptly turned in for the night, for some well earned and much needed rest.
The ship arrived in King Haakon Bay the following day, and Worsley reached the men at Peggotty Camp by boat shortly after. McCarthy, Vincent and McNish emerged from beneath their makeshift camp and were elated to learn that their three companions had safely traversed the island, and that rescue was at hand.
Then the men quizzed Worsley as to why none of their comrades had returned with the relief effort, to fetch them. A bemused Worsley asked them what they meant, and they replied that they had been certain at least one of the three men would have travelled with the whalers. Completely mystified, Worsley demanded “What’s the matter with you?” and suddenly they recognised that the clean shaven and groomed man that stood before them was indeed Frank Worsley, and not one of the whalers as they had assumed. One can only imagine the seismic alteration in Worsley’s appearance, when men he had spent almost a year and half in close confinement with, did not recognise him after a two day absence.
“King Haakon Bay, South Georgia Island”
With the identity crisis over, the group gathered up what few belongings they had, and they towed the James Caird to the ship where it was hoisted aboard. The boat had already been granted relic status by the Norwegians, who still struggled to comprehend how the six men could have voyaged across the tumultuous Weddell Sea in such a craft.
The relief party and the three rescued men arrived back at Stromness the following afternoon after a stopover at Grytviken Harbour. In their absence Shackleton and Crean had been formulating a relief effort for the 22 men still stranded on Elephant Island. They had also learned of rumours that the expeditions other ship Aurora, which had travelled to Antarctica through the Ross Sea, had returned to New Zealand without its stranded shore party, after it was ripped from its moorings and endured a lengthy drift in the ice floes. The men now had two rescue efforts to ponder.
Upon arriving in Stromness one of Shackleton’s first questions for Mr. Sorlle, was to inquire as to when the war had ended. Their surprise upon learning that the conflict was very much ongoing, soon turned to horror as they learnt of the enormous scale of bloodshed and destruction that had engulfed Europe, since their departure. The world they had clamoured for so long to return to, had changed utterly in their absence, and the prospect of returning there must have seemed at least as forbidding as where they had come from.