Sunday, December 26, 2004

Epitaph for Captain Oates

On Saturday March 17th 1912, Captain Lawrence (Laurie) 'Titus' Oates, a member of Robert Falcon Scott's British Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole, said his famous last words:

"I am just going outside and may be some time.".

Captain Oates walked out of the tent, in his socks, to meet a certain death in the terrible blizzard. He decided to sacrifice himself so that his fellow expeditionaries would have a better chance to survive without his burden.

It was his 32nd birthday. His body was never found, and lies today somewhere under 75 feet of snow and ice.

His epitaph, left by his cross, reads:

"Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard to try to save his comrades, beset by hardship."

[source: Huxley, E. - 'Scott of the Antarctic', p. 258.]

A recent book by Michael Smith pays homage to this hero, revealing that he never found out he was a father.

Wayback Machine, the Irish publishing house Collins Press


Blogger explora said...

Captain Robert F. Scott's diary, as published by the Gutenberg Project - and even a picture of a page, courtesy of the British Library - Add. MS 51035, f.39); this was Scott's final entry for 29 March 1912:

The British Library indicates on its website that it was reproduced by kind permission of Lady Philippa Scott, who became Capt. Scott's daughter-in-law.

12:36 PM  

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