News article

To mark the centenary of the rescue by Pardo of Shackleton's men

Speech by Ambassador Fiona Clouder on the opening of the Exhibition by the Scott Polar Research Institute.

It’s important to remember – Pardo and Shackleton

It is important to remember those who help others. It is important to remember those who risk their lives to help others. It is important to remember those who inspire us all.

I am delighted to open the exhibition this evening, by the Scott Polar Research Institute, to celebrate 100 years since the heroic rescue by Piloto Pardo, of the Armada de Chile, of Shackleton’s men of the ENDURANCE, who were trapped for many months on Elephant Island. It is important to remember Pardo’s tremendous achievement, and the risks that he and his crew took, to save others.

The city of Punta Arenas has a long tradition of helping others, and has helped many British people over the years. The beautiful cemetery here records the tragedy of HMS Doterel, a British ship, which blew up in the harbour in 1881, with the loss of 143 out of the 155 men on board. The people of this city came to the aid of the survivors and paid due tribute to those lost. It is important to remember those who help others.

Also in the cemetery here is a memorial to those from Punta Arenas, who went to the aid of the British forces in both World Wars. An article, on Shackleton’s death in 1922, titled “How the Little YELCHO Saved the Castaways” also records.

The British [Association of] Magallanes are supported by nearly every prominent businessman in the south of Chile. Their first collection for the War Relief Fund was one of £200, which was used to assist volunteers for the Army to reach England, although many defrayed their own expenses. By the middle of 1917, they had lost three member, killed in action, had a number wounded, and many serving…

And their names are remembered in the cemetery.

Today we are here to celebrate the heroism, of that same period, shown by Piloto Pardo, who showed resilience, daring and great leadership of his men, in ensuring a successful rescue, by the crew of the YELCHO, to reach the ENDURANCE crew. This exhibition tells the story, of the Trans-Antarctic expedition, which would so nearly have ended in complete disaster, had it not been for Pardo.

The Scott Polar Research Institute is a centre for research into the polar regions and glaciology worldwide, located in Cambridge, UK. It also includes the Polar Museum, and holds a large amount of material related to Shackleton. The Scott Polar Research Institute helps to inspire others about polar exploration.

One of the people inspired by the Shackleton story was Henry Worsley, a relative of Frank Worsley, the Captain of Shackleton’s ENDURANCE. In this centenary year, Henry Worsley sought to undertake the Shackleton Solo expedition, to cross Antarctica on foot, and alone, to raise money for the Endeavour Fund – a charity to help wounded servicemen. Sadly he lost his life in the attempt, and died here in Punta Arenas, in January this year. His family have asked me to thank all those involved in his care and for the help given.

A recent project by the Scott Polar Research Institute included digitising the diary of Wordie, who was the Chief Scientist on the Endurance exhibition. In an article, about Pardo and Shackleton, that I have written for the Antarctic Heritage Trust, I draw on Wordie’s diaries in describing the rescue and the wonderful welcome Piloto Pardo and the crew of the YELCHO and the saved men received on their arrival, here in Punta Arenas, 100 years ago. The Wordie family and relatives of the ENDURANCE crew would like to emphasise their gratitude to Pardo and the people of Chile.

It is important to remember Pardo and those who inspire us. And thanks go to the Scott Polar Research Institute, to the Dreams Hotel, and to the sponsors of this exhibition. We hope it will inspire you this evening, and will inspire others in Chile to draw on the story of Pardo and Shackleton, and to also to be inspired by the wonder and beauty of Antarctica.

Fiona Clouder, Her Majesty’s Ambassador