Scott of the Antarctic: Last letter revealed in full

Part of a letter written by Capt Scott Scott wrote one of his last letters to his former commanding officer

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One of the last letters written by Capt Robert Falcon Scott during his south pole expedition has been made public.

Addressed to Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman, it expresses Scott's concern for his family in England.

The letter will be conserved and put on display at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI).

Parts of it have been published before but the full version is being made public to mark 101 years since Scott's final diary entry on 29 March 1912.

Scott and his team, Dr Edward Wilson, Lt Henry Bowers, Capt Lawrence Oates and Petty Officer Edgar "Taff" Evans, reached the pole on 17 January 1912, to discover they had been beaten to it by Norwegian Roald Amundsen.

Scott's letter

My Dear Sir Francis

I fear we have shipped up - a close shave. I am writing a few letters which I hope will be delivered some day. I want to thank you for the friendship you gave me of late years, and to tell you how extraordinarily pleasant I found it to serve under you.

I want to tell you that I was not too old for this job. It was the younger men that went under first.

Finally I want you to secure a competence for my widow and boy. I leave them very ill provided for, but feel that the country ought not to neglect them.

After all we are setting a good example to our countrymen, if not by getting into a tight place, by facing it like men when we were there.

We could have come through had we neglected the sick.

Good-bye and good-bye to dear Lady Bridgeman

Yours ever

R. Scott

Excuse writing - it is -40, and has been for nigh a month

Capt Oates and PO Evans died on the return journey. The remaining three set up their final camp on about 19 March where they wrote letters to their families and friends.

'A tight place'

The majority of these are held in a collection at the SPRI's museum in Cambridge.

It is thought only two other "final" letters written by Scott, remain.

The whereabouts of one to his friend, the author JM Barrie, is unknown.

A second, to Edgar Speyer, the expedition's treasurer, was sold to a private collector last year at auction for £165,000.

The letter to Sir Francis Bridgeman was purchased for almost £80,000, with the help of grants from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the John R Murray Trust, Friends of the National Libraries and Dr Richard Dehmel.

It was sold by Lord and Lady Graham, descendants of Sir Francis.

Scott's letter to his former commanding officer speaks of his concern for his family's welfare and his hopes that they will be looked after.

"After all we are setting a good example to our countrymen, if not by getting into a tight place, by facing it like men when we were there.

"We could have come through had we neglected the sick."

Scott and party at the South Pole Scott's team was beaten to the south pole by Norwegian Roald Amundsen

Once conserved, the letter will be displayed at the SPRI museum alongside other letters written while Scott and his companions lay dying, including a letter to his widow Kathleen.

A search party found the bodies of Scott and his team in their tent on 12 November, 1912.

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