Scott of the Antarctic: Last letter revealed in full
- 29 March 2013
- From the section Cambridgeshire
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.
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."
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.