18 January 2012
Last updated at 11:45
An exhibition has opened at Swansea Museum marking the 100th anniversary of the date Captain Scott reached the South Pole. Ninety Degrees South tells the story of the ill-fated expedition by focusing on Petty Officer Edgar Evans, from Gower, who was one of the party of five to die on the return journey.
Evans was born on 7 March 1876 in the small village of Middleton near Rhossili. The eldest of four children, his family moved to Swansea when he was young, living at Hoskins Place off Lower Oxford Street and later at William Street.
After leaving St Helen's Boys School he worked at the Castle Hotel on St Mary's Street and at Swansea's Head Post Office before running away to join the Royal Navy at the age of 15. He became a physical instructor at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth and later a naval gunner.
Evans met Captain Scott in 1897 while serving on HMS Majestic. He accompanied Scott on both the Discovery expedition to the Antarctic between 1901 and 1904 and the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition six years later.
The Terra Nova sailed from Cardiff on 15 June 1910, arriving at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica in January 1911. It was not until November that year Scott, Evans and the rest of the group set out from base camp on a return trek of 1,776 miles.
During the expedition Evans was responsible for the equipment such as the tents, sleeping bags and sledges. He was valued by Scott for his strength, resourcefulness and his cheerful manner which Scott said helped boost the morale of the other men.
Scott chose Evans (standing on the right) and three other men - Capt Lawrence Oates, Lt Henry (Birdie) Bowers and Dr Edward Adrian Wilson - to accompany him on the final assault on the South Pole. They arrived there on 17 January 1912, but were 34 days too late. A Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had already become the first to reach the pole on 14 December 1911.
Evans had cut his hand while repairing a sledge but the wound had refused to heal. He died at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier on 17 February 1912. Scott wrote in his diary: "He died a natural death, but left us a shaken party with season unduly advanced." None of the five men made back to base camp.
A memorial to Edgar Evans can be found at Rhossili Parish Church, where he married his wife Lois and their children were christened. His great-grandson John Evans, who still lives in Swansea, is due to attend the official opening of the exhibition on Tuesday evening. As well as photos of Evans, exhibits include a model of the Terra Nova and a sculpture by Phillip Chatfield.
A civic service is to be held on 17 February at St Mary's Parish Church in Swansea to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. Also in February, the Gower Society is staging an Edgar Evans Walk around the area where he was born. The exhibition at Swansea Museum is being accompanied by a series of lectures throughout February.