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Thirteen incredible facts about legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton

UNSPECIFIED, circa 1910:  Portrait of Irish explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874 - 1922), circa 1910. He was a junior officer under Captain Robert Scott on his National Antarctic Expedition on the 'Discovery'.  Original Publication: People Disc - HM0014   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of Irish explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton circa 1910 (Photo: Getty Images)

1. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was born to Anglo-Irish parents on February 15, 1874 in Co. Kildare, Ireland, with the family moving to Sydenham in London 10 years later.

2. He was destined to become a doctor, according to his father, but Shackleton instead joined the merchant navy when he was 16 and qualified as a master mariner in 1898.

3. He’s regarded as one of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century, despite never actually achieving his dream of reaching the South Pole.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 1914: Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and his wife Lady Emily Shackleton on board SS Endurance at Millwall Docks, London, England before leaving for the Antarctic, 1914. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Shackleton and his wife Lady Emily Shackleton on board SS Endurance at Millwall Docks, London, England before leaving for the Antarctic, 1914 (Photo: Getty Images)

4. Shackleton made his first Antarctic voyage at the age of 27 on an expedition led by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott on the RRS Discovery ship. He was sent home prematurely after suffering heart and lung problems.

5. He worked as a journalist for some time in Britain and was elected secretary of the Scottish Royal Geographic Society.

6. He married Emily Dorman in 1904 and they had three children – the youngest Edward became the first westerner to climb Mount Mulu in Borneo.

 

ANTARCTICA - 1916: Members of an expedition team led by Irish explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton pull one of their lifeboats across the snow in the Antarctic, following the loss of the 'Endurance'.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Members of an expedition team led by Shackleton pull one of their lifeboats across the snow in the Antarctic, following the loss of the ‘Endurance’ (Photo: Getty Images)

7. Shackleton’s Endurance mission across the Antarctic began on August 8, 1914, just a few days after the First World War began.

8. The group’s ship became trapped in the ice for ten months, and after their ship was damaged the crew were forced to camp on the ice.

9. Shackleton led a small group of men across 1,300 km of Open Ocean and the mountainous terrain of South Georgia in a bid to seek help. In doing so he commendably rescued all 22 of his men who had remained stranded.

1909: Irish explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, in the southern party on board the vessel 'Nimrod', on their return voyage from the British Antarctic Expedition 1907?09 after reaching a point 97 miles from the South Pole, a record at the time.   (Photo by Spencer Arnold/Getty Images)
Shackleton and crew members in one of his earlier voyages (Photo: Getty Images)

10. Upon returning from the Endurance mission while the war was still ongoing, he volunteered for the army. He never actually served on the front line due to his heart condition. 

11. During another Antarctic mission in 1921, Shackleton fell ill and suffered a fatal heart attack, he died at the age of 47.

September 1921:  Ernest Shackleton waving goodbye as he embarks on the Shackleton-Rault Expedition to the Antarctic.  (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Shackleton waving goodbye as he embarks on the Shackleton-Rault Expedition to the Antarctic, which would be his final mission (Photo: Getty Images)

12. He spoke his last words in response to the expedition’s physician’s request that he take things easy, saying: “You are always wanting me to give up something, what do you want me to give up now.”

13. Shackleton was buried in Grytviken, South Georgia.

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