SCOTT & The South-Pole

Victor Campbell ("The Mate, Mr. Mate")

Campbell was born at Brighton. He was engaged as the third in command on the Terra Nova Expedition (19101913).

"Campbell was an errant Old Etonian who had gone to sea, starting in the merchant service transferring to the Royal Navy from which he retired as a lieutenant in 1902. He then lived part of each year in Norway on a salmon river in Sandsfjord, on the West Coast, where an uncle owned the fishing rights. Campbell had learned to ski in the Norwegian mountains, which gave him the impetus to volunteer for Scott's expedition. He was the only member of the expedition who had been taught to ski properly and one of the very few with any knowledge of snowcraft." (Huntford, The Last Place On Earth, p. 269)
On January 28th, 1911, Campbell and his party went aboard the Terra Nova at Cape Evans and sailed east with the view to explore King Edward VII land which is east of the Ross Shelf. (See Map.) It was on this voyage, east, that Amundsen and his group were discovered at the Bay of Whales. (The men of both ships visited one another.) After the short visit, Scott's men sailed back to McMurdo, giving up their eastern exploration (trouble in landing the party, I think). At any rate, they sailed back to the British Base to advise what they had found. The season was running late, so after they dropped off the news of Amundsen's arrival, the Terra Nova immediately sailed off (she still had open water). Campbell's six-man party was aboard. The plan was to drop them off into territory yet to be explored, Cape Adare, to the north-west. That part was accomplished. There then unfolded another antarctic story, most of which tell of great bravery and extraordinary perseverance.

Campbell's six-man group were expected to be at Cape Adare for only six weeks, and were provisioned accordingly. The Terra Nova at the end of the six weeks was to pick the exploring party up but she could not get in, due to a developing ice-pack. Thus, the explorers were obliged to spend the winter there, in an ice cave nicknamed "Inexpressible Island." There they stayed for almost 7 months until the end of the Austral winter, supplementing their meagre rations with seal and penguin. They left their ice cave on September 30th, 1912, and "walked for five weeks, fortuitously finding a cache of food and fuel along the way which had been left by the expedition's western party the previous year. They eventually arrived safely back at Cape Evans on 7 November 1912, only to be informed that Scott and the entire Polar party had perished months earlier." (

After his polar ordeals, Campbell went on to serve, with distinction, in the First World War. He was at both Gallipoli and in the Battle of Jutland. He reached the rank of Captain. Campbell had a Canadian connection, as he emigrated to Newfoundland in 1922 and died at Corner Brook.


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Peter Landry