SCOTT & The South-Pole

Cecil Henry Meares ("Meares")

Picture of Cecil Henry Meares

Meares was the chief dog handler and Russian interpreter for the Terra Nova Expedition (1910-1913). Born in County Kilkenny, Ireland (Shackleton connection), Meares was the son of an army officer. Before Meares' involvement in the expedition, he was "a British military officer, a fur-trader in Kamchatka and Okhotsk in Siberia, a fighter in the Russo-Japanese War and the Boer War and a traveller to various places including Tibet."1

"Mearesís task included selecting and purchasing the 34 dogs and 20 ponies for the expedition and then transporting them from Siberia [via Japan] to New Zealand ... where they were to join up with the expedition. Meares knew little about ponies, but nevertheless followed Scottís orders and went to Nikolayevsk, Siberia to select the dogs. There he met Dimitri Gerov, an experienced dog driver, who helped him choose the dogs required for the sledging tasks and who was subsequently recruited as a dog driver for the expedition. Meares also recruited Russian jockey Anton Omelchenko as groom on the expedition."
They then travelled to Vladivostock where the Siberian ponies were purchased. Scott specifically wanted white ponies for the expedition because during the 1907 Nimrod Expedition, Ernest Shackleton observed that the white ponies outlived the dark ponies."2
So it was -- during the expedition Meares was in charge of the dogs. It is seen that there were vailed clashes between Meares and Scott. Meares thought that dogs could play a greater role than what Scott thought. "Meares, I think, rather imagined himself racing to the Pole and back on a dog sledge." Maybe Scott should have paid better attention to what Meares thought, because, that is just about how Amundsen and his men made the record run to the pole. But, somehow, Scott did not think that Meares was up to the challanges of getting to the pole, he commented on February 17th, 1911, when the "One Ton Depot" was being set up: "Meares has a refractory toe which gives him much trouble." Mearesís returned to England when the Terra Nova left for its seasonal return.


[2] "In January he [Meares] went overland by the Trans-Siberian Railway to Khabaroavsk. Thence, by horse and sleigh, he travelled down the frozen River Amur to Nikolievsk near the sea of Okhotsk, a little matter of 660 miles. ... After a harrowing Pacific crossing of five weeks and three transhipments, Meares reached Lyttelton, New Zealand, without losing a single animal, but no longer on speaking terms with Bruce." (Huntford, The Last Place On Earth, p. 269) Bruce was a Lieutenant in the British Navy, Scott's brother-in-law. He was sent along with Meares to oversee things.


GO TO A List of Persons Involved with Scott at the South-Pole

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Peter Landry