Sunday, 18 March 2012

"I am just going outside and may be some time" - Remembering Captain "Titus" Oates 100 years on...

On a day between the 16-18th March 1912, 100 years ago, Captain "Titus" Oates died of exposure in the Antartic cold. He had been suffering desperately from his injuries as he and his comrades faced a titanic struggle to walk back from their journey to the South Pole. Realising he was impeding the lives of his friends he decided to leave the tent, and walked out into the blizzard and certain death, leaving his comrades with the famous words:
"I am just going outside and may be some time".

Born on the 17 March 1880 his death is rightly seen as the ultimate act of self-sacrifice.
His life story was truly remarkable. I have always admired him as he was the ultimate horseman and a great soldier. His body was never found. Sadly his sacrifice was in vain - Captain Scott, Bowers and Wilson all died 10 days later of the cold and exposure.
The Oates Museum at Gilbert White's House, Selborne, Hampshire focuses on his life, and is a wonderful museum. His reindeer-skin sleeping bag was recovered and is now displayed in the museum of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge with other items from the expedition - the 100th century exhibition this year is well worth going to I am told. Oates Boer war medals - the Queen's South Africa Medal with bars and the Polar Medal are held by the Museum of The Royal Dragoon Guards in York.
A great man. The world was very different 100 years ago.