Wednesday 29 January 2020

Revealed: wife's last love letter to Scott of the Antarctic

JOSIE ENSOR in LONDON

AS he battled through the Antarctic's bitter temperatures and blinding winds, there was little in the way of comfort for Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

But now his family have disclosed how he carried with him one source of warmth in his final moments -- a loving letter from his wife.

The note, made public 100 years after his death by his grandson Falcon Scott, was the last one from his wife, Kathleen. It was found on his body inside a red leather wallet, along with two photographs of Kathleen and their only child, Peter.

It is thought Mrs Scott sent the letter on with Scott or one of his companions when she met their ship in Lyttelton Port, New Zealand, in December 1910 on the Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole.

Affectionately addressing him "my dear one" and using the nickname "Con" (short for Falcon), she writes that she will miss him and reminds him to brush his hair and not to smoke so much.

The adventurer died on March 29, 1912. The group were heading back from the Pole when they were caught in a blizzard and ran out of food supplies. His body was found in his tent eight months later.

David Wilson, author of a book on Captain Scott's journeys and great-nephew of the expedition's chief of scientific staff, Edward Wilson, said the discovery gave a touching look into the couple's relationship.

"A note like this, one which he carried with him until he died, not only shows the love between the two of them, but also helps to make him a real human being," he said. "It personalises Scott, who for so long has been held up as either this arm's-length hero or idiot. People tend to ignore his basic humanity by concentrating on his extraordinary achievements."

This is what she wrote:

My dear one ...

How can I guess how things will be with you when you get this ... But oh dearie I am full of hope. My brave man will win -- with his own right hand and with his mighty arm hath he gathered himself the victory.

Now don't forget to brush your hair -- and don't smoke so much and altogether you're a ducky darling and hurray for you!

I don't know if you'll ever get these silly little letters, and it's truly to tell you that I love your (sic) more than is at all comfy and moreover I think you are splendid. I am glad and happy and I'm getting to be very healthy and fit -- when you come home we'll feel closer and closer together and the long time we've been apart will seem only a little hour.

May all the good gods conspire to bring my Con through his great difficulties with a glad heart and a constant hope.

Bless you dearest of men. K.

Sunday Independent

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