Scott of the Antarctic


Robert Falcon Scott
Herbert Ponting [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ryan Geertsma and Marina Santee tell the story of Robert Scott. One hundred years ago, Scott battled the terrible conditions of Antarctica to explore the continent.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Marina Santee. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

“Since the 21st of March the strong wind has continued to blow. On the 20th we had enough fuel to make two drinks of tea. We only enough food for two days. Every day we have been ready to go to the big food camp only 18 kilometres away. But outside the door of the tent the snow storm continues. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We will fight on to the end, but we are getting weaker and the end cannot be far.

It seems sad, but I do not think I can write more.

I pray to God that you will look after our people.”

Voice 1 

These words were found in a little book. It was next to the body of the man who wrote them, Captain Robert Falcon Scott. He and his two friends had died eight months before, in March 1912. The book told an amazing story of courage. It is the story of how five brave men walked to the South Pole. However, when they arrived, they found that another man had reached there first.

Voice 2 

Today’s Spotlight is on Robert Scott and his team. More than one hundred years after they died, people still remember their adventure.

Voice 1 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Antarctica was the one continent which no one had explored. Robert Falcon Scott was an officer in the British Navy. He travelled close to Antarctica as a young man. He decided then that he wanted to explore it. He wanted to become the first man to reach the South Pole.

Voice 2 

Scott travelled around the United Kingdom giving talks about Antarctica. Reaching the South Pole was not the only thing Scott wanted to do. He wanted to find out as much as he could about Antarctica. He chose a team of scientists Many people agreed to support him, including the British government.

Voice 1 

The team sailed to Antarctica in a ship called the Terra Nova. They stopped several times for supplies, in South Africa, in Australia, and finally New Zealand. In every place, the scientists collected examples of plants and animals. They also collected more money to pay for the trip.

Voice 2 

Scott hoped to be the first to reach the South Pole. However, he learned that he would not be the only person trying to reach it. The Norwegian explorer Raold Amundsen was also travelling to the South Pole.

Voice 1 

When they arrived, Scott and his men set up a base camp. They built a large wood building. This was where they lived and worked. They began their scientific work immediately. One man, Herbert Ponting, was taking pictures of everything he saw. Other team members made careful records of the weather. These records are still helping scientists today as they research climate change.

Voice 2 

During the winter, the conditions in Antarctica are terrible. It is extremely cold - so cold that it is almost impossible to survive. It is also almost always dark. However this is the time when Emperor penguin birds lay their eggs. One goal of the expedition was to collect one of these eggs. Scientists wanted to examine the developing babies inside the eggs. This way they could discover how the birds grew. Three men made the trip. They travelled for five terrible months. They almost died from the cold. But they were successful in finding eggs.

Voice 1 

The whole team worked hard preparing for their main goal - the trip to the South Pole. They took large amounts of food and dropped them at different places, so it could be used later. They used machines, horses, and dogs. But the machines did not work well in the cold temperature. The horses also had problems. They became sick. Only the dogs were easy to use. The animals also had one other advantage. In extreme situations, they could be killed and used as food.

Voice 2 

Finally Scott chose four men to go with him to the Pole. Dr Edward Wilson, the scientist, was one. Henry Bowers, Edgar Evans and Lawrence Oates were the others. They had no dogs with them. Instead, they pulled their things across the snow on heavy sledges. It was hard work. In January 1912 they reached the South Pole. A black flag and a note told them that Amundsen had reached the South Pole a month earlier. The men felt sad as they turned back.

Voice 1 

But the scientific work continued. They collected many fossils. These rocks showed the remains of ancient plants. These plants normally grow in warm places. One fossil even showed a large, extinct plant. This plant is not alive now anywhere in the world. These fossils showed something interesting. Because of them, scientists think that Antarctica must have once been in a warmer part of the world. This supports the idea that continents do not stay in one place. Instead they move around in the oceans, very slowly.

Voice 2 

Things did not go well for Scott and his men after they reached the South* Pole. They had to hurry to reach the base camp before the weather became very bad. They had expected to meet their dogs along the way. But the dogs never came. Evans died after a fall. The extreme cold damaged Oates’s leg. So he did a very brave thing. He knew that he was delaying the others. So one night he walked out of the tent into a snow storm. He was never seen again.

Voice 1 

Scott, Wilson and Bowers struggled on. Then they were trapped in their tent by a storm. And that is where they died. Their bodies remain in Antarctica, where they were found. But when people heard about them, they called Scott and his friends heroes. And Scott’s final prayer was answered. In England, supporters collected money to help the families of the dead men. Supporters also organized a permanent research station in England. It is called the Scott Polar Research Institute. The building where Scott and his men lived is also kept as a memorial to them.

Voice 2 

Scott and his group did not achieve their main goal. Amundsen beat them to the South Pole. Scott wrote:

Voice 3 

“If we had lived, I would have a story to tell. It would show the courage of my friends. They would have been an example to everyone.”

Voice 2 

But in this way, Scott was wrong. They died, but people still remember them as heroes.

Voice 1 

The writer of this programme was Shelagh Godwin. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programmes on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called “Scott of the Antarctic”.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

*An earlier version of this script said "North Pole", but this was incorrect; the audio still says "North Pole".

Question:

Have you ever wanted to visit the South Pole? What do you know about this place?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on August 24, 2012

Good morning Spotlight,
This story is very sad, but very encouraging.
It is amazing how people can sacrifice them lives for a good cause.
Thanks for the program, as always I enjoyed it!
Sofía Miketta,
Manta-Ecuador

Avatar Spotlight
Hangcoi
said on October 14, 2013

I’m really admire them, They were brave men. They can do what they want and think. Brave scientist men..

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on October 16, 2013

This is a well knovn story which continues to be impressive, moving even until these days. The brave men had to feel the terrible regret finding they were not first who reached the South Pole. The members of Scott’s courageous team died, however, their exploration in Antarctica still gives the interesting, useful information about an extremely cold area to all the scientists around the world.
Thanks for a great article!

Avatar Spotlight
paulo86nirisco
said on October 18, 2013

The programmes this week are cool, very exciting thank very much spotligt

Avatar Spotlight
Phi Hallelujah
said on March 06, 2016

thank Spotlight a lot for this meaningful story of faith, courage and passion :)

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on August 01, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Monday 01 August, 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Marina Santee, Shelagh Godwin, Ryan Geertsma, and Luke Haley:

First of all, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article . Thanks!
Yes, I have ever wanted to vist the North Pole. I know that there is very cold and it is very far from my country Brazil.
However, I want to tell you that this story remember me the discovery’s story of my country Brazil. When Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived here in Brazil on April 22, 1500 by boat. He was seeking new earth to stay with his Portuguese people and the first ground in which he saw was the Terra de Vera Cruz.
So, this Earth was called of Terra de Vera Cruz by him.
However, in my country Brazil have already had many people living in it. The indigenous people have been living here before Pedro Álvares Cabral arrives here. Therefore, I think that the indigenous people have been linving here in Brazil since 1500. I do not know, In Amazon rainforest there many Indians, I like them.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil