SCOTT & The South-Pole

Edward Adrian Wilson ("Uncle Bill")
(1872-1912)

A Portrait Of Edward Wilson

Wilson was born in England. His father was a medical doctor. His mother was a poultry breeder. He was raised in a farm enviroment. "By the age of nine he had announced to his parents that he was going to become a naturalist. With encouragement and tuition from his father, he started to draw pictures of the wildlife and fauna in the fields around the farm."1

It is from wikipedia, that we learn that Wilson had a "the deep Christian faith and asceticism by which he lived his life." In February of 1898, while studying medcine, Wilson contracted tuberculosis, due, it is said, while doing missionary work among the poor. Thus, he had to rest, and, he took the time to develop his skills as an artist.

Wilson was with Scott on both the Discovery Expedition (19011904) and the Terra Nova Expedition (19101912).2 In respect to the Discovery Expedition, Wilson has been refered to as its zoologist; in the Terra Nova, Chief of the Scientific Staff, and Zoologist.

Scott gave his views on Wilson: "Wilson as usual leads in the making of useful suggestions and in generally providing for our wants. He is a tower of strength ..." "ready and willing to give advice and assistance to others at all times; his sound judgment appreciated and therefore a constant referee."

"Wilson, first as doctor, ever on the lookout to alleviate the small pains and troubles incidental to the work, now as cook, quick, careful and dexterous, ever thinking of some fresh expedient to help the camp life; tough as steel on the traces, never wavering from start to finish."
"Affectionately nicknamed 'Uncle Bill' by the men of the expedition, Wilson was the confidant of many, respected for his judgement, mediatory skills and dedication to others. By all accounts, Wilson was probably Scott's closest comrade of the expedition. Scott wrote "Words must always fail me when I talk of Bill Wilson. I believe he really is the finest character I ever met." When Scott's final camp was discovered by a search team in November 1912, Bowers and Wilson were found frozen in their sleeping bags. Scott's bag was open and his body partially out of his bag - his left arm was extended across Wilson."3
At the last of it, Scott wrote a letter to Wilson's wife, as follows:

"My Dear Mrs. Wilson,
If this letter reaches you Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end -- everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others, never a word of blame to me for leading him into this mess. He is not suffering, luckily, at least only minor discomforts.
His eyes have a comfortable blue look of hope and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty. I can do no more to comfort you than to tell you that he died as he lived, a brave, true man -- the best of comrades and staunchest of friends. My whole heart goes out to you in pity,
Yours,
R. SCOTT"

We should note that Scott wrote only to the wife of Wilson and the mother of Bowers, Wilson and Bowers being the last two with him in the tent where all three died of starvation in -40 temperatures and a wind, force 8, all about.

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Adrian_Wilson

[2] After Wilson got home from the Discovery Expedition (19011904), Shackleton who was mounting his own expedition, the Nimrod Expedition (190709), asked Wilson to join him, but "partly out of loyalty to Scott, he declined." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Adrian_Wilson)

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Adrian_Wilson

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Peter Landry
2013