This incredible set of stamps has been launched to mark the end of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s doomed 1915 expedition across Antarctica.The images were taken by Shackleton’s official photographer, Frank Hurley, who followed the British explorer and his crew on every step of their dramatic voyage on the vessel, Endurance, and their desperate fight for survival.
Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition was an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent.
The expedition left England in August 1914, and sailed via Buenos Aires and South Georgia before departing for the Antarctic on December 5. But early in the journey the ship and its 28-man crew became trapped in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. It drifted northward during the Antarctic winter of 1915 and was crushed and sank on November 21 1915, stranding the crew. After months spent in makeshift camps on the ice, the party took to three lifeboats to reach the inhospitable and uninhabited Elephant Island.
Shackleton and five others made an 800-mile open boat journey in the tiny James Caird boat to reach South Georgia, crossing the island on foot to raise the alarm, before returning to rescue those still stranded. The final members of the crew were finally rescued in August 1916, after a 22-month fight for their lives.
With unique access to the crew, Hurley was able to capture key moments, including when the vessle became trapped, on large format glass negatives. These have now been printed on the eight-stamp series.