Japan also had a heroic explorer dashing to the South Pole 100 years ago – and he did it on a shoestring
FOR a few weeks in January 1912, Antarctica was teeming with explorers. Roald Amundsen and his Norwegian party had reached the South Pole on 14 December and were speeding back to the coast. On 17 January, Robert Scott and the men of the British Antarctic expedition had arrived at the pole to find they had been beaten to it. Dejected, they began to retrace their steps in what turned out to be their final journey. Just then, a third man with polar aspirations arrived on the scene. Nobu Shirase was a little late but no less determined to cover himself in glory.
In the story of the race to the South Pole, Shirase is the invisible man. A Japanese explorer, his part in one of the greatest adventure stories of the 20th century is hardly known outside his own country. Yet as Scott was nearing the pole and with the world still unaware of Amundsen's triumph, Shirase and the Japanese Antarctic expedition sailed into Antarctica's Bay of Whales in the smallest ship ever to try its luck in these perilous waters. On 19 January 1912, the little wooden schooner sailed up to the edge of the Ross ice shelf and left Shirase and his men to scale the immense wall of ice ready for a daring dash south.
The rest of the article is available on the NS Website. An incredible story and maybe history would have been changed quite a lot!
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