ISSUE 2, July 2002
Editorial
Brothers in endurance: Sir Ernest Shackleton
Travel: Florida
Jack the Ripper: Exploring the Masonic link
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture address by the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes and Report of the Library and Museum Trust
Masonic News: Order of Service to Masonry; Grand Lodge deficit; Alvin Coburn pioneer photographer; Royal Masonic Variety Show
   Royal Arch News: Concern over falling exaltations
Charity News: Masonic relief grants launched; New RMBI video; Help is at hand through the NMSF; RMBI challenges and change; Update on RMBI projects; RMBI resident Jessie is Britain's oldest person; Grand Charity grant to National Asthma Campaign; TalentAid
Masonic Homes: Proud and independent
Library and Museum news: Recent library acquisitions
Letters
Gardening
Book reviews

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Brothers in endurance

Three of the greatest polar explorers were freemasons, including Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose exploits in antarctica are enjoying renewed media interest. John Jackson reports.

Explorers are a breed apart, facing danger as a way of life, and overcoming insuperable odds - or dying heroically in the attempt. Three of the greatest polar explorers had two things in common. First, they were all Freemasons, and second, they each died, in different circumstances, in that merciless and forbidding frozen sub-continent.
    Indeed two of the great names, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott, were both in the same Lodge - Navy No. 2612 - while the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was also in the Craft.
    From a Masonic viewpoint, Shackleton is unique in a couple of other aspects. He must hold the record (or must be close to it) for the gap between taking his first and second degrees. Because of his polar explorations, after being initiated in Navy Lodge on 9 July 1901, it was well over ten years before he took his second step in Freemasonry, at an emergency meeting on 2 November 1911, in the Guild of Freemen Lodge No. 3525.
    This Lodge, restricted to Freemen of the City of London, also conducted his third degree ceremony, again in an emergency meeting, on 30 May 1913. He became an honorary member of that Lodge on 28 April 1914.
    His second notable act was to announce his last expedition publicly at a Ladies Festival of the Guild of Freemen Lodge, surely something no other explorer has ever done before or since.
    Now Shackleton, 80 years after his death, has become something of a cult figure, since Channel 4 screened an epic two-part, four-hour extravaganza with Kenneth Branagh in the star role at the beginning of the year. At 10.5 million, and shot over a four year period, it was Britain's costliest TV drama production, but it faithfully repaid its makers with an audience of 3.6 million viewers on each night - 16 per cent of the TV-watching audience.
    As well as several books, a novel also captured the harrowing expedition through the pen of Caroline Alexander, whose Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition was written in the voice of the ship's cat! Shackleton himself wrote two accounts of his journeys for posterity in The Heart of the Atlantic (1909) and South (1919).
    There have also been several re-enactments of Shackleton's legendary open boat journey and South Georgia's mountain crossing. And for those of a particularly adventurous spirit, there is now the opportunity to travel in Shackleton's footsteps across South Georgia Island, albeit in conditions of some luxury.
    Shackleton led the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aiming to be the first to cross that inhospitable continent. He set sail with a crew of 27 in a ship he renamed Endurance after his family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus - 'by endurance we conquer' - in December 1914 as the guns began their ominous roar at the opening of the First World War.

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