Endurance Bible

H.M. Queen Alexandra presented the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with a bible in which she inscribed the words, “For the crew of the Endurance from Alexandra, May 31st, 1914.

May the Lord help you to do your duty & guide you through all dangers by land and sea. May you see the Works of the Lord & all His wonders in the Deep.”

 

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The Lewisman believed that discarding a Bible would bring bad luck.

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When the Endurance was abandoned, Shackleton limited each man’s personal possessions to 2lb in weight. They must take only what they need to survive. As an example he took out a gold cigarette case and several gold sovereigns and threw them into the snow. He then took the Bible and tore out just a few pages: the flyleaf with the Queen’s inscription, the 23rd Psalm and a verse from the Book of Job, before laying it too down in the snow.

Unbeknown to the Boss, Tom McLeod retrieved the Bible and secreted it on his person, where it remained until rescue. It was probably kept safe in his ‘pooch’ – as he called the patch of blanket sewn across the breast of his sweater for a pocket. The Lewisman believed that discarding a Bible would bring bad luck.


In Punta Arenas Tom was billeted with the McLean family. He showed his appreciation of their kindness by presenting them with the expedition’s Bible on his departure. He wrote in the front, “To Mrs McLean from T. F. McLeod Trans. Ant. Expedition 13.9.16”. In 1971 the McLeans’ daughter passed the Bible to Commander Burley of the 1970-71 Joint Services expedition to Elephant Island who was giving a lecture in Buenos Aires. Burley forwarded it to the Royal Geographical Society where it is now held. The missing leaves are in the possession of the Shackleton family.

 

Margaret MacInnes

Stornoway Today

Sail Loft view of Harbour
The view, from the refurbished Sail Loft.