Davis, Shackleton and Aurora's final years

Newspaper report about the Aurora voyage
From: The Age, 12 Feb. 1917 (ANTARCTIC SPECIAL, No. 2.) Copyrighted in Australia and New Zealand by the Australian Press Association; in Great Britain, by the “Daily Chronicle,” and in the United States by the New York “World.” Sir Ernest Shackleton’s copyrighted report by wireless from the Aurora. The report ends “I am deeply grateful to the Imperial Government, the Dominion Government and the Commonwealth Government for coming to the assistance of the members of my expeditions, who were left in the Antarctic, and to Captain Davis and the officers and crew of the Aurora.”

Shackleton’s Weddell Sea party was missing in mid-1916, and on Ross Island on the other side of the continent Shackleton’s ‘forgotten men’ were stranded. Aurora was still laid up, but it was decided to repair the damage and send the ship back to the Ross Sea to rescue Mackintosh’s men. Who better to lead the rescue than John King Davis?

Released from war service, Davis sailed a repaired and refurbished Aurora on its last Antarctic journey. Among his passengers was none other than Ernest Shackleton, who with all his men had survived the long Endurance ordeal on the other side of Antarctica. He agreed to serve under Davis for the voyage.

Three men had died during the long wait, including Mackintosh. The survivors, with Shackleton, were brought back to Wellington en route to England. Aurora was sold to Pacific traders, who loaded the ship with coal at Newcastle, NSW, bound for Chile. Leaving on 20 June 1917, the ship never arrived at its destination, and no trace of it was ever found.

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