Memorial dedicated in St Paul's Cathedral
More than 300 family and friends gathered at St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London for the dedication of the Antarctic Memorial "For those who lost their lives in Antarctica in pursuit of science to benefit us all"on Tuesday 10 May following a special Evensong.
Maurice Sumner with members of the Mann family
The service, led by Cannon Mark Oakley, included the passage from Job which Shackleton tore out of the Bible given him by Queen Alexandra ‘Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoar-frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen." The other lesson from St John included the passage "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." The hymn Cym Rhondda including the line "Guide me O though Great Redeemer, pilgrim in this barren land." was sung with the help of the Gwallia male voice choir.
Trustee, Brian Dorsett-Bailey who only returned home from three months in hospital the previous Friday read one of the prayers. Other intercessors were Kirsty Brown's brother Duncan and Oliver Burd's nephew Geoffrey. Eight of the Burd family came from Canada. Families had also come from Mexico, Uinted States and Australia.
The chairman of the British Antarctic Monument Trust, Roderick Rhys Jones, spoke to the relatives and friends who had crowded into the crypt saying how important the memorial is to those who had lost loved ones. The bodies of those who lost their lives were never recovered and they had no known grave.
Rhys Jones, said that the Trust had wanted to create a memorial that would be in the Cathedral where Scott and his companions are remembered and show that the scientific work started by him in Antarctica continues. He thanked the Dean and Chapter for the support they had given throughout the long planning process.
He said the Trust "wanted the memorial to act as a record of how the Antarctic is now. The map of Antarctica in Carrara marble shows the great ice shelves set in a black sea of riven Welsh slate. The abundant and diverse life around the coasts of Antarctica are represented by a huddle of Emperor penguins."
He asked "Will these ice shelves have the same shape in five hundred years time? Will the Emperor penguins still be found laying their eggs in mid-winter?
Following the eulogy, the Rt Rvd Stephen Venner, Bishop to HM Armed Forces and the Falkland Islands read out the names of those that died. Two minutes silence was held before Canon Oakley dedicated the memorial.
A Reception at Saddlers Hall followed the events in St Paul's at which Jane Rumble, Deputy Commissioner of the British Antarctic Territory read a statement from Henry Bellingham, Minister for the Overseas Territories in which said," The British Government and the Government of the British Antarctic Territory are pleased to have been able to support the placing of a permanent memorial in the crypt of St. Paul's to formally recognise and remember all those who lost their lives in Antarctica as part of the UK's national Antarctic Programme over the past 60 years or so. We are very grateful to the British Antarctic Memorial Trust for driving this initiative forward."
Professor Nicholas Owens, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, spoke about the contribution that those that had died had made to the scientific research programme. Referring to Newton's comments that he could only see further scientifically because he stood on the shoulders of giants he said, "Our knowledge of the Antarctic is based on the fact that we stand on the shoulders of giants, those giants we remember this evening. This was hard won knowledge indeed - they paid the ultimate price - their shoulders were broad indeed."
Later in the evening many of those present continued to Balls Brothers Wine Bar for a meal together. Members of families had come from Australia, Canada, America, Mexico and around Europe and not met up for many years.
Antarctic veterans gather outside St Paul's cathedral before the service