Military team follows steps of Captain Scott

By Graeme Paton


A British military team today became the first service personnel to reach the South Pole since Scott of the Antarctic’s ill-fated assault almost 100 years ago.

The group comprising of Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines became the first military personnel to reach the South Pole since Captain Scott almost 100 years ago. The four-man Polar Quest team completed their 1,450-mile journey at 2.18am.

On reaching the Pole, they flew the flags of the United Kingdom, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and a replica of Captain Scott’s flag. Robert Falcon Scott, a Royal Navy Captain, attempted to become the first man to lead an expedition to the South Pole in 1912, but he was beaten by the Norwegian explorer Raold Amundsen.

All five members of Scott’s team died attempting to return home. Tomorrow, the Polar Quest team will hold a remembrance service for all those who have lost their lives in the exploration of the north and south poles.

They will then embark on their 1,450-mile return journey, using giant kites to harness the wind and take them home in between 15 and 20 days.

Expedition leader Captain Sean Chapple, of the Royal Marines, said this morning: “As I stood at the South Pole I was unable to contain the overwhelming feeling of relief and my eyes filled with tears.

“I had reached the end of the most physically and mentally demanding journey of my life and it was as if my body had given up after 45 days of relentless exertion.”

He added: “I am immensely honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead this ground-breaking expedition.”

Each man is pulling a sledge weighing 20 stone plus, which contains everything they need to survive, as they ski and walk in temperatures as low as -27C.

The team is made up of Capt Chapple, from Taunton, Somerset, and three other members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines - Major Paul Mattin, from Woodbury Salterton, east Devon, Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Andy Brown, from Holsworthy, Devon, and Marine Craig Hunter, from Kilmarnock, Scotland.

Yesterday a four-man RAF team was forced to abandon its simultaneous assault on the South Pole due to “medical issues”. Members of the Southern Reach team were airlifted from the ice 101 miles short of their target.