Shackleton's Endurance

Shackleton's Endurance, the follow-up album to Dr Syn & The Scarecrow is now completed and available.This coincides with the centenary of Shackleton reaching civilisation after being trapped on floating pack ice in the Antarctic.  Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on his  Great Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition on the eve of The First World War.  What began as the intended first crossing of the Antarctic continent became instead the most amazing rescue story - the Apollo 13 of its day.   The first performance of one of the album's songs The Last Great Adventure took place at the 2014 Vigo Inn Folk n' Ale Festival.  The song features the banjo (no banjo jokes please!), referencing Shackleton's meteorologist banjo player Leonard Hussey.  When the crew were forced to leave personal belongings behind, Hussey was encouraged to bring his banjo to improve morale.  (Like I say no banjo jokes please!). 

Shackleton's Endurance tells the story of Shackleton and the crew of The Endurance in music and song.  The album is dedicated to our friend Brian Withstandley, who sadly crossed that great final ocean in December.  Brian performed as Mr Mipps on Dr Syn and appears as Narrator/Captain Frank Worsley (nick-named Wuzzles) on Shackleton's Endurance.  The album also features Mike Linter as Shackleton (The Boss), Julie Patrick as Emily Shackleton, Joe Whittaker as Second Officer Tom Crean, and other members of the Kent based Shanty Crew Swinging The Lead:  Colin Turner, Peter Brooker, Dave Webb and Stephen Skey.  Also guesting is Paul Walker Smith who plays superb 12 string guitar on the track Emily.  The album has been described as a fusion of folk and Prog Rock with perhaps a slight tipping of the hat to Vaughan Williams.

Shackleton's Endurance is released through Talking Elephant or direct from me for £11.20 including UK postage.  Please contact me on

This is what Kent Jazz Folk publication said about it:

Also from R2 (Rock n' Reel) Magazine:

"Chris Lea should be congratulated for a bold and ambitious collection in Shackleton's Endurance.  Although clearly a labour of love there's enough passion present to encourage further investigation of Shackleton's story and of Lea's own work".

Shackleton’s Endurance – FAQ .  Also click on the following links to listen to tracks on Youtube.

Who made up the crew of The Endurance? Reference to nick names

Sir Ernest Shackleton, Leader (aka The Boss) *#
Frank Wild, Second in Command (aka Frank/Frankie)
Frank Worsley, Captain (aka Wuzzles or Skipper) *#
Lionel Greenstreet, First Officer (aka Horace)
Tom Crean, Second Officer (aka Tom) *#
Alfred Cheetham, Third Officer (aka Alf)
Hubert Hudson, Navigator (aka Buddha)
Louis Rickinson, First Engineer (aka Ricky)
A J Kerr, Second Engineer (aka Krasky)
Dr Alexander Macklin, Surgeon (aka Mack)
Dr James McIlroy, Surgeon (aka Mickey)
James Wordie, Geologist (aka Jock)
Leonard Hussey, Meteorologist, man with the banjo (aka Uzbird)
Reginald James, Physicist (aka Jimmy)
Robert Clark, Biologist (aka Bob)
Frank Hurley, Photographer (aka The Prince)
George Marston, Official Artist (aka Putty)
Thomas Orde-Lees, Motor Expert and Storekeeper (aka The Colonel)
Henry McNeish, Carpenter (aka Chippy) – builder of ‘The Ritz’, the ship’s living quarters while stuck in ice. (Accompanied by Mrs Chippy, the ship’s cat). #
Charles Green, Cook (aka Chef)
Walter How, Able Seaman (aka Hownow/Wally)
William Bakewell, Able Seaman (aka Bill)
Timothy McCarthy, Able Seaman (aka Tim)#
Thomas McLeod, Able Seaman (aka Stornoway)
John Vincent, Boatswain (aka Bosun) #
Ernest Holness, Stoker (aka Holie)
William Stephenson, Stoker (aka Steve)
Percy Blackborrow, Steward, (aka Blackie) was the 19yr old who stowaway aboard Endurance.

(Total 28)
# The six taken on the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia
*The final three to cross South Georgia

1. The Prologue 

2. The Last Great Adventure (Part 1)

Performed as Leonard Hussey the banjo playing meteorologist.

What was the actual wording of the advertisement?

“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success”.

Where did The Endurance set off from?

Endurance left London on Friday 1st August 1914. It anchored off Southend on the 2nd and sailed on to Margate on the 3rd. It then carried on to Plymouth where it sailed for South America on the 8th.

3. 76° 58’S – Drifting

76° 58’S was the most southerly point that Endurance reached while locked into the ice floe. If the ship had reached actual land it would have got to Latitude 78°S.

4. The Last Great Adventure (Part 2) (Leonard Hussey)

5. Packing Up:

Hussey played an instrument called a Zither Banjo, popular at the time. It has five strings but has traditionally had a head stock with six machine heads, giving it the appearance of a banjo-guitar.

Shackleton’s own small bundle included two pages from the Bible, given by Queen Alexandra to the ship: the fly-leaf with her inscription and that containing the verse from Job 38:29-30:

Out of whose womb came the ice?
And the hoary frost of Heaven, who hath gathered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone,
And the face of the deep is frozen.

6. Marching off

The crew set off originally dragging only two of the boats, but later came back for the third. 6

7. Wheat from the chaff (the photo debate)

Shackleton and Hurley

Did Hurley continue to take pictures after this time?

Hurley left most of his equipment behind, but was able to take small portable cameras with him and continued to document their travels up to Point Wild on Elephant Island.

8. The Penguin March
The Penguin March was written as a little light relief to all the heroism and hardship. The Penguins headed by their four ringleaders, portrayed by Pizzicato fiddle, mandolin, electric guitar and fretless bass, are not best pleased by having their pictures destroyed.

9. The Sinking of Endurance

10. The Boss

The Boss was written to both paint a picture of life on the ice floe and to highlight Shackleton’s style of leadership, which is often referenced in modern management training. Shackleton and his crew survived the ordeal, partly due to his style of leadership, but also because of the skills, resourcefulness and mindset of his crew.

The reference to building a dogloo is an igloo for the huskies.

11. Take to the Boats/Out of the Frying Pan

12. Emily

13. Elephant Island then South Georgia

14. The Last Final Mountain (Prelude)

15. The Toboggan Run - Introduction

16. The Toboggan Run

17. The Toboggan Run – The Landing

18. The Last Final Mountain (Main)

Performed by Joe as Second Officer Tom Crean who was one of the three who climbed The Last Final Mountain before staggering into Stromness.

19. Epilogue

What about Shackleton’s support ship and crew?

The expedition party was split between the Weddell Sea party which set out on the Endurance, and the Ross Sea party on the Aurora. The role of the Ross Sea party was to lay a trail of stores on the far side of the continent for the latter part of Shackleton’s intended journey. Although the full crew of 28 from the Endurance survived, three members of the Aurora perished during their task of travelling 1,561 miles to set up supply depots for a Trans-Antarctic team that would never get to make use of them. (The supply depots are still there). This was the only successful part of the expedition’s original plans. Aurora had been blown away from its moorings by torrential storms, leaving the shore party marooned. The two parties were unable to contact each other during the ordeal, with Aurora and its crew also trapped in ice. Although not in direct command, Shackleton felt responsible for the deaths of the men, and oversaw the rescue of the Ross Sea party as well.

Leonard Hussey with dogs 

Shackleton & Hurley

Photographer Frank Hurley

The camp on Elephant Island