‘Once you have been to the white unknown you can never escape the call of the little voices’
Frank Wild (1873-1939) 

Frank Wild CBE was one of the greatest Antarctic heroes of all time.  The indomitable Yorkshire born Edwardian traveller tackled the frozen continent with Sir Ernest Shackleton three times during the heroic age of the 1900’s, and is renowned for his roles in the legendary Nimrod and Endurance expeditions. He also joined Cpt Robert Scott on the Discovery 1901 voyage and Sir Douglas Mawson’s Australasian voyage of 1911. He was the only man to have wintered in Antarctica on six occasions.

Born in Skelton, Yorkshire and the second born of 13 children, at the age of 11 the family moved to Eversholt in Bedfordshire where his father was offered the Mastership of the local school.

By the age of 16 Wild joined the merchant navy and spent 10 years in ‘the school of hard knocks’ before joining the Royal Navy and Scott on the Discovery.  It was the start of a glittering career.

Following his final expedition the Quest, In 1922 Wild emigrated to South Africa with his newly wed wife, Vera Altman. The subsequent 16 years were not always easy.  Altman asked for a divorce and his farming venture failed. However, he went on to marry Beatrice Rowbotham and his final happy years were cut short when he died at the age of 66 of pneumonia in the town of Klerksdorp.

It was said that after his Antarctic days Wild became lost in life and then in death.

After a seven year long research journey, South African author Angie Butler, journalist and co-founder of Polar adventure travel company, Ice Tracks Expeditions, announced her breakthrough discovery of Wild’s ashes in Johannesburg. The explorer’s last wish to be buried in South Georgia beside Shackleton, his ‘Boss’ and loyal friend, never materialised due to the outbreak of WWII a week after his death.  Exactly ninety years after their last voyage together, Wild and Shackleton were finally reunited thanks to extraordinary resilience and tenacity of Butler. In 2011 the ashes were  finally carried from South Africa to their final resting place.

Among Wild’s most exciting adventures, was onboard Shackleton’s Endurance ship, which was crushed by ice in 1915.  While Shackleton went for rescue, Wild was put in charge of a 21 man crew who for four horrific months lived in upturned boats on Elephant Island. the book written by Butler The vivid memoirs in The Quest for Frank Wild, bring to life this sympathetic leader’s role during those treacherous months, offering a glimpse of this hero’s fears and thoughts, and a fascinating insight of how blizzards, starvation, boredom and the terror of never being rescued, drove many of the crew close to insanity.

Thank you to Angie Butler from Icetracks for writing this blog.

If you would like more information about Frank Wild, Angie has written a book about this great polar explorer called  ‘ The Quest for Frank Wild ‘ which can be purchased from this link


If you want to go one step further and travel to the polar regions Icetracks are experts in polar travel and expeditions