Lawrence Oates

Lawrence Oates

Infobox Person
name = Lawrence Oates

image_size = 250px
birth_date = birth date|1880|3|17|df=y
birth_place = Putney, London, England
death_date = death date and age|1912|3|16|1880|3|17|df=y
death_place = on the Ross Ice Shelf
occupation = Cavalry officer, explorer

Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates (17 March 188016 March 1912 [ [ Online Reader - Project Gutenberg ] ] ) was an English Antarctic explorer. He was often referred to by the nickname "Titus Oates" after the historical figure.


Oates was born in Putney, London, England in 1880, and educated at South Lynn School, Eastbourne [The Times "Correspondence relating to Henry van Esse Scott, founder of South Lynn" July 1927] and Eton College. In 1898, Oates joined the 3rd West Yorkshire (Militia) Regiment. He saw military service during the Second Boer War as a junior officer in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, having joined in 1900 and been promoted to Lieutenant in 1902, then to Captain in 1906. In March 1901, during the Boer War, he suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh which left it shattered and his left leg an inch shorter than his right leg when it eventually healed. His uncle was the naturalist and African explorer Frank Oates.

Terra Nova Expedition

In 1910, he applied to join Scott's expedition to the South Pole, and was accepted mainly on the strength of his experience with horses and to a lesser extent, his ability to make a financial contribution of £1,000 (2008 approximation £50,000) towards the expedition. His role was to look after the ponies that Scott intended to use for sledge hauling during the initial food depot-laying stage and the first half of the trip to the South Pole. Scott eventually selected him as one of the five-man party who would travel the final distance to the Pole.

Oates disagreed with Scott many times on issues of management of the expedition. 'Their natures jarred on one another,' a fellow expedition member recalled. When he first saw the ponies that Scott had brought on the expedition, Oates was horrified at the 'greatest lot of crocks I have ever seen' and later said: 'Scott's ignorance about marching with animals is colossal.' He also wrote in his diary "Myself, I dislike Scott intensely and would chuck the whole thing if it were not that we are a British expedition."...He [Scott] " is not straight, it is himself first, the rest nowhere...". However, he also wrote that his harsh words were often a product of the hard conditions. Scott, less harshly, called Oates "the cheery old pessimist" and wrote “The Soldier takes a gloomy view of everything, but I’ve come to see that this is a characteristic of him”.

outh polar journey

Captain Robert F. Scott, Captain Oates and 14 other members of the expedition set off from their Cape Evans base camp for the South Pole on 1 November 1911. At various pre-determined latitude points during the 895 mile journey, the support members of the expedition were sent back by Scott in teams until on 4 January 1912, at latitude 87° 32' S, only the five-man polar party of Scott, Edward A. Wilson, Henry R. Bowers, Edgar Evans and Oates remained to walk the last 167 miles to the Pole. On 18 January 1912, 79 days after starting their journey, they finally reached the Pole only to discover a tent that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his four-man team had left behind at their Polheim camp after beating them in the race to be first to the Pole. Inside the tent was a note from Amundsen informing them that his party had reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911, beating Scott's party by 35 days.

The return journey

Scott's party faced extremely difficult conditions on the return journey, mainly due to the exceptionally adverse weather, low food supply, injuries sustained from falls, and the effects of frostbite all slowing their progress. On 17 February 1912, near the foot of the Beardmore glacier, Edgar Evans died, suspected by his companions to be the result of a blow to his head suffered during a fall into a crevasse a few days earlier. [ [ Online Reader - Project Gutenberg ] ] Oates' feet had become severely frostbitten and with his war wound re-opened by the side-effects of scurvy, he was weakening faster than the others. His slower progress, coupled with the unwillingness of his three remaining companions to leave him, was causing the party to fall behind schedule. With an average of 65 miles between the pre-laid food depots and only a week's worth of food and fuel provided by each depot, they needed to maintain a march of over 9 miles a day in order to have full rations for the final 400 miles of their return journey across the Ross Ice Shelf. However, 9 miles was about their best progress any day and this had lately reduced to sometimes only 3 miles a day due to Oates' worsening condition. On 15 March, he told his companions that he could not go on and proposed that they leave him in his sleeping-bag which they refused to do. He managed a few more miles that day but his condition worsened that night. Waking on the morning of 17 March and recognising the need to sacrifice himself in order to give the others a chance of survival, Scott wrote that Oates said to them "I am just going outside and may be some time." [ [ Scott of the Antarctic - Stiff Upper Lip - Icons of England ] ] Forgoing the pain and effort of putting his boots on, [ [ Robert Falcon Scott - the journey to the pole ] ] he walked out of the tent into a blizzard and minus 40 °F temperatures to his death. Scott also wrote in his diary, "We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman". Oates' noble sacrifice however made no difference to the eventual outcome. Scott, Wilson and Bowers continued onwards for a further 20 miles towards the 'One Ton' food depot that could save them but were halted at latitude 79°40'S by a fierce blizzard on 20 March. Trapped in their tent by the weather and too weak, cold and malnourished to continue, they eventually died nine days later, only eleven miles short of their objective. Their frozen bodies were discovered by a search party on 12 November 1912. Oates' body was never found. Near where he was presumed to have died, the search party erected a cairn and cross bearing the inscription, ‘Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates, of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard, to try and save his comrades, beset by hardships.’

Oates' reindeer-skin sleeping bag was recovered and is now displayed in the museum of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge with other items from the expedition.

In 1913 his brother officers erected a memorial to him in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Gestingthorpe, Essex. The church is opposite his family home of Gestingthorpe Hall.

In the media

* A biography ("I am Just Going Outside: Captain Oates - Antarctic Tragedy", Spellmount Publishers 2002) has confidently alleged that Lawrence Oates fathered a daughter as the result of a brief affair with an 11-year-old Scots girl named Ettie McKendrick. [ [,3604,811382,00.html Guardian article] ] . [cite news
title=Antarctic legend's secret scandal
work=BBC News

* Brenda Clough's 2001 fish-out-of-water science fiction novella "May Be Some Time" has "Titus" Oates transported to the year 2045 where he is healed via advanced medicine.

* On TV series "The O.C.", Seth Cohen names his imaginary friend and toy horse "Captain Oates".

* In the episode entitled "White Hole" of the British TV series "Red Dwarf", the characters plead with the hologram Rimmer to sacrifice himself by agreeing to be turned off, comparing the act to that of Oates. Rimmer simply dismisses him as a "prat", suggesting instead that since the only record of Oates' sacrifice was from Scott's journal, it's likely that Scott had eaten Oates to avoid starvation after he "whacked him over the head with a frozen husky" (which is what he'd do, had he been there). Saying "Better to write him of as a hero while you're wiping up his gravy with the last slice of crusty bread".

* British comedians Stewart Lee and Richard Herring made frequent references to "Captain Oates" both in their 1990s television series "Fist of Fun" and BBC Radio 1 shows. An initial sketch parody implied that Oates only announced his departure in the hope that his colleagues would stop him leaving. Subsequent sketches depicted Oates in other social situations where he would announce his actions in the hope that others would understand the subtext. One such example depicted Oates offering the last potato to someone else at the dinner table when he clearly wanted it for himself. Following these sketches Lee and Herring occasionally referred to people displaying similar behaviour as being "Captain Oates-type figures".

* In Geraldine McCaughrean's 2005 book "The White Darkness" a teenage girl, Symone Wates has an obsession with Captain Titus Oates; she even creates an imaginary friend of him.

* Spanish metal band WarCry has a song called "Capitan Lawrence" that tells the decision he had to make, leaving his team so that he was no longer a burden to them.

* In T R Pearson's novel "Polar", Virginian pornography enthusiast Clayton spends the last few months of his life channelling the final days of Titus Oates, thereby achieving in death the dignity and selflessness he never achieved in life.

* In Frank Capra's movie "Dirigible", depicting an American expedition to the South Pole in the 1930s, a fictional character played by Roscoe Karns incurs injuries similar to those of the real-life Oates, and chooses to sacrifice himself in a manner clearly inspired by the real circumstances of Oates's death.

* The 1985 poem "Antarctica" by the Northern-Irish poet Derek Mahon details the last moments and sacrifice of Oates. It repeats the quotation "I am just going outside and may be some time" four times throughout the poem.

* In the episode entitled "Shedding the Load" of the British TV series "Are You Being Served?", as the staff are discussing who should leave, Captain Peacock recounts the tale of Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition, and Captain Oates' sacrifice. To which Mr. Lucas remarks, "If that happened today, they'd have eaten Captain Scott."



* Smith, Michael "I Am Just Going Outside". ISBN 1-903464-12-9
*"Scott's Last Expedition Vols I and II" Smith, Elder & Co 1913 (Vol I is Scott's diary)
* Preston, Diana: "A First Rate Tragedy". ISBN 0-618-00201-4
* Huntford, Roland: "The Last Place on Earth". ISBN 0-689-70701-0
* Scott, Robert Falcon: "Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals". ISBN 0-413-52230-X
* McCaughrean, Geraldine: "The White Darkness". ISBN 0-19-271983-1
* Limb, Sue & Cordingley, Patrick: "Captain Oates: Soldier and Explorer". ISBN 0-7134-2693-4
* Goldsmith, Jeremy: "British Army officers' records; Career Soldiers" in the Family Tree Magazine (London) of June 2007, which shows Oates' Record of Service (with a birth date of 16th March 1880).

External links

* [ Gilbert White's House and the Oates Museum]
* [ The Life and Death of Lawrence Oates @ "Ward's Book of Days"]
*YouTube|_BeDHpPdpV4|Lee & Herring - "Fist of Fun" S1E3 - Captain Oates sketch

ee also

*Oates Coast

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lawrence Oates — Lawrence Grace Oates. Lawrence Edward Grace Oates (Londres, 17 de marzo, de 1880 17 de marzo de 1912) fue un explorador antártico británico. Oates entró en la historia por sus últimas palabras: «I am just going outside and may be some time» (Voy… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lawrence Oates — Lawrence Edward Grace Oates (* 17. März 1880 in Putney, London; † 17. März 1912, Ross Schelfeis, Antarktis) war ein britischer Polarforscher. Er war Mitglied des Expeditionsteams der Terra Nova Expedition, das unter L …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lawrence Oates — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Oates. Lawrence Oates Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lawrence Oates — ➡ Oates (I) * * * …   Universalium

  • Oates (surname) — Oates is a surname and may refer to: Adam Oates, professional ice hockey player Cynthia de la Vega Oates, Mexican model. Dan Oates, Chief of Police and Safety Services Administrator for the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan Eugene William Oates… …   Wikipedia

  • Oates — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Adam Oates (* 1962), kanadischer Eishockeyspieler und trainer Eugene William Oates (1845–1911), britischer Naturforscher John Oates (* 1949), US amerikanischer Sänger Johnny Oates (1946–2004), US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lawrence — hace referencia a: D. H. Lawrence, escritor británico, Ernest Lawrence, físico estadounidense, premio Nobel de Física en 1939; Jacob Lawrence (1917 2000), pintor estadounidense; Lawrence Durrell, escritor y novelista británico; Lawrence… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Oates — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Le nom de Oates est porté par plusieurs personnalités (par ordre alphabétique) : Adam Oates (1962 ), joueur hockey sur glace canadien ; Eugene… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oates Coast — Terre de Oates 69°30′S 159°0′E / 69.5, 159 La terre de Oates ou côte de Oates est une partie de la région et de la côte de l Antarctiq …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oates's Plot — • A Popish Plot which, during the reign of Charles II of England, Titus Oates pretended to have discovered. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Oates s Plot     Oates s Plot   …   Catholic encyclopedia

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