Scott of the Antarctic medals to go up for auction in Sheffield

Medals presented to the last-living survivor of the ill-fated Scott of the Antarctic mission are to go up for auction in Sheffield.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 15 October, 2018, 13:51

It is one of the most famous yet tragic expeditions of all-time '“ and now medals presented to one of the men who survived the 1912 exploration are to come under the hammer.

Chief Petty Officer Frederick Parsons was one of 65 men who went with Captain Robert Falcon Scott to explore the Antarctic more than 100 years ago '“ but after reaching the South Pole, his main expedition party perished on the return trip.

The medals will go up for auction in Sheffield

However, CPO Parsons was one of those who survived the Terra Nova expedition and became the last survivor of the famous expedition to die, aged 91 in 1970.

Now the medal presented to him for his part in the trip is to go up for auction at Sheffield Auction Gallery on November 1 '“ and could fetch up to £12,000.

Scott left the British Isles in 1910 aboard the ship Terra Nova with a total compliment of 65 men and crew on a scientific expedition to the Antarctic with the intention to be the first men to reach the South Pole.

Frederick Parsons was the last surviving member of the Scott of the Antarctic expedition.

Reaching the pole second behind Norwegian Roald Amundsen, Scott's party perished on their return journey on 29 March 1912 - and part of British history was written. 

Such was the high esteem this expedition was held in, that a special medal and bar was given to the 65 men that sailed on Terra Nova.

The medal was the silver Polar Medal with Antarctic 1910 -1913 Bar.

Chief Petty Officer Parsons, Royal Navy, received his medal personally from the King and his Silver medal along with his First World War medals are to be offered for sale in the forthcoming auction.

Sheffield Auction Gallery's specialist valuer, John Morgan said: 'This is, without doubt, the rarest medal I have ever had the honour to bring to the market, from one of the most iconic stories in British history.'

Born on June 12, 1878 in Bridport, Dorset, CPO Parsons joined the Royal Navy in 1896, aged 18.

Rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer he applied in 1909 to join the British Antarctic Exhibition, led by Captain Scott.

One of over 8,000 applicants, he succeeded, following the intervention of his commanding officer, Captain Hall. As one of the ship's crew, Fred set sail on 10 June 1910 from Cardiff aboard the 'Terra Nova', with the ship arriving in the Antarctic on 4 January 1911. The rest is history.

Following his return aboard Terra Nova, Fred served throughout World War One, leaving the Royal Navy in 1919 to run a shoe repair business and became the last survivor of the famous expedition to die.

When the lot goes under the hammer, it will carry a pre-sale estimate of £8,000-£12,000 and considerable interest is expected.

Scott led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition (1901'“1904) and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition (1910'“1913).

On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Antarctic Plateau, on which the South Pole is located.

On the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, less than five weeks after Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition.

On their return journey,  a planned meeting with supporting dog teams from the base camp failed, despite Scott's written instructions, and at a distance of 150 miles from their base camp and 11 miles from the next depot, Scott and his companions perished.

Following the news of his death, Scott became a celebrated hero, a status reflected by memorials erected across the UK. However, in the closing decades of the 20th century, Scott became a figure of controversy, with questions raised about his competence and character.