A Mile Of River

A Mile Of River

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition

Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition is a journal of Mrs. Chippy the ship cat of the Shackleton expedition. The cat accompanied Ernest Shackleton and his crew on board the Endurance  when they set sail from the East India Docks in London on 1 August 1914, bound for the Antarctic.

Mrs Chippy belonged to Henry McNeish the ships carpenter and soon became an important member of the crew. The cat was the chief mouser and rat catcher on board ship and endeared himself to the other crew members. He always seemed to find the warmest and comfortablest places on board ship and enjoyed being fed titbits by the crew.

Mrs Chippy was a real character and regarded the sledge dogs with such contempt and aloofness. The cat tormented the dogs when prowling around and walking on top of the dog kennels. Mrs Chippy was scornful of their howling and noise.

The Endurance became trapped on the ice and despite the crews best efforts to free the ship the crew eventually had to leave the ship and venture forth on the ice and head to the nearest land. They were ordered to carry with them only things of crucial importance, absolute necessities.

The book does not dwell on Mrs Chippy fate but it is clear enough and very sad indeed. I intend to read more about Shakleton's Antartic expedition.