One of my fellow elders recommended Ranulph Fiennes’ biography of Captain Scott which I’ve just finished and thoroughly enjoyed. For the most part it charts his attempts to reach the South Pole, which he did in 1912. For me, perhaps the most moving part of the tale comes near the end, when one his buddies, Titus Oates, realizes he isn’t going to make it back to the depot. Scott’s diary entry for the 16/17th March, 1912 reads as follows:
Titus Oates said he couldn’t go on; he proposed we should leave him in his sleeping-bag. That we could not do, and we induced him to come on, on the afternoon march . . . he struggled on and we made a few miles. At night he was worse and we knew the end had come . . . He slept through the night before last, hoping not to wake; but he woke in the morning – yesterday. It was howling a blizzard, He said, “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since.
Within a few more days Scott’s entire party, including himself, were all dead – they had made the Pole, and died on the return journey just a couple of dozen miles short of safety. The story of Oates is a moving story of self-sacrifice – a man willing to lay down his own life for the sake of his brothers; for good men someone might possibly dare even to die. How much greater the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus who laid down his life for us when we were still sinners (Rom 5).