The Gazette hall of fame: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

Polar landscape

Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the headliners of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and his remarkable achievements – on and off the ice – were documented in The London Gazette.

In 1908 Shackleton embarked on his second trip to the Antarctic as leader of the Nimrod expedition. The expedition got less than 100 nautical miles from the South Pole, and Shackleton returned a hero. He was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Empire by King Edward VII in July 1909, as recorded in The London Gazette (issue 28271).

In November of that year, Shackleton got another mention in The London Gazette – this time for the Polar Medal. Issue 28311 recorded the award of the Polar Medal to the members of the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909. The Polar Medal was first awarded as the Arctic Medal in 1857. It is awarded to those who have been subject to the harsh conditions of the Polar landscape to further our knowledge of it. The Polar Medal continues to be awarded today, and the latest awards can be found in The Gazette.

Concluding a triumphant year, Shackleton was knighted in December 1909 as part of the King’s Birthday Honours, published in issue 28321 of The London Gazette.

Following the failed Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition, which triggered the incredible escape and rescue of the crew from the ship Endurance, Shackleton returned to a country in the grip of World War I. He was too old to fight on the front but was sent first to Buenos Aires and then to Russia. In June 1919 he was appointed OBE for ‘valuable services rendered in connection with Military Operations in North Russia’ (Gazette issue 31376).

Shackleton died in 1922 in South Georgia, ahead of what would have been his fourth expedition to the Antarctic.