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Shackleton's Funeral

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Frank Hurley's Film 'South' is on at the museum on Friday 2pm, for those interested in Shackeltons voyage. Begun in 1914, it records the Endurance being stuck in the ice, and how the men occupied themselves while awaiting rescue as Shackleton's 800 mile journey to raise a rescue mission took place. It even records the chilling moments when the ice eventually crushed the Endurance and she sank.



(It's also on in Baltasound on Thursday, for you Unstites, Unsters, Unstwegians....what is the right word for Unst folk anyway :P)

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  • 10 years later...

First, thanks for letting me join this forum. I'm not a Shetlander but a fan of Ernest Shackleton, and I have come across your comments and links about his pall bearers. I'm having some difficulty with them! and especially with identifying John Byrne. I note someone asked if he was Ian Byrne's grandfather - well no, because Ian's grandfather was Andrew Byrne died young at Scalloway in a harbour accident in 1890. But it is probable there are other links within that family. Ian's father was John Byrne b 1888: he seems to have been a solid citizen of Lerwick, marrying in 1913 and having children in Lerwick every two years through to 1932. This would make it difficult to see him taking off for the South Atlantic for 1922. I think he mostly worked for his mother's family businesses, the Blances, who had many interests in Lerwick. It may have been one of Ian's sisters, Christina who married into the Carter family also mentioned: was it a Nigel Carter who ran the sweet shop? If this was raised by someone who knows Ian, please can you let me know? Thanks!


The only other probability I have found is that it was John Byrne, Ian's great-granduncle  b 1858 in Aberdeen but who lived first in Wick but may have been in Lerwick later in life: I don't know to what extent that qualifies him as a Shetlander, but it would have made him 64 in 1922, which sounds old for a whaler.


The other pall bearers are even more tricky to work out: any help would be much appreciated. You'd think that a name like Leask would be easy to find!

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Hi MuckleJoanie,


That's where I started but this John was having children in Lerwick every 2 years from 1913 to 1932. He worked for various local companies owned by the Blance family, his mother's family and it seems peculiar that he could be off to the South Atlantic in 1921/22. I've found another couple of sources which say the pall-bearers were all ex-Servicemen so I'm trying now to track some of them down.

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That’s strange. I believe Shackleton’s ship was taking his body back to England when they received a message from his wife requesting he be buried in South Georgia. I wonder why none of the crew of his ship were pall bearers.

Captain Hussey was indeed taking Shackleton's body back to England, but not in his ship the Quest. Frank Wild had assumed command of the expedition and in view of the lateness of the season decided to press on. So Hussey was the only crew member present at the burial when he got back to South Georgia, the others were heading for the ice on the Quest with no communications.

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I wouldn't discount the John Byrne I referred to just becasue his wife had children every couple of years. Whalers used to be home over the summer every year. There weren't many who stayed over the winter in South Georgia.


You will see a pattern in the birth dates of the children listed by Bayanne. Not to put too fine a point to it the dates of conception would be early summer.


Also John Byrne, 14 Hangcliffe Lane, appears in the Shetland Roll of Service as having served in the Royal Nay Reserve.

Edited by MuckleJoannie
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