Clarence Hare on departure for Antarctica

Photograph of Clarence Hare published in The Weekly Press on 18 December 1901.

Clarence Hare's experiences during first Antarctic land expedition

New Zealander Clarence Hare was a steward in the first real land expedition in the Antarctic. The British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-04), or Discovery expedition, was led by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Hare's name is recalled in most accounts of the expedition - for observations he made in his diary and for his miraculous reappearance following a disastrous sledging journey.

Hare was born in Invercargill in December 1880. He began his career as a clerk in New Zealand and Fiji. While working in Lyttelton in November 1901 he met the Discovery's stores officer, Reginald Ford, as they prepared for their initial voyage south. The expedition's steward had been dismissed at Lyttelton and 20-year-old Hare was taken on as his replacement.

As steward Hare was in day-to-day contact with Scott and the other officers on board. He kept ‘an observant diary' which has been widely quoted in accounts of the expedition and biographies of Scott. One oft-cited passage relating to Scott reads:

I would not say Capt Scott was a bad tempered man in the ordinary sense of the word. He was over sensitive and got worked up if things did not go as planned ... Normally his expression was pleasant & he had a very happy smile when pleased.

Hare's name is also recalled in most accounts of the expedition for his involvement in a disastrous sledging journey shortly after the Discovery's arrival in Antarctica. The aim of the journey in March 1902 was to leave directions to the expedition's winter quarters for the relief ship Morning. But after painfully slow progress Hare's party, led by 2nd Lieutenant Michael Barne, was sent back to the ship with most of the men from the other party. During their return journey they struck a blizzard a few kms from the ship. They tried to make camp but soon abandoned this idea and continued on foot. About 10 minutes later Hare was reported missing. Most of the party eventually made it back to the Discovery, or were subsequently discovered by search parties. But Hare and another man, George Vince, who had fallen into the sea from a cliff edge, were given up as lost. Forty-eight hours later Hare miraculously appeared back at the ship unharmed. Vince's body was never recovered and the crew erected a cross in his memory.

Hare's departure on board the relief ship Morning a few months later was generally regretted. But he was re-engaged on 8 June 1904 for the journey home to England.

After returning to New Zealand he reportedly became a professional piano tuner and repairer. He died in May 1967.

In 1961-62 the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition named a peak in Antarctica after Hare. This was approved by the New Zealand Geographic Board in 1962. Hare Peak stands at the end of a ridge forming the eastern wall of the Leigh Hunt Glacier.

Further information

Books

  • David Crane, Scott of the Antarctic, Harper Collins Publishers, London, 2005
  • Ranulph Fiennes, Captain Scott, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2003
  • Elspeth Huxley, Scott of the Antarctic, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1977
  • L. B. Quartermain, New Zealand and the Antarctic, Government Printer, Wellington, 1971

Links

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Clarence Hare on departure for Antarctica

What do you know?

Maureen Lee

Posted: 21 Jun 2019

Nice to see this item about Clarence Hare. The quotation about Scott is not from his diary (i have a transcript of the diary). I understand that it is from material (a letter?) held by the Scott Polar Research Institute. The Crane book gives the source as SPRI 761/7, 1965. CH and his wife moved to Australia in 1912 and raised their family there, and that is where he died. Yes, he was a piano tuner; he eventually had his own firm in Melbourne (in partnership with another), and was 76 when he retired. Email me if you want to know the source of this information.

John Duncan Johnston.MBE

Posted: 22 Oct 2018

The huts that were built on the first expedition were found to be still standing on the second expedition and I was told that the origin hut is now in Lyttelton as a New Zealand national treasure. My great uncle James Duncan was the carpenter's mate taken on in Dundee after he was on the building of Discovery as Mr. Fixit on the maiden voyage to the Pole.