Antarctica: Explorer’s Last Wishes Fulfilled 72 Years After Death

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Antarctic explorer Frank Wild (1873 – 1939) was buried on 27 November 2011 on South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic some 72 years after his death.

South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands are a British overseas territory not far from the Falkland Islands.

Last Wishes

It was Frank’s last wish to have his ashes buried on South Georgia Island alongside Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874 – 1922) in a tiny graveyard on the island. Unfortunately, his ashes were lost after he was cremated in 1939 in South Africa because of the outbreak of World War II.

Frank’s ashes were only found this year (2011) by British historian and author Angie Butler.

Island Burial

Frank was buried on South Georgia Island in the whalers’ graveyard next to the ruins of the Grytviken whaling station.

There was a moving ceremony in a tiny Lutheran chapel that was performed by Reverend Richard Hines, an Anglican clergyman from the Falkland Islands. It was attended a total of 100 visitors, by most of the ship’s crew, and by the British scientific staff based on the island.

“The significance of the event will be recognized by the South Georgia Government at an official reception at Government House, Stanley, as well as the  issuing of a set of commemorative stamps,” says South Georgia’s Government Officer, Mr Pat Lurcock.

South Georgia Island 101

In its heyday, South Georgia had 2,000 residents. It currently has no permanent residents, but a handful of scientific staff are based on the island.

Most visitors to the island arrive by cruise ship – about 70 vessels make stops there each year, carrying 7,000 passengers.

It is also possible to charter a boat from the Falklands Islands.

South Georgia Museum

The whaling station manager’s house has been turned into the South Georgia Musuem.

Exhibits cover discovery, exploration, surveying, mountaineering, sealing, and whaling in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as well as the early days of modern whaling in the mid 20th Century. The 1982 Falklands War is also covered.

The museum was established by Nigel Bonner in 1991.

 

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