#AceHistoryNews – Sept.15: The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (1902–04) established the first manned meteorological station in Antarctic territory, discovered new land east of the Weddell Sea, and returned with a trove of biological and geological specimens aboard the Scotia.
It was led by William Speirs Bruce, then Britain’s most experienced polar scientist, who had spent most of the 1890s on expeditions to the Antarctic and Arctic regions. After his application to add a second ship to Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition had been dismissed as “mischievous rivalry” by the president of the Royal Geographical
Society, he used private sponsors to fund an independent expedition.
Bruce never received formal recognition from the British Government for his work, and never again led an Antarctic expedition, although he made regular Arctic trips. The expedition’s members were denied the prestigious Polar Medal despite vigorous lobbying. His focus on serious scientific exploration rather than territorial discoveries was out of fashion with his times, and his achievements soon faded from public awareness, unlike those of the polar adventurers Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen.
The expedition’s Orcadas weather station has been in continuous operation since 1903 on Laurie Island in the South Orkneys.
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