Honouring the Centenary on the day of Scott's death

Ceremony at St Paul's and Beating the retreat

On the 29th March Scott wrote the last entry in his diary – making it probable that this was the day of his death. To mark the centenary, two events were held in London that The Folio Society attended. The first was a magnificent service in St Paul’s Cathedral. Hymns included Scott’s own favourite, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, while David Attenborough read the final Message from Scott’s Journal and Falcon Scott, grandson of the explorer, read the passage from Tennyson’s Ulysses which culminates in the words ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’. This was the epitaph suggested by Cherry-Garrard and inscribed on the memorial cross on the edge of the Beardmore Glacier. A lone piper from Captain Oates’s regiment accompanied the placing of a wreath by the Scott memorial plaque.

The second event took place at the statue of Scott erected by the officers of the Fleet, which stands in Waterloo Place. Scott wrote that before Oates left the tent, ‘he took pride in thinking that his regiment would be pleased with the bold way in which he met his death’. It was a fitting tribute that Oates’s regiment, the Royal Dragoon Guards, should mark this ceremony with a marching band beating the retreat. They played several favourites – a rousing Land of Hope and Glory’; ‘For those in Peril on the Sea’ and ‘Rule Britannia’. Watching scientists, sailors and cavalry officers all joined together in this celebration of bravery and honouring of the dead was somehow reminiscent of the expedition’s own outlook – as moving in its own way as the service at St Paul's.

last modified: Fri, Mar 30th 2012Bookmark and Share
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