Rather surprisingly given my own intolerance to physical exertion, a couple of generations back my family has a genuine polar explorer, who even accompanied the (in?)famous Captain Scott on his first attempt to reach the South Pole.
Dr Reginald Koettlitz was a true explorer from a heroic age when the world was still an enormous, undiscovered place, as yet unconnected by aeroplane and the internet. When men set sail for distant lands they would be gone for years without contact, entirely at the mercy of nature with only their survival skills keeping them alive.
Koettlitz travelled to the North and South Poles and also journeyed up the Amazon and through eastern Africa. His story is a fascinating one of the British establishment colliding with the harsh realities of polar survival. There is an argument to be made that had Koettlitz’s expertise been acknowledged on the first voyage of the Discovery to the South Pole, Scott and his fellows should never have died on their second expedition.
For several years my father, Aubrey Jones, has been writing the first biography of Koettlitz, a figure who until now has been largely ignored by history despite his notable interactions with Scott, Shackleton and Nansen and his achievements in medicine. The book, titled Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon, is released this month through Whittles Publishing with a launch event on board the Discovery in Dundee, Scotland.
I’ve had the privilege of being involved with the creation of the biography having edited the first draft of the book and contributed to its overall structure. This marks the first book I’ve worked on to be published, which is hugely exciting.
Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon can be purchased, of course, from Amazon and all good bookstores. It’s a fascinating tale and one I’d recommend to anybody with an interest in exploration or polar history.