Obituary: Lord Shackleton

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The Independent Online
TAM DALYELL's obituary of Lord Shackleton (24 September) naturally enough stressed the political rather than the geographical aspects of his career - even though the latter dominated the last decade of his life and is more likely to prove a lasting memorial, writes K. W. Hankinson.

Although he had abandoned exploration for politics in 1945, Shackleton became a reforming president of the Royal Geographic Society; he encouraged fieldwork throughout the world and played a large part in the increasing of the scientific content of military expeditions. As befitted his background, he was patron to many polar expeditions; never simply as a figurehead but invariably as the project's champion.

As late as 1988 Shackleton accompanied a military polar expedition to their base on Ellesmere Island; flying north along his old sledge route he covered in 90 minutes what had taken two months in 1935. Expedition leaders who sought his approval could expect to be closely questioned as to their aims and abilities, and he rejected more than accepted.