Scott `ignored food warning in Antarctic'

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The Independent Online
CAPTAIN ROBERT Scott might have survived his expedition to the South Pole had he heeded advice on food parcels from a fellow explorer.

Shortly before Scott set off, William Bruce, one of the most experienced explorers of the day, told him the parcels he planned to bury along the route were too far apart. Scott visited Bruce in Edinburgh but was said to be so furious that anyone dare question his expertise that he stormed out.

Had he listened he might have survived - he and his companions died in 1912 just 11 miles from the next food depot.

Bruce is being commemorated as the forgotten hero of Antarctic exploration. An exhibition of his achievements opens in Edinburgh in 2002.

Moira Watson, his granddaughter, yesterday recalled the day when Scott came to their home. "My father would only have been about eight years old when Captain Scott came to their house ... It was a big deal and the children were ordered out of the way but they listened to what was going on from the hall ... My father told us it was really strange that Captain Scott left abruptly and my grandfather was really upset. My father can remember him walking into the hall and saying, `His supply dumps are too far apart. He doesn't understand'. Scott couldn't understand: he was a sailor. If he had listened to my grandfather ... he could have survived."

Bruce was a scientist whostruggled to raise money for explorations to the Arctic and Antarctic and who did research on minerals and animals, but his work was largely ignored.

Last year Mrs Watson, who lives in Canada, went to Scotland to hand over artefacts belonging to her grandfather to the Royal Geographical Society. It intends to display them in the exhibition marking the centenary of Bruce's expedition to Antarctica.

Bruce MacLachlan, development and publicity officer with the society, said that had Scott listened to his less famous fellow explorer, history could have been different. "Whether the team would have survived had Scott listened to Dr Bruce, that is a matter of speculation but I would agree that had the food dumps been less far apart they could have been thrown a lifeline."