Diary reveals bitter rivalry on Scott's polar trek

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A journal that chronicles the bitter rivalries between the polar adventurer Captain Robert Scott and his second-in-command was sold yesterday for £36,000.

A journal that chronicles the bitter rivalries between the polar adventurer Captain Robert Scott and his second-in-command was sold yesterday for £36,000.

The diary of Captain Albert Armitage, who was a navigator on the Discovery expedition, provides a fascinating insight into his deteriorating relationship with Scott during their historic Antarctic expedition of 1901 to 1904.

The 100-page document, which was in immaculate condition, was bought by a private collector at Bloomsbury Auctions in London. It is not known whether the collector, who is believed to be from Oxford, intends to keep the diary in Britain. It has been held privately for the past century.

Armitage was appointed to serve as Scott's second-in-command in May 1900, when he was aged 36. He had previously served in the Merchant Navy and began the diary saying how proud he felt to be serving under Scott on their journeyto the unknown continent.

Armitage wrote on 30 October 1902: "It is very agreeable to be associated with a man like Captain Scott who is at a glance clear-headed, amiable and considerate."

But he later described increasingly tense moments as their friendship became fractious and tainted by rivalry during the expedition. The conflict reached a climax when Armitage suggested leading a small team to a further point, which was closer to the South Pole than Scott, to his chagrin, had ever managed.

Just six months after the entry in which he describes Scott's "amiable" manner, Armitage began to chronicle the tensions between them, particularly after he suggested that they travel further south. Armitage wrote on 26 April 1903: "He certainly did not 'smile' on the idea, and considered it to be a waste of time."

The relationship continued to deteriorate and by 8 October 1903, Armitage had written of a tantalising confrontation with Scott, which is left incompletely chronicled.

"When the captain went to turn in, I went to his cabin to ask the reason of his unfriendly manner towards me, for since his return he has hardly spoken a word to me, and ignored me when I have spoken to him, or answered very briefly. After hesitating for a while, he replied," wrote Armitage.

It is believed that Armitage, who died in 1943, may have destroyed many of the journal's pages after Scott's death because he felt guiltyabout the negative diary entries.

Scott died during a second expedition to the South Pole in 1912.

Simon Luterbacher, cataloguer at Bloomsbury Auctions, said: "I think it is one of those things that captures the British public's imagination. He is not well-known ... but he played a very important part.''

He added: "His main achievement is being first to go to the polar ice cap; no one had ever done that before. He was a very good number two, he was a very steady, reliable man. He was ideal for that kind of expedition."

A manuscript detailing the trip also sold for £26,000, nearly twice the estimated value. Other items on auction were copies of Armitage's books, a tea tray from the ward room of the Discovery and a manuscript of a poem the navigator composed.

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