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I hope will Britain look after my wife and son.. excuse the writing but it"s- 40F; Antarctic herobegs old friend to take care of his family.

Byline: Louie Smith reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

TRAPPED in a tent with his freezing companions dying around him, Captain Robert Scott knew he hadn't long to live.

But despite his desperate situation, the legendary explorer's final worries were not for himself but for his family.

His fervent last wishes, scrawled in a letter while enduring temperatures of -40C, have only now come to light, having been kept secret for over 100 years.

Scott's over-riding concern was that wife Kathleen and their two-year-old son Peter would be cared for after his death.

Ignoring frostbitten fingers, he managed to write a note to his old friend Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman, begging him: "I want you to secure a competence for my widow and boy. I leave them very ill-provided for, but feel that the country ought not to neglect them."

He signed off simply, "R Scott". But despite being on the brink of death, the Royal Navy officer added a postscript, saying: "Excuse writing, it is -40, and has been for nigh a month." Some extracts from the letter, originally owned by a descendant of Sir Francis, have already been seen. But Scott's plea for his family's future had been kept secret.

His touching words are only revealed in full today to mark the 101st anniversary of his death in March 1912.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was just 43 when he and his men perished in the Antarctic on his Terra Nova Expedition. Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them to the South Pole by five weeks.

As the team battled their way back to safety, a fierce blizzard left them stranded in a tent with limited supplies. Suffering from frostbite, snow blindness, hunger and exhaustion, one by one they succumbed to the cold.

First to die was Captain Laurence Oates, 32, who believed he was slowing down his companions because of an injury.

He sacrificed himself by walking off into the blizzard, saying: "I am just going outside and may be some time."

Dr Edward Wilson, 39, and Lieutenant Henry Bowers, 28, are thought to have died next. Scott's letter to Sir Francis, in which he tells his friend the younger men died first, supports the belief he was the last to die. Poignantly, he wrote that he and his team faced their fate "like men".

The diaries and letters of Scott, Dr Wilson, Captain Oates, Lieutenant Bowers and Petty Officer Edgar Evans, 36, who had died one month earlier, were recovered with their frozen bodies and forwarded to their friends and families.

Scott's note has now been sold to the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. Archivist Naomi Boneham said: "This letter is to a friend. He is asking him to look after his family, and what is wonderful about the letter is we get to see Scott as a father in a way we perhaps haven't before. We see him asking Sir Francis to look after his wife and child.

"The letters are written on paper ripped from diaries. It is hard to imagine how desperate it must have felt."

Scott wrote 10 final letters. Only one was dated - March 16. Archivists believe the rest were written around the time of his final diary entries on March 29.

The institute owns eight of the letters. Just one remains with a private collector. The 10th letter was to his close friend, author JM Barrie, who is said to have carried it around with him all his life, but its whereabouts now are unknown.

CAPTION(S):

ILL-FATED Scott's ship moored during expedition to the South Pole

WIDOW Kathleen, mother of Scott's son

MOVING EMOTIONS Scott knew he was facing the end
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 29, 2013
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