Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith was born on 17 March 1883 in Streatham, London. He was educated at Westminster City School and Woodbridge School and read history at Queens' College, Cambridge. On graduating in 1907, he became a schoolmaster at Merchiston Castle School, near Edinburgh, and was ordained in post in 1910. In November 1913, Spencer-Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and in the following year, was appointed padre and photographer on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton).
He was a member of the party of ten that participated in the gruelling sledging programme to lay a chain of depots across the Ross Ice Shelf towards the Beardmore Glacier, providing supplies for Shackleton's intended crossing party. While on the trail, Spencer-Smith fell ill with scurvy in January 1916 at 83° South. At his own suggestion, he was left alone in a tent while the others continued on to lay the last depot. After their return ten days later, he was pulled on a sledge back towards the base at Cape Evans but died on the journey on 9 March 1916.
From the guide to the Reverend Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith collection, 1915-1916, (Scott Polar research Institute, University of Cambridge)