John Robert Francis Frank Wild

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John Robert Francis [Frank] Wild was born at Skelton, Yorkshire in 1874. He joined the Merchant Navy in 1889, and in 1900, transferred to the Royal Navy. Volunteering for the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), he served as an able seaman in Discovery . He took part in several sledging expeditions, including an attempt to reach Cape Crozier in March 1902, and he was a member of the main Western party, led by Albert Armitage.

He joined the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 (leader Ernest Henry Shackleton), and was one of the party chosen by Shackleton to make an attempt on the South Pole. The four men, accompanied by four ponies, crossed the Ross Ice Shelf and discovered a route south up the Beardmore Glacier. On the polar plateau, they continued southward, man hauling on severely reduced rations. On 9 January 1909, they sledged to a farthest south of 88.38°, 180 kilometres from the Pole, where their physical condition forced them to turn back.

Wild joined the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 (leader Douglas Mawson) and was in charge of the Western Base at the western termination of Shackleton Ice Shelf. His party undertook extensive scientific programmes and several extended sledge journeys were made, including one during which he reached Mount Barr Smith with three companions in December 1912.

On the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Weddell Sea Party], 1914-1916 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton), he was second-in-command. After Endurance was crushed in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea, Wild steered the James Caird in the open-boat journey to Elephant Island, taking charge of the Elephant Island camp while Shackleton sailed for South Georgia. Twenty-two men remained on the island for 105 days, and it was largely due to Wild that morale was maintained until Shackleton returned to rescue them.

On his return in 1916, Wild was commissioned in the Royal Navy, and acted as transport officer on the North Russian front. In 1918-19, he wintered in Spitsbergen and soon afterwards went to southern Africa to farm, breaking off to serve as second-in-command of the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, 1921-1922. On Shackleton's death on 5 January 1922 in South Georgia, Wild took command and the expedition continued, briefly exploring the South Sandwich Islands and the Weddell Sea before returning to Britain.

Wild received many geographical awards, including the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1923. He returned to southern Africa in 1922, engaging in various farming enterprises. He died in Johannesburg on 19 August 1939.

Published work, Frank Wild by Leif Mills, Caedmon Whitby (1999) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Wild, Frank], Shackleton's last voyage. The story of the Quest ... from the official journal and private diary kept by Dr A.H. Macklin by John Robert Francis Wild, Cassell and Company, London (1923) SPRI Library Shelf (7):91(08)[1921-1922 Shackleton]

From the guide to the John Robert Francis Wild collection, 1873-1939, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf John Robert Francis Wild collection, 1873-1939 Scott Polar Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Atack Walter Garwood person
associatedWith Aurora (Steam yacht) corporateBody
associatedWith Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1914 corporateBody
associatedWith British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 corporateBody
associatedWith British National Antarctic Expedition 1910-1904 corporateBody
associatedWith Davis John King 1884-1967 person
associatedWith Hannam Walter Henry b 1885 person
associatedWith Harrisson Charles T person
associatedWith Hinks Arthur Robert 1873-1945 person
associatedWith Hurley James Francis 1885-1962 person
associatedWith Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition Weddell Sea 1914-1916 corporateBody
associatedWith Mawson Douglas 1882-1958 person
associatedWith Mill Hugh Robert 1861-1950 person
associatedWith Nimrod (Steam yacht) corporateBody
associatedWith Quest (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith Scott Robert Falcon 1868-1912 person
associatedWith Shackleton Ernest Henry 1874-1922 person
associatedWith Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition 1921-1922 corporateBody
associatedWith Taylor Thomas Griffith 1880-1963 person
associatedWith Thomson Kenneth Graham person
associatedWith Webb Eric Norman 1889-1984 person
associatedWith Wild John Robert Francis 1873-1939 person
associatedWith Worsley Frank Arthur 1872-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Antarctica Discovery and exploration


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SNAC ID: 5450656