James William Dell was born ca. 1880 at Worthing. In 1895, he joined the Royal Navy and served with the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), as able seaman in Discovery . He participated in two sledging journeys and his skills as a sail maker were employed in producing canvas ration bags and sleeping bags.
On his return from the expedition, he was invalided out of the Navy for two years and then rejoined, serving in the Dardanelles and the North Sea during the First World War before his retirement as chief petty officer in 1921. Shortly afterwards he joined the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, 1921-1922 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton), as boatswain and electrician in Quest . After the expedition, Dell was employed as an engineer and electrician on a country estate, and during the Second World War served in the Coastguard Service. He lived in Somerset in his retirement and became a founder member of the Antarctic Club. He died on 21 January 1968 in his 88th year.
Published work, 'Hydrographic work' by Frank Arthur Worsley, D.G. Jeffrey, J. Dell and George Vibert Douglas in 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 James William Dell collection, 1908-1922, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)