Captain (Commodore 2nd Class) Huberht Taylor Hudson, navigator of Endurance, died when the vessel on which he was serving, Pelavo, was torpedoed and then sank on 15 June, 1942.
Huberht Taylor Hudson was born in Holloway, London, to Herbert and Caroline Emma Hudson, on 17 September, 1886.
Once Endurance was trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea, Hudson, as navigator, was left without a job, really, and wasn’t sure what to do with himself. However, he was praised for being the best at catching penguins.
Despite suffering from frostbite and a very painful boil on his backside, Hudson took command of the Stancomb Wills on the voyage from the edges of the pack-ice to Elephant Island. He remained active on board for days at a time, and the position was passed to Tom Crean once Hudson was unable to continue.
Thomas Orde Lees wrote highly of Hudson, particularly of his conduct during the journey in the lifeboats to Elephant Island:
‘Lt. Hudson and Crean, who steered the ‘Stancomb Wills’ alternately, are likewise deserving of the highest praise.’ Lees also mentioned that ‘Hudson goes by the name of Budda [sic.] on account of his once dressing as that deity.’
At Elephant Island, Hudson was among those in the worst condition. As Michael Smith suggested that Hudson had ‘suffered some form of mental breakdown’ which is what Lees wrote in his diary on 8 May, 1916:
‘Hudson’s breakdown is remarkable for a man of such fine physique; but it is often the case that powerfully built men do not endure hardship and exposure well. I do not quite know what is the matter with him, but in addition to some pulmonary trouble he has something wrong with his hip joint and is suffering from what is generally described as ‘nervous breakdown’. He is often low-spirited. He and Blackborrow [sic.] remain in their bags all day. We do what little we can to make them as comfortable as possible, but it is a bad place for sick men. McIlroy is patience itself in attending to them.’
As Shackleton himself wrote in ‘South’: ‘Blackborow and Hudson could not move. All were frost-bitten in varying degrees and their clothes, which had been worn continuously for six months, were much the worse for wear.’ However, by the time of the successful rescue of Yelcho Hudson had recovered well from developed bronchitis and hip disease.
Hudson served in both world wars in the Royal Navy Reserve. He was promoted from Commander to Captain, Royal Naval Reserve, on 30 June, 1935. During World War Two, Hudson was a Commodore, working mainly on convoy duty. Hudson, when Commodore of Convoy HG-84, died on 15 June, 1942, when his ship, the British motor merchant ‘Pelayo’ was torpedoed and sunk by U-552.
E. H. Shackleton, South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition 1914-1917 (London, 1920), p. 225.
J. Thomson, Elephant Island & Beyond: The Life and Diaries of Thomas Orde Lees (Norwich, 2003), pp. 108, 197, 220.
Michael Smith, Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer (Cork, 2014), p. 327.
The Times, 1 July, 1935.
‘HUDSON, Herbert T, Captain, RNR, Rtd, Pelayo, steamship, (Eaglet, O/P), 15 June 1942, missing’. (Naval-History.net, https://www.naval-history.net/xDKCasAlpha1939-45Ho.htm)
The Dreadnought Project: http://www.dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/Huberht_Taylor_Hudson
Commonwealth War Graves Commission: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2498939/hudson,-huberht-taylor/
Endurance Obituaries: https://web.archive.org/web/20161025095035/http://www.enduranceobituaries.co.uk/hudson.htm